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Starting anew

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To look at how it feels to be new or the odd one out and how to welcome people.

Preparation and materials

  • Display a large collection of identical items – the larger the collection the better the impact. In this collection, there should also be an 'odd one out' – one item that is obviously and significantly different in one respect. For example, you could have 30 blue balls with a single red one or a collection of white carnations and a single yellow one, 20 school sweatshirts from your school with one from another school, so it is a different colour or has a different badge. Prepare the display before the worship begins and arrange it so that the children can see it. However, only display the matching items – keep the 'odd one out’ out of sight until the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.
  • Dress several children all in the same colour T-shirts (black would be ideal). Dress one child who doesn’t mind being different in another colour that is an obvious contrast to the other colour chosen. Go over the scenario they will be acting out in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4.
  • You will also need a candle and means to light it.

Assembly

  1. Discuss with the children how nice it feels to be part of the school family. Everyone's in the same uniform, everyone knows everyone, it's easy to find our way round and we know where everything is.

    Once the discussion is flowing, introduce the new idea by saying, 'Hey, wait a minute! Maybe life is not always like that. Maybe sometimes we have to face new challenges, new people and new places. Maybe there might even be people here, at this moment, feeling left out, uncertain, because they don't know anyone – or maybe they're just a little bit afraid of being “new”.’

  2. Show the children the display of the items that are all the same and suggest that maybe if life was always the same it might be easier. Without changes, however, we wouldn't become the people we are – interesting, exciting and fun to be with. Our new experiences and challenges help us to grow and learn about others and ourselves.

  3. Introduce the ‘odd one out’ item to your display and ask the children to offer ideas as to what it might feel like to stand out as the 'new person'.

  4. Act out a very brief scenario with the children dressed all the same, quietly chatting, laughing, playing and so on. They then all look round and are silent when the new person in the different-coloured T-shirt appears, making their reactions very obvious.

    Freeze the scene and ask the children what they thought about the 'crowd's' reaction. What do they think the new person feels like?

  5. Gather the group together again. Share the idea that it is not necessarily dislike of the new person or wanting to be unkind that makes people behave that way. It's more likely to be interest and curiosity, just as we were curious about the different item in the display. Maybe the established group can make the new person feel at home, welcome and 'one of the crowd'.

 

Time for reflection

Think about what it might feel like to be facing new situations.

What might it feel like to stand out in a crowd?

How would you make someone welcome and feel less like the odd one out? What things make new situations easier to cope with? Having a friend to help? Sharing it with someone?

Light the candle in the centre of the 'one of the crowd' display, next to the different object. Explain how we all 'shine' in God's eyes and, because each one of us is different, being ourselves is special. We all have something to offer, even as part of the 'crowd'.

 

Follow-up activities

  1. Make a 'Charter of welcome' for your school.

  2. Think of times, places and situations in which people might feel new, left out, like they stand out in the crowd. What could be done? Act out situations that explore the crowd's reactions and the new person's feelings.

  3. Write a poem with each line starting, 'I was lonely, but you . . .' This tells of God showing his love by caring for us and always being there for those who need him.

 

Song/music

‘There are hundreds of sparrows' (Come and Praise, 15)

Publication date: September 2014   (Vol.16 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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