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Drain or radiator

To think about the effect our behaviour has on others.

by Jenny Tuxford

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To think about the effect our behaviour has on others.

Preparation and materials

  • None is needed although you could choose to ask children to read the poem-story or the Radiator Rules.


  1. Introduce the idea of drains and radiators. Explain that you are not just talking about drainpipes or heating panels but about different meanings of these words:

    Drain: lost, wasted, a constant demand, deprives a person or thing of strength.
    Radiator: emits rays of energy such as light or heat.

    Say that we can apply this idea to people.
  2. What sort of faults in a person (without mentioning names) would we consider to be draining? For example: spitefulness, an unwillingness to share, a bad temper, a lack of consideration for others. Which qualities might a radiator have? For example: generosity, a readiness to help, kindness.
  3. Introduce this famous story from the early days of Christianity. It’s about someone who lived like a radiator!

    Saint Martin
    A boy was born in Italy,
    Many years ago,
    But he wasn’t born a Christian,
    We’d like you all to know.
    He worshipped Roman gods,
    As did his mum and dad,
    And he joined the Roman army
    When he was just a lad.
    Now Martin was the young man’s name
    And he was kind and good.
    He really didn’t want to fight,
    He’d avoid it if he could.
    One afternoon in winter
    On a very frosty day,
    Martin donned a scarlet cloak
    And hurried on his way.
    As he rode, he saw a beggar
    Sitting shivering in the street,
    Clothed only in some tattered rags,
    With no shoes on his feet.
    ‘Please help me,’ cried the beggar,
    ‘I am sure to die of cold,
    Spare some money if you will,
    Some silver or some gold.’
    Martin took off his scarlet cloak,
    With his sword cut it in two.
    ‘This half is big enough for me,
    The other half’s for you.’
    ‘That’s torn it now, by Jupiter,’
    The other soldiers groaned.
    ‘Spoiling clothes for beggars
    Is ridiculous,’ they moaned.
    But that night in a vivid dream
    Quite clearly Jesus spoke,
    ‘I was dying there of frostbite,
    And you gave me your cloak.’

    After this, Martin became a Christian. He spent the rest of his life telling people about Jesus and helping others. After his death, he was made a saint. St Martin’s Day is celebrated every year on 11 November.
  4. So what really makes a good radiator? Well, here are some rules to help you.

    Radiator rules
    In games, he’s always very fair,
    He’s what we call a ‘sport’.
    He doesn’t moan or stomp about
    In cricket if he’s caught.
    A radiator is a friend
    Who’ll always understand –
    If you’ve got a little worry
    She’s there to lend a hand.
    A radiator is polite,
    He’s there to hold a door
    And if he sees some litter
    He’ll pick it off the floor.
    A radiator listens.
    She tries to do things right.
    If somebody upsets her
    She talks, she doesn’t fight.
    A radiator radiates.
    He always says, ‘Hello.’
    If you are lost or injured
    He’ll show you where to go.

Time for reflection


Will you be a radiator or a drain today?

A drain will make people feel miserable or angry or like they just don’t matter.

A radiator will cheer them up with a smile or friendly chatter.

You can radiate friendliness and joy and fun.

Or you can be a drain – a drag on everyone.

Make a decision now, don’t leave it for later.

Will you be a drain or a radiator?



Dear God,

Thank you, Lord, that when I’m cold,

In your love you enfold me.

May I find ways to show I care,

And like St Martin always share.

And whether I am pleased or sad,

May I radiate warmth to make others glad.



‘Thank you, Lord’ (Come and Praise, 32)

Publication date: June 2008   (Vol.10 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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