Pause for Thought: How Funny?
World Laughter Day is on 2 May 2021
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the benefits of laughter.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the YouTube video ‘The Laughing Policeman – Charles Jolly/Penrose’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.36 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI1nPd7hezM
- Ask the children what was the most recent thing that made them laugh. Emphasize that you’re talking about a deep belly laugh, not merely a chuckle.
Listen to a range of responses. Encourage a variety of stimuli such as mishaps, jokes, cartoons and moments from films, TV programmes or online clips.
- Ask the children, ‘How did you feel after you’d finished laughing?’
Listen to a range of responses.
- Optional: ask the children whether they have any funny stories or jokes to share. You may wish to arrange this prior to the assembly so that you can check the content!
- Explain that scientists tell us that laughing can have a great effect on us. Apparently, it helps us to relax, feel more awake and feel happier. It can help us to feel less worried and stressed.
- Laughter also has many social benefits. Laughter is contagious: when one person starts laughing, it’s hard to resist joining in. Sometimes, we forget the original cause of the laughter because we’re so lost in laughing with and at each other. This is particularly significant when the laughter comes in the middle of a conflict situation. It’s very difficult to be at odds with one another when we’re laughing. The conflict has been defused.
- So, the traditional saying appears to be true: ‘laughter is the best medicine’. The Bible endorses this too: one of the verses in the Book of Proverbs starts, ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine.’
Time for reflection
Point out that 2 May 2021 is World Laughter Day. This falls on a Sunday, though, so the children won’t be in school. Suggest that maybe the school should make May ‘Laughing Month’, when we create every opportunity to laugh. May laughter be the soundtrack for the month of May! But how do we do it?
Every laugh begins with a smile and smiling is easy to do. We don’t even need a reason. Turn to one another and give a smile. Notice how it starts with the mouth, but then builds with the eyes until your whole face is smiling.
Pause to allow time for some smiles to develop.
That’s good. We can put a reason behind our smiles too. We are often encouraged to count our blessings; in other words, to think of everything in our lives that is good. It may take some effort, especially if we’re going through a hard time. Nevertheless, it’s possible to think of people, of successes, of simple things that we enjoy, even if there are just one or two. Then, we can smile because we’re grateful for these things.
Explain that laughing with people is good for us. When someone else laughs, we often start to laugh too.
Explain that you are going to play a recording of a very old song called ‘The laughing policeman’. Encourage the children to join in with the chorus of laughter and continue laughing when the song has finished.
Show the YouTube video ‘The Laughing Policeman – Charles Jolly/Penrose’.
‘The laughing policeman’ by Charles Jolly, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI1nPd7hezM (2.36 minutes long)