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The game of friendship

To help children think about the rules that make friendships work.

by Dr Sarah Leonard

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To help children think about the rules that make friendships work.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to make some sort of giant board for the game. This can be constructed from PE hoops or from pieces of card or paper attached together. You need between 15 and 20 ‘squares’ on the board.
  • Pieces of card or paper, smaller than the ‘squares’ on the board, to create bonus/forfeit cards.
  • Thick felt pens.
  • A couple of older children to act as scribes (they may need to be warned beforehand).
  • Blu-Tack to stick the bonus/forfeit cards on to the ‘board’.
  • Optional: A bonus card with a Bible extract about friendship written on. For example, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10.27) – win immediately!
  • A dice – the bigger the better.
  • Stickers for the two game players.
  • Note: To prevent this assembly from being slow or going on too long, be prepared with plenty of ideas for bonus/forfeit cards, and also to cut the game short if need be once children have the general idea.

Assembly

  1. Explain to the children that today they are going to think about friendship. Ask them to think about their friends. A volunteer might be asked who they are thinking about. What makes our friends special? What makes our friendships work?
  2. Tell the children that you are sure that they are very good at friendships and have got lots of friends, but what would happen if someone couldn’t make friends easily? What advice would the children be able to give to someone who was trying to make new friends, or who was new to a school? Also, what advice would they give to friends who fall out with each other?
  3. Explain the idea of making a Friendship Game. Set out the hoops or lay out the cards on the floor so that the children can see the ‘board’ that the game will be played on. Explain that this game is different from other games of this type where they would just throw the dice and move round. This game is trying to help people to be really good friends, so it will include advice on how to be a friend to others.

    Model an example of a bonus/forfeit card, such as ‘I helped someone who had fallen over – move on an extra space.’ Place this card on the board and explain that if someone landed on this square they would be able to move on an extra space, because they had done something to help make a friendship work well.
  4. Invite the children to volunteer their own ideas for other bonus/forfeit cards on the board. What might help friendships (and so involve moving forward on the board, e.g. helping someone when they are stuck / respecting someone’s property / listening carefully / cheering up a friend when they are upset, etc.); and what might hinder friendships (and so involve moving backwards on the board, e.g. talking about someone behind their back / being unkind / thinking about yourself before you think about your friend, etc.).
  5. To keep the assembly fast-paced, collect one idea at a time and have an older child write them on the pieces of card/paper. This enables you to talk to the children about their ideas without being distracted writing them down. Each child’s idea can then be placed as a bonus/forfeit on the board. Aim to have at least one third of the board covered with these bonus/forfeit cards so that the game will work.
  6. (Optional) As the children finish producing their ideas, add the Bible extract of your own. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10.27) – win immediately. Explain that this is a special ‘bonus’ square – if you land on this, you have won the game. Help the children understand that this is because someone who does this follows Jesus’ rules for friendship and you always ‘win’ if you manage this.
  7. Once sufficient ideas have been collected it’s time to play the game. Choosing two younger players as living, breathing counters works well! They throw the dice and move on the appropriate number of squares on the board. If they come across a bonus/forfeit card, they read out the message, then ask whether they should move on or move back for doing this? The winner is the first child around the board.
  8. Give the two participants stickers for helping. Explain that it doesn’t really matter who won – what matters is that everyone could learn something important about friendship from this game.

    If at all possible, after the assembly this game could be laid out in the playground to give others opportunities to look at and play the game and consolidate the message that has been shared.

Time for reflection

Reflection

In your head think about your special friend.

Think about a time when you have followed the good rules of friendship.

How does it make you feel to help your friend?

How does it make you feel to look after your friend?

How does it feel when your friend takes care of you?

Think about what an extra special place the world would be if we all followed these rules of friendship.

 

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you that we have our very special friends.

Help us always to follow your rules of friendship

and to think about our friends before we think about ourselves.

Help us to take care of each other just as you take care of us.

Amen.

Song/music

‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)

Publication date: November 2006   (Vol.8 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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