Archives For School Assemblies

Free assembly plans for adapting and using in Secondary Schools

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.

'Jeesy Creesy, What On Earth Is That?' by peasap on Flickr

The following is an Easter assembly for use in secondary schools that has a focus on the cross as a symbol of hope.


To explain that Easter is more than chocolate eggs, and to explore the idea that bad things (like a torture implement) can be used for good.


Introduce yourself and the theme of the assembly. Explain that Easter is just around the corner, so you are going to be looking at the symbols of the season!

Game: Match the egg

In advance, find out the favourite chocolate egg of three teachers in the school (make sure they are different ones). Buy two of each of those eggs and bring them to the assembly. Ask the three teachers to come up the front and allow students to guess which egg is the favourite of each teacher. When someone guesses correctly, they can have one of those eggs and the teacher may keep the other.

As the last teacher/egg will be very obvious, you may want to include an extra “red herring” egg to make the game more challenging!


Eggs, rabbits and even lambs are symbols of Easter because they represent new life. Christians use these symbols because it helps them to remember Jesus being raised from the dead and having New Life. However the most powerful symbol associated with Easter is actually a piece of torture equipment!

The Cross:

Briefly explain about the use of the cross as a public humiliation and torture for criminals. There is a good explanation on here. Take care to assess the level of your audience and not go into too much detail. The following is an edited version from the website:

Crucifixion sometimes began with a scourging or flogging of the victim’s back. The Romans used a whip called a flagrum, which consisted of small pieces of bone and metal attached to a number of leather strands. After the flogging, the victim was often forced to carry his own crossbar, or patibulum, to the execution site.

Once the victim arrived at the execution site, the patibulum was put on the ground and the victim was forced to lie upon it and spikes about 7 inches long were driven into the wrists. The patibulum was then lifted on to the upright post, or stipes, and the victim’s body was awkwardly turned on the seat so that the feet could be nailed to the stipes.  The position of the nailed body held the victim’s rib cage in a fixed position, which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath.

Ultimately, the mechanism of death in crucifixion was suffocation. To breathe, the victim was forced to push up on his feet to allow for inflation of the lungs. As the body weakened and pain in the feet and legs became unbearable, the victim was forced to trade breathing for pain and exhaustion. Eventually, the victim would succumb in this way, becoming utterly exhausted or lapsing into unconsciousness so that he could no longer lift his body off the stipes and inflate his lungs.

You can read more about the various medical effects of Jesus’ crucifixion on Wikipedia.

Tell the audience that the cross is a symbol of pain, torture and death. Yet what should be a terrible and scary thing, now gives hope to millions! Something bad has become something good.

Philip Lawrence:

Change the atmosphere by telling the story of head teacher Philip Lawrence. Mr Lawrence was tragically stabbed outside his school in 1995 when going to the aid of a pupil who was being attacked. He later died in hospital.  However, 2 years after his death, his family started the Philip Lawrence Awards in his memory to reward outstanding achievements in good citizenship by young people aged 11 to 20. Every year they recognise contributions to the community which bring out the best in young people, empower them to take the initiative and make a real difference to their lives and the lives of others – building confidence, promoting safety and reducing crime.

You can read more about the Philip Lawrence Awards at

Out of something bad, something good has happened!


In 66 books, hundreds of stories, poems and thoughts, the bible is one long theme of how something bad became something good. The cross is the main symbol of that hope.

Most historians agree that there was a man called Jesus who lived and was killed around 2000 years ago. Christians believe that Jesus was killed for everyone. He died and rose again bringing new life. He took on death and said that we can live because He died.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8


Ask these questions as an end to the assembly. Challenge the young people to think about their own response to the symbol of the cross.

  • Have you ever experienced something bad turn into something good?
  • Do you think death can turn into life?
  • What does the symbol of the cross mean to you?

The following is an assembly that I have used with students in Secondary Schools to illustrate the point of thinking differently about a problem.

Ask everyone to put up their hands if they have recently faced any kind of problem. Most people should raise their hand. Ask them to keep their hand raised if they were able to solve their problem and were happy about the outcome. You will probably get a more mixed response to this!
Explain that sometimes the key to dealing with our problems is to think differently about them. Today you are going to be thinking differently about Post-It notes!

Post-It Animations:
There are some really creative videos out there that use post-it notes. Consider showing one of them (like the one below) to illustrate how you can think differently about everyday objects.

A Happy Accident:
Tell the story of how post-it notes were invented. I found the following summary at Xperimania

In 1970, a chemist named Spencer Silver was working in the 3M research laboratories trying to develop strong glue. His work resulted instead in an adhesive that wasn’t very sticky. When pulling apart two pieces of paper stuck together with that adhesive, Spencer discovered that the glue stuck either to one paper or the other. That seemed like a pretty useless invention. Four years later a colleague who was singing in the church choir was however hit by a brilliant idea. He used markers to keep his place in the hymn book, but they kept falling out. So he coated them with Spencer’s glue. As if by magic, they stayed in place yet lifted off without damaging the pages. The Post-it note was born. Today, it is one of the most popular office products available.

Explain that by thinking differently about the seemingly useless glue that Spencer had created, they created a very successful and versatile product. Sometimes our failures and problems can seem huge, but maybe if we look at them differently, they could become opportunities!

A Different Diet:
Tell the story of Daniel and his friends from [youversion]Daniel 1:8-16[/youversion], where they refused to eat the rich foods from the king’s table and instead asked for vegetables and water:

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”

So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

Explain that by thinking differently and doing something that wasn’t the usual way of doing things, Daniel and his friends were far healthier than everyone else and changed the diet for the better!

Challenge & Reflection:

  • What problems are you facing right now in your life?
  • Who could you turn to, to talk things through?
  • Thinking differently about your problems, what opportunities might there be? What could you learn from the situation?

This week when faced with a problem, consider how it might be an opportunity for you. Try to think differently about the issue and help others to do the same.

Image Credit: p4nc0np4n on Flickr

1st December is World AIDS Day and I’ve been asked to take some school assemblies on the subject next week. While I haven’t fully worked out what I’m going to do in my allotted eight minutes, I’ve found some resources that may be of use to others in the same position. Feel free to browse the links below and add your own in the comments!

Cross-posted on the website

Assembly: Truth

27 March 2009 — 6 Comments

The following is an assembly that I have used with Year 7 and Year 9 in Secondary Schools. It is based on an assembly plan by James Lamont on

Suitable for: Key Stage 3
Key Themes: Truth, Honesty
Bible Verse: [youversion]Proverbs 11:3[/youversion]
Delivery Time: 10 minutes
Equipment needed: A copy of the poem “Matilda (Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death)” by Hilaire Belloc

Introduce yourself and explain that you are going to be speaking on the theme of ‘Truth’. To illustrate the idea of truth, you are going to play a quick game of Truth or Dare!

Truth or Dare
Ask for three volunteers who would be willing to play the game. Pick them and get them to stand up. One at a time, ask them the question ‘Truth or Dare?’. If they say dare, give them a quick challenge to complete in front of everyone. Examples could include:

  • Dance the Macarena
  • Hug 10 people
  • Sing a song out loud

If they choose a truth, ask them a suitable question such as:

  • Who in this room do you fancy?
  • Tell us your most embarrassing moment!
  • What is your worst habit?

Remind them that they are supposed to be honest with their answers.

You will probably find that most of the volunteers will pick a dare rather than reveal a truth about themselves. Explain that it can be hard to tell the truth. It’s often easier to avoid the question or tell a lie.

Matilda, (Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death)

Read the following poem by Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such dreadful lies,
It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes;
Her aunt, who, from her earliest youth,
Had kept a strict regard for truth,
Attempted to believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not she
Discovered this infirmity.
For once, towards the close of day,
Matilda, growing tired of play
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the telephone
And summoned the immediate aid
Of London’s nobel Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the gallant band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs and Bow,
With courage high and hearts a-glow
They galloped, roaring though the town,
“Matilda’s house is burning down”
Inspired by British cheers and loud
Proceeding from the frenzied crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the ball-room floor;
And took peculiar pains to souse
The pictures up and down the house,
Until Matilda’s aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed
And even then she had to pay
To get the men to go away!

It happened that a few weeks later
Here aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that interesting play
The Second Mrs Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her niece
To hear this entertaining piece:
A deprivation just and wise
To punish her for telling lies.
That night a fire did break out-
You should have heard Matilda shout!
You should have heard her scream and bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To people passing in the street-
(The rapidly increasing heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence)-but all in vain!
For every time she shouted “Fire!”
They only answered “Little Liar!”
And therefore when her aunt returned,
Matilda, and the house, were burned.

The poem is similar to the famous story of the boy who cried “Wolf”. When we tell lies too much, people don’t trust us anymore. It is better to tell the truth.

Read the following verse from the Bible.

If you are good, you are guided by honesty. People who can’t be trusted are destroyed by their own dishonesty. ([youversion]Proverbs 11.3[/youversion] )

Explain that people who tell the truth, are honest and trustworthy. People who lie too much will be destroyed by their dishonesty just like Matilda in the poem. Ask the students to think about what sort of person they would like to be and challenge them to be honest and tell the truth.

Poverty Assembly

12 December 2007 — Leave a comment

Last week I took a 15 minute assembly for Year 7 in Secondary School on the theme of Poverty. This session was only meant as a basic introduction to the theme, so is deliberately lightweight but is designed to get the children thinking about their own personal response to poverty this Christmas. This assembly plan will also be posted on the website as a resource, so feel free to use and adapt it for your own schools work.

As the young people arrived into the hall, I had on the stage in front of them 2 Christmas presents each wrapped up and placed inside a separate glossy paper bag. This provided a good focal point and many of them wanted to know what was inside.

Although the assembly was on poverty, I told them that I wanted to talk about Christmas. I then asked them what they were hoping to get for Christmas. Answers ranged from Playstations to High School Musical DVD’s, but it got them thinking about getting gifts.

I then pointed to the presents and invited someone to come and open the first one. They did so and were pleased to discover some chocolate inside. I then invited someone to open the second present. Inside the box it was totally empty (you could place stones, paper, etc here instead). They were obviously disappointed sitting down with nothing when someone else had received a gift.

This helpfully led me to explain about global poverty ranging from starving children in Africa, to the homeless people in their town. There are many resources you can draw on for information about poverty (Make Poverty History, Christian Aid, World Vision and Oxfam are good places to start). With poverty in mind, my challenge to all the Year 7’s in the room was this: “What are you going to GIVE this Christmas?”

I then explained that as a Christian, I believe that God has told me to help those in poverty. Jesus said “love your neighbour as yourself”(Matthew 22:39) which means ‘care for others’ NOT ‘snog the person who lives next door’!

To finish, I allowed them a minute of quiet to think about what they might give that could help those in poverty this Christmas (donate money, give more thoughtful gifts, invite less fortunate people round, volunteer to help out in some way).

The assembly was well received by the staff and I had a number of comments from young people as the left about what they might do to help those in poverty. Hopefully some will go away and put it into action!