Which path should we choose?
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider that there are many paths that we may choose to follow in life.
Preparation and materials
- You will need some raw spaghetti.
- Optional: you may wish to challenge some children to build the tallest tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows in the ‘Assembly’, Step 2, in which case you will also need some marshmallows. Teams of two are best.
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Spaghetti Junction’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.26 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKA-utioNCU
- In the ‘Assembly’, Step 6, you may wish to show the children an image of a Staffordshire knot, in which case you will also need the means to do so. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/qr4l9dq
- Show the long strands of spaghetti to the children.
Ask the children a range of questions such as:
- what is this?
- could you eat this?
- how would you cook it?
- does anyone know any recipes that might include this ingredient?
- Ask the children, ‘If you were given some of this spaghetti to play with, what might you do with it?’
Listen to a range of responses.
The children will probably talk about using the spaghetti to build things. Encourage discussions around the words ‘build’, ‘straight’, ‘hard’, ‘brittle’ and ‘structure’.
Optional: challenge two teams to build the tallest free-standing tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows as you continue with the assembly.
- Ask the children whether they have heard of somewhere called Spaghetti Junction.
Ask if any of the children know what Spaghetti Junction is and where it can be found.
Explain that it is a complicated network of busy roads that was opened in Birmingham nearly 50 years ago.
- Tell the children that you are going to show them a video about Spaghetti Junction and ask them to listen carefully as they watch.
Show the YouTube video ‘Spaghetti Junction’.
- Ask the children the following questions about the video.
- Which roads come together here? (Answer: the M6, A38 and A5127.)
- How many levels are there? (Answer: five levels.)
- What other transport networks cross in this area? (Answer: two railway lines, two canals and three rivers.)
- How many miles of road does it cover? (Answer: 13.5 miles.)
- Ask the children for suggestions as to why this intersection of roads is called Spaghetti Junction.
In fact, it was journalists from the Birmingham Evening Mail who first gave Spaghetti Junction its name. When a reporter saw the plans for it way back in 1965, he described the interchange as ‘a cross between a plate of spaghetti and an unsuccessful attempt at a Staffordshire knot’.
Show the image of a Staffordshire knot, if available.
- Go on to explain that Spaghetti Junction is built high up on a total of 559 concrete columns. The children will be glad to know that concrete is much stronger than spaghetti!
- From above, Spaghetti Junction looks quite confusing and if you are driving on it, you need to concentrate particularly hard. Drivers need to change lanes to make sure that they turn off at the correct junction. Parents might ask the children to be quiet so that they can concentrate. If they’re heading to Oxford or London and they take the wrong lane, they could find themselves on their way to Wales! Sometimes, drivers can get impatient with each other, plus rush hours and holiday seasons can be incredibly busy and become a bit of a nightmare.
Time for reflection
Suggest that sometimes, life can be a bit like Spaghetti Junction. It can get pretty busy and stressful. We might feel like we are all over the place, unsure of what to do next or which path we should take. We might feel like there is pressure from other people to do a particular thing or act in a certain way; the way to go is not always clear. Every day, we have many choices to make and these can take us in various directions.
Remind the children that when Jesus called his first disciples, it was with the words, ‘Follow me.’ He was asking the fishermen to leave their jobs and come with him, to take the route that he was taking. However, he was also suggesting more than that. By saying, ‘Follow me,’ Jesus also meant, ‘Copy what I do and how I live.’ Jesus knew that we would need help to go the right way.
Imagine that you’re new to Spaghetti Junction. It’s rush hour near Birmingham and it’s the holiday season. Everywhere is very busy and crowded. Now imagine that there is a police car accompanying you. It stays immediately ahead of you at a steady pace with its lights flashing and its driver is keeping a watchful eye on you. You could be sure to reach your destination without all the usual stresses.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Christians believe that if we follow Jesus’ teaching, we will keep on the right road and he will guide us throughout our lives.
Thank you that you came to show us the right route to take for our lives.
Help us today to keep our eyes on you and to follow you.
When we feel afraid, please help us to remember that you will never leave us and are always there beside us.