How to use this site    About Us    Submissions    Feedback    Donate    Links - School Assemblies for every season for everyone

Decorative image - Secondary

Email Twitter Facebook


Pause for Thought: Remember, Remember

An assembly for Friday 5 November

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore our understanding of memory.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need to familiarize yourself with the historical facts about the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 that are found in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.
  • Optional: you may wish to prepare a personal example for the ‘Assembly’, Step 5.


  1. Begin the assembly by reading out the following rhyme.

    Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.
    I know of no reason
    Why the gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot.

  2. Point out that Friday is Bonfire Night and ask the students what it’s about. Can anyone describe the historical facts that lie behind this tradition?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Explain that Bonfire Night is celebrated every year on 5 November. It marks the anniversary of a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The attempt became known as the Gunpowder Plot and was masterminded by a group of men including Guy Fawkes. The aim was to blow up King James I and the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament.

    In preparation, the plotters placed 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars underneath the House of Lords. However, a letter was sent to Lord Monteagle warning him to stay away from Parliament, and he passed on the information to his fellow lords and the king. Soon after, guards found the plotters and they were arrested and executed.

    For this reason, a traditional element of Bonfire Night involves putting a guy (or dummy), representing Guy Fawkes, on the bonfire.

  4. Ask the students what other important dates they remember.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    In addition to historical dates, encourage mention of birthdays, festivals, anniversaries and so on.

  5. Ask the students, ‘Have any of you ever forgotten an important date?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Optional: you may wish to provide a personal example of a time when you forgot an important date such as a birthday or an anniversary.

  6. Point out that memory is an important function of the brain. It’s where we store acquired information that can be retrieved when we need it.

    Sometimes, we store information deliberately, such as when we revise for exams or make a mental list of what we want from a shop. However, memory is often unconscious, or at least spontaneous, taking place as we live from minute to minute. It ranges from short-term memory, which stores recent events that are quickly discarded, to long-term memory, which enables us to recall events from many years ago.

  7. Ask the students, ‘Has your memory ever let you down?’

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Point out that all of us have been in a test or an exam where we can’t remember a particular historical fact or scientific equation. Maybe we hadn’t been paying full attention when the information was given, so it wasn’t processed properly. Maybe the answer is on the tip of our tongue, but it won’t quite come to us. It happens because memories are often transient and degrade over time, especially if they’re not being used.

    Older people can find that memory loss is a problem. They enter a room and then can’t remember why they went there, what they intended to do. It can be very frustrating.

  8. Remembering is an important part of living a happy and productive life.

Time for reflection

So, what can we do to keep our brain in good condition?

We could start with something as simple as undertaking everyday tasks with our opposite hand rather than the one we are comfortable with. Swapping our mouse to the other side of the keyboard, brushing our teeth with our non-dominant hand and so on can help to switch on our brain’s unused pathways.

Physical exercise is also helpful because it promotes blood circulation to the brain, which stimulates the brain cells. All of this is enhanced by a healthy diet, which helps the whole body, including the brain, to work to its optimum potential.

We can also ensure that our brain doesn’t get stressed. It’s important to be still, to relax, to switch off for a while from the noise and activity that can bombard us in this busy world. Many people say that this is where meditation and prayer come in, even if only for five minutes every day. However, we also need to socialize our brain, to chat with others and listen to them rather than isolate ourselves and brood over our problems.

Finally, sleep is the time when our brain sorts out our memories. That’s why a good night’s sleep is important before a test or exam.

What long-term memories will you have from the age you are now? Here’s a song by someone who’s remembering how things used to be.


‘Summer of 69’ by Bryan Adams, available at: (3.32 minutes long)

Extension activities

  1. Ask the students to play some memory games in groups.

    For example, they could place 20 objects on a surface. Students should look at the objects for 30 seconds and then close their eyes while the leader removes or moves an object. When the students open their eyes, they should identify the object that has been moved or removed.

    Ask the students to nominate other memory-based games.
Publication date: November 2021   (Vol.23 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
Print this page