All in this together
by Paul Sandford (revised, originally published in 2008)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To encourage us to understand the importance of working as a team.
Preparation and materials
- You will need two sheets of A4 paper with nine large dots drawn on them in three rows of three, forming a square shape.
- You will also need a pencil, a black marker pen, a length of rope tied at both ends to form a loop and three balls.
- You will need to be familiar with the Bible story found in Mark 6.30–44, where Jesus feeds 5,000 people. You may wish to arrange for one of the children to read this as part of the assembly.
- Optional: you may wish to play the High School Musical song ‘We’re all in this together’, in which case you will also need the means to do so. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbrbUfYSt0E (4.42 minutes long)
- Invite three children who are good at problem-solving to come forward.
Show the sheet of A4 paper with nine large dots drawn on it.
Invite the first child to join the nine dots (in the form of a square with a dot in the middle) using four straight lines, without taking the pencil off the paper. Leave the child to puzzle at this for a while if he/she can’t do it straightaway (which is likely).
Show the length of rope tied at both ends to form a loop.
Invite the second child to hold the rope in the form of a square for everyone to see. (An astute child will use hands and feet.)
Show the three balls.
Invite the third child to throw the three balls up in the air and catch them. (Maybe they can juggle.)
- Now invite the first child to ask for advice. Someone may suggest starting in a corner, but for the first line to go beyond the next corner. If not, suggest this. Let the child keep puzzling.
Invite the second child to choose a helper. Together, they should be able to hold the rope in a square for everyone to see.
Let the third child choose two helpers. They can have one ball each to throw, or they can even make a game of it and throw the balls to each other.
- If the first child has not yet solved the puzzle, use the marker pen to show the solution on the unused sheet of A4 paper.
If the dots are at positions (1,1) (1,2) (1,3), (2,1) (2,2) (2,3) and (3,1) (3,2) (3,3), the first line is from (1,1) to (1,4), the second from (1,4) to (4,1), the third from (4,1) to (1,1) and the fourth from (1,1) to (3,3).
- Tell the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people, which is found in Mark 6.30–44. As you tell the story, emphasize:
- the interaction between Jesus and his disciples
- involvement in the team (Mark 6.37)
- doing what the leader says (Mark 6.39)
- learning by imitating (Mark 6.41); the disciples had to trust God to carry on the miracle
- the success of the teamwork (Mark 6.43)
Alternatively, ask a child to read the passage from Mark 6.30–44 and then emphasize the points listed above.
Time for reflection
Let the children look at the puzzles once more. Emphasize the need for teamwork if we are to solve many of life’s puzzles.
Ask the children to think of a time when they have worked in a team.
Ask them to consider what is needed for a team to work well together.
Listen to a range of responses.
Remind the children that not everyone in a team is the same. Each of us has different skills, abilities and characters. Teams work best when each person is valued, listened to and encouraged.
Thank you that there is so much to learn.
Help us to learn by puzzling out problems for ourselves,
By listening to good advice
And by following people who know better.
Help us to see the value of other people.
Help us to encourage others and work hard to bring unity in every situation.
‘God is love’ (Come and Praise, 36)
‘We’re all in this together’ from the film High School Musical, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbrbUfYSt0E (4.42 minutes long)