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Pause for Thought: Nothing Quite Like a Smile!

Being happy

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To encourage us to see the importance of a smile.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show Slides 1 to 5.

    Ask the children what the pictures have in common. The answer is that they all show people looking happy and smiling.

  2. Ask the children whether they can think of times when they would be likely to smile – these may include when they are happy, if they meet someone, if someone gives them a gift, when they have a photograph taken and so on.

  3. Nowadays, when we take photos of people, we expect them to smile. However, in Victorian times, it was the exact opposite. People were told: ‘Do not, on any account, smile!’

  4. Ask the children to hold serious expressions for 30 seconds. You could ask them not to smile while you attempt to make them laugh. Alternatively, you could ask a few children to come to the front to see if the other children can make them laugh.

  5. Here are a few facts about smiling.

    – There are over 18 different types of smile. For example, a smile that says ‘hello’, a smile that says you are feeling a bit sad, a smile that says you are excited and so on. Ask the children to try smiling at one another in the ways you suggest.

    – Someone who studies smiles is called a gelotologist.

    – A smile uses between five and 53 muscles.

    – When you smile, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which make you feel better.

    – People who smile more are usually liked more.

    – You can often tell if someone is smiling even if you are only speaking to them on the phone.

    – Bosses are more likely to promote people who smile.

  6. Ask the children how it makes them feel when someone smiles at them.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  7. There is a common saying: ‘A smile costs nothing, but gives much.’

    Ask the children what they think this means.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  8. A verse in the Bible says, ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’ (Proverbs 17.22)

    Point out to the children that when we smile at people, it can often make them feel happier. Suggest that the children have a go at this today.

Time for reflection

Think about people you know who smile a lot.

Think about a time when someone has given you a smile that has made you feel good.

Decide to smile at lots of people today – you may be surprised at the reaction you get!

Point out that sometimes, we don’t feel like smiling because we are sad or something bad has happened. Encourage the children to look out for those who seem sad and try to care for them.

Encourage children who are feeling sad and lonely to come and talk to an adult in school about the way they are feeling.

Dear God,
Thank you for our amazing world.
We have so much that makes us happy!
Please help us to do our part in making the world a happier place.
Please help us today to smile at others and make them happy.
Thank you that you also know when we feel sad and unhappy.
Please help us to talk to someone about it.
Thank you that we can share our problems with other people.


‘Don’t worry, be happy’ by Bobby McFerrin, available at: (4.51 minutes long)

‘Thank you, Lord, for this new day’, available at: (2.14 minutes long)

Publication date: March 2021   (Vol.23 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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