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A smile makes a difference

by Revd Catherine Williams (revised, originally published in 2005)

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To consider that a smile is a smile in any language, and to encourage smiling and expressions of pleasure.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a range of smiling emojis and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples are available at:

  • You will also need the words for ‘Good morning’ in various languages, the names of the appropriate languages and the means to display these during the assembly. This is best played as a game of matching the phrase with the language – see the ‘Assembly’, Step 2.

  • Optional: you may wish to prearrange some students who speak other languages fluently to take part in this assembly.

  • Have available the song ‘When you’re smiling’ and the means to play it during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly. An example is available at: 


  1. Show the selection of smiling emojis.

    Comment on particular emojis and what they might be trying to convey. We use emojis to pass on a message about how we are feeling.

  2. Talk about the fact that many people enjoy travelling abroad, and many like to learn a few basic words in the language that is spoken in the countries they visit.

    Suggest that ‘Good morning’ is a useful phrase to learn because it enables us to greet people, and to let them know that we are pleased to see them.

    Tell the students that you have ‘Good morning’ written in some different languages and you want them to match up the words with the language. You could do this by getting ten students to hold up the phrases and ten others to hold up the languages, and then pair them up. You might like to teach the phrases as you go along.

    Here are some you might use.

    - Bonjour (French)
    - Kalimera (Greek)
    - Jo san (Cantonese)
    - Kia ora (Maori)
    - Guten Morgen (German)
    - Shu probhat (Bengali)
    - Boker tov (Hebrew)
    - Buenos dias (Spanish)
    - Jambo! (Swahili)
    - Maj po (Klingon, from Star Trek)

  3. Move on to say that even when you don’t know the words for ‘Good morning’, you can always offer a smile as a greeting.

    Explain that everyone knows how to smile in French, Cantonese, Bengali, Maori and Swahili. Make the point that a smile is a smile in any language.

Time for reflection

In the New Testament, we read that Jesus told his friends to love their neighbours and do good to the people around them. One small way in which we can show love is to smile a bit more. Smiling uses fewer muscles than frowning, so it should be less tiring to smile than to look serious or unhappy. When we smile at people, it makes them feel good about themselves.

Play the song ‘When you’re smiling’.

Lead this into a prayer.

Dear God,
Thank you for people who make us happy.
Thank you for our families and friends.
Please help us to work at making others happy.
We pray for people who are sad or lonely.
Please help us to take the time to smile at and be kind to others
As we walk through this world together.

Publication date: July 2020   (Vol.22 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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