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These Boots are Made for Walking

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To help us appreciate others’ feelings and that there may be reasons for them acting in the way they do. 

Preparation and materials

  • Gather a selection of footwear to show and describe to the children and place them in a bag. See the ‘Assembly’, Step 1, for some examples and how they could be described, but choose ones that contrast as much as possible with each other, such as a trainer, ‘best’ shoe, comfy slipper, workboot with steel toecap, gardening clog or wellington boot, ballet shoe, football boot, sandal and so on.
  • Have available the song ‘These boots are made for walking’ by Nancy Sinatra and the means to play it as the children come in to assembly, plus the song ‘Walk a mile in my shoes’ by Joe South and the Believers to play as they leave.


1. Play the song ‘These boots are made for walking’ by Nancy Sinatra as the children enter.

Once they have settled, start the assembly by taking a shoe out of the bag and ask the children to suggest when it would be used and what makes it suitable for that occasion.

For a walking boot, for example, you could say that it is used when you go on a long walk over rough ground. It’s comfortable and strong. The deep tread on the bottom ensures that you have good grip when it’s slippery or rough. The high back supports your ankle so you’re less likely to twist it when walking over rocky, uneven surfaces. It’s waterproof so your feet won’t get wet if you have to cross wet or boggy ground.

For a flipflop, you could say that you wear it in the summer when it’s very hot, especially if you’re on the beach or by a swimming pool. They protect your feet from hot sand or concrete and you can shake them off easily if you want to go for a swim – there are no buckles or laces. They are also light and very easy to pack in your suitcase.

Continue in the same way with your other examples of footwear, choosing ones that contrast as much as possible with the one before. In each case, describe the context in which each shoe is worn and what makes it suitable for that purpose.

2. Explain that children need to have shoes that fit well and allow some room for growth. Most will know how uncomfortable shoes can get if they become too small and how cramped our toes feel when that happens.

3. There are many well-known sayings that refer to footwear. Mention the following and give a brief explanation of each one.

– He got too big for his boots.

– The shoe is on the other foot.

– As tough as old boots.

– Hard shoes to fill.

– I wouldn’t want to be in his/her shoes.

4. Another old saying goes, ‘Don’t judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.’

It’s not really a good idea to wear someone else’s shoes, but this saying is not intended to be taken literally! Instead, it is meant to teach us something, which is that we don’t truly understand someone until we know what life is like for them, see things from their point of view.

We can sometimes be critical of other people’s actions, but there may be reasons for them acting as they do.

– The boy who won’t join in your game may be very shy. You might think that he doesn’t like you.

– The girl who won’t talk to you may be afraid that you will laugh at her because that’s what others have done. You may think that she doesn’t want to talk to you.

– The child who gets upset when you play with someone else may not have many friends. You may think that he or she is too clingy.

– The thin, pale child who does not seem to have any energy may have an illness that you know nothing about. You might think that he or she is lazy and should make more of an effort to join in with games.

– Your friend who never comes to your birthday parties may be embarrassed that he or she can’t afford to buy you a present. You might think that he or she is too mean to buy you a present.

5. These are just a few examples and there may be many other reasons for people acting in these and other ways. It is important that we aren’t too hasty in judging them. We need to try to understand how they are feeling.

We won’t go far wrong if we remember the golden rule: treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Time for reflection

Encourage the children to think about a time when they have acted in a particular way and been misunderstood by others.

They could also consider the saying, ‘I was footsore and weary until I met a man with no feet.’


Dear Lord,
Help us to try to understand how others feel.
How they may feel sad when we feel happy.
How they may feel left out when we have plenty of friends.
Help us always to try and treat others as we would like them to treat us.


‘One more step along the road I go’ (Come and Praise, 47)

Publication date: April 2015   (Vol.17 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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