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Spring cleaning our talents

To explore the idea that talents, if not used, can be lost.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the idea that talents, if not used, can be lost.

Preparation and materials

  • The story below can simply be read to the children by the adult taking the assembly. Alternatively, involve another adult to take the part of Mrs Nupin.
  • For the second option you will need: apron, mob cap, yellow gloves, black sacks, mop, brush, duster, toothbrush, furniture polish, a sock and apple core.


  1. Read or read and act out the story.

    Spring Cleaning
    by Janice Ross

    Like most people Mrs Nupin welcomed the warmer, brighter days of spring. However, Mrs Nupin didn't relish the idea of starting the spring-cleaning chores. She would rather be out walking in the countryside, enjoying the fresh air and the first signs of spring.

    One morning the sun was shining particularly brightly on her dirty windows and seemed to be saying, ‘Mrs Nupin, it's time you got started with that spring clean. Just look at the dust everywhere!’

    Mrs Nupin knew that she couldn't put off the job any longer. On went her apron, on went the mob cap, on went the yellow gloves. Out came the black sacks, out came the mop, the brush, the duster, the toothbrush (look quizzically at this point), out came the furniture polish. (Take these out one by one from under the table. The narrator will have to read slowly.)

    First Mrs Nupin cleared out the cupboards. Then she investigated under the beds. Yuck! (Hold up sock and apple core.) Next down came the cobwebs … and the spider! (Use brush and reach up high, pretend to be frightened of spider.) The rugs were shaken. The shelves were polished. Then the windows were washed until they smiled at the sun.

    ‘Coming along nicely!’ said Sun.

    Then the bath was scrubbed, the tiles 'toothbrushed', the toilet disinfected until Mrs Nupin could scarcely breathe for the fumes! (Use the toothbrush for getting in to odd corners; cough at the fumes.)

    On and on she went, for a whole week, while the sun shone and the spring weather beckoned her. At last it was finished. The spring cleaning was done for another year. Hurrah! ‘Now,’ thought Mrs Nupin, ‘I know what will finish things off nicely.’ (Mrs Nupin leaves.)

    She went to the kitchen drawer and found what she was looking for. It was a voucher for some flowers, for £20. Her brother had given her this voucher on her birthday last year. She had thought about spending it a number of times before now.

    Last summer the garden centre had some lovely bedding plants which she fancied for the border at her front door. But she decided against spending the voucher on these.

    At Christmas she saw a beautiful red and gold arrangement in a basket, and was tempted, but once more she decided not spend the voucher.

    Then, when her neighbour Mrs Duncan was in hospital, she thought it would be a lovely surprise to splash out and take her an unusual bouquet, not the usual £2.99 bunch of supermarket carnations. But again she decided not to spend her voucher and took the old lady some fruit instead.

    Just as well. Today she would treat herself to some lovely spring flowers. Daffodils, tulips and irises would be just beautiful in her living room. She went in to the flower shop.

    The shop assistant looked at the £20 voucher. ‘I'm sorry, madam,’ he said, handing it back to her. ‘Your voucher was only valid for a year and it ran out two months ago. I am afraid it is worthless.’
  2. Ask the children if they or their family have ever received a voucher as a gift. Did they know that there is a time limit on some of these? What do they think about that?
  3. This voucher was wasted. Liken the voucher to our talents. We are each given different talents. They are a gift.

    Ask the children if they know what talents are. Accept the usual answers of art, music, sport and so on. Try to extend the children's ideas of talents. For example, ask if they know anyone in their class who is a good listener, good at organizing, good at caring.

    Celebrate these talents with the children but point out that, just like the flower voucher, if they’re not used, they’re absolutely useless!

Time for reflection


Think about the talents we have all been given.
How might I use my talent today? How might I waste my talent today?
Remember, if I put my talent away in a drawer and forget about it (like the flower voucher) then when I finally decide to use it I may not be as talented as I once was!



Dear God,
Thank you that you made each one of us with special talents.

Help us to use them to their full potential and in so doing to bless other people too.



‘If I had a hammer’ (Come and Praise, 71)

Publication date: April 2008   (Vol.10 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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