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The Importance of Listening

Listening to others

by Revd Guy Donegan-Cross (revised, originally published in 2003)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the importance of listening to the things that really matter.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a phrase to whisper to six children during the Assembly, Step 2. Examples could include Im wearing a pink vest or I love birdseed and custard. You will need to have written the phrase on a piece of paper that you will reveal to the rest of the children.

  • You will also need some coins to drop on the floor.

  • Have available a clip of the sounds that crickets make and the means to play it during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. An example is available at: (1.42 minutes long)

  • Optional: you may wish to tell the story of Samuel found in 1 Samuel 3.1-18.

  • Note: this assembly considers hearing and listening. Please be sensitive to children who have hearing loss.


  1. Ask the children who they listen to when they need advice.
    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Ask six children to stand in a line, each about two feet apart.

    Show the rest of the children the piece of paper on which the phrase is written.

    Whisper the phrase into the ear of the first child and ask him/her to pass it on. The children should then pass the message along the line, each whispering what they hear to the next child. Ask the last child to tell you what he/she thinks the phrase is. Give a round of applause and ask the six children to sit down.

  3. Explain that really listening is hard. We need to learn to listen - and we need to learn to listen to what is important.

    Tell the following story.

    The Cricket

    Two friends were walking near Times Square in New York. The streets were full of people, car horns were blaring, taxis were squealing around corners and sirens were wailing. Suddenly, the first man stopped and said to his friend, I hear a cricket.
    His friend was astounded. What? You must be crazy. You couldnt possibly hear a cricket in all this noise!
    No, Im sure of it, the first man said. I heard a cricket.
    Thats crazy, said his friend.
    The first man listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was astonished. Thats incredible, he said. You must have superhuman ears! 
    No, said the first man, my ears are no different from yours. 
    But that cant be! said his friend. I could never hear a cricket with all this racket.
    Yes, you could, came the reply. Here, let me show you. 
    The man reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins and dropped them on the pavement.
    (Drop some coins on the floor.)
    Then, with the noise of the crowded street still deafening them, the two friends noticed every head within five metres turn and look to see whether the money that had tinkled onto the pavement was theirs.
    See what I mean? asked the first man. It all depends on whats important to you, what youre listening for.

Time for reflection

Explain that Christians believe that the most important person to listen to is God. They believe that he wants to speak to us. If appropriate, you could briefly tell the story of Samuel hearing God (1 Samuel 3.1-18) in your own words.

Ask the children to be quiet, close their eyes and listen.

If available, play the clip of the sounds that crickets make.

If the clip is not available, ask the children to listen to the sounds around them in the assembly room, and those coming from outside.

Encourage the children to take time during the day to listen to the sounds around them.

Dear God,
Help us to be good listeners.
Help us to listen to our friends.
Help us to listen to our teachers.
Hep us to listen at home and at school.
Help us to listen to you.
Help us to learn the importance of sometimes being quiet and still.


‘Nature sounds of a forest’, available at:

Publication date: September 2019   (Vol.21 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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