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Robinson Crusoe

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To look at the importance of friends.

Preparation and materials

  •  You will need a:
    – plastic bowl
    – box of matches
    – Swiss Army knife.

    You can substitute other items if you wish.
  • Note that most of the questions in the assembly are not rhetorical – they are there to get responses out of the children! 


  1. Imagine what it would be like if you woke up one morning and every other person in the world had disappeared, all gone. What would you feel like?

    Sad, yes  . . .  but wouldn't it be great to do whatever you wanted to do? You could go anywhere you wanted. You could go into any sweet shop or toyshop and take what you wanted as there would be no one to stop you. That would be great, wouldn’t it?

  2. What if you were shipwrecked on a desert island? What would you feel if that happened to you?

    It might be good fun, being able to do whatever you wanted, but would you be able to survive? There would be no one to look after you. Would you be able to build a shelter, find and catch (even kill) food and light a fire?

  3. Of course, you might have some things with you when you arrive at the island. If you had a choice, which of these three objects would you prefer to have with you  and why?

    Show the plastic bowl, box of matches and Swiss Army knife. 

    Given that water is essential for survival, the plastic bowl might, in fact, be the most useful of the three.

  4. Do any of you know the most famous story in the world about someone who was shipwrecked on a desert island?

  5. Robinson Crusoe was quite lucky. He was able to take lots of things from his wrecked ship before it sank – tools, nails, rifles, food  . . .  even some gold coins! He soon set about building a house and making himself as comfortable as he could. By carefully using the things he saved from his wrecked ship, he was able to create quite a pleasant, self-sufficient place.

    Unfortunately, of course, he was all alone. He did have a dog, several cats and a parrot, which he taught to speak  . . .  but it's not the same, is it?

  6. He lived on the island – alone – for 23 years! Then, one day, something terrible happened:

    It happened one day, about noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised to see the print of a man's naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen in the sand. I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I listened, I looked around me, I could hear nothing, nor see anything  . . .

    What do you think he felt like inside? What would you feel like after 23 years alone? 

    In fact, he felt scared. After all, the footprint might belong to someone dangerous. Eventually he discovers that the footprint belongs to  . . .  a cannibal! One day, a little later, he rescues one of the people the cannibal tribe had captured and were about to eat. He called the rescued young man 'Friday', as he was rescued on a Friday.

  7. This is where things get interesting. What would you do in this situation?

    – Immediately try to make friends with the stranger?
    – Be a bit nervous?
    – Make the stranger your servant? (After all, another person is another mouth to feed and why should you do all the work?)

  8. The story of Robinson Crusoe was written over 300 years ago. Then, it was perfectly legal for British people to have slaves. A slave is, in many ways, no longer really a person; a slave is more like a tool – a thing you can use and sell when you no longer need it. 

    Having your own personal slave would make your life a lot easier, wouldn't it? Perhaps, if you were in Robinson Crusoe's shoes, the best thing would be to turn Friday into a slave. What do you think?

  9. That is what Robinson Crusoe did at first, but then his attitude changed. 

    He taught Friday to speak English – and how to do all sorts of useful jobs – until he said one day, ‘Never man had a more faithful, loving, sincere servant than Friday was to me.’ So, Friday was higher than a 'slave', but he wasn't a 'friend' – he was a 'servant'.

  10. Which is better or more fun to have – a friend or a servant? In the end, it's difficult to really like Robinson Crusoe as he measures people by how useful they are going to be to him and he never takes the risk of being their friend.

  11. We can all use other people as if they were things or slaves – probably our poor parents most of all! That's what parents are for, isn't it?! 

    Even more important, though, is that we have friends. Sometimes we might pretend to be friends with someone. Perhaps our best friend is on holiday, so we play with someone we wouldn't normally have anything to do with, but it doesn't feel right, does it? 

    A friend is someone we have fun with, someone we trust and for whom we are willing to do things freely without thinking about the cost. For most people, not having a friend means feeling very unhappy.

Time for reflection

Jesus shows us that God wants us to be friends with people and he wants people to be friends with each other. Like Crusoe's island, however beautiful the surroundings – even blue lagoons, silver sand and swaying palm trees – a world without friendship is a cold and frightening place.

Ask the children to sit quietly and picture some of their friends in their mind.

Thank you, God,
that we have friends –
people to play with,
people we can trust,
people we can share things with.
Help us to not treat other people as things
or value them only because they are useful to us.

Publication date: November 2014   (Vol.16 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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