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What a Lot of Keys!

What is your attitude to life?

by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2006)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show that our attitude to life can be the key to our success.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a bunch of keys to jingle and a plastic smart card. Try to find keys in various sizes. Place them in a small bag or holdall.

  • Optional: you may wish to display the poem that appears in the following section so that the children can read it with you.


  1. Good morning, everyone. I wonder if you can guess what I have in my bag today. Let me give you some clues. They keep things safe. They allow me to do certain things. Without them, some things wouldn’t even work!
    Leave a short time for the children to guess, and then, if no one gets the right answer, say that perhaps the word ‘unlock’ will help. This should bring the correct response.
    Yes, I have a collection of keys.
    Produce the bunch of keys and jingle them.
    These keys make a lovely sound. They are my car keys and the keys to my house.
    If possible, describe a personal experience of being locked out of somewhere.
  2. Show the children each key in turn and ask them what they think the key will open. For security, you might choose to show old keys that you don’t actually use!
  3. Read the poem below to show how useful keys can be. You may like to display the poem so that the children can read it with you.

    ‘Keys’ by Jan Edmunds

    There are all sorts of keys to open lots of doors.
    Keys that fit boxes, keys to open drawers.
    Keys to lock up valuables or secure the door at night.
    Keys to lock up bicycles or keep things out of sight.
    Keys to lock up prisoners and those who go astray,
    And keys to let them out of jail on their freedom day.
    Keys are always being used in lots of different ways.
    Keys to keep things running or keys to make things start.
    Keys to unlock happiness, success or someone’s heart.
    Some are big and some are small.
    Some don’t look like keys at all!
    All through our lives, we look for keys to help us as we grow.
    Unlocking information and the things we need to know.

  4. Discuss the poem with the children, asking questions such as the following. 
    Can you think of any other things we might need to lock up?
    What things need a key to make them start?
  5. Emphasize that a key can be a physical thing, but it can also be an idea. For example, the key to enjoying books is first to learn to read, and the key to being a good person is to think of others.
  6. Produce your smart card and explain that it is an unusual type of key. Inside the plastic, there is a microchip that is programmed to respond to a certain code, or information on a magnetic strip (depending on the type of card). Modern technology has created smart cards that can open doors, pay for our shopping or take money out of our bank accounts. These keys unlock information.
  7. Throughout our lives, we use keys. Even when we learn to read, it is the letter sounds that unlock the words we need to read, write and spell.
  8. We talk about the ‘key to success’, the ‘key to the situation’ or the ‘key to someone’s heart’, which is the key to how they feel.
    Christians believe that Jesus told his followers about the key to happiness when he gave the Sermon on the Mount (or the Beatitudes, in Matthew, chapters 5-7).

Time for reflection

What keys do you have with you today?

You may think that you don’t have many keys, or you may even think that you have none at all.

But we all hold the key to helping other people, the key to making the best of every opportunity and the key to being positive and trying our best! How will you use these keys today?

Dear God,
The key to happiness is to be kind and to love others, whoever we are and wherever we come from.
The key to happiness is to care for all your creatures.
The key to success is to work hard and always do our best.
Help us to trust in you as we live our lives to the full.
Help us to find the right keys to fit the right locks throughout our lives.


‘I am planting my feet’ (Come and Praise, 103)

Publication date: May 2016   (Vol.18 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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