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Happy New Year!

The year ahead

by Jan Edmunds (revised, originally published in 2006)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the beginning of the new year and the changes that it could bring.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a large, empty cardboard box labelled ‘Our New Year’s Resolutions’. At the start of the assembly, position the box so that the children can see the box, but not the label.
  • Optional: you may wish to display the poem in the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly, or pre-arrange for a child to read it.


  1. Welcome the children and point out that now that Christmas is over, we can look forward to a new year, a new term and a fresh start.

  2. Explain that this is the time of year when many people make New Year’s resolutions. They decide that they would like to change things or do something to make themselves better people.

    Optional: you might like to give an example of something that you’ve decided to do; ask other members of staff to join in by revealing their good intentions, but warn them first!

  3. Show the empty box to the children, turning it so that they can read the label.

    Ask the children to think for a few moments about any resolution they might have already planned or might like to consider for this new year. Let the suggestions come from them, but if prompting is needed, you could suggest some of the following: to try harder at school, to be more helpful at home, to save some pocket money instead of spending it all every week, to try not to use bad language, to eat less junk food, to be more considerate or to try something new.

  4. Explain that, at the beginning of this new year, you would like to fill the box with the children’s ideas about the changes that they intend to make.

    Encourage the children to put up their hands and discuss.

    Depending on the response, select, with a show of hands, the most popular good intentions. Write them down on separate pieces of paper and ask children to put them in the box.

    Tell the children that, now that some of their New Year’s resolutions are in the box, it would be great if we could all encourage one another to keep them.

  5. Point out that a new year is like an adventure into the unknown. We don’t know what will happen or where we might be going. It’s like driving along a road not knowing what’s round the corner, climbing a hill not being able to see what’s on the other side or going into a long tunnel wondering what it will be like when we come out. We will meet new friends, we will learn new things and we will all get another year older. There are so many things over which we have no control.

  6. Point out that we can, however, control our own behaviour and how we treat others.

    Encourage the children to enter this new year full of hope that each of us can help to make the world a better place by what we say and do.

  7. Invite the children to continue to add to the box of resolutions, which will be placed somewhere in the school where they can write down any further resolutions when they have had longer to think about them. Explain that you will look forward to reading what they plan to do.

Time for reflection

Another year is dawning, we’ll have adventures new.
Who knows what will happen? Who knows what we’ll do?
We’re full of good intentions as we try to mend our ways
By making resolutions – some get broken within days!
Let’s hope this year is peaceful. Let’s hope that all is calm.
That we can work together to keep us free from harm.
Whatever our religion, whatever faith or creed,
We can all do our bit to help people in need.

Dear God,
We thank you for a new year;
A year that is full of opportunities.
Please help us to take each opportunity to make this a good year for other people and not just for ourselves.
Help us to try hard, to be courageous in attempting new things and to care for others.


‘Touch the sky’ from the film Brave, available at: (2.16 minutes long)

Publication date: January 2024   (Vol.26 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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