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Just Imagine!

by Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Key Stage 3/4


To reflect upon our human capacity for imagination.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to be able to play the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert which can be found at

    Synopsis: A young boy named Sam imagines that a cherished soft toy is actually a live penguin. As Monty accompanies him to different places, Sam becomes aware of the importance of love and friendship. On Christmas morning, the gift of a second penguin provides happiness as Monty meets Mabel!          


  1. Reflect that, as Christmas approaches, the seasonal John Lewis advert has again captured many people’s imaginations. Ask why this might be. Play the advert, or if students are familiar with it, proceed with the following discussion.

  2. Refer to Sam’s relationship with Monty and observe that imagination is a vital part of development in the early years of childhood. Sam imagines Monty sharing his games and adventures. Many will remember a cherished toy that became a real friend.

  3. Observe that, while we grow out of such games, our powers of imagination continue to be important throughout our lives. They enable us to form ideas and mental pictures beyond those we’ve ever seen, heard or felt before. The story of Sam and Monty, and the animation technology used in the advert, flow from the imagination of those working together in an advertising agency. Invite everyone to consider recent challenges to their imaginative thinking. Ask the question, ‘How does teamwork stretch our imagination?’ Refer to the Christian belief that these abilities reflect the creative powers of God.

  4. Go on to reflect that the Christmas season engages our imagination in various ways: We dream of a ‘white Christmas’, listen for sleigh-bells in the snow and look for the Christmas star. In contrast, what might Christmas be like for those in challenging circumstances, either close to home or elsewhere in the world? And what might our response be? What do we imagine is our gift to the world? In the Christmas story, the angel’s song of goodwill and peace (Luke 2.13–14) captures our imagination. Ask what this might really mean. Just imagine! Encourage students to share their thoughts.

  5. Thank everyone for their contributions and conclude by observing that, as the advert shows, it’s when imagination is combined with positive action that true Christmas happiness is shared. 

Time for reflection

Invite everyone to remember something or someone that has brought them happiness . . . and to imagine that happiness shared with others.

God of hope
stir our imagination
with a vision of peace
and strengthen our resolve
to work for peace.
This is our Christmas prayer.

Publication date: November 2014   (Vol.16 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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