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Pause for Thought: Potential

Reaching our potential

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage us always to try our best to reach our full potential.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the children whether they know what the word ‘potential’ means.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Show Slide 1.

    Explain that a dictionary definition of ‘potential’ is ‘something that has not yet developed, but is able to come into existence’.

    Explain to the children that you are going to show them images of various items, and you want them to decide, using the definition, what ‘potential’ each thing has.

  3. Show Slide 2.

    Ask what potential seeds have.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Show Slide 3.

    Some types of seed have the potential to become flowers. Ask the children what would happen to a seed if it was never planted or watered. Talk about how the seed can only fulfil its potential to become a flower if it is planted in the correct place with the right conditions.

  4. Show Slide 4.

    Ask the children what potential candles have.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Explain that candles have the potential to give out light, or even small amounts of heat, but they can’t do this unless they are provided with a flame.

    Show Slide 5.

    Ask the children what potential the flame has. Discuss that flames have the potential to do good and bad. They can give out warmth or be used to cook food, but they can also cause great devastation.

  5. Show Slide 6.

    This picture shows an artist’s impression of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

  6. Show Slide 7.

    This picture shows the devastation caused by the Australian bush fires in early 2020.

  7. Ask the children to turn to thinking about themselves. Explain that they too have great potential. In school, they are provided with good conditions to grow and fulfil their true potential in life. However, it is up to them to work hard, take hold of any new experience that they are offered and make sure that in the future, they are the people who they are capable of being.

  8. Show Slide 8.

    Remind the children of the definition of ‘potential’.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to close their eyes and think about life in school. Ask them to think about the following questions, allowing a few moments to consider each one.

- Which things do you enjoy doing most?
- Which things do you find easy?
- Which things do you find hard? (Don’t just think about lesson time; think about breaktimes too.)
- Are there areas where you need to try a bit harder?
- Can you decide now to try to do your best in all that you do?

Dear God,
Thank you for each new day.
Thank you for giving us so many gifts and abilities.
Please help us to try hard in everything that we do so that we can achieve our true potential.


‘Reflection’ from the film Mulan, available at: (2.03 minutes long)

‘For the first time in forever’ from the film Frozen, available at: (3.42 minutes long)

Publication date: July 2021   (Vol.23 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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