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Stepping Stones

One step at a time

by Alan M. Barker (revised, originally published in 2014)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To celebrate achievements and affirm positive attitudes towards change.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need an image of some stepping stones and the means to display it during the assembly. Examples are available at: and
  • Optional: you may wish to set up a scene where students are invited to compete with each other as they cross a pretend river, using pieces of A4 paper as stepping stones.


  1. Welcome everyone and introduce the theme of stepping stones. Explain that, when there is no bridge, stepping stones provide a way across a shallow river.

    Display the image of stepping stones.

  2. Optional: invite two or three students to race to cross a pretend river, using pieces of A4 paper as stepping stones.

    Give each student two pieces of paper. They will need to put one on the floor and then place the second one in front of them. When they have stepped across to the second ‘stone’, they will need to lift the first ‘stone’ and move it to the front.

  3. Remind the students that stepping stones must be crossed in this manner: one step at a time. Crossing stepping stones is often used as a metaphor to describe how new skills and understanding are gained, or how we progress through life.

  4. Reflect that crossing stepping stones can be a challenge. Sometimes, they are wet and slippery; sometimes, they seem to be far apart. It can be difficult to keep our balance. As we cross them, having the encouragement and help of our friends can mean a lot.

    Note that slippery stepping stones feel safer when we have a helping hand. We all need to be thankful for friends who lend a helping hand to us in our lives.

  5. Point out that there have already been several stepping stones this academic year and there will be many more to come. Mention some recent significant stepping stones for the students, such as new year groups, new teachers, exams, new extra-curricular events and so on.

    Mention that we should be thankful for steps that lead to new experiences and understanding.

Time for reflection

Reflect that many members of the school community will have different feelings about facing change. Observe that a range of emotions and some anxiety are only natural when we take steps in life. Suggest that remembering our past achievements can help us to move on to enjoy further success. Encourage the students to have positive attitudes, declaring, ‘I can’, ‘I will’, ‘I dare’, ‘I believe’, ‘I’ll try’ and ‘I’ll succeed’ as they cross the stepping stones, one step at a time.

Church schools, in addition, might reflect on the role of faith when facing change. Recall when the time came for Jesus to leave his friends. He asked them to remember what they had learned from him and share his message with people all over the world. It was a big step, so, to help his friends, Jesus said, ‘Remember, I am with you always.’ (Matthew 28.20)

You could invite some of the students to cross the stepping stones over the pretend river, repeating the text, one stepping stone at a time.

Let’s pause to be thankful for stepping stones in life:

– for past achievements and the challenges that lie ahead
– for good friends and helping hands
– for new opportunities and the excitement of moving on together . . . one step at a time

Dear God,
Thank you for all the opportunities we have in our lives.
Please give us courage to take steps forward.
Please give us good friends to help us on our journey.
Thank you for your promise: ‘Remember, I am with you always.’
Please help us to know that to be true in our lives day by day.


‘Circle of life’ from the film The Lion King, available at: (4.06 minutes long)

Another version of this song, featuring Elton John, is available at: (4.56 minutes long)

Publication date: October 2022   (Vol.24 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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