Assembly: Special names

This afternoon I did an assembly in one of our local Infant school’s on the theme of names:

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some name trays or labels from the new Reception class. If possible, choose children who have the same first name as someone else in the school.
  • Have available a class register from an older class.
  • You will also need a reader for the Bible passage, 1 Samuel 3.4-10 (Good News Translation).
  • Toothpaste, spoon and knife.

Assembly

Welcome everyone back to school after the summer break.

Explain that many new pupils have joined the school in Reception and that others have moved home and schools over the summer. Welcome the new children in particular and say that everyone hopes they will all soon settle happily into the school family.

Introduce a few of the new Reception children. Show a name tray or label and ask the child to identify him or herself. Welcome the child by saying what a lovely name he or she has and ask if anyone else in the school has the same name. Ask those children to stand at the front so that the children who have the same name are standing together.

Show a class register from a more senior class and explain to the new children that their teacher will often call out the names in the register to check whether the children are at school that day. Demonstrate by asking the children in the older class to respond as their names are called out.

Ask the new children if they have learnt the names of all the children in their class yet. Now ask all the children if any of them have found that the teachers haven’t yet worked out who they are. Ask if anyone has been called by the wrong name. Point out that this can sometimes be funny, and sometimes a bit annoying.

Share with the children a brief anecdote from your own childhood, illustrating the anxiety of a new school. Ask if anyone was feeling anxious about the new term, their new teachers or new classes. Explain that often the teachers are also feeling anxious about their new classes and trying to learn all the names!

Tell them that although you know quite a lot of their names it will take you some time to get to know the names of all the new children. Ask the children about their own names. Does everyone have a middle name? Does anyone have more than three names? Try to include a variety of names from different countries and cultures, reflecting the diversity of the school.

Explain that Christians believe that God also knows each child’s name. There is a story in the Bible about a child called Samuel whom God calls by name. Ask if any children in the school are called Samuel. In the Bible story, Samuel was very young when he found out that God knew his name.

Samuel lived with a man called Eli and he worked in the temple of God. Samuel had furniture, lamp stands and plates to polish and errands to run for Eli. It was Samuel’s job to make sure that the lamps didn’t go out before the sun came up. In the morning, it was his job to open the doors wide and let the daylight in. Samuel worked very hard.

As Samuel got older, he began to get to know God for himself, just like you are doing. One night, after Eli and Samuel had gone to bed, something unusual happened. All of a sudden, Samuel woke up. Someone was calling his name.

Ask the reader to read the Bible passage, 1 Samuel 3.4-10.

Ask the children to join in by speaking Eli’s words, ‘No, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed,’ every time you nod your head. When the reader has finished reading the Bible passage, continue the story.

From that time on, Samuel knew that God wanted to speak to him and he always listened. God blessed Samuel and when he grew up, Samuel became a priest like Eli and also a great prophet. God knew Samuel from the moment he was born. God knew Samuel’s name and he spoke to him.

Christians believe that God knows our names and wants to speak to us, too. God wants to tell us his wonderful story and he wants us to learn to follow him just like Samuel did.

Show the Mr Men books to the children and enthuse about them – their names are special because they tell us what kind of characters they are. For example, you could ask, ‘Why is this character’s name Mr Jelly?’ and seek the answer that it’s because he’s scared of everything.

Sometimes, God chooses to change someone’s name, for example, Saul became Paul after his experience on the road to Damascus when he saw the risen Jesus. And Jesus changed Simon’s name to ‘Peter’, which means ‘Rock’.

In Bible times, people thought very carefully when they named their babies, and every name had a meaning. The name ‘Jesus’ was chosen by God himself. It was announced by the angel, who also gave the reason for the name: ‘for he will save his people from their sins’ (the name ‘Jesus’ means ‘the Lord saves’).

Jesus has quite a few other names and titles: Christians call him, Son of God, Christ, Messiah, Lord, Emmanuel, to name but a few. These all tell us something about his nature and his importance to Christians.

Even God has a number of different names. He is called by different names in the Bible (Yahweh, Lord, Father, for example). These names mean different things to different people and show us something of the nature of who He is.

Names are special and we should be careful how we use them. We should not be unkind about names, or make fun of people’s names, or give people cruel nicknames. Ask the children, have they ever done things that they knew were wrong but just couldn’t quite stop themselves? Give some examples, such as joining in with name calling, or being silly in class just because everyone else is doing it.

Say that you’re a bit like this with a new tube of toothpaste. You were always told by your mum, ‘Squeeze it from the bottom’, but it’s such a temptation to squeeze it in the middle and watch the toothpaste ooze out like a long worm. Then ‘accidentally’ squeeze the tube. Realize with horror what you’ve done! Oh no! What am I going to do? How can I get it back?

Begin to take suggestions and invite some of the children to have a go at putting it back in. Have a few things ready to assist – e.g. knife, spoon, etc. – plus tissues or wipes!

Realize that it’s a hopeless task – once it’s out, it can’t be put back in easily. The damage is done. Compare this with the idea of saying things we know we shouldn’t – upsetting or rude things. Once the words are out we can’t put them back in. We can try to mend things afterwards but it would be so much better if we thought before we spoke or acted. Before we let the words squeeze out – we should THINK!

Time for reflection

To become a good listener like Samuel, we need to learn to be quiet and still. Let’s be very still for a few moments. What can we hear inside? What can we hear outside?

Think for a moment about your own name. Say it silently in your head. Does it have a special meaning? Are you named after someone in your family? Do your family and friends have a shortened version of your name they like to call you by?

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for a new school year. Thank you for everyone in our school family, from the youngest to the oldest. Thank you that you know our names and they were specially chosen for us. Thank you that we are each very, very special to you. Help us to learn more about you so that we can follow you like Samuel did. Amen.

Children accidentally added to the menu of wedding dinner

The moment when are “kid’s menu” becomes “children on the menu” rather than “a menu for children”.

A fancy wedding accidentally made that less-than-fancy mistake on RSVP invitations they sent out. In a photo uploaded to Reddit’s r/funny, the RSVP card asks you, sir or madam, for your name, whether you’ll be attending, and whether you’d like to eat beef, pork or young children (12 and under) for the entrée.

Just check off your favorite dish, and let them know about any dietary restrictions. They’re free range, completely organic and just a bit whiny.

children-on-wedding-menu

Archbishop: Church of England schools can help shape ‘hopeful’ society

Archbishop Justin Welby visits St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school, London, 26 January 2016.
Archbishop Justin Welby visits St Bartholomew’s CofE primary school, London, 26 January 2016.

Read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s on the vision for CofE schools in this week’s TES:

Education is at the heart of the work the Church of England does for the common good.  Through its 4,500 primary and 200 secondary schools, it educates around one million children a day. It is estimated that around 15 million people alive today attended a Church of England school.

The fundamental purpose of Church of England education is to nurture people to live life in all its fullness, inspired by Jesus’s message in the Gospel of John: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” Non-church schools also have inspiring visions, albeit articulated in different language; to inspire and educate the whole person, building them up to flourish in the world.

Click here for the rest of the article.

8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting

megan-maasMegan Maas has written a blog on 8 Reasons to Rethink Teens & Sexting for the Huffington Post.  Here’s a few snippets from the blog which are essential reading for any youth worker:

… In order for us to address sexting in a realistic way with teens, we must first understand the sexual culture they live in that normalizes sexting.

1. Teens think everyone is sexting and it’s no big deal. 

2. Boys and girls engage in sexting for different reasons. Girls feel pressure to send sexts and are more likely to do so than boys. Boys feel more pressure to collect sexts and are more likely to receive sexts and share them with friends or post them online than girls. This poses an issue because it sets up a type of marketplace, where the boys are the consumers and the girls are the products to be consumed …

3. The sexual double standard is alive and well in sexting. We think nothing of a boy requesting a nude image or video, but when a girl participates, we think something is wrong with her …

4. Sexting can be a sign of self-objectification

5. We have a victim blaming culture, even when it comes to sexting. When I do educational seminars about sex and technology with parents and teachers, I overwhelmingly hear stories of “sexting scandals”. Usually followed by a, “Why would she send a nude photo of herself in the first place? Something must be wrong with her.”

6. We need to redefine female sexual liberation

7. We need to support girls to foster their own talents and abilities in multiple areas of life, and encourage boys to support them too. You don’t want your teen to sext? Try telling them not to do it. That didn’t work you say? Shocking. It’s important for parents of boys to acknowledge the pressure girls feel to prove they are sexy and to encourage them to recognize girls’ interests, talents and knowledge above their looks whenever possible. For parents of girls, it’s important to focus on their abilities and not just their looks or dress from a young age. It’s not that it is bad for teen girls to express sexuality, it’s just that we don’t want their only dose of daily self-esteem boost to come from a sexy selfie because her sexual worth is her only worth.

8. We need to hold boys and men accountable for their actions, they are capable of not acting on sexual impulses. 

Use McDonald’s monopoly tokens to help the homeless

If you’re a keen visitor to McDonald’s, you’ll know about its recurring Monopoly promotion that runs in a number of countries across the globe. You’ll often get a free food voucher for a portion of fries or a McFlurry, but while you might be tempted to hoard them for future binges, perhaps donating them to the homeless is a better way of using them.

That’s what Matt Lawson from Melbourne in Australia proposed in a Facebook post on Monday:

matt-lawson-photography

McDonald’s is currently running the monopoly game and I’ve got an idea. If you win free food by purchasing food you would of bought anyway, why not put your tokens in a jar and take them to an area where you know there are people less fortunate then yourself (Melbourne CBD, Fitzroy shelters etc).i did it today and if all of us do it together we can be part of a small change. FEEL FREE TO SHARE. #bethechange#monopolisecharity

“Why not put your tokens in a jar and take them to an area where you know there are people less fortunate then [sic] yourself,” he wrote. “I did it today and if all of us do it together we can be part of a small change.”

“I know it’s still consuming junk food, but it can teach our kids and ourselves a lesson in giving with no taking,” he said in a comment on the viral post.

What a simple idea to make a small difference in your community.

 

Liverpool face Tottenham in EFL Cup Fourth Round

 

efl-cup

Jürgen Klopp says he is already looking forward to Liverpool’s EFL Cup meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield next month after the sides were paired in the fourth-round draw.

The Reds are set to take on Mauricio Pochettino’s team for a place in the semi-finals of a competition they have won on a record eight occasions as a round packed with mouthwatering ties is played out.

Klopp admits to raising a smile when he saw Liverpool’s Premier League rivals paired with each other prior to his team coming out of the hat, though he remains excited by the prospect of a headline clash with Spurs.

And he believes the fixture is a good opportunity for his players and the club’s supporters to create a big atmosphere in the absence of European football this term:

“It’s exciting. It’s the first draw I watched live because I saw the game before.  I was waiting for the draw and then saw West Ham – Chelsea, a little smile to be honest; then Manchester United – City, oh nice, another smile; then a freeze in my face because we got Tottenham! But it’s good. I think it’s a big boost for the competition.

“When I came here I had to explain why we field strong line-ups and now in the competition it looks like a semi-final each game.

“It’s a big opportunity for all the teams, they all try to go through and you can see this with the line-ups. That’s pretty exciting. I am happy about playing at home.

“When we cannot have European nights, let’s take what we can get. It will be fantastic and I am really looking forward to it.”

 

The two sides have faced each other already this season, playing out a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane in a match in which the Reds had a slight advantage on balance of play.

 

 

Liverpool have confirmed their EFL Cup fourth-round tie with Tottenham Hotspur will be played on Tuesday October 25 at 7.45pm.  The pairing of a number of the remaining bigger clubs this time around means that at least a few lower league sides should make it through to the quarter-finals in November. The EFL Cup then takes a break for December before the remaining teams face a two-legged semi-final in January.

Liverpool FC: One year on

Philippe Coutinho is mobbed after scoring Liverpool’s second goal at Derby. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters
Philippe Coutinho is mobbed after scoring Liverpool’s second goal at Derby. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

A year is a long time in the world of football.  It was only a year ago that the team was playing so poorly that Brendan Rodgers lost his job.

Jürgen Klopp has brought a different style of football – more entertaining and effective style of football – not always needing to pass the ball into the back of the net.  As an example, last season from the 9th August when the Premier League season began to when Liverpool completed their 3rd round League Cup match against Carlisle, the team only scored six goals in all competitions.  Compare that to the 19 goals that Liverpool have scored in one less game so far this season – and that’s including the awful goalless game against Burnley.

And at the opposite end of the pitch in 2015 we were leaking goals: three against West Ham, and three against Manchester United.  This season we see a much-improved Lovren, and exciting performances from Matip and the steady hand of Klavan.

The new look team has got off to a strong start, the goals are flying in, and in these early days, Klopp’s Reds aren’t a team you’d want to bet against.  There’s no telling what the future will hold for Liverpool, but a look back at the recent past can give us hope for brighter days ahead.

Refugees’ lifejackets have been turned into a ‘graveyard’ outside parliament

refugee-life-jacket-graveyard-1

More than 2,500 lifejackets that were actually worn by migrants who crossed from Turkey into Europe were placed in front of the U.K.’s Parliament today to raise further awareness about the global migrant and refugee crisis. The project was created by various charity and humanitarian groups to correspond with a meeting of world leaders at the U.N. to discuss the ongoing crisis.

This year alone so far, at least 3,212 refugees and migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.  Deaths are occurring more frequently this year than in 2015, according to the most recent figures reported by the International Organization for Migration.

refugee-life-jacket-graveyard

The installation — which was supported by refugee charities — intends to remind leaders of “the need for solidarity with refugees” and to encourage “international responsibility sharing”.

refugee-life-jacket-graveyard-2

How has the UK student population changed?

September is the time in youth work where we say “hello” to new young people and goodbye to older young people who are making their way into employment or off to university.

The ONS has produced some very interesting data about student population in the UK.

Student numbers have almost doubled since 1992

percentage-of-18-to-24-year-olds-in-full-time-education-who-are-in-employment

Download the data

In the period March to May 1992, there were 984,000 people aged 18 to 24 in full-time education. In May to July 2016, there were 1.87 million, approximately 1 in every 3 people, aged 18 to 24 in full-time education.

Looking at the employment rate amongst this group you can clearly see students gaining employment during the holidays. Surprisingly for me, students in 2016 are less likely to be in employment than 20 years ago, with on average 35.4% having a job in June to August 2015 to May to July 2016 compared with 40.3% in the same period 20 years previously.  However, those that do have a job are more likely to keep it throughout the entire academic year, this is reflected by the fact that the peaks and troughs in the data are less pronounced in 2016 than they were 2 decades ago.

percentage-of-18-to-24-year-olds-in-full-time-education-who-are-in-employment

Download the data

International student numbers have fallen and are at their lowest since 2007

Over a quarter of immigrants come to the UK for formal study. In 1977, there were 29,000 international students, rising to a peak of over 8 times this amount in 2010. However, recent years have seen a decline in long-term immigrants arriving to study, with numbers falling to 164,000 in the year ending March 2016.

long-term-international-immigrants-arriving-for-formal-study

Download the data

 

Assembly: The Olympics and Friendship

Here’s an assembly I did this morning in our local junior school on the theme of the Olympics and friendship.  Here’s the PowerPoint if it’s useful.

 

I have loved watching the Olympics. One of the most famous moments was this in the heats of the 5,000m.

 

Runners Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin may not have won their 5,000 meter heat in the Rio Olympics, but their attitudes are gold-medal caliber.

 

Hamblin, who is representing New Zealand in this summer’s games, tripped on the packed track partly through the race, taking American D’Agostino down with her.

 

After the fall, a a clearly discouraged Hamblin lay motionless on the ground for several seconds. Get ready to cry, though: D’Agostino instantly helped Hamblin get to her feet.

 

“This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this,” D’Agostino reportedly said. And finish the race they did. Fortunately, the Olympic dream wasn’t over for either runner. Because they were tripped, both were allowed to run in the final later in the week. But talk about Olympic spirit.

 

The International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) presented D’Agostino and Hamblin with the Fair Play award, for their acts of selflessness and exemplary sportsmanship. The Olympic award recognizes the values of excellence, friendship, and respect in an athlete and both runners exhibited those values as they helped each other to the finish line.

 

An International Olympic Committee statement read : “The D’Agostino and Hamblin story is one of humanity and sacrifice which has already captured the hearts of people across the globe.”

 

Then there was the example this week of brothers Jonny & Alistair Brownlee at the World Triathlon Series. Video capturing Alistair coming to the aid of Jonny has gone viral and led to enormous praise for the elder Brownlee, a two-time Olympic champion who sacrificed his own chances of victory to help his sibling.

 

 

Let me share one last beautiful story of two Olympic athletes from Japan who knew exactly how to share with each other.

 

At the 1936 Berlin Games, Japanese pole vaulters Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe tied for second place. They were offered the opportunity to compete against each other for the silver medal, but because they were friends and respected each other so much they said they didn’t want to. In order to keep the Olympic rules, Oe agreed to take the bronze medal while Nishida took the silver.

 

When they returned to Japan, the other people in their team decided to do something different. A jeweller cut their two medals in half and put them back together, making two half-silver, half-bronze medals called ‘Medals of Friendship’.

 

The Bible contains a famous quote about friendship. It comes from the book called Ecclesiastes:
‘Two are better than one, because if one falls over the other one will pick him up.’

 

Ask the children what they think this verse means, and then allow them a few moments of reflection to think about how they can ‘pick up’ other people.

 

Time for reflection

Think about the words from the Bible and the words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

‘Two are better than one, because if one falls over the other one will pick him up.’

 

‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.’

 

Think of a time when someone has been a true friend to you. Maybe you’ve been lonely or sad and someone has looked after you. Maybe you have been stuck with work and someone has helped. Think about opportunities that you may have to be a good friend to someone. Decide to be a good friend today.

 

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for our friends. Thank you for the fun we can have with them and the happy times we spend together. Please help me to be a good friend. Please help me not to be selfish but to think always of other people and their needs. Amen.