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Think for yourself

To stress the importance of learning to think for ourselves.

by Gordon and Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To stress the importance of learning to think for ourselves.

Preparation and materials

  • No preparation is needed other than reading through the story in advance. For those with pastoral responsibilities, the assembly could be linked to anti-bullying or personal safety policies.


  1. Introduce a game of ‘Simon says’ – the children have to follow your instructions but only if you preface the instruction with ‘Simon says’. So you might say:

    Simon says clap your hands.
    Simon says wiggle your finger.
    Simon says put your thumb up.
    Put your thumb down.

    Try this several times and let children who make a mistake join in again each time.
  2. Say that this game is a bit like life in school, where teachers and other adults ask us to do things and we usually do as we’re asked. Having someone we trust telling us to do something is a bit like when we play ‘Simon says’. We do as we’re asked because of who has asked us. But what if we’re not sure what we’re being asked to do? Tell the following short story about a girl called Sarah who did what she was told:

    Class 2 were all very excited because they had a special visitor in school. Her name was Sakti Suri. She was a writer and she wrote some of the children’s favourite stories. When she walked into the room, Sarah couldn’t hold back her excitement.

    ‘Hooray, she’s here!’ Sarah shouted. Her teacher, Mrs Phillips, gave a stern look but she didn’t say anything because she knew just how excited Sarah was. Sarah’s favourite story was Doingnothing the Cat by the very same Sakti Suri.

    Sakti Suri said she was going to read them three stories. The first two were very good but Sarah so wanted to hear her favourite that she began twisting about on the floor in the story corner. Mrs Phillips finally decided that it was time to say something.

    ‘Sarah,’ she said in a firm but kind voice, ‘I know how excited you are but I want you to calm down and sit still. I want you to listen very carefully and do exactly what you’re asked to do. Can you do that?’

    ‘Yes, Mrs Phillips,’ said Sarah; and she did. She sat up straight when she was asked and she didn’t make a peep when Sakti Suri introduced the last story. It was Doingnothing the Cat. She listened extra carefully to her favourite story and she enjoyed it more than ever because it was read by the person who wrote it.

    After the story, Mrs Phillips said that she wanted the class to show their guest how good they were at drama, so some of the children would act out the last story. ‘Sarah,’ she said, ‘you can be Doingnothing.’

    Sarah sat very still. ‘Come on, then, let’s have you, Doingnothing,’ said Mrs Phillips, but Sarah still did not move. In fact, she sat more still than ever. Mrs Phillips started to get cross with her. ‘Sarah,’ she said in a firm voice, ‘I have asked you twice to be Doingnothing, so why are you sitting there doing nothing?’

    The rest of the class began to laugh and then so did Mrs Phillips and Sakti Suri. Then Sarah realized what had happened and she began to laugh too.

    Mrs Phillips said, ‘Ten out of ten for doing as you’re asked, Sarah. But perhaps you need to think things through for yourself just a little bit more. Perhaps I need to be a little bit clearer when I ask you to do things too. Now, come out to the front and show us all what a great cat called Doingnothing you can be.’ And that’s exactly what Sarah did.

Time for reflection


Did Sarah think about what she was being asked to do?

Did her teacher, Mrs Phillips, make it clear what she was asking Sarah to do?

When your friends ask you to do things, do you think carefully about whether it’s the right thing to do or not?


Dear God,
Help us to learn to think well and wisely for ourselves.



‘Welcome, welcome’ (Come and Praise Beginning, 15)

Publication date: March 2006   (Vol.8 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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