Fitting the pieces together
by Annaliese Renda (revised, originally published in 2005)
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To reflect upon the need to have a plan in life, face disappointment and cooperate with others.
Preparation and materials
- You will need to lay out three, simple, children’s jigsaw puzzles of between 12 and 20 pieces on a table at the front. Only two of the jigsaw puzzles should have a box with the picture, and one of the puzzles should have two pieces missing. The third jigsaw puzzle should have all the pieces, but no picture to follow.
- Begin by asking if anyone likes doing jigsaw puzzles.
Invite three volunteers to put together three different puzzles. (Omit to point out that only two of them have a picture to work from, and one has pieces missing.)
Hopefully, the volunteers who are putting together the puzzles that have pictures will finish long before the third volunteer, although the person who had the puzzle with the pieces missing should point out that he/she couldn’t actually finish.
When all three volunteers have finished, thank them and send them back to their seats with a round of applause.
- Point out that the fact that one of the volunteers had no picture to work from made it much more difficult for that volunteer than the other two. That volunteer didn’t know the overall expected result because he/she had nothing to follow. It is hard to make sense of each individual piece.
- Explain that life is like a jigsaw: we need to have a plan. We need to know what we are hoping to achieve in the future.
- Point out that one of the puzzles had some pieces missing. It’s really frustrating when you have spent time trying to finish the picture and you are deprived of the satisfaction of completing it.
Again, sometimes in life, we set our hearts on achieving things, but can be disappointed by unexpected setbacks that we can do nothing about. However, this shouldn’t stop us ever trying again. Even when things go wrong and don’t work out as we planned, it’s important to pick ourselves up and persevere.
- Finally, point out that every piece of the jigsaw is vital and any piece that is missing or damaged spoils the whole picture. In the same way, every member of the school community is equally vital, and anyone who lets the others down affects the reputation of the entire school.
Time for reflection
Explain that there are times when all of us have to work together towards a goal, but there are also times when we need to be quiet and alone so that we can think and make decisions. Times of togetherness and times of solitude are vital for our lives.
Read the following passage from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.
You were born together,
and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together
when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Yes, you shall be together
even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea
between the shores of your souls.
We have so many opportunities in our lives.
Guide us so that we may make a positive contribution to the world around us.
You have created us all to be parts of the greater whole.
We exist in unity with those around us,
And with you.
‘The journey of life’ (Come and Praise, 45)