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Commonwealth Day

To celebrate Commonwealth Day (10 March 2008), and to explore the idea that we can do some things better together than apart.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To celebrate Commonwealth Day (10 March 2008), and to explore the idea that we can do some things better together than apart.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a large hiking shoe or boot and a lace for it.
  • A large pile of newspapers, two or three of which have been rolled and taped to make tubes.
  • Sticky tape.
  • For reference, these are the countries of the Commonwealth: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Commonwealth Day falls on the second Monday in March.


  1. Explain that you have two tasks this morning for which you need some help, and ask for two volunteers. Choose a younger child to lace up the shoe. The second task will be almost impossible for one person to do alone so choose an older, confident child who is unlikely to be upset by failure.

    The younger child has to simply lace up the hiking boot on display. The older child has to build an oil rig using newspaper tubes and tape.

    Give the children some time to complete their tasks. Keep up a running commentary.
  2. Discuss with your volunteers, and the other children, how they got on. It will hopefully be obvious that the first task could be carried out successfully by one person. The second volunteer, however, could have done with lots more help. How many volunteers would the children have put on the job? Would they have suggested different tasks for different volunteers?
  3. Explain to the children that this little activity was to show that we can do some things better together than apart. If your teacher asked you to sharpen her pencil would she want the whole class involved? But if your teacher asked you to tidy up the room at the end of the day, could one person be expected to do it all successfully?
  4. Imagine if you had to think about looking after the needs of 2 billion people. Would you give that job to one person, or two or three, or do you think this might be a time when ‘we can do some things better together than apart’?

    Explain that this is the whole idea behind an organization called the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth is a group of 53 countries around the world. Does anyone know any of the countries in the Commonwealth?

    If you live in one of these countries you are called a Commonwealth citizen. For us the Commonwealth is particularly important because our Queen is the head of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is made up of countries which long ago all belonged to what was called the British Empire.

    The Commonwealth was set up so that these countries could work together for the common good, to benefit one another. The work of the Commonwealth nations is to improve the life of its 2 billion citizens. The Commonwealth nations cooperate and consult one another on different matters and problems that might arise in one of their countries or in the world at large. They believe they can do more together than apart.

    Monday 10 March 2008 is a very important day in these 53 countries around the world. It is called Commonwealth Day. On Commonwealth Day each year the Commonwealth flag is flown on all government buildings from sunrise till sunset. Each of the 53 countries can tune in to the radio at exactly 3 p.m. local time and hear the Queen’s message to the Commonwealth. The Queen and the royal family go to Westminster Abbey for a special service. Every four years the Commonwealth countries hold the Commonwealth Games.
  5. This year the theme for the Commonwealth is ‘The Environment – Our Future’. What issues do you think they might discuss? What problems to do with the environment would you want them to discuss?

Time for reflection


What can I do with others better than I can do on my own?



Dear God,

We thank you for the Commonwealth.

We thank you for these nations,

which are trying to work together to help their citizens and our world.

We pray for the leaders who come together to discuss important things.

We pray that you will help them this year as they talk about the environment.

We thank you for the beautiful world which you created.

Help these leaders to make decisions which will protect our environment

so that others coming after us can enjoy it too.



‘I belong to a family’ (Come and Praise, 69)

Publication date: March 2008   (Vol.10 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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