Remembering to Remember
When to remember and when to forget
by Rachel Bird (revised, originally published in 2005)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider that there are times when it is good to remember and times when it is best to forget.
Preparation and materials
- To play Kim’s Game, you will need a selection of items (between 10 and 25, depending on the age of the children), a tray and a cloth that covers the tray.
The game involves asking the children to look at the items and then try to remember them when they are removed from sight.
Alternatively, you may prefer to use images of items, in which case you will also need the means to display them during the assembly. You should choose the number of items according to age and required difficulty:
- nine items, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y4kjdpsc
- 24 items, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y4bsc2n9
- In the ‘Assembly’, Step 5, if you wish the children to write down their answers, you will also need to provide pens and paper. Alternatively, you may wish to provide a whiteboard and pen for an adult to write down the answers that the children give.
- Tell the children that you are going to play a memory game. (You may like to start with a small number of items and progress to a larger number.)
Show the tray of items or the images of items.
Go though the items one by one, holding them up or pointing to them and naming them. Leave them on the tray or on the screen for a few moments in full view.
Hide the tray of items or the images of items.
- Ask the children to keep trying to remember the items while you carry on with the assembly. Talk briefly about how we are not always good at remembering things. Point out that many adults have reminders on their phones or a diary or calendar to remind them of things that they need to remember.
- If possible, give an example of something that you forgot recently, such as someone’s birthday or anniversary.
Ask the children whether they have forgotten anything recently.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Ask if anyone knows which animal is said to never forget.
The answer is the elephant. Point out that although that may be true of elephants, it is certainly not always true for human beings!
- Ask the children whether they can remember the items that were on the tray or shown on the screen.
You may wish to ask the children to form groups and write their answers down. Alternatively, you may prefer to see whether everyone can remember all the items between them. You may wish to use a whiteboard and ask an adult to write down the answers given.
- Show the tray of items or the images of items.
See whether all of the items were guessed correctly and comment on how well the children did. If they missed out any items, remind them of that.
- Explain that our memories are important, but human beings often forget things.
It’s good if we can find ways to remember special things that are important to other people. It means a lot to people if we remember their birthday, ask how their evening was or ask how things went at an appointment with the doctor or dentist. It can show that we care about other people.
- Point out that at this time of year, we have a special time of remembrance on 11 November.
Ask if anyone can tell you what we remember at this time and why.
If appropriate, you could then move to an act of remembrance (see the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly) to finish, or you could continue with the next step below.
- Explain that sometimes, it can be good to have a short memory. Ask if anyone can think why this might be.
If we’ve been upset about something or fallen out with someone, we may not be very good at forgetting about it and moving on afterwards. We keep remembering the thing that upset us and bringing it up again. So, sometimes, it’s good to be able to forgive and, even if we don’t completely forget, to move on and leave things behind.
- Explain that Christians and people of other faiths believe that God has a great memory. The Bible tells us that God knows all about us, every detail - even the number of hairs on our heads - and that he won’t forget us. However, God is a fantastic, loving God who doesn’t hold the things we’ve done against us.
We were saying before that sometimes, as human beings, we keep remembering the bad things that other people have done. Christians believe that God is not like that. When we say we’re sorry, God forgives us, accepts our apology and lets us move on and start again. God wipes the slate clean.
- Another thing that Christians believe is that they should not forget God. The Bible encourages Christians not to forget the things that God has done for them. It tells us that God’s love is for everyone and that he wants us to love other people.
Time for reflection
Ask the children to think about how they can show someone that they care today, by remembering something that’s important to them.
Alternatively, read out the following reflection.
We remember all the brave men and women who have fought in wars all over the world.
We think of them and their families.
We think of everyone serving in the armed forces on behalf of the people of our country.
We remember them all in a short time of silence.
We thank you that you love us and that you never forget us.
We pray that you will help us never to forget you either.
We thank you for all the brave people in the armed services and we remember all those who have been killed or injured.
We think of the families of those in the armed forces and ask you to be close to them.
Please help us to use our memories in the best way.
The ‘Last Post’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCDWYgVyps (1.44 minutes long)