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Sticks and Strength

We are stronger together

by Oliver Harrison (revised, originally published in 2008)

Suitable for Key Stage 3

Aims

To show that we are stronger when we work together than when we act individually.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some wooden sticks of even length and size, for example, cocktail sticks, wooden skewers or lolly sticks. Alternatively, use strips of card, checking to see how many can be torn simultaneously.

  • Note: Rehearse this carefully beforehand so that you know what to expect and how many sticks you might need!

  • You will also need a phone book.

  • Optional: have available the song ‘Let’s stick together’ by Bryan Ferry, and the means to play it during the assembly.

Assembly

  1. There is a saying, ‘There's strength in numbers’, but what does it mean?
    Explain the meaning: that many together are stronger than when separated and taken individually.

    Show the sticks to the students. Ask for a volunteer. Give the volunteer one stick and see if they can break it. Now ask them to break two sticks at once, then five, ten and so on. See how many sticks they can break simultaneously.

    Ask for another volunteer and repeat the process. What is the largest number of sticks they can break simultaneously?

  2. Talk about strength in numbers. We have shown that many together are stronger than when separated and taken individually.

  3. Ask for another volunteer and ask them to tear the phone book in half – it’s impossible.

    Sometimes it is a great advantage to work together – we are stronger together. However, sometimes we need to break things down into manageable tasks. If we separate something difficult into its constituent parts, or break a big task into manageable chunks, we can achieve things that might otherwise have been impossible. It was impossible to tear the phone book in half, but it would be possible to tear each page, one at a time.

  4. Christians believe that there is one God in three parts - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They also believe that God wants us to work together, to create a loving and harmonious school. When we work together with other people, whether in class or in a sports team, we achieve more by being together.

  5. When the many become one, we are all much stronger.

Time for reflection

Think about the teams and groups that you belong to. How can we support each other this year? Do we ever act to undermine the team spirit and feeling?

Spend a few moments thinking about how you can be more supportive to your family, friends and classmates, as well as to any teams in which you are involved.

John Donne wrote, ‘No man is an island, Entire of itself...' What do you think this means?

Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you that we are better together than on our own.
Thank you for family and friends who strengthen us and support us.
Please help us to consider the needs of others and to seek to help them where we can.
Please help us to care for people who feel alone.
Amen.

Song/music

‘Let’s stick together’ by Bryan Ferry

Publication date: May 2016   (Vol.18 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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