We Can All Do Something to Help
We can all make a difference
by Sylvia Green
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider that even small helpful acts can make a big difference.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a small tin of baked beans, some birdseed and/or some fat balls.
- Prior to the assembly, you will need to check whether local supermarkets have collection points for food banks. You may wish to organize a collection for them at the school.
- Have available the following plants or images of them. If you are using the plants themselves, you will also need a glove to protect your hands from the stinging nettle. If you are using images, you will need the means to display them during the assembly:
- dandelions, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y9gzfssy
- clover, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ydxne8cd
- daisies, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y8rddwsq
- a stinging nettle, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ybvwg8tw
- Optional: you may also wish to show images of the following butterflies, in which case you will also need the means to display them:
- a small tortoishell butterfly, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y9jcvety
- a peacock butterfly, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y82uohv3
- a painted lady butterfly, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yae7kzth
- a red admiral butterfly, available at: https://tinyurl.com/wnrvtvn9
- a comma butterfly, available at: https://tinyurl.com/ybthjh9d
- Optional: prior to the assembly, you may wish to ask some of the children to draw a picture of a butterfly, bee or bird and be prepared to explain why they think it’s important during the assembly.
- This assembly is written by Sylvia Green, the author of the book We’re Hungry Too, which ties in with this assembly. The book is available to purchase from: https://spckpublishing.co.uk/we-re-hungry-too
- Ask the children to name some of their favourite foods.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Ask the children to imagine not having enough to eat. What would it feel like always to be hungry? Not just occasionally, when tea is a bit late, but all of the time.
- Explain that all over the world, there are people and animals that are hungry. Many in our own country need our help, too.
- Explain that Christians believe that God created the world and that he has something to say about the importance of looking after it. In the very first book in the Bible, Genesis, we read that God made us responsible for ‘the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky and every animal on the earth’ and said, ‘I have provided all kinds of fruit and grain for you to eat, and I have given the green plants as food for everything else that breathes. These will be food for animals, both wild and tame, and for birds.’ (Genesis 1.28-30)
- In the New Testament part of the Bible, which tells us about Jesus’ life and the start of the early Church, Jesus emphasizes to his friends the importance of caring for people: ‘When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat; when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink . . . Then, the people will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink?” . . . And the king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”’ (Matthew 25.35-40)
- Ask the children to think about how many people, animals, birds and insects there are in the world.
Looking worried, ask the question: ‘If there are so many hungry people, animals, birds and insects in the world, how can we possibly feed them all?’
Express the feeling that there are surely too many for us to make a difference.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Hold up the small tin of baked beans.
Ask the children if they think that this tin of beans would help.
Listen to a range of responses.
Explain that a small tin of baked beans would certainly not feed all the hungry, but it might help someone.
- Tell the story about the boy and the starfish.
The Boy and the Starfish
One morning, an old man was walking along the beach. He saw that thousands of starfish had been washed up by the tide and were stranded on the sand, unable to get back into the sea by themselves. As the sun came up, they would surely die. He shook his head sadly. There were too many of them to help.
Then, the old man noticed a young boy walking towards him. The boy kept stooping to pick up starfish and throw them back into the sea, one by one. As the boy got nearer, the old man said to him, ‘It’s no use, young man. There are too many of them. You can’t possibly make a difference.’
The boy stooped, picked up another starfish and tossed it into the sea. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I made a difference to that one.’ And the boy continued on his way, saving as many starfish as he could.
- Explain that we can’t help every person and every animal that needs it, but, like the boy in the story, we can all do something to help. Every little bit helps and if we all work together, we can help even more.
Hold up the small tin of baked beans again.
Remind the children that although this tin won’t feed all the hungry people in the world, it might help one person. Point out that if everyone in the school gave one item, we could help many people.
- Ask the children if they have heard of food banks. Go on to explain that food banks give out three days’ worth of food to people who don’t have enough money to buy food for themselves.
If possible, tell the children about a food bank collection point at a local supermarket. Explain that people will often buy one extra item when they do their shopping and will then place it in a labelled container near the exit. The food in this container is then taken to the local food bank and distributed to those in need. (If there is a food bank near the school, you may consider being a collection point or collecting food for the food bank at a harvest celebration.)
- Show the children the plants or images of plants.
Ask the children if they would like to eat any of these. Ask them if they know anyone who would like to eat them.
Explain that people usually plant flowers because they look or smell nice, but flowers also provide food for insects.
Ask the children if they can think of any insects that like to visit flowers. Explain that bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers, and butterflies drink nectar. Point out that we can provide food for wildlife in our gardens, window boxes and parks.
- Show the dandelions, clover and daisies again.
Explain that people don’t usually plant these because they are considered to be weeds. However, they are useful food for insects, and bees particularly like them. Suggest that it would be good if people could leave a few of them for the insects.
- Show the stinging nettle again.
Ask the children what they think about stinging nettles. Have they ever been stung? Ask if anyone thinks stinging nettles are useful.
Listen to a range of responses.
Explain that stinging nettles are a very important food source for the caterpillars that become some of our most beautiful butterflies. Small tortoishell, peacock, painted lady, red admiral and comma butterflies all feed on stinging nettles.
Optional: show the images of butterflies.
- Explain that the butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of stinging nettles. When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the leaves until they are big enough to turn into chrysalises. Somehow, the caterpillars are not affected by the stinging hairs of the plant.
Without enough food for caterpillars, we would not have butterflies. So, although most people get rid of the nettles in their garden, it would be good to leave a small patch. If we make room for wildlife, we will be rewarded by knowing that we are helping to save these amazing creatures and we will be able to watch them for many years to come.
- Hold up the birdseed and/or fat balls.
Ask the children how many of them feed the birds. Remind the children that they don’t have to have a garden to be able to feed birds. Bird feeders can be hung from a balcony or even attached to a windowsill.
Point out that we don’t have to buy special seed. We can give birds scraps such as grated cheese, unsalted bacon rind, cooked rice, dry cereal and small amounts of crumbled up bread.
Point out that many species of bird in this country are in trouble: they are in danger of dying out. We can’t help all of them, but we can help a few. Explain that one of the most important things that we can do for wildlife is to provide water for them to drink.
Time for reflection
If any of the children have drawn pictures of butterflies, bees or birds, ask them to show their pictures and explain why they think that the animals they have drawn are important.
Ask the children to think about people being hungry. (Note: please be sensitive because many families use food banks in times of need and there may be children in school whose families are in this position.) Explain that everyone needs help at some point and we should never be afraid to ask for it. We should all be pleased to help each other.
Ask the children to think about the bees, butterflies and birds – they really need our help right now. Remind everyone that even just a small gesture of help will make a difference.
Thank you for our family and friends.
Thank you for the people who have helped us when we needed it.
Thank you for the beautiful butterflies, the amazing bees and the lovely birds.
Please help us to help others when they need it, even if we feel like we can only make a tiny difference.
‘All things bright and beautiful’ (Come and Praise, 3)
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)