Sunday, 27 January, 2013

Here you will find a range of ideas that link to the different assemblies.  Some of the activities are more generic and some are specific to the 2013 theme Communities Together: Build a Bridge allowing you to select which activities are most appropriate for your pupils.

You can download a printable version of this page here.

You will need
Miep Gies puzzle template
Miep Gies case study

At the beginning of the class, please tell the children that it is Holocaust Memorial Day and that today you will be exploring Communities Together: Build a Bridge.  The aims of the day are (please use the ones most relevant to your pupils):

  • to learn from the past when people were treated unfairly, to stop it happening again
  • to explore what it would be like if people didn’t respect one another or considered some people more important than others
  • to celebrate diversity and the differences between ourselves
  • to think about how we can connect with other people

The activities at the start are for younger pupils and then progress onto activities for older children – but have a look through them all, as many of them can be done by children of all ages.

Watch the short film about the refugee

The Simple Acts Animation was kindly contributed by Refugee Week a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary.  Anyone can take part by organising, attending or taking part in activities.  You can find out more about the Simple Acts Campaign.

Questions to ask the children afterwards

  • how do you think the little blue suitcase felt at the beginning?
  • how do you think the little blue suitcase felt at the end?
  • what did the others in the cartoon do to make him feel better? (had a cup of tea, played football, read a book to, smiled at)
  • if we saw someone in the playground who was looking lonely, what could we do to make them feel better?
  • what if the person who was feeling a little sad and lonely couldn’t speak or understand English, what could you do then to make them feel better then?

Build a Bridge – what I can do for others
Work with the children to create a colourful display of a bridge (this image was available from clipart).  Ask the children to draw something they could do to make the little blue suitcase feel better.  Ask them to think about what their strengths and interests are.
For example, they could draw a picture for them, write a letter, let them have a go on their scooter, play football with, tell a joke to, laugh with, smile at, etc.  You may even wish to add some colourful Rainbow Fish in your river!

Using the same bridge image as a starting point for a display – for older pupils that may not have watched the Simple Acts animation, introduce this activity as follows:

It is important that communities do not become divided in the future – that we all remember that everyone is equal.  We can start by getting to know and supporting the diverse communities in the UK and the individuals who make up the whole.  We can respect each other’s differences and places in communities.  Ultimately, some of the ways in which you can prevent people being treated unfairly is by making connections with, and between, communities.  Wherever we live, there are others around us.  Our communities are made up of individuals with different backgrounds, occupations and lives.  Communities may be defined by geography, by interest, by cultural activities or by faith.

Create a class bridge display, and write on the bricks what you pledge to do as individuals and as a class community to connect with others.
For example, a class pledge may be:
We promise to include each other in all activities both in the classroom and the playground and ensure that no-one is left out.
A personal pledge may be:
I want to get to know and make friends with more people in my school.
I would like to find out more about other cultures and faiths that are different to my own.
I would like to understand more about the places where all my friends and their families are from.
Encourage pupils to think about what their individual strengths and qualities are that they could use in this situation.  For example, are they are good at listening to people, at telling jokes, at including people in games, at starting conversations with other children they don’t know quite as well.

What will our world look like if we ‘disconnect’?  What behaviours will we see happen around us?

Follow Up
One week later, ask the children if they have done anything with their personal pledge? Have they made a difference?

Poetry Activity
We know that when different things and different people come together, it can make life more interesting, diverse and meaningful.  Write a poem starting with the word ‘one’, and provide an example of a situation when it is better for one thing to be part of something, and what would happen if it remained alone.  Repeat with three further examples.  For example:

One part of a jigsaw,
The whole picture never known
One football player on the pitch,
The goal that lies open
One synchronised swimmer,
No patterns carved through water
One voice in a choir,
No harmonies or tone

For the second verse, talk about how wonderful things are when they do come together:
A rainbow full of colours
Brightens up the sky
A mix of different smells
Create the perfect scent
An audience of many
Applaud loudly at the show
A full orchestra playing
Fills my heart with joy

Learning Point
Communities together create a richness and diversity.  We are all part of something and should celebrate the coming together of people and the differences between each of us.

Communities Coming Together in 2012 / 2013 - International Communities – Olympic Truce
Can anyone think of any occasions in the last 12 months when communities have come together – in good or bad times?

Did you know that during the Olympics, a truce was agreed amongst nations around the world.  You can read the Olympic truce here.
This offered:

  • a respite from conflict and strife
  • a window of time for dialogue and understanding between nations
  • a pause to provide humanitarian assistance and relief from suffering
  • help for athletes from areas of conflict to attend and compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • the opportunity for competitors, officials, and spectators irrespective of their ethnic origin, gender, culture, religion, language or political system to live and compete in unity, peace and harmony
  • the opportunity for individuals from around the world to observe the spirit of unity and friendship that exists during the Games, and to reflect on how these values can be promoted in their local communities and countries

 Discuss how this might help children across the world.

Build a Bridge Activity
Before you start this activity – ask the children what they think the word ‘community’ means to them. Are there different communities within the school?  Within the class? 

Community can be defined by interest – so one ‘community’ could be the choir and another the football team.

Communities can be defined by geography and faith too.  Can the class identify different communities outside of school, and places that may act as a hub?  For example, is there a community centre nearby?  A church / mosque / synagogue?  Who meets at these places?

Movement Activity
Clear a space in the classroom (or use the hall).

Mark a series of stepping stones on the floor using masking tape, or slip proof mats (approximately 8) that will take you from one side of the room to the other – creating a bridge.

Ask the class to divide themselves up into small groups of 3 or 4, and stand on one of these stepping stones.

Ask the children to decide on a ‘quality or action’ that is required by our community in order for it to work well together.  They should not tell the other groups at this stage what their chosen word is.  If children get stuck prompt them with words like respect, understanding, supportive, friendly, open, welcoming etc.

Then ask the children in their small groups to make a group tableau / a still freeze frame image with their bodies to try and communicate this word / quality / action to others in the class.

Give the children five minutes to do this, and make sure they can remember it.

When all of the children have done this – start with the first stepping stone on the bridge, ask them to do their shape, and ask the rest of the group to guess what it is.  Repeat this until all children have shown their tableaus and all the words have been guessed correctly.  Take the opportunity to discuss each word as it is revealed to find out why the children think it is important – what will happen if a community does not have this quality?

When all of the shapes have been shared, ask the children to perform the shapes in quick succession like a Mexican Wave – can they repeat a couple of times so that the actions get really smooth?  Can they get closer so the shapes practically join up?  What happens now if one group refuses to cooperate by not doing their action?

Learning Point
As groups and individuals we all need to play our part by getting to know and understand the people we share our community with, so that we can support one another and live harmoniously.  When communities stop understanding and respecting one another, problems start.  Miep Gies reached out and helped the Frank family when they needed it.  She connected with a family that may have been different to her own – but who had become valued friends – ones she would risk her life for.

Jigsaw activity
Using the blank jigsaw template (number the different pieces for your own reference) and distribute blank pieces to the students.

Ask the students to draw a picture of themselves and/or write their key strengths on the jigsaw – saying what they think they contribute to the class community or the wider community.

Display the pieces so that each piece can be individually appreciated and valued, and then arrange all the pieces together as a class, to show what the class can offer as a collective when they work together.

Ask another class to also complete this activity at the same time and then swap jigsaws, so at the end, each class can see one another’s qualities.

Miep Gies Puzzle Activity
Before conducting this activity, you may want to share the Miep Gies case study with your students.  If you are short on time, you may want to synopsise the case study as appropriate for your students.

Download the puzzle template (and move them out of order).  You will see that there are 12 pieces, 10 of which have pictures on them, telling Miep’s story.  Working as a whole class, ask the children to put the images in the correct order.  You may wish to add the statements to each puzzle piece should they need more help.  The prompts and milestones for the story are:

1)      Miep malnourished as a young child

2)      Miep leaves her family in Vienna to live with a foster family in the Netherlands

3)      Miep starts a new job working for Otto Frank

4)      Otto asks Miep to help keep them hidden in the secret room

5)      Miep buys food from different places, never carrying more than one or two bags at a time, so not to arouse suspicion

6)      Anne, Otto’s daughter writes a diary whilst she stays in the secret room

7)      The officers point a gun at Miep and arrest everyone in hiding

8)      Miep tries to buy the Franks freedom with money – unsuccessfully

9)      Otto returns after the war, but sadly no-one else survives

10)     Miep gives Otto the diary that Anne wrote


  • Why was it dangerous for Miep to hide Otto Frank and his family?
  • What did Miep do to avoid getting caught or arousing suspicion?
  • Why / how did Miep escape punishment for hiding Otto and his family?

Learning Point
The Netherlands was occupied by the German army.  They wanted to arrest all Jews and send them to work camps.  Only Jews who went into hiding could escape.  But they had to have a good hiding place, and people who would help.  The people in hiding in the secret room had helpers like these – people like Miep who provided food, clothes, books and many other things which the people in hiding needed.

Anne said about Miep in her diary: 'Miep often says she envies us because we have such peace and quiet here.  That may be true, but she’s obviously not thinking about our fear.’

Do you think Anne is right?  Would it be harder for the person in hiding or the person who is protecting the people in hiding?

Blanche Benedick
Read the story about Blanche Benedick from the assembly notes.

Can you identify at least three different people or communities that helped Blanche and her family and explain how they helped – what did they do?

(Mona and her parents who hid her, the church hall people where she received bread and soup, the school community welcoming her in and clubbing together so she could go on the school ski trip).

What can we learn from Blanche’s story?

Let’s start within our own school community – how can we make everyone feel welcome?  How can we make sure that each person, each class, each year group connects?

You can download a printable version of this page here.


  • 7-11


The Holocaust