Magic words

Key idea

Giving and taking. Do words like ‘please’ and ‘share’ mean that you have to give things away?



  • A few characters or puppets.
  • Some possessions for the character. Pens etc. 



There is a bear who has lots of pens. All the others want some of the pens and they are wondering how they can get them?


  • What are they going to do to get the pens?

Give the children some time to generate some ideas. They may say things like:

  • “They should take them”
  • “They should say please”
  • “They should tell them to share” Etc.


Main activity

Introduce the following scenarios (get children to act them out to make it more engaging)

One of the characters comes up to bear and says:

“Please can I have one of your pens?”

  • Should bear give them a pen? Why/Why not?
  • If they don’t say please, should bear give them a pen?
  • Do you have to do things if someone says please?

Another says, “please can I have all of your pens?’

  • Should bear give them all the pens? Why/Why not?
  • If someone says please do you have to give it to them?
  • Do you always have to say please?

Later another animal says, “You have to share the pens, give me one.”

  • Should bear give them a pen?
  • Do you always have to share?
  • If the pens belong to the school, does bear have to share?
  • If the pens belong to bear, does he/she have to share?

Another says “I really need a pen to do my learning?”

  • Should bear give them a pen?
  • If bear does give them a Pen, does they have to say thank you?

Extension Activities

To problematize this you could give them the following sentences and ask, would you give it to them/do it? You could even get them to act it out, see what they do.

  • Please can you put your finger on your nose?
  • Please can I borrow your pen?
  • Please can you close the door?
  • Please can I have your shoe?
  • Please can you take Mr Hoggins keys and give them to me?
  • Please can you push (insert name) over?
  • Ask a child, ‘please can you steal their pen?’
  • Does it make a difference if your teacher says it?
  • Do adults have to say please?
  • Would you do (any of the things above) if I didn’t say please?


Download Magic words

Ages: Ages 3-5 (EYFS)

Subjects: Ethics