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Builder Or Bulldozer

Do you build people up or knock them down?

by Becky May

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To remind us that our words and actions should be used to encourage others, not put them down.


Preparation and materials

  • Have available images of a bulldozer and a two or more people working as builders (ideally including both genders) and the means to display them in the ‘Assembly’, Step 4.
  • You will also need some building blocks.



  1. Today we're going to be thinking about the different things that you may find on a building site. Can you think of the names of any vehicles that you might see working on a building site?

    Invite the children to suggest the names of any construction site vehicles that they can remember, such as digger, dumper truck, roller, cement mixer and so on.

  2. Do you know what different jobs any of those vehicles do?

    Spend a few moments talking about the different vehicles, as identified by the children, and the different jobs that they do on a construction site.

  3. Some things on a building site are used to knock down things that were already there or clear the ground. Other things are used to build up the new houses, roads, tunnels, bridges or other buildings. They are used to construct new things.

  4. So, we have been thinking about the way that some things build up and other things knock down. I want to ask you now, are you are a builder or a bulldozer?

    Show the images of the bulldozer and builders.

  5. Bulldozers are used to knock down, to push things out of the way and clear the ground. They are destructive, used to get rid of things. That reminds me of the way we can be sometimes. We say unkind words, perhaps we criticize others for doing things in a different way or perhaps shut people out of the games we play. That makes us like a bulldozer, pushing others down and not being very constructive.

  6. It would be better if we could be more like a builder, building people up by encouraging them, saying kind things, praising people when they do something well, making sure that they feel included and welcomed.

    Take out the building blocks and begin to stack them up to form a tower as you continue to speak.

  7. Every time we say something kind to someone, we build them up and make them feel better. Perhaps we could do this by making others feel welcome, saying 'Hello' in the morning. Then, if we see others playing by themselves, we could invite them to join in our games. We might see them trying really hard when they are working in a lesson, so we could say, ‘Well done' to encourage them. Every time we do each of these things, we build them up bit by bit and make them feel happy, proud and confident. That would make us a builder, as we are building other people up.

  8. I think it would be great if we could have a school full of builders, where, every day, we looked out for ways to make other people feel happy and confident. That would be so much better than being like a bulldozer, crushing people with unkind and insulting words.

Time for reflection

Let us make ourselves really quiet and think for a moment.

I wonder how you feel when someone says something hurtful or rude to you. Perhaps they have treated you unkindly by excluding you from their games or not working nicely with you. That's how it feels to be on the receiving end of a bulldozer!

Now, who knows how it feels to be treated kindly? To have people say, 'Well done' to you when you work hard or, perhaps, have somebody try extra hard to be a good friend to you? That's what it means to be a builder. Being a builder is so much better for all of us!

In the Bible, in one of the letters to the early Church, it says that we should 'encourage one another and build up each other' (1 Thessalonians 5.11, NRSV), which is exactly what we have been talking about today.

Thank you for our friends and our school community. 
Thank you for the different ways that we can encourage each other – by speaking kindly and showing kindness to others. 
Help us all to be builders, building each other up to be the best that we can be.


‘Love is something if you give it away’ or ‘Magic penny’ by Malvina Reynolds


Publication date: March 2015   (Vol.17 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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