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 this game,' 'I am about to move' etc).

Main session (intro)

After playing this game for a bit, and escalating the difficulty gradually, I say that I'm going to change the game. Now they have to move if they think that what I say is true for Pinocchio (could use a photo of Pinocchio here to refresh their memory but generally I've found that the children are familiar with the story). I then say the following:

  • 'I am made of wood'
  • 'I am a real boy'
  • 'I am a puppet'

Once it is clear that they understand the rules, say the following:

  • 'I have a heart'
  • 'I have no soul'
  • 'I have no mind'
  • 'I am a boy'

So far these statements have never failed to generate controversy; in particular, the last two seem to polarise opinion in the classroom. At this point I stop the game.

Main session

I now quickly reiterate the Pinocchio story, placing emphasis on the fact that if Pinocchio tells a lie his nose will grow. I then take out two big sheets of paper with 'WILL GROW' and 'WON'T GROW' on them and place them at opposite ends of the classroom. I then place the statements 'I have no mind' and 'I am a boy' in the middle and ask them the Task Question: 'If Pinocchio says these (pointing to the statements in the middle) will his nose grow or not?'

After the children have had some Talk Time to discuss I tell them that if and only if they have the ball they can go up and move the statements. They can also change what someone else has done as long as they explain why they are doing so to the group.

Nested questions:

  • Can you have a mind without a brain?

  • Can wooden objects have a gender?

  • If his creator wanted Pinocchio to be a boy, is he a boy?

Follow-up activity

At a suitable point, stop the discussion to introduce the following scenario:

  • What would happen if Pinocchio said 'My nose will now grow'? Place this statement in the middle and ask them what they think would happen.

Nested questions:

  • Can Pinocchio know what will happen?

  • If Pinocchio can't know what will happen, can what he says be a lie?

  • If Pinocchio doesn't mean what he says, can what he says be a lie?

  • Can a prediction be a lie?

  • Does Pinocchio own his nose?

  • Does Pinocchio control his nose?

  • Who or what decides what counts as a lie?

  • Is Pinocchio alive? Can non-living things grow?

  • If Pinocchio's nose will grow, when will it grow?

  • Is there a third possibility other than 'will or won't grow'? What would that be?

Download Pinocchio