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April showers bring forth May flowers: The two faces of rain

To consider rain and how it can be an advantage as well as a disadvantage.

by Kate Fleming

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To consider rain and how it can be both an advantage and a disadvantage, and that rain has many faces. To value our weather and appreciate the comparatively temperate climate in which we live.

Note: This assembly complements the simpler Rain material featured this month as a KS1 assembly.

Preparation and materials

  • A sound-effect tape of rain - you could set a class the task of recording on a cassette some rain falling, in the week before the assembly. Or try the dried peas in a tambour or small drum effect.
    Alternatively you could simply ask children to imagine the sound of rain - it's one that they will know well. Or it might be raining as you assemble. For once you could be thankful for a rainy day!
  • Read through the story in advance. If appropriate you could split the story between a number of readers, who could take the parts of the different characters. There may be sections that you need to adapt or words that need explaining, such as 'stained glass window', 'church fete', etc., depending on the background and experience of the children.

 

Assembly

      1. Play the sound-effect tape of rain (see above).

      2. Ask the children to listen to the rain. Say that this is a sound that we are very used to in this country, especially over the last few months. Say that you are going to tell a story about how a girl called Katie realized that 'April showers bring forth May flowers' - an old phrase about the month we're in.

        The Two Faces of Rain
        By Kate Fleming

        The rain bounced off the stained glass windows so hard that Katie thought that any moment the figure of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead would break out of its lead crazy paving and wrap itself round the vicar. She smiled secretly to herself at the thought and caught her friend Debbie's eye at that exact moment, sending her and then all the rest of the Sunday school into fits of giggles. 'And finally,' said the vicar, 'don't forget the church fete on Saturday. Everyone is prepared, I hope, and each one of us is contributing in some way to our fund-raising effort. St Martin's famous spire has to be repaired and every penny counts. Let's hope that the weather is kind to us. I look forward to seeing you all and your parents at the vicarage on Saturday. Do feel free to set your stalls up as early as you like. To end Sunday school today let us sing together hymn number...'

        But Katie didn't hear any more, she was listening to the rain. Lovely when you are inside, she thought, in bed or by the fire, all warm and cosy, but walking home to the farm along the muddy lanes getting soaking wet was torture. How strange, she thought, that rain can be so comforting and yet so horrid.

        Anoraks zipped, hoods up, heads down; the tedious walk home from church through the driving rain was under way, soaking Debbie and Katie to the skin. 'Not much chance for our fairy cake stall at the fete if it's like this,' said Debbie. 'We won't be able to keep them dry, will we?'

        'No,' said Katie, 'they'll disintegrate into the vicarage lawn and feed the moles.' The vicarage lawn was well known for its molehills.

        The welcome sight of their homes, Farmer Jenkins' cottages, appeared through the torrential rain. The rain changed its personality as Katie walked through the front door to the warmth of the log fire, the smell of cooking and the loving welcome of her family.

        The following Friday afternoon Debbie and Katie, with the help of their mothers, Vicky and Sam, made the fairy cakes for their stall at St Martin's Church Fete. By Friday evening each one, with its particular flavour and topping, was encased in its frilly skirt and carefully packed in its box ready for the journey to the vicarage lawn.

        When Katie woke on Saturday morning she heard the familiar sound of rain splashing on her bedroom window. When it dribbles down the pane like that, she thought as she drew the curtains, it never seems to stop. Disappointment overwhelmed her; she had longed for a sunny day and for everything to be as she had imagined.

        '...cloudy with rain at times, this will be heavy and persistent during the late morning and early afternoon, slowly becoming drier late in the day. Wind south-west fresh to strong, maximum temperature 11 degrees centigrade, 52 degrees fahrenheit...' The weather forecaster's measured voice floated up the stairs and confirmed her expectations.

        Cakes feeding moles, thought Katie. I think I'll stay in bed, pull up the duvet and enjoy the user-friendly side to the rain. But Vicky, Katie's mum, had her own ideas and within half an hour they were on their way to St Martin's Vicarage to set up the fairy cake stall. Oh, why can't it stop? thought Katie as the windscreen wipers fought to clear the rain. Why oh why does rain have to spoil everything?

        The fairy cake stall looked more like a plastic shed than a summer fete attraction. To protect the cakes they had draped everything in heavy-duty plastic, and still the rain fell out of the grey skies. '...persistent rain during the late morning and early afternoon...' 'Why are the forecasters always right when it's bad weather?', murmured Katie to herself.

        A diesel truck, sounding remarkably like Farmer Jenkins' tractor, squelched to a stop right next to 'Fairy Cakes to Die For', the name Debbie and Katie had thought up on their wet walk home from Sunday school. Two labradors and a whippet leapt from the truck, wagging their tails, obviously madly excited to be in the rain at St Martin's Church Fete.

        'Poppy, Daisy, Holly, STAY,' said a deep voice. 'I must get the fruit and vegetables out of the truck, and I don't want you three knocking everything over, and distributing even more mud about the place.'

        'Fairy Cakes to Die For,' said the man to Katie and Debbie, 'they look delicious, and will sell well next to my fruit and vegetables to die for!'

        He then began to unload the most beautiful fruit and vegetables - long brightly-coloured carrots with vivid green tops, fat round onions with the earth still clogged on their roots, courgettes with smooth shiny patterned skins, red tomatoes waiting to be split open and eaten, and smelling like... like tomatoes.

        'Your stall looks great too,' said Katie. 'Everything is so big and colourful, and the smell!'

        'It's the rain,' said the man, 'that's why they are so good!'

        'It's stopped,' said Debbie, 'the rain has stopped.'

        'Look,' shouted Katie, 'over there, above the church! There's enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers.'

        The covers came off 'Fairy Cakes to Die For' and by six o'clock St Martin's famous spire was that much closer to being repaired. So St Martin's Church Fete dried out in the end and 'Fairy Cakes to Die For' was a success.

        Katie had discovered that listening to the rain from inside her house was a very different experience from being out in the pouring rain. She had worked out that while rain can be annoying and unpleasant, it is also good and important for life.

      3. Finish by saying something like: when you get back to your classrooms you might like to think about the many faces of rain; when we welcome it and when we don't like it or even fear it.

 

Time for reflection

Play the sound-effect tape of rain during the prayer.

Dear God,
We say thank you for the wonders of Nature,
especially this morning for the rain.
Thank you that rain is so good at keeping our world healthy, green and alive.

Let us think especially about those who long for the first splashes of rain -
people who are living through drought;
and also those who struggle against the cruel effects of floods.
Amen.

 

Song/music

'Have you heard the raindrops' (Come and Praise, 2).

Curriculum links

Science, English, PSHE

Publication date: April 2001   (Vol.3 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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