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Hopeful Waiting!

An assembly for Advent

by Manon Ceridwen James (revised, originally published in 2013)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To prepare for Advent by considering our experiences of waiting.

Preparation and materials

  • If possible, have an Advent calendar available.

  • Write out cards with the following role-play scenarios on them.

    – Waiting at a bus stop.
    – Waiting in a dentist’s waiting room.
    – Waiting to open a present.
    – Waiting for your favourite band to come on stage.


  1. Explain that you are going to be talking about Advent during this assembly.

    Ask the children what they know about Advent. Talk to them about Advent calendars and how many children will be using them to count down to Christmas. Which Advent calendars do they have?

    If possible, show an Advent calendar and invite a child to open one of the doors.

  2. Discuss how an important theme during Advent is that of waiting. To explore this, you are going to ask for some volunteers to perform a simple role play. Ask for volunteers – about four or five at a time is ideal.

  3. Show each group of children one of the prepared role-play cards.

    Give the group time to think about how they will act it out, which role each person will play and the kinds of things that they will say. Encourage the children to perform the role play and then stop them after they have effectively communicated the kind of waiting that was described on the card.

    Discuss the actions and ask the children watching to think about the different scenarios.

    - For the scenario of waiting at a bus stop, after the children have role-played this for a while, ask them how it feels to be waiting for a bus to arrive. Is it boring? Are they cold and fed up?
    - For the scenario of waiting in a dentist’s waiting room, one of the children might choose to be the dentist, another might be a receptionist and the others could be patients who are waiting to be seen. After this role play, explore with them how it feels to wait in a dentist’s waiting room. Are they nervous or worried?
    - For the scenario of waiting to open a present, one child might want to be a parent or friend who is giving the present, and another might be the one opening the present. How does it feel to have to wait? Is it exciting? Is it frustrating wanting to open a present, but having to wait until your birthday or Christmas?
    - For the scenario of waiting for your favourite band to come on stage, one child might like to be the lead singer, a couple of others could act out playing different instruments and the rest could pretend to be fans. Explore with the group how it feels to be waiting for their favourite band. Is it exciting? Overwhelming?

  4. Point out that there are different kinds of waiting: bored waiting, excited waiting, worried waiting (we call this ‘dread’) and hopeful waiting.

  5. Advent is all about waiting, but not with fear, worry or boredom. During Advent, we wait with excitement because we are celebrating the coming of a very special baby into the world. We are waiting with hope because Jesus came to bring hope to our world.

Time for reflection

Ask the children, ‘What are you hopeful for this Christmas?’

Listen to a range of responses.

Point out that many of us are hopeful for certain presents! However, there are many more things to be hopeful for, such as having a good time with family and friends, and peace in our community and further afield.

Point out that we can all contribute to others having a happy Christmas by our attitudes and behaviours. Encourage the children to think about ways in which they can help to make this a happy and hope-filled Christmas.

Dear God,
We thank you for Christmas.
Help us to celebrate Jesus’ coming with joy.
We also think of the people who are lonely or sad this Christmas.
Please help us to do everything that we can to help people who are in need.


Any songs or carols that relate to Christmas or Advent. A selection is available at: (2 hours 31 minutes long)

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