Pen Person


  • 4 pens (pen person’s arms)
  • A small sandwich box (pen person’s body)
  • A ball (pen person’s head)

Key controversies

  • What makes you a person? Can you be a person without certain things (limbs, for example)


sit children in a circle

One by one draw the objects out of a bag and ask a child to put it on the carpet. Encourage them

to put the things together to make things (a lollipop, a triangle, a table etc.) but let them decided

what it is. You can ask ‘So, what is it?

Main activity

Lay out the box, four pens and a ball in the shape of a person. Get the children to say hello to the person (see resources) “Hello Jack (or they can make up a name)!” Then get them to point at person with their finger. Now tell a story where jack loses and arm (ask a child to come and take a pen away, they can hold it and return to their place) ... and then another! (give away another pen) and a leg! (give another pen away). Now stop and ask the to show you their pointing finger. Then ask them to point their finger a Jack (some will point at the objects left on the floor, some may point at an object held by another child and some may simply not point anywhere).

Keep removing objects and discussing the following questions each time:

Key questions

  • Is Jack there? (pointing at the ball, box or one pen)
  • Where is jack?
  • Is Jack in one place or more?
  • Can you be in different places at the same time?
  • Are there now 2 Jacks? (or more!)

Nested questions

  • Is he still jack if he has a body, arms and legs but no head?
  • Put just the ball in the middle – is Jack there?
  • Can you put Jack in the middle? (let a child try – sometimes they only put the head in, sometimes all the pieces but in a slightly different way) Ask the others, “Did he/she put Jack in the middle?”

Finally pick up the box open it, put the pens inside and put the ball on top (see resources)

  • Is Jack there?

Download Resource

Download Pen Person