Back To School Assembly

6 July 2011 — 4 Comments

The following is an assembly plan that I wrote for and was published in Youthwork Magazine in the August 2010 Issue.

Study Table by shho

Back To School Assembly

The following set of activities are adaptable ideas for use in an assembly at the beginning of the new school year. The overall theme is on having a positive attitude towards life and making the most of opportunities in the year ahead.

Good to be back?

Everyone has an opinion on school, and a lot of young people aren’t shy on sharing what they think! As a light-hearted introduction to your assembly, welcome everyone and ask them to show whether they are happy or unhappy about being back in school by giving a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”. Try and get any teachers to join in with this too – you might get some interesting results!

Regardless of the outcome to the exercise, make a comment saying that whether people are happy or unhappy about being back at school, this year will have some great opportunities. You might like to mention some of the particular things that will occur this year (although try and keep it positive):

  • Year 7 students will be settling into a new school
  • Year 9 students will be choosing their GCSE subjects
  • Year 11, 12 & 13 students will be sitting exams
  • You could also refer to any planned school events or trips

Explain that the beginning of the school year is a good time to look ahead and think about the positive opportunities that you have.

Snakes & Ladders

This activity involves the whole assembly playing a condensed version of the classic Snakes and Ladders board game. It will take some preparation in advance, so make sure you carefully think through how it will work in your school. You will need:

  • A large foam dice or alternative way of randomly selecting numbers between 1 and 6. Having numbers on ping-pong balls in a bag is a good option.
  • A custom Snakes and Ladders game board. To enable the game to move quickly, create a board that is only 4×4 squares wide with a maximum of 3 ladders and 3 snakes on it. Ideally the board should be visible to everyone so you could use a PowerPoint slide, or an overhead projector and acetate to project it onto the wall. For smaller groups, a physical board could be marked out on the floor using props for the snakes and ladders. You can download an image of the board from the website here.
  • 2 playing pieces and a way of moving them across your board. This could be by sticking objects to a screen (or simply pointing to the relevant square), placing items on the overhead projector, or asking students to physically walk it out on the floor.

Split the assembly into two teams by dividing the two halves of the room where they are sitting, and explain that they will be playing against each other in the game. The playing pieces start at the bottom left hand side of the board and the first team to reach the 16th square (top left) wins the game.

Get each team to takes turns rolling the dice (or other method you are using) by choosing a different volunteer for each round. Move the counter across the board for the number of squares that they rolled. Obviously, if they land on a snake’s head they move down to the tail, and if they land on the bottom of a ladder they move up to the top of the ladder. Keep the game moving quickly and congratulate the team that wins.

At the end of the game explain that a new school year can bring with it many opportunities and challenges. Sometimes things will be frustrating and difficult like sliding down a snake, but there will also be some great, exciting times that are like climbing a ladder. Explain that how we respond to these challenges and opportunities is really important! Wouldn’t it be good to make the most of every opportunity that comes our way?

Video Clip: Yes Man

Many of the young people will have seen the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man, where the lead character Carl decides to say “yes” to every opportunity presented to him. Show the official movie trailer (available on YouTube), which outlines the exciting changes that happen to Carl as a result of him being open to new things. Alternatively if you do not have facilities for showing video, consider using an excerpt from the original book ‘Yes Man’ by Danny Wallace.

In the movie, Carl learns a lot and changes his life for the better by being willing to give things a go. In a similar way, the Bible tells us to make good use of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:16). We don’t need to say “yes” to everything like Carl did, but making the most of an opportunity can have a dramatic effect!


Briefly tell the story from Luke 19:1-10 about the lonely, miserable tax collector who ripped everyone off by stealing from them. We can guess that his life wasn’t going too well!

When Jesus came to the town, Zacchaeus knew that it was too good an opportunity to pass up so did everything he could to see Jesus, even climbing a nearby tree! When Jesus stopped, looked up and invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house, Zacch made the most of it. As a result of meeting Jesus that day, Zacchaeus turned his life around giving back four times the money he had stolen and deciding to give away half his stuff to the poor!


To end the assembly, ask the students to quietly take a moment to think about the following questions:

  • What opportunities might you have this school year?
  • How are you going to respond to the opportunities that you are given? Will you let them go, or make the most of them like Carl and Zacchaeus did?

As you begin this new school year, be positive and take the opportunities that come your way.


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

4 responses to Back To School Assembly

  1. Diane Atkinson 13 August 2013 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for these inspiring ideas. I thought I recognised your name from the past, littlehampton is my home town however I now live and work in the North West. Once again thanks I think I shall use some of your material

  2. Michelle Lenihan 3 September 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Excellent ideas and very adaptable for primary!
    Thanks for the inspiration 😉

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