Assembly point - Watch their gifts grow

1st May 2009 at 01:00
Give children one pound and countless options to spend it. They'll need to use their talents wisely to make it multiply

My assembly started with an RE lesson. Year 5 had been studying Christianity, focusing on Jesus, his actions and his teaching. We'd done a lesson on the parable of the talents and the children's responses to this lesson were so enthusiastic that I enlisted their help in delivering an assembly.

We began with a narration and dramatisation of the parable. The parable relates how different servants were given varying amounts of talents (coins in use during Jesus' time). Two of the servants used their talents wisely in business to make more, returning a good profit to their master on his return, but one of the servants just kept his talent safely hidden.

Far from being commended for his prudence in not risking the loss of the talent, he was chastised and his talent given to the servant who had made the most money. The lesson: use it or lose it.

The children then told the school about their response to the parable. I had given them envelopes containing a letter to each of their parents and Pounds 1. The letter explained that I was giving each child Pounds 1 to use in the best way possible. I asked to have the Pounds 1 back, with any surplus made going to our school charity (The Tumaini Fund, which supports Aids widows and orphans in a remote part of Tanzania), after two weeks.

I had also shown them the story of Alex's lemonade stand, a resource from the Go-Giver's website ( called "You can't buy anything with a penny". This explains how a four-year-old girl called Alex had started to sell lemonade on a hot summer's day in order to raise money for cancer research - she had just been diagnosed with cancer and died four years later, but her work has continued and multiplied thousands of times over. This encouraged the children that anything was possible, even starting with Pounds 1.

The children then showed the school how they had responded. Although I had explained carefully that the children did not have to do anything with their Pounds 1 - they could just keep it safe and then return it later - their enthusiasm was astonishing.

Some of them had taken photographs of themselves working with their Pounds 1 and put them together into a slideshow presentation. One had spent his pound on car washing materials, washing cars for Saturday shoppers. Another had marbled card with paints, then made bookmarks. One had made a collection of pompom animals, another brooches out of felt.

But our assembly did not end there. The children had grasped that the parable is not just about making money, but about using their own unique gifts and qualities. They explained how they had tapped into their networks: selling cakes at their parents' offices; washing cars at the football club after a match; and getting permission from the headteacher to sell their handmade items to their peers at breaktimes. Then they demonstrated other talents, showing how poor they had been at something to start with but how, with repeated practice and determination, they had become expert. So, across the front of the hall under the gaze of 130 children, we had demonstrations of hockey skills, cartwheels and diabolo expertise.

My simple idea of demonstrating skills was expanded with technology: the children prepared a PowerPoint slide for each skill and videoed themselves playing football or kayaking. They finished with a prayer. Poignantly written, it reflected their desire to help others by sharing what they had been given: money, talent and opportunity.

This was an assembly not, primarily, to show off good work or to teach a lesson. And perhaps more importantly, it was teacher-initiated but far from teacher-driven.

Angie Pollard is a Year 5 teacher at Elizabeth College Junior School in Guernsey.

Related content:

PSHE and Citizenship planning


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