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Pumpkin Soup

by Alan Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider aspects of friendship and cooperation.

Preparation and materials

  • Familiarize yourself with the story Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper (Corgi, 1999) and have a copy of the book to show during the assembly.
  • You will need a pumpkin, decorated on one side with a happy face and, on the opposite side, a sad face. Alternatively, you could make a similar cardboard cutout pumpkin. 


  1. Display the pumpkin, showing the two faces, and invite the children to identify the emotions they express. Reflect that everyone has both happy and sad sides to their character and introduce the story in which smiles turn into frowns.

  2. Show the children the book Pumpkin Soup and tell them the story.  A cat, squirrel and duck are three friends who make pumpkin soup together each day. They always do it the same way until duck thinks he might do better. A dispute leads to an unhappy parting, but eventually the friends are reunited to make pumpkin soup again.

  3. Invite everyone to reflect on the story. Ask the children to say what they think caused the unhappiness. What does the story tell us about friendship and working together?  

    Establish that:

    - friends take turns
    - friends decide together
    - friends allow others to try
    - friends care about one another

  4. Invite everyone to reflect on these points. Initiate discussion with the children by asking, ‘So how might taking turns be important in school today?  When did you last allow someone else to help? How can you tell if a friend is upset? What might you do to put things right?'

  5. Conclude by remarking that if it takes understanding and friendship to make special pumpkin soup, the same is true of making a special school, good friends and a super day! 

Time for reflection

Rotate the pumpkin and invite the children to quietly recall a time when smiles have turned to frowns. What lessons have they learned? How have broken friendships been mended?

Think about the saying, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’ (anonymous).

Lord God,
ometimes we are jealous and forget how others feel.
Often we quarrel and smiles turn into frowns.
Help us to respect and care for our friends and learn to work together today and always.


‘Give it all you’ve got’ (Songs for Every Assembly, Out of the Ark Music, 1999)
‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Come and Praise, 52)

Publication date: November 2015   (Vol.17 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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