Time For Assembly

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Below are some ideas for using artefacts and natural objects in school assemblies.
Children learn by listening, looking and doing.

The objects described are:
  • A Prayer Box
  • Advent Wreath
  • Paschal Candle
  • Flowers, Leaves, Seeds
  • Symbols
  • Candles
  • Stones
  • Water
  • Lucky Dip
  • Bible
  • Publications
  • Religious Items
  • Atmospheric Music And Lighting
  • Using Videos
You can also submit your own ideas via

This site was formerly known as
'School Assemblies for Busy Teachers'.


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 really necessary.
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.


Your local 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.


These are powerful visual aids and can be used in a number of ways.

  • In 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 etc. mentioned.
  • During 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'.
  • In 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.
  • This could be spread over several assemblies, by choosing a different theme each day, e.g. world needs, personal needs, sorry prayers, New Year resolutions etc.


Visual aids help to make things clearer in lessons and can do the same in assemblies.

  • 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.
  • Candles 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 assembly.


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 kindness/love/peace/gentleness" etc.


Water is 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.


Write words 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, such as:
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 is relevant.


Begin the 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.


There are 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, Oxfam.


Many school 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 above events.
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:

  • candles - 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.
  • statues, 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.
  • flowers - used the world over as a gift to someone special, so very fitting for an assembly display.
  • objects mentioned in the assembly - visual aids are important in an assembly, just as they are in any lesson.
  • music - 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.
  • silence - 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.
  • subdued lighting - often leads to silence and reflection. Coloured lighting could even be used if available.

The items 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.


Some 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.
  • Select wmv as the 'Output format'.
  • Enter your email address.
  • Click 'Convert'.
  • 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.

S. Daly 2000

Last updated 25-9-20