Words are Powerful
How we use words is important
by Jill Fuller (revised, originally published in 1999)
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To help us appreciate the power of words, for good or ill.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a large dictionary and a candle.
- Have ready some tongue-twisters of varying degrees of difficulty for the children to try and say. For example, 'Bertie Bear bought big blue balloons', 'Tamsin trickily tried to toss ten trays of treacle toffees', 'Thirty swallows swooping through swaying willows swished their wings'.
- You might like to arrange for one or two children to tell jokes during the assembly, but this is optional.
- Be prepared to share an example of being hurt by words or ask the children to think about examples from their own lives, books they have read or on TV or in films.
- Have available the passage Proverbs 12.18: ‘Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing’ (NLT).
- Here is a dictionary. Can anyone explain what a dictionary contains and what it is used for?
- Can you tell me some of the different ways in which we use words?
Examples might be to express opinions, show feelings and emotions, give instructions, describe an event, exchange news, tell jokes and so on.
If you have arranged for some children to tell jokes, then ask them to do so at this point.
- Sometimes our words can become muddled. Do you know what a ‘tongue-twister’ is?
Share the tongue-twisters you have collected with the children, giving them time to enjoy the experience of playing with words themselves. You might like to invite some children to the front to attempt the tongue-twisters or ask them to repeat the tongue-twisters to the person sitting beside them.
- Have you ever been hurt by words? Do any of you feel able to give us an example of being wounded by words? If not, can you think of examples that you've seen on TV or in films?
Have you ever been made to feel really good because of something someone has said to you?
Give opportunities for the children to share these experiences.
- The words we use can affect the way others feel about themselves. We can use words to make people laugh, to encourage, comfort and affirm each other. We can also use words to destroy self-confidence and spread rumours.
- Read out Proverbs 12.18: ‘Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing’ (NLT).
Time for reflection
Light the candle and reread Proverbs 12.18.
Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.
Let us reflect, during a moment of silence, on the way that we will choose to use words today.
Please help us to realize the importance of words.
Please help us to use words well – to help people rather than hurt them.
Please help us to think before we speak in every situation.
‘Peace, perfect peace, is the gift of Christ our Lord' (Come and Praise, 53)