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Once Upon an If (Part 1)

This story lends itself to the use of props (see page 47). If you would like to tell this with props then you will need two books, a larger book for The Big Story Book (preferably decorative to meet with its description in the story) and a smaller one for The Little Story Book. I wrap the larger book before the class arrives so that I can open i...

Ages: Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Once Upon An If: Part 2: Matilda, The Fireless Dragon

Because Matilda, The Fireless Dragon has been magically written by The Story Book, this story has been written in a more literary style. Though I have spent a great deal of time encouraging you to storytell, on this occasion I am going to recommend that you read Matilda, The Fireless Dragon rather than tell it, although, if you can learn and rec...

Ages: Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Themes: Problem Solving, Beliefs

Orange Seller

BACKGROUND I have noticed that children get to a stage where they are, basically, learning to lie. This seems to happen around 8 or 9 years old. Of course, much younger children will tell lies when confronted with evidence of their misdeeds, but they can’t usually maintain the lie when asked more questions, whereas when they approach ad...

Ages: Ages 16-18 (KS5), Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Subjects: RE

Paradoxes: fun with logic!

The Philosophy A paradox is a very strange thing: it is an anomaly of reasoning, and, whereas good reasoning is thought to produce sound conclusions, paradoxes can challenge this assumption. With paradoxes the reasoning may appear good but the conclusion that follows absurd. The word comes from Ancient Greek: para meaning ‘distinct from...

Ages: Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3)

Subjects: Logic

Themes: Truth & Falsity, Reasoning, Paradoxes, Logic, Ancient Greek

Part and the Whole

This session has been put together by Oliver Leech and is closely related to 'The Meaning of Ant Life' in Peter Worley's The If Machine. Philosophy This session introduces a discussion of purpose in the context of the concept of parts in their relation to the whole. We think of parts as serving a purpose, or perhaps it would be...

Ages: Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Themes: Parts and wholes, God and religion

Performance enhancement and competition

Context Play this video to the class, first providing the following context: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e6Cfq_YchM This is a clip of the 100m men’s final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The two fastest sprinters were Carl Lewis, an American sprinter, and his longtime rival, Canadian Ben Johnson. Although Johnson held the current...

Ages: Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3)

Subjects: Ethics

Phunny Phone?

Phunny Phone? Take a smart phone with an ‘intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator’ function such as ‘Siri’. Ask Siri to tell a joke. You could do this more than once. Task Question: Is Siri funny? Nested Questions What is ‘funny’? What makes someone funny? Can or co...

Ages: Ages 16-18 (KS5), Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Subjects: Metaphysics


Starter activity I start by getting the children to play a game of 'True For You'; they should change places if what I say is true for them. After beginning with a couple of easy ones ('I am a girl', 'I am wearing red' etc) I usually include a couple of slightly harder ones ('I don't understand the rules to thi...

Ages: Ages 16-18 (KS5), Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Subjects: Logic

Themes: Truth & Falsity, Logic

Playing With Dolls

An original two-minute play by Darby Smith. Revised by Paul Bodin. (NOTE:  Student 1 should be acted by a girl, and Student 2 should be acted by a boy.  Fill in the names of people <inside special brackets> before performing the play.) For information on how to use this play in the classroom, take a look at Pete's ...

Ages: Ages 14-16 (KS4), Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2)

Subjects: Humanities, Ethics

Themes: Identity, Difference, Choice, Beliefs

Poetry workshop - Is This A Poem?

IS THIS A POEM? This is a session came out of a unit of work on poetry. The class had being doing philosophy for 16 weeks and were doing a unit of poetry in their English classes.  Ever since Socrates, philosophers have tried to define terms clearly and exhaustively. This has resulted in a good deal of rigour and precision. Philosophe...

Ages: Ages 11-14 (KS3), Ages 7-11 (KS2), Ages 5-7 (KS1)

Subjects: English

Themes: Language