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Facing your fears

To help children to become more sensitive to the fears and feelings of others.

by Alan Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To help children to become more sensitive to the fears and feelings of others.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly can be used at any time but is particularly relevant around the time of Halloween.
  • If the assembly is delivered at or around Halloween, you will need a large pumpkin, kept hidden until required.
  • An empty lidded box will serve as the ‘mood-box’ for the drama exercise.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to think back (or forward depending on the time of year) to Halloween – a festival when many people have fun, but could it also have another purpose?
  2. Uncover the pumpkin. Is anyone surprised? What can you tell from their faces? Refer to the tradition of carving a face by hollowing out a pumpkin. What kind of face should it be? Friendly or fierce?
  3. Invite the children to consider how their faces can reveal how they feel inside. Refer to the way that actors use facial expressions to convey the feelings of their characters.

    Hold a fun warm-up session. Show the ‘mood-box’, and challenge individuals to open the box and respond to the imaginary contents by showing different emotions: e.g. fierce, frightened, sad, happy, disgusted, surprised, puzzled, friendly. Can the audience guess the mood from the actor’s face?
  4. Tell this story from the Bible and invite the children to enter into the feelings of the characters: first, Jesus’ frightened friends, then the aggression of Legion. Encourage them to participate using appropriate facial expressions. Assume the role (and authority!) of Jesus in telling the story.

    The look on their faces
    (A simple retelling of stories from Luke 8)

    I shall always remember the look on their faces. We’d had a really busy day, and I suggested that we should borrow a boat and sail across the Sea of Galilee to find a peaceful spot. My friends all nodded and smiled.

    ‘Good idea,’ they said.

    I was so tired I fell asleep in the boat. How was I to know a fierce storm was coming? The wind blew like a hurricane, the boat rocked to and fro, but it didn’t wake me. My friends did, though. For a moment, I wondered what was wrong. I could see they were terrified.

    ‘Don’t you care? We’re going to drown!’ they screamed.

    I stood up and said: ‘Peace, be still.’ The wind began to die down and the waves became calm. And my friends, who were still shaking, looked surprised and puzzled, and exclaimed: ‘Wow! What was all that about?’

    When we got to shore, we met another storm – one in someone’s mind! First we heard strange cries and banging noises. Then we found a man living among the rocks and caves. He shouted and made fierce faces at us. He was very ill.

    People shook their heads. They told us that he ran around like an animal. He even cut himself with rocks. They had tried to help him, but didn’t know how. Everyone was very frightened of him.

    But, when he saw that we weren’t frightened, Legion (that was the man’s name) came across to us. We talked, and gradually his face became gentler and the wild look disappeared from his eyes. I told him to go to his friends to explain that he was better. I knew that wouldn’t be difficult. You could tell it from his face! And, from their faces, I could tell his friends were pleased too!
  5. Conclude by inviting everyone to become more aware of the feelings of others – through looking at their faces and remembering that a smile can give so much help and encouragement.
  6. And what of Halloween festivities or other times when we sense that people are becoming nervous or even frightened? Reflect that it can be fun to face our fears … but … if it is obvious from their faces that anyone (especially the old or very young) is really frightened … then (don’t be a pumpkin!) … be sensitive to how others feel!

Time for reflection

Reflection

We like to be scared – sometimes: a spooky story, a scary film, perhaps a dare.

But we don’t all feel the same. Your ‘fun’ may be someone else’s fear; their ‘joke’ may be your fear!

 

Prayer

Loving God,

May your love and strength be felt in our hearts

and shown in our faces,

today and every day.

Amen.

Song/music

‘Heavenly Father, may thy blessing’ (Come and Praise, 62)

Publication date: December 2007   (Vol.9 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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