Monday, 12 November 2018

Scallop Shells Anyone? An End of Year Chapel Service Idea!

Many years ago, we moved house suddenly due to the First Gulf War. In fact we were part of a swift evacuation that involved leaving the country almost overnight with one suitcase – which was packed with mainly baby supplies and photographs! While living in Dubai all that time I ago, I had collected shells with my own children. Dubai was a very different place then and the beach where we used to play is now home to the Burj Al Arab! I was sad that we lost our shell collection because those shells were part of our story. Shells have long been a part of people’s lives.

For early Christians, the scallop shell was a symbol of pilgrimage. People who travelled and crossed the seas would often bring a scallop shell home as a souvenir. The scallop shell became the symbol of someone who was a pilgrim or who had journeyed with God.
The wonderful website Barnabas in Schools, which always has great resources, has a fabulous end of year school service. I know that most of you have already written your End of Year services and printed the prayers – but maybe save this idea for next year.
The Scallop Shell Service idea is about using pilgrimage imagery to reflect positively on the past year.

“The end of the school year, like other stages of transition, can be a bittersweet time of both looking back and looking ahead, with wistful goodbyes and hopes for the future. Reminiscences and regrets can blur. This idea helps you to celebrate the positive, place the negatives in some helpful context and focus attention on going forward.”

If you are a priest, you probably use a scallop shell when baptising a baby. You could show your students the shell and explain that sometimes, when someone is baptised as a Christian, the priest will pour water on their head with a scallop shell to show that this is their first step in making that long life-journey with God.

The website gives you an outline for a service and plenty of information.  You could also have a scallop shell prayer space where students reflect on their time at school by writing about their own journey on cut out scallop shells. You could create an entire ‘beach’ with the scallop shells of your students.

Remind the students that some journey are difficult but we can persevere and be joyful as we remember the good times. Mistakes are a part of our learning journey and help us to grow.

I know the plans I have for you... They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

Jesus said:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28–29, NIV)

There are plenty of articles online about the scallop shell to help you with your message. You may even know someone who has walked the The Road to Santiago.  Here you can read about St James and the scallop shell. The scallop shell is the iconic symbol of the Camino de Santiago.

I think the symbolism of the shell is something with which children will connect and it will be an image they will remember. Imagine sending off all your students on their summer holidays, knowing that some will see a shell, pause, reflect and possibly even think of their own journey with God!

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Christmas for our Littlest Folk

Sometimes you need a really short but effective video to use with students. The Christmas video from Little Bible Heroes is a great little video and only about 2 minutes long.

For another great video, you can always rely on The Beginner’s Bible for any story! It is my ‘go to’ resource!

Finish off with a lovely song, and your students have heard the message 3 times! "Oh What a Special Night!"

Sunday, 28 October 2018

What is a Christingle?

Introducing a Christingle might be a wonderful way to engage your students in a very Christmassy Chapel Service.

You could perhaps demonstrate creating a Christingle with the help of some students as you explain the meaning behind these special symbols.

Everything you need to know is on the Request website. There is a video and a great hand out to help you make the Christingle.

 The website explains very clearly the meaning behind this tradition.

“The origins of Christingle services are unknown but the word means ‘Christ Light’ and celebrates Jesus coming as the light of the World to show people the way to God.

The orange is round like the world. It means that God’s love is for everybody, everywhere.

The candle symbolises Jesus. He talked about himself as light coming into a dark place. Christians believe he brought people God’s love into the world in a new way.

The red ribbon goes all around the ‘world’. It is a symbol of Jesus’ blood – a reminder that he died for the people of the world.

The four sticks point in all directions representing the four directions: North, South, East and West. It’s another symbol that God’s love is for everyone. The fruit, nuts and sweets represent all God’s good gifts to us.”

You might find teachers might like to create something similar in their own classrooms after your Chapel Service.

You will find these instructions and a video on the website at

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

What is your hope for tomorrow?

We can be so grateful for the abundant blessings in our lives. As Christmas approaches, perhaps we can encourage our students to think about how they can make a real difference in the lives of others.

I was hearing about one of our wonderful teachers (Milissa the Marvellous) who is designing her Christmas Units on the theme of Gratitude focussing on the wonderful gift of Jesus Christ. Such fabulous work! 

I suggested that perhaps she could use the gift catalogues from TEAR or World Vision to help her students think of ways to give to others.

I love using these catalogues to ‘shop’ for family and friends. Let the students jump online and make their Christmas shopping lists. Do your own shopping while you are there!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

What does Sand have to do with Christmas?

I have no idea how sand art works, but I love to watch this mesmerising form of creativity. This could be used as a wonderful time of stillness and silence as students simply watch the story being told through the flow and movements of sand.

There are so many sand art videos – but here are a few to watch and enjoy. Maybe they could be used during Chapel? Some are only a few minutes – while The Christmas Miracle by Joe Castillo is about 20 minutes.

Monday, 15 October 2018

The Christmas Story

If you are seeking ideas or resources this Christmas, don't forget to have a look at Max7.  Max7 is such a great website, but sometimes I need a little reminder to look there for great resources.
You will find so many fabulous videos and of course, there is the Christmas favourite. This could be a great way to introduce your students to reading the Biblical account of Christmas. Enjoy 'The Christmas Story' from Max7.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Mog's Christmas

Today's tip for all Chaplains and religious educators is a Fr Bryan Special! When you have a Chaplain with a fabulous sense of humour and a genuine heart for God, you know Chapel will be fun.
If you haven't watched Mog's Christmas, then take the time to enjoy this with your students. Lots of laughter and special lessons about love, caring and community - and a little chaos too!
Enjoy all the discussions that will be sparked after watching this Christmas ad. Let your students reflect on what they think this ad is truly about.