Age range: Ideal for key stages 1 and 2. This book is full of memorable stories, designed to engage and delight pupils at primary level. The stories are essentially parables about God and the events of the Bible, creatively told to help children understand the big story of God's love for the world. Pupils are invited to imagine themselves as part of the story and also encouraged to think about their own values and behaviour, not by learning the right answers to give, but by making a leap of imagination and identifying themselves with the characters in the stories. There are six themes in total, each with its own easy-to-make storytelling prop. The stories within each theme are divided into six weekly episodes, covering a wide range of contemporary values and topics. Together the stories cover the whole school year, with a key theme and a story in six parts for each half-term period. At the end of each half-term there is a special assembly to mark that part of the school year: harvest, Christmas, Christingle or Pancake Day, Holy Week or Easter, Pentecost and a leavers' farewell. As well as being ideal for collective worship, there are practical follow-up ideas to help children connect with the stories in the classroom. Alongside those in the book, there are further curriculum links on the Barnabas in Schools website. The six themes cover: God's creation The message of the Old Testament prophets Stories about Christian values The story of Holy Week and Easter Jesus' resurrection and ascension The journeys of the apostle Paul
The Revd Edward Carter is Canon Theologian at Chelmsford Cathedral. He was previously the parish priest at St Peter's Didcot in Oxford Diocese, as well as being Area Dean of the Wallingford Deanery.
From RE Today - Spring 2011 The author says in the Preface that he wanted to keep his assemblies 'broadly Christian', but they are definitely 'wholly' Christian, and while these may be appropriate to church schools, most schools will need to amend the assemblies in order to take account of pupils' faiths and the backgrounds represented in the school. That said, these assemblies have been well constructed, using biblical references and stories, like modern parables, to explore Christian beliefs and values. The book opens with testimonials from those who have used the materials to good effect, and one is particularly useful in the way it describes how the assemblies are used across the school week. The book is divided into six sections (corresponding to the six 'half terms' within a school year) each with a different story divided into episodes to be told over six assemblies, although it is suggested that the stories could be used in other ways. The sections focus on: God's creation; The prophets; The discipleship parables; The humility of Jesus; Jesus, risen and ascended; and St Paul's journeys. For each section there is a concluding celebration and suggestions on how the assemblies might be used in follow-up classroom activities. Main celebrations within the Christian year are woven into the stories and each of the assemblies explores particular themes, such as 'helping others and 'being part of a team'. The book includes some suggestions for prayers, music and songs, and at the back there are a few templates, an index of biblical references, index of values and key themes and details of other publications from the Barnabas (children's) imprint of BRF. There are further materials which can be downloaded from the Barnabas website. I like the way this book is constructed, skilfully exploring the Christian faith and presenting pupils with the opportunity to reflect on spiritual and moral issues. Reviewed by Lesley Beadle
From The Door - July 2010 This book offers a year's worth of assemblies for key stages one and two. It differs from the many other assembly resources by its use of six original stories written by Edward Carter to explore biblical themes - one for each half-term period. Listeners are encouraged to imagine themselves as part of the story and are prompted to think about their own responses to the issues raised. So for example the first theme in the book is 'God's Creation' and this is explored by telling the story of Felix's Garden (with a wooden pole and coloured ribbons as a visual aid). Each week's instalment has its own mini theme - for God's Creation these include 'preparation', 'growing', 'stewardship' - and the story finishes on a cliff-hanger to be continued next time. The story-telling approach is effective (especially for key stage two) and you can imagine the children being keen to hear the next instalment. This method does rely, however, on regular and uninterrupted weekly assembly slots - longer gaps could make it hard to keep the story going and pupils may well struggle to stay engaged. But for all those who are looking for a fresh and imaginative approach to weekly assemblies this book is ideal, and in schools where there is a shared commitment to exploring Christianity across the life of the school there is plenty here to draw on and be inspired by. The Revd Becky Bevan is curate at St Mary's, Thatcham. The Revd Edward Carter is Priest in Charge at St Peter's, Didcot.
Reviewed by The Association of Christian Teachers - June 2010 Story Assemblies for the School Year is a collection of 36 assemblies, split into six sections for each half term. There are six themes that cover different values: Beauty and appreciation, Patience and trust, Love and honesty, Humility and hope, Peace and understanding, Responsibility and tolerance. Each half term theme is split into six weeks, with six stories and a final celebration story, e.g. harvest and ideas for follow up RE work in the classroom. Also included in each theme are Bible verses, prayer and suggested music and songs. The stories are interesting and often finish on a cliff hanger, making the children want to know what happens next. The assembly continues relating the story to Bible story. Some children may get confused that the 'stories' are in the Bible too. There is a visual prompt for each theme which is great for all ages. The language of the stories is familiar and the stories build on each other well. It's an easy book to just pick up and take to the assembly and read out. It's ideal for a class teacher taking assemblies and suitable for the non-specialist RE teacher. Reviewed by Rachel Davey, Class Teacher and co-ordinator for RE and PSE, Baden Powell Primary School, Cardiff