School assemblies can make or break a day, week or even a term. They set the tone. They can bring schools together around a common purpose, engendering teamwork and a positive attitude to learning. Conversely they can be so dull as to lower expectation and turn subsequent lessons into non-learning events. I’m writing this entry in response to @andyross75 who’s after a good assembly to start off his first headship. I’m not suggesting this particular assembly is the answer, but if you have an alternative suggestion , get in touch with him on Twitter.
The squirty cream assembly begins with two tubes of squirty cream, a sloping surface with some kind of covering (I normally use an old roll of backing paper draped down a table that I’ve positioned at a jaunty angle so the assembled children can see what’s going on) and two game children.
You tell the children that they’re going to have two races. The first is to squirt the cream out on the table in an unbroken line from top to bottom. You can even mark a start and finish line if you want to. With suitable drama you then let the race commence and within seconds the children have squirted cream all over the table, preferably in the line that you described and with no breaks. You then declare one of the children a winner.
You the tell them that the second race is to get the cream back into the bottle. Without giving them time to think, you countdown and let them start trying to scrape the cream back into the tube they started with. Of course they can’t do it and you stop them after a suitable length of time and before too much mess is made.
After the drama has died down, you then tell the school that the cream is like words. It’s easy to say a whole load of words, but it’s difficult to get them back in your mouth.
Depending on the context you’re in, you can then take it in different ways – when I was new in one place I made the link to new people not knowing exactly what to say and sometimes saying things that didn’t fit with the way people talk and therefore being tolerant and forgiving of each other.
At a different time, when there had been a spate of unfortunate verbal bullying type events, I used the same assembly to raise the corporate awareness of thinking before you speak and not saying the kind of words that you would be ashamed of afterwards. The assembly went down very well in both instances.
If it’s right for your school, you can even make the link to a Bible verse or two – James chapter 3 verses 4-6 are pertinent. This worked for me in one school (a voluntary controlled church school), but has not been appropriate in my current school. There may be other relevant passages from faiths other than Christianity, but I do not know them myself – if anyone reading this does know bits of scripture concerning this subject from a range of different faiths, I would be very interested to find out more for the next time I use this assembly.