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Fairground Games: Turn the Key

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the keys to a fulfilled and generous life.

Preparation and materials

  • If possible, set up the following game prior to the assembly. If this is not possible, omit Step 2 in the ‘Assembly’.

    To set up the game, you will need an object that needs to be unlocked, such as a small cupboard, jewellery box or door. If possible, hide a small prize inside the box or behind the door. You will also need a bag of keys, only one of which will unlock the item.

  • Be prepared to tell the parable of the lost sheep or read the story from Luke 15.1-7.


  1. Tell the children the following story.

    Sam worked at fairgrounds. These were happy places, full of games, rides and excited people enjoying a day out. Sam looked after a game that used keys. Sam had a box that contained a large amount of money, but the door of the box was locked. The aim of the game was to select a key from a large bag that contained keys of all shapes and sizes. The player would then try to unlock the box by using the key that he or she had selected. If the key opened the box, the player won all the money inside!

  2. Show the children the object that needs unlocking and the bag of keys. Invite volunteers to have a go at selecting the correct key.

  3. Continue with the story.

    Sam felt that his job was very important. After each person had played, Sam made sure that the key they had chosen, whether it was right or wrong, was given a little polish and carefully put back into the bag. Looking after the game as carefully as Sam did took time, and the boss of the fairground got cross with him. However, Sam explained, ‘I need to look after all of my keys because if one goes missing, my game will not be right. I must have 20 keys at the start of my game. My bag needs to contain some wrong keys so that people enjoy the game. When people hear the keys clinking and clanking in the bag, they know that they will be really lucky if they choose the right key. And, of course, the bag needs to contain the key that actually turns the lock. Each key is only a small part of my game, but I want to make sure that all of the parts are ready for playing the game so that people can really enjoy it.

  4. Ask the children to think about the following questions.

    - What would happen if any of Sam’s keys went missing?
    - What would happen if the winning key went missing? Would the game be fair?
    - What would happen if the game was only played with two or three keys?

  5. Ask the children to imagine that they are the keys in the story. Ask them what they would be the keys to and what prizes they would unlock.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  6. Explain that we can be keys to many things.

    - We can be the keys to other people’s happiness.
    - We can be the keys to a better, more peaceful world.
    - We can be the keys to friendship, love, harmony and joy.

  7. In Sam’s game, the prize for finding the right key was a sum of money. When we unlock happiness, peace and joy in the world, we will feel as if we have won a prize! Christians believe that God wants us to unlock the wonder of the world for others.

Time for reflection

Tell the parable of the lost sheep, which is found in Luke 15.1-7. Point out that, just as each sheep mattered to the shepherd and each key mattered to Sam, so each person matters to God.

Dear God,
Thank you, Lord, for our wonderful world.
Thank you for all the tiny parts that work together to make it such a wonderful place.
Help us to learn from you, respecting, valuing and taking care of everything in the world.
Help us all to learn to work together for the good of others.


‘Cross over the road’ (Come and Praise, 70)

Publication date: December 2016   (Vol.18 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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