A shoe box
can be covered in attractive wrapping paper and decorated with pictures
cut from Christmas cards etc. Children can do this. The box can be kept
in a special place. The children can then write their own prayers and
put them in the box.
They can choose whether or not to write their name on the prayer. They
can also write 'private' if they do not want the prayer read out.
Prayers not marked as 'private' can be chosen at random and the
children can copy the teacher who reads it out a line at a time.
Children often think about what they are saying with these prayers,
more than if they repeat the same prayer every day.
A few days
before Advent, announce in assembly that you would like some help with
making an Advent Wreath. Ask the children to bring in a piece of
seasonal greenery: holly, ivy, conifers etc.
With one of the older classes, make a circle out of wood. If this is
too difficult, nail several short pieces of wood together to make an
octagon. Once covered in greenery the angles will not be noticeable.
Hammer four upward pointing nails through the circle. Even better,
attach four hollow square or circle shapes to the ring. These are to
hold the candles. The frame can be painted green, but this is not
Wrap a long length of wire loosely around the ring.
Start weaving the greenery under and over the wire, starting with the
conifers. Short pieces of greenery, (up to 40 cm), work best. Soon the
ring will be thickly covered on both sides with greenery. The wood and
wire will not be visible at all.
Insert the four candles, one pink and three purple. If the candles are
too narrow for the holders, wrap foil around the base of each candle.
Pink and purple ribbons can also be hung from the base of each candle.
The wreath can be left on a table, covered in a festive cloth.
Alternatively, a chain can be attached to the wreath and it can be
suspended from a convenient place.
At some point during each assembly in Advent, a child from each class
can be asked to light the correct number of candles. As more candles
are lit and the candles become shorter, the children realise that they
are getting nearer to Christmas. Their sense of excitement grows. An
Advent Calendar in the classroom can have a similar result.
The wreath can be a focal point during an assembly, service, or Mass at
the end of term. All four candles can be lit, although many schools
will have broken up before the last week of Advent. A white candle
could be placed in the centre to stand for the coming of Jesus.
church may have a Paschal candle, which is too short for church use,
which they could donate to you. If not, church candles can be bought
even in garden centres today.
A Paschal candle is white and is usually several cm thick.
Insert five large pins into it, in the shape of a cross, to stand for
the wounds of Christ. These could be pushed through a small
gold-coloured circle to make them more noticeable.
Draw the signs for Alpha and Omega, (beginning and end), above and
below the cross, and write the present year.
This candle, with a ring of flowers at the base, forms a striking
assembly focus for the several weeks between Easter Sunday and
Pentecost. Children can be encouraged to provide the flowers and to
light the candle during assembly.
If the heavy candle could topple over, insert its base into a container
of sand. The container will be hidden by the flowers.
powerful visual aids and can be used in a number of ways.
spring or summer, place a vase at the front of the hall. Children may
choose to come forward and place a flower in the vase. As they do so,
they could say a word, name, phrase or short prayer, depending on the
theme of the assembly. Only children who want to do so should
take Remember, lead by example; maybe an adult could be the first
to do At the end, everybody could pray for the people, wishes
harvest or spring, children can come forward to plant seeds or berries
in a container of soil, with a prayer such as, "Lord, I offer my (joy,
patience, courage, hope, faith etc.)." The school could respond with,
"Lord, may it grow."
- On All
Souls' Day in November, place a pile of dead leaves on the floor.
Children, who wish to, come forward, pick up a leaf, touch the Bible
with it, say the name of a deceased friend or relative, then place the
leaf beside the At the end, everybody says a prayer for these
friends and relatives, maybe the 'Eternal Rest'.
Advent, display a Christmas tree. Children come forward and attach
paper leaves to the tree. Names, needs, petitions, prayers etc. could
be already written on these leaves.
could be spread over several assemblies, by choosing a different theme
each day, e.g. world needs, personal needs, sorry prayers, New Year
help to make things clearer in lessons and can do the same in
- Have a
collection of objects at the front of the hall, e.g. statue, picture,
crucifix, candle, flower, Bible, key, stone, birthday card, photo. food
etc. (depending on the theme of the assembly). Children come forward
and choose one symbol. They say how it reminds them of (God,
themselves, an event etc.) At the end, everybody could pray silently,
inspired by one of the symbols.
- During a
Communion service, the ciborium or chalice could be passed around
before it reaches the priest. Each person could raise it prayerfully,
or (in their imagination) place a person, intention, or hope into it.
Light is a
powerful symbol. Candles can be used in a number of ways in assemblies.
- In a
darkened room, maybe with background music, pass around a lighted
candle. The children can either pray aloud or silently, when the candle
reaches them. Alternatively, the whole group can pray for each child as
the candle reaches them.
may be lit at the front of the darkened hall, one at a time, thus
making the room brighter and brighter. As the candle is lit, a person's
name or an intention is mentioned, depending on the theme of the
Find a Bible
text about stones/rocks.
Stones are placed on a table at the front of the hall by children.
The individual child, or the whole school, could accompany this with a
short prayer such as, "Lord, take away my heart of
stone/anger/fear/envy etc. and replace it with a heart of
another powerful symbol. It can be used in several ways in assembly.
The children can be sprinkled with it, as during some Masses.
The children could bless themselves with water on entering the hall.
Several bowls of water would be needed at the entrances for this.
It can be used during a renewal of baptismal promises.
Hands could be washed, inspired by the washing of feet in John 13.
The above require quite a lot of organisation and should be done
reverently. Background music is helpful here.
The effect is greater if it is seen as a special event, relevant to the
assembly or time of year.
on slips of paper. Turn them over and attach them to a board in the
shape of a cross, so that the words cannot be seen.
Words can include: rainbow, bread, water, light, teacher, father, son,
spirit, shepherd etc.
Children come forward and choose a slip of paper.
They show it to the school.
They are then told that the words are all names/symbols for God.
Children in the hall think quietly about one of the words.
They are then asked to share any prayers they composed in their heads,
BREAD - O Bread of Life, fill me with your strength.
RAINBOW - O Rainbow, give us all hope for the future.
LIGHT - O Light, in our darkness, show us the way ahead.
The children may need to hear an example first.
The prayers can be kept and used in future assemblies, when the theme
assembly with quiet music. Turn this down even lower and give the
children time to reflect prayerfully. A recent or future event may be
suggested as a topic, or this can be left to the children to decide.
After a few moments, pass around a closed Bible.
Children can either remain silent, but respectful, or can say a few
words when the Bible reaches them.
They can say what they said to God, or what they heard him say to them.
some organisations that will send publications to your school/home
address free of charge. These include free posters, prayers, leaflets,
harvest festival scripts and assembly ideas and scripts etc.
Some also have useful web sites where you can download ideas,
information and scripts etc.
The following are definitely worth contacting: Christian Aid, CAFOD,
assemblies take place in a hall which is also used for jumble sales,
discos, school dinner and P. E.
It is important therefore, that when the children come together for a
school assembly, they know that it is something more special than the
This can be put across to the children by the atmosphere which is
created by the teacher taking the assembly.
This atmosphere can be produced by the use of:
- one or more candles can be used. Narrow candles are sometimes best as
wide candles tend to only burn in the centre when lit for a short time.
Candles come in various colours and shapes and are cheap and easy to
buy. Even church candles can now be bought in garden centres. Some
candles have pictures on them, e.g. Advent/Christmas candles and
Paschal candles. These pictures alone can inspire an assembly. The
colours of some candles are also significant, e.g. Advent, Christmas
and Paschal candles. Again, these colours can be explained in an
assembly. Children also like to actually light the candles.
pictures, religious icons and crucifixes relevant to your
school - these help to focus the children's minds on the reason they
have assembled. If a Bible reading is being used in the assembly, hold
the Bible out to the children before the reading. This is not the same
as raising the Bible. When possible, read from the Bible rather than
from a sheet of paper.
- used the world over as a gift to someone special, so very fitting for
an assembly display.
mentioned in the assembly - visual aids are important in an
assembly, just as they are in any lesson.
- played as the children enter and leave the hall and as background
music to a reading. Classical music, hymns, carols, chants, Taize music
etc. are all suitable.
- children enter and leave the hall quietly, but should also be given a
time to reflect while in the hall. Prayers can also follow and be
followed by a few moments of silence. This can be very effective,
especially if the children are not expecting it.
lighting - often leads to silence and reflection. Coloured
lighting could even be used if available.
mentioned above can be displayed on a table, (or even a piece of P. E.
apparatus), covered in an attractive cloth. The children often enjoy
setting up the hall and clearing away, when a teacher has used a number
of items in this way. They appreciate the extra effort which has been
put into the assembly.
Alternatively, if there is space in the hall, or in the corridor
outside, there could be a permanent religious focus. This could be
lifted into the hall for assembly time.
There could be a rota system so that each class looks after the
religious focus for a month at a time, tending the flowers for example.
video websites are blocked in schools. There are still a lot of
relevant videos on those sites that can be used in assemblies.
- You can
search and find such a video, then rightclick on the URL in the browser
bar to copy it.
- Then go
to a site that converts files, e.g. www.convertfiles.com
- Paste the
URL into the 'download it from' box.
wmv as the 'Output format'.
your email address.
- It can
take minutes for the file to be converted.
- Then save
it to your memory stick to bring to school, or click on the link in
your email in school. The email link is only temporary though.
- Once you
have opened the video in school save it to your computer for future use.