Making the most of every opportunity
by Brian Radcliffe (revised, originally published in 2012)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider how new opportunities may develop from unlikely beginnings.
Preparation and materials
- Have available a few twigs that have buds on them. Alternatively, have available an image of the same and the means to display it. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/2ur3v84d
- Show the twigs or the image of them.
Announce that you are holding the future.
Ask the children whether they have any idea what you might mean by that statement.
Listen a range of responses.
- Explain that although they might not look like much, these slim, brown twigs are bursting with opportunity. If you look closely, you will see that each one has the beginnings of tiny buds. In a few weeks, these buds will have developed into stems, leaves and flowers.
You can see similar signs of the future in gardens, woods and hedgerows, on roadside verges and even on patches of wasteland. We are in springtime, the season of newness.
- Explain that new things in nature are usually small. A baby rabbit, a puppy or a kitten is tiny when it is born. It’s the same with a human baby. It’s possible to hold a new baby in the curve of your arm. Yet just like the buds on the twig, the potential for the future is astounding.
Every famous person was once a tiny baby. (Name some famous people.) When their parents first saw them, they had no idea what these little bundles of new life would become.
- New things are bursting with potential, but it’s not always obvious from the start. New life is also fragile. It would be easy to snap this twig or pull off the buds and destroy the potential for life that exists there. Similarly, we might feel nervous when holding a new baby because it’s so tiny and vulnerable.
We need to protect new life and give it the time and space that it needs to develop. Each one of us is an example of that.
- Ask the children what sorts of new things they might come across.
Listen to a range of responses.
Explain that newness appears in various forms. Each new day is bursting with opportunities: new people to meet, new information to read or hear, new time that we can fill, new problems that need solving, new needs to address and new places to go.
- Explain that, in a sense, we are all like this twig. When we first get the opportunity to do something new, we don’t necessarily know where the opportunity might lead. Sometimes, we don’t realize how good we are at something or how much we enjoy it until we’ve had a go! Likewise, we can’t find out what great friends we might be with someone until we’ve made an effort to get to know them.
- One opportunity can often lead to another. If we don’t give our time and energy to the first small, initial opportunity, we may never come across the second.
However, opportunities don’t last forever. It’s important to take opportunities as they arise, rather than have regrets later.
Time for reflection
During springtime, it can be good to take a walk and deliberately look for signs of new life in nature. This new life gives us a sense of what’s to come and optimism for the future.
Maybe we could take a similar approach to what we do today. We could look out for opportunities by:
– saying something to someone we don’t know very well
– exploring what’s on in school and in the local community and joining in
– finding out whether volunteers are needed for any projects
Imagine what the potential of any of these opportunities might be. However, don’t just think about it and then put off doing anything about it. The opportunity may not come again.
Thank you for the newness of each day.
Thank you for new friends to make and for new time to fill.
Thank you for new activities to get involved in.
May we all fulfil our potential and make the most of the opportunities that we have.
‘When you believe’ from the film The Prince of Egypt, available at: https://youtu.be/NieC8KA0EvI (4.44 minutes long)