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November remembrances

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To encourage us to consider the importance of remembering.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be familiar with the historical facts of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which are given in the ‘Assembly’, Step 6.
  • If possible, prepare a personal example for the ‘Assembly’, Step 2.


  1. Ask the children which important dates they remember.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Answers might include birthdays, festivals, historical dates, anniversaries and so on.

  2. Ask the children, ‘Has anyone ever forgotten an important date?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    If possible, give a personal example of a time when you forgot an important date, such as a birthday or anniversary, and what happened.

  3. Point out that memory is an important function of the brain. It’s where we store information that we can retrieve when we need it. Sometimes, we store information deliberately, such as revising for tests or taking a message for a teacher. However, often, memory is unconscious, taking place as we live from minute to minute.

    We have both short-term memory - where we remember recent events and then quickly discard them - and long-term memory, which enables us to recall events from many years ago.

  4. Read out the following rhyme.

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

  5. Ask the children, ‘Does anyone know what this rhyme is about?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

  6. Tell the children the following facts about Bonfire Night.

    - It is celebrated every year on 5 November.
    - It is the anniversary of a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
    - This failed attempt is known as the Gunpowder Plot.
    - The plot was to blow up King James I and the government ministers.
    - Guy Fawkes was part of the Gunpowder Plot, and was in charge of the explosives.
    - The plotters placed 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars underneath the Houses of Parliament.
    - One of the plotters wrote a letter to his friend who worked in Parliament, warning him to stay away on 5 November.
    - Guards found the plotters and they were arrested.
    - Traditionally, children would build a dummy of a man to represent Guy Fawkes and go round the neighbourhood asking for ‘a penny for the guy’. These guys were then placed on the bonfire to be burned on Bonfire Night.

  7. Remembering is an important part of living a happy and productive life.

    Point out that a week after Bonfire Night, we remember something else. Remembrance Day happens every year on 11 November, and it is a time when we stop to remember all those who have fought or are fighting in wars all over the world. We particularly remember those who served, were injured or lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

Time for reflection

Ask the children to think of a happy memory.

Some memories are happy and some are sad. Some memories remind us of important lessons. November offers many opportunities to remember.

We remember Guy Fawkes and are reminded that violence is never a good way to sort out differences.

We remember people who have been, and are, involved in wars around the world. We are reminded of the importance of listening to each other and learning how to live in peace.

Dear God,
Thank you for the gift of our memories.
This November, please help us to learn from the times when we are encouraged to remember.
May we learn from our own experiences in the past.
Please help us all to make special memories with one another.

Publication date: November 2023   (Vol.25 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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