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Cool learning!

To show how time and concentration are valuable assets when learning.

by Mark Boden

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To show how both time and concentration are valuable assets when learning.

Preparation and materials

  • In advance of the assembly, choose a child to take part. Ask him or her to learn a sequence of 10 playing cards. Allow time and a quiet space to do this in, or give the child the sequence to take home the night before.

  • Set up a chair, CD player and headphones and a popular song (e.g. Steps, the latest dance track), at the front.

  • Optional OHP or flip-chart.



  1. Begin by asking: What makes a good learner? Responses can be recorded on an OHP/flip-chart. Explain that both time and concentration are important when learning something.

  2. Invite a child to come out and learn the sequence of 10 playing cards. Say that you will give them some time during the assembly to learn the sequence, but not quiet for concentration. Sit the volunteer on the chair, facing the assembly, and put the headphones on them, playing a very popular pop song (with lyrics).

  3. Continue to take suggestions from the assembly of what makes a good learner. Towards the end of this time, invite another child to sit just outside the room and learn the same sequence of 10 playing cards, explaining that you will give them quiet for concentration but very little time to learn.

  4. Introduce the child who has learned the sequence in advance and been given both time and concentration. Now invite all three children to face the assembly and recite their sequence in turn, leaving the child who learned the sequence in advance until last. Display the cards to the school, making sure that the chosen children cannot see them.

  5. Remind the assembly that child x learnt with time but no concentration. See how he/she does. Then that child y had concentration but no time and see how she/he does. Finally that child z had both time and concentration to learn the sequence. See how she/he does.

  6. Conclude by saying how important it is for them to concentrate whenever learning is taking place; also, to make use of time at home to learn as well as in school.

    What do you say if it doesn't work? Life is full of surprises when you're working with children and you may find that the child who's had time and concentration simply can't hold the sequence in mind, or gets stage fright! Similarly, the child with the headphones on might be brilliant at filtering out distractions. If it doesn't work as planned, point out the truth, that everyone's different and although it didn't work in this instance, in general it is true that having time and concentration is the best way to learn. Invite the children to test this in the week ahead and see what conclusions they draw.

Time for reflection

Say the following twice - once very rapidly, then again at normal speed.

Dear God
Thank you for the gifts of time and concentration.
Help us to use them both wisely.


'The ink is black' (Come and Praise, 67)

Publication date: May 2001   (Vol.3 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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