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Control It!

What can we control?

by Alexandra Palmer

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider what it means to have self-control.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Control It!) and the means to display them.
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Slapstick Theater (Paul’s letter about self-control)’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.18 minutes long and is available at:
  • Optional: you may also wish to use the extension activity (Control It! - Extension Activity) that accompanies this assembly.


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Explain that you are going to show the children a series of objects. For each one, you will show them a small part of a bigger object and you want them to guess what the object is.

    For each object, listen to a range of responses before revealing the answer on the next slide.

  2. Show Slide 14.

    Ask the children, ‘What do all of these objects have in common?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Show Slide 15.

    Explain that all of the objects are operated by a remote control.

  4. Ask the children to give some examples of when they might use the word ‘control’.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Explain that we could use the word in terms of having control over others. For example, a teacher might have control over his or her class. We could also talk about control in terms of having control over the things that we do and say ourselves. This is called self-control.

  5. Tell the children that, in the Bible, there is a man called Paul who teaches about the importance of self-control.

    Provide the following background information about Paul.

    After Jesus returned to heaven, there was a person called Saul who treated Jesus’ followers really badly, often arresting them and taking them to prison. One day, he was travelling along a road to a place called Damascus when Jesus spoke to him from heaven. From that day on, Saul’s life changed. He took the name Paul and became a follower of Jesus, travelling around the Roman Empire and teaching people about God. Paul wrote letters to various churches that were set up during his travels, and many of these letters appear in the Bible. One of these letters focuses on the importance of self-control.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Slapstick Theater (Paul’s letter about self-control)’.

  6. Ask the children the following questions.

    - Why do you think Paul had to write about discipline to the churches? (Answer: Paul knew that it was important to learn how to behave in the right way by working hard, being kind to others and treating each other with respect.)
    - Paul encouraged people to be like athletes. What do all athletes want to achieve when they’re in a race? (Answer: they want to do well and hopefully come first and win the prize.)
    - For athletes to win a race, what do they need to do in the months leading up to it? (Answer: they need to train and become stronger and better in their event.)
    - Paul encouraged people to run to win. He wasn’t encouraging them to take part in an actual race; he was using the idea as a metaphor. What do you think it was a metaphor for? (Answer: no matter what we do in life, we should do it to the best of our ability by being committed and self-disciplined. This also means displaying self-control and working hard.)

Time for reflection

Ask the children whether they think that self-control is important at school. (You might like to take a vote by asking the children to raise their hand.)

Ask the children why they think that self-control is important at school.

Listen to a range of responses.

Explain that having self-control in the classroom is really important because it helps the whole class to work together and be a team.

Ask the children, ‘If we have self-control and work hard at school, what sort of prize could we win?’

Listen to a range of responses.

Suggestions may include the following.

- People in school will be happy, which will help everyone to enjoy learning.
- Friendships will grow.
- W
e may win awards such as Star of the Week for working hard and being kind towards others.
We may be chosen to take part in a sports team and represent the school.
Having self-control and working hard will help us to achieve our aims in life.

Ask the children, ‘Can you control all things?’

Listen to a range of responses.

Explain to the children that we can’t control everything: there will always be things that are out of our control. For example, we can control the things that we say and do at school, but we don’t have control over the things that we have to learn. Children have to learn maths, reading and writing even if they sometimes feel like they don’t want to!

For the things that we don’t want to do, we need to learn self-control over our attitudes. We have to decide between having a good, positive attitude or a bad, negative attitude.

Ask the children, ‘Is God in control?’

Listen to a range of responses.

Explain that Christians believe that God can always be in control, but he doesn’t always take control because he wants us to make our own decisions.

Dear God,
Thank you for Paul’s teaching, which is relevant to us today.
Thank you for the self-control that we have.
Thank you for the times when we’ve helped others and been kind to them because we’ve had self-control.
Please help us when we struggle with self-control.
Please help us to allow other people to help us.


‘Our God is a great big God’, available at: (3 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. Give each child a copy of the sheet that accompanies this assembly (Control It! - Extension Activity). Ask them to use the sheet to reflect on what things are in their control, what is out of their control and how this makes them feel.
Publication date: April 2022   (Vol.24 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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