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Another Ring, Another Year

Every experience leads to growth

by Revd Oliver Harrison

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider growth and development in a new school or calendar year using the markings on trees and wood. To think about Jesus as a carpenter.

Preparation and materials

  • Wood with the grain clearly visible. Ideally, this would be a cross-section of a trunk or branch showing the growth rings.


1. Introduce the idea of a new year, whether a new school year or a new calendar year.

Ask what may change as a new year begins.

For example, the year shown on the date will change; the children may have a new teacher or classroom; new children may have arrived at school.

2. Show the cross-section of the trunk. Point out the rings and explain that a tree grows a new ring every year.

Ask a volunteer to come forward to count the rings.

3. Explain that in some years trees grow considerably and the rings are fat and wide. This would happen in a good year for plant growth, with plenty of rain and sunshine. However, in some years, trees only grow a little, so the rings are thin and narrow. This would be a bad year for tree growth, maybe due to the weather being too cold or there being too little rain.  

4. Wood is amazing! Each piece of wood has its own story to tell. It tells its own history about the weather and the conditions in each year of its growth. Whether the conditions are good or bad, a tree still grows a new ring.

5. Explain that during the coming year both good and bad things will happen to everyone. Some things will be sad, happy, frightening, exciting ...

Ask the children to think of other words for the experiences they may face.

However, each experience is a time when we can grow, learn, have fun and do good things.

6. Ask the children if they know what job Jesus did up to the age of about 30. Point out that he was a carpenter who worked with wood. He would have made new furniture and repaired wooden objects that had been broken.

7. Christians believe that Jesus came to earth to fix a world that was broken.

Time for reflection

Think about the trunk of this tree.
Think about the year that has just past.
What has happened in that year?
Would you say it was a year where you grew and learnt a lot?
Think about the year ahead.
What would you like to achieve this year?

Dear Lord,
Thank you that you are always with us through good and difficult times.
As we move into a new year, please help us to learn from everything that happens to us.
Please help us to live in a way that helps others and cares for the world.

Publication date: January 2016   (Vol.18 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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