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Stepping stones

To help children think about pathways through life, and how we can learn from those who came before us and help those who come after us.

by The Revd Oliver Harrison

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To help children think about pathways through life, and how we can learn from those who came before us and help those who come after us.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need 10 or 12 pieces of A4 paper (used or scrap paper is fine).


  1. Talk about crossing a river using stepping stones and ensure that all the children understand the concept. You could ask for examples and enjoy the almost inevitable wet, cold foot incident.
  2. Ask the children to imagine that there’s a river in front of them, running the width of the front of the assembly space. Take two pieces of paper, put one down and step on it, then put another down and walk forward one pace.

    Reach behind and take the previous ‘stepping stone’, pick it up and put it front of you. That way you are crossing the ‘river’ using only two ‘stones’.

    After doing this for a few paces, pause and ask the children if anyone will be able to follow you across the river? Are you leaving a trail or a path? No.

    Point out that while this might be a good way to escape from people who are chasing you, it’s not very kind to anyone who might want to walk the same way and follow in your footsteps.
  3. Optional: You could have a race across the river, with volunteers using the ‘two stone’ method of picking up the stone behind and moving it in front. Take part yourself and be sure to come last!
  4. Next, show another way. Take all the pieces of paper, putting them down in front of you one at a time and walking forward as you do so. You are now leaving a trail, a path that can be followed.

    Optional (especially appropriate in a church school): Talk about the Christian belief in Jesus as ‘the way’. He came from heaven to earth as one of us and he leaves a path for us to follow and he helps us on our journey.

    Optional: Other people can be mentioned as well or instead: ancestors and forebears, older brothers and sisters. Do we follow in their footsteps? Are we on the same path they were on?

    Optional: Talk about the way we can help people following on behind us: younger children, smaller brothers and sisters, even generations to come. Are we leaving a good path for them to follow, or are we selfishly taking our stones with us and leaving nothing behind?

    Examples of a ‘good path’ might be offering to help younger children, showing a good example around school, looking after the school environment, looking after the planet by recycling and switching off lights.

Time for reflection


Stepping stones help us across when our path is blocked by water.

They are there for everyone – a trail, a path that can be followed.

Who are you following and who will follow you?

How can you be helpful and leave a ‘good path’?



Dear God,

Thank you that we can always find a way through the difficult paths of life.

Thank you for your help and guidance on the way.



‘One more step’ (Come and Praise, 47)

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