Young Assembly

Young Assembly is for 7+ children, with or without parents. We normally gather after the first song of the main Assembly (see HERE), at 11.00 and rejoin in time for the last song at about 12.00.

… that’s ‘normally’ ….

Note: There are many other activities through the month, which can be picked up on the facebook page. One activity, for walking (and talking) enthusiasts, might benefit from Young Assembly’s helpful guide: 18 Games for a Walk in the Country.

Sunday, 10 May 2020 from 11:00-12:30 UTC+01

As predicted, it is a strange new world now – a Wonky New World even. This is a Zoom event, which means the only people you will meet today will be the ones you have been with for the past month. However, there will be a glimpse of other humans: they are out there somewhere! Any meditations during the event should remind us how very much we value each other.  Our communities are more the sum of its parts.

The UTC+01 addition to the time means we will be one hour ahead of European time. We are a global event now!


April and May

We will all be aiming to beat the infection now. At a time when we could best use each other’s company we have to keep away from each other. If we love ’em, we have to leave ’em at a safe distance.

See you in the strange new world to come.

March 8th, 11.00 am – 12.15 pm

Well, the beat was going to be too interesting next door, and sure enough it was. Ironically, the last thing before Covid-19 cancelled Sunday Assembly for the next 2 months was an hour of infectious rhythms.


February 9th, 11.00 am – 12.15 pm

This time we examined some well known labels – words we use casually, but which hide historical insults, plus we looked for word which are innocent today, but will be insults tomorrow, plus a piece of rude magic and some wholesome snacks. and we’ll rejoin in time for the last song at about 12.00.


January 12th, 11.00 am – 12.15 pm


We had a food fight – verbal only. We discussed what’s good for us … and what’s best for the planet. The snacks were both vegan and tasty, – fruit – and the magic trick was tasty.


December 15th, 11.00 am – 12.15 pm


Why Winter?  We discovered why Winter happens (in a word, because the Earth tilts). We discovered why we shiver, what on earth goose bumps are all about, why we have pale skin, why we are lactose-tolerant, why trees are purple, why we photosynthesize, why trees lose their leaves … it’s all because the Earth tilts. If only we could correct the tilt, things would be so much easier!


November 24th at   11.00 am – 12.15 pm


Normally Young Assembly follows the main theme. But this time we departed from ‘Departures’, to make some completely original Christmas cards. Inspired by the Brighton Science Christmas card page, HERE, we learned how to make a pop-up card, to liven up the mantle-piece

middle street school

Middle Street Primary School, BN1 1AL 

Under-sevens should be accompanied by a carer.

Fully DBS-compliant.


October 26th at   11.00 am – 12.15 pm


We studied some illusions, and discussed the short-cuts our minds take in order to sift the world – assumptions that in pictures the light always comes from above, for instance, or the calculations constantly being made about the real size of objects, regardless of their shrinking with distance.

The Christmas card below, for instance, is an illusion. The fact that you can buy it and many like it is no illusion. Click on it and find out!


Sunday August 18


We have to coexist with some troublesome neighbours. They sit on our roofs; they shout all night; they steal our ice creams if they can, and if they can’t they scream all day .

They are herring gulls, and their story is actually both remarkable and sad. Sadly we couldn’t talk about them, because everyone was on holiday; perhaps beside the seaside; perhaps feeding the gulls!


Sunday July 28


We’ll have some big thoughts about little things: We’ll look at the way little things can have a big impact. we’ll consider the little creatures that populate the world – some VERY close by. We’ll look down some microscopes and see the tiny details of big things We’ll study a small magic trick and eat some average-sized snacks.


Middle Street Primary School, in the centre of Brighton. BN1 1AL



Sunday June 23rd


While the main assembly listened  to sea shanties and hears about the cameraderie that working together on something brings – even if it is just working on sea shanties – we played games that reminded us that friends are useful:

Foxes and Rabbits – the rabbits helped each other to escape from the fox’s lunch-box. Penguins – the kids saw that huddling together helps penguins keep warm at the South Pole. Trees  – clustering together gives better protection for each other against the wind.

We discussed the number of friends you can really have … thousands, according to Facebook; but really? ’Likes’ and ‘dislikes’: are they the actions of friends?

How To Fill a Bucket. – When you do something kind for others you feel the pleasure yourself. When you add to someone else’s ‘kindness bucket’ you also add to yours. Have you filled a bucket today? Or are you a bucket dipper – emptying others’ buckets, (and emptying your own in the process).

Guerrilla Goodness– doing useful things so that nobody knows. How surprised they’ll be to find their towels tidied up, plate rack emptied, stray plastic bag removed from their tree, table wiped, etc. They’ll wonder who did it, and maybe do some guerrilla acts of kindness themselves (And each one fills your bucket a little).

Just before we were called back to the Assembly, we had time to discuss how to be a friend: ways that work and ways that don’t work. So: hugs, compliments, little gifts, smiles, sharing, listening, sympathising … doesn’t seem hard, does it?


Sunday May 15, 20.00pm – 3.45pm

Spiegeltent,  on Old Steine Gardens (near Brighton Pier) BN1 1GY

No Young Assembly today, but we reserved a table at the side of the tent for quiet games while the Assembly was on.


SUNDAY  24 March  at   11.00 am – 12.15 pm

Resistance. Talk across the road given by Extinction Rebellion

The session focussed on three pieces of fruit:

An apple, created by thousands of years of careful selective breeding from small hard berries to the perfect shape and glorious taste of today.

The potato, introduced from South America in 1589 and planted across Europe until millions depended on them. But there was only one strain of potato, so when potato blight struck them in the mid 1840s they all  died, and as a result millions of people perished of starvation. The deaths could have been prevented if there were different strains of potato, to replace the unfit one.

Potatoes need biodiversity in order to make sure new breeds are ready to cope with the changing world. Without it we are hostages to fortune.

Bananas are a famine waiting to happen. There is only one breed of banana world-wide, the Cavendish. Extinction Rebellion are bringing to everyone’s attention both the need for biodiversity, and the extinction of many vital species which is is occurring  globally.

SUNDAY  24 February  at   11.00 am – 12.15 pm

 ‘The Call of the Wild’.

For nearly everyone on the planet, the ‘wild’ world has been pretty much tamed. Most of us live in cities. But how much of you and me is still wild? We searched for signs of the animal in us – everything from waggly ears, to goose bumps, to hiccups. Then took a picture of our Wild Bunch….

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SUNDAY  27 January     Good Mood Food 

Good Mood Food was the theme over the road. So we focussed on one particular food and one special mood: The food was sugar and the mood was the desire for more of it. A remarkable number of us – ok ALL of us – love sugar. And a remarkable number of food manufacturers oblige us by putting sugar into nearly everything we eat.  We studied some foods and found sugar everywhere – 13 teaspoons in a can of CocaCola, for instance.

Sugar is necessary: our cells need it as a  source of energy. But too much of it is bad for us, because the body doesn’t throw it away, it stores it in case there’s a famine. Since there hasn’t been a famine for 150 years, our bodies have been storing it all over the place, as fat. and it has clogged us up our workings. It has turned from a giver of life to a threat of death. The UK is the sixth fattest nation in the World. Our 11 lovely children  were given one sweet each from a packet of 50 Maoams*: quite enough energy to last a day. The rest were flushed down the toilet, to a chorus of dismay. But really, we all knew that was the right thing to do, didn’t we, kids!

*Maoams: the first ingredient (Therefore the biggest) is sugar. The second is glucose syrup (sugar), the fifth is sorbitol syrup (sugar), the twentieth is caramalised sugar syrup, and in a final flourish, the last two are treacle and invert sugar syrup.


SUNDAY  16 December     Money

We took a close-up look at money – literally: with microscopes, to spot the hidden details that make coins and notes hard to forge; we discussed pocket money and the whys, the hows and whens to save; and we had a chat about sharing while we distributed golden coins, filled with chocolate. Also some money magic (not how to make it disappear; anyone can do that).


SUNDAY  28 October     Groupthink

We will be working together to create the International Space Station – an example of group-thinking across national borders: it is a collaboration between scientists from 16 nations. Plus free fruit and biscuits!


SUNDAY  23 September    Festival !

Brighton is famous for its festivals; indeed some weekends the sea front looks like a day-long circus parade. We will be comparing festivals around the world, and making something useful for all festive occasions. Plus we’ll have our own little feast, on fruit and biscuits.


SUNDAY  19 August    Wisdom

This month we are looking at pearls of wisdom; mottos we can reach for at times when life is puzzling.

Plus there will be refreshments: biscuits!  (… Is this wise?   Well, we will try to get wiser without becoming wider.)

Do you have any smart sayings you mutter to yourself when times get tough:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”

“The grass always looks greener on the other side”

“Sour grapes!” (what does that mean? Come and find out.)

We will think of some, get given some more and hopefully make up some of our own. Then we’ll pop back to the main Assembly with our pearls, and help them to invent some more.


SUNDAY July 22  Strength

You may be strong – you can run fast or lift heavy things – but what about other other ways of being strong? Can you cooperate, support your friends, respect your enemies, or be brave when those all around you are scared? At the Young Assembly we played a variety of games and activities to find our inner strengths. We discussed our top ten, then arranged them in order:

Fairness  –  Kindness  –  Honesty  –  Courage  –  Patience  –  Cooperation  –  Open-mindedness  –  Forgiveness  –  Humour  –  Enthusiasm

Interestingly, it turns out that that is the way Nature has arranged them too. Many animals have been found to have a sense of fairness; young babies are kind; toddlers are disarmingly honest, and so on.


SUNDAY June 24 Geography

Copperas gap.jpg

A fisherman’s cottage in Portslade 200 years ago

It was advertised as a ‘a walk around the block and back through 200 years’, but it also stepped into the future. Following the theme of mindful walks in the landscape, we walked in the glorious morning sunshine, becoming aware of the local neighbourhood. Straight away, we found to our astonishment that our little church of St Andrews was designed by Charles Barry, who went on to do the Houses of Parliament. 

Our team observed every door, paving stone and window frame, and found a wealth of human ingenuity – for instance, old fire buckets turned into flower pots – and interesting smells, all noted down, and eventually turned into a poem.

We saw the grand frontages of the houses on the seafront, and the erratic jumble of sheds and shacks they hid behind them. We saw an old engraving of a fisherman’s cottage, on it’s own, where Portslade sits (above); and in the centre of Brighton city we spotted more cottages, now repurposed as shops and a stage door.

And the future? Right in the middle of our walk was an empty site, where a house once stood, but with nothing now except weeds, bushes and young trees, showing how the whole city will look once the humans leave: overgrown with vegetation.

You are welcome to search for the 200 year-old fisherman’s cottages in the centre of town. The Google view is here: Click on the image for a bigger shot 

Fishermans Cottage

Below is another view of them.  Clue at bottom, typed backwards.

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 12.49.24 PM.png         Clue: (right the to and up slightly, picture the of middle near is cottage The)


SUNDAY April 22  —  SPRING

On Sunday April 22nd, while the main Assembly were learning the multiple, life-enhancing – life-saving even – values of a bracing walk in the countryside, we were subverting their intents by inventing distractions. We ended up with 18 games to play, anyone of which will successfully disrupt the best laid plans.

The value to the spirit of Assemblism is that we discovered the enormous power of cooperative creativity – working together on a project and seeing the wonders that emerge.

For the benefit of all, we publish them now on the Young Assembly section of the website:

Click here


SUNDAY March 25    ‘Near and Far’

with tales from the slums of Rio to the Australian outback, via Brighton.
Over in the Young Assembly, Richard began by  showing on a map of the World how humankind spread around the globe really quickly, from our first steps out of Africa 100,000 years ago to the tip of South America 90,000 years later, showing how we are all one big happy family (genetically speaking). Vicky followed on with amazing puzzle pictures of the languages, food and schools of other lands from around the world, much of it correctly identified by our young group, although a lot of it is surprisingly like our own (the school children in Papua, New Guinea for instance, below).
We rounded off with two tricks:
1) How to get the most out of your pocket money – On the first day of a month go up to whoever gives out the pocket money and say ‘I don’t want to keep depending on you for money. After this month you need never give me a penny more. Just give me a penny on the first day of the month, 2p on the second, 4p on the third, etc, doubling the number of pennies each day’. They will of course agree. Then  get them to sign an agreement. This is important, because when they work out that they’ll be handing over £22,000,000 they may want to withdraw. Promise; try it out on a calculator.

2) We shrank one of the dads into a shopping bag, following the theme of ‘Near and Far’ (below the below)

Young Assembly is for young people, 7+ years old, (or younger if accompanied by an adult). We meet at the same time and place as the main Assembly, leaving just after the first song and rejoining just before the end.


 dad in bag.jpg


SUNDAY 25 February  –  SENSES – REPORT

Last month Young Assembly did the senses. Turns out there are quite a lot of them – seventeen or more.

We can start with the traditional five: hearing, sight, taste, smell, touch. But touch can be sub-divided into:

pressure, temperature, pain and itch,

so we’re up to eight.

Then there are the inward-facing ones:

hunger and thirst, bowels and bladder, proprioception (knowing where your limbs are), balance, direction, stretch (found in lungs, stomach, bladder, etc), chemoreceptors (awareness of CO2 levels, and other chemical imbalances).

On top of those is what we might call the ‘sixth sense’ though it’s not as spooky as it sounds, it is our awareness of the state of mind of others, which we understand by their body language, the nuances of their voice, and their pheromones, or chemical signals which they emit and we pick up with our nose.

WOW! We then asked which was the most important, and then what would be our super-power.

Up came “X-ray vision”.  Nice one! Did you know that dolphins already have that? They use echoes to find their way about, and the sounds they send out bounce off the objects they meet – say a wall – and detect vibrations from the objects on the other side, so the return echo includes this information.

“What about being able to see in the dark?”  Useful indeed, as pit vipers can tell you. They can see infra-red, which means they detect the heat give off by other animals. Even in the pitch dark they can find mice, voles, and other snacks.

That was all we had time for, before we went back to the church and showed them a magic trick about proprioception.