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Keeping Safe in November

World Tsunami Awareness Day is on 5 November

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To celebrate early warning systems that protect people from harm.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the story of ‘The Fire of Rice Sheaves’ to read out during the assembly. A version is available at:
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Tsunami drills unfold in 90 schools in Asia’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 4.50 minutes long, but you should show it from 2.50 minutes. It is available at:


  1. Begin with the words, ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November.’

    Ask the children whether they recognize these words and whether they can continue the rhyme.

    The full rhyme goes like this.

    Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  2. Ask the children what happened on that date and what they associate with 5 November.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Suggestions may include the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament, bonfires and fireworks.

  3. Explain to the children that in Japan, there is a different celebration on 5 November. Like Bonfire Night in the UK, the celebration has to do with fire, but in this case, it was a fire that saved the lives of hundreds of people. If the fire hadn’t been lit, they might have drowned in a giant wave, known as a tsunami.

  4. Read out the story of ‘The Fire of Rice Sheaves’.

    Highlight how one man’s vision and effort saved the lives of many people. 

    Point out that the people of Japan still remember this man’s sacrifice. In the town where the story is set, there is now a tsunami education centre.

  5. Explain the following facts about earthquakes.

    - In some areas of the world, earthquakes happen deep underground.
    - This is because long layers of rocks shift slightly and cause disturbances that can be felt far away.
    - Often, these earthquakes happen under the ocean. The shock waves from earthquakes trigger a powerful effect on the sea, which becomes churned up. Great waves go racing across miles of sea, getting bigger and bigger and more powerful all the time.

  6. Explain that, as a result of some very severe tsunamis, the United Nations General Assembly designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day. Japan put the idea forward, being a country that has great expertise in this area of natural disaster.

    The purpose of the day is to increase awareness about tsunamis among over 700 million people who live in low-lying coastal areas and on small islands. If people are aware of a danger, they can plan how to keep safe should it happen. World Tsunami Awareness Day educates the public about early warning signs, teaches the actions that they can take to stay safe and advises on rebuilding after a tsunami in order to reduce future impact.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Tsunami drills unfold in 90 schools in Asia’ from 2.50 minutes.

  7. Ask the children what the children in the video were advised to do to keep safe. (When the warning siren went, they had to put their bag above their head and take shelter immediately under a table, keeping calm. When it was safe, they had to leave the building in pairs and make for higher ground by following evacuation routes. The teacher helped by having a megaphone and a list of names.)

  8. Remind the children of the fire drills that they take part in to make sure that they are kept safe in an emergency. Talk through the procedure with the children.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to think about different people or organizations that help to keep them safe.

Remind the children about safety issues concerning Bonfire Night, such as fireworks, taking care with sparklers and looking after pets.

Encourage the children to think about ways in which we can help to keep each other safe, both physically and mentally.

Dear God,
Thank you for the story of ‘The Fire of Rice Sheaves’ and the way in which one man helped his fellow villagers to safety.
Thank you for all the ways in which people teach others to keep safe.
Please help us to play our part in keeping others safe.
Please help us always to take time to think about the needs of others.

Publication date: November 2021   (Vol.23 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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