Using the ‘talk about’ cards

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By Celia PowellYear 1 teacher and former Guest Editor

Love our little cards but not sure how to use them? Celia Powell gives you some suggestions…

Using the 'talk about' cards

‘Talk about’ cards are an excellent, ready-to-use resource to help your class think imaginatively, and to express their ideas in a more mature and interesting way. In my Year 1 class, we have been experimenting with using the cards to inspire creative thinking skills and to channel children’s ideas along tracks that will take them that bit further. For example, open-ended questions, discussion points, debates, crazy thoughts – anything to divert them from the path of predictability.

Children of all ages (and adults too, if you let them) will take refuge in easy answers. They need stacks of stimulus and encouragement to help them to ‘think outside the box’. Here are some tips to start you off.

In groups, sharing a ‘talk about’ card

With a teaching assistant, who has been well primed in development of speaking and listening skills, choose a few talking points relevant to the week’s plans. If you have been working on capacity in your numeracy lessons, focus on cards with questions involving space and area, such as ‘How many stones will fit into a sock?’ or ‘What sort of container will you need to fit in six balls?’

In our class, the sock question was discussed first. Comments ranged from ‘Well it depends how big the person’s foot is!’ to ‘Yes, and what if some of the stones are big and some are little?’ Both responses lead us onto other issues, including variables and standards. The children began to realise that in an experiment, some things must be decided beforehand (sock size, stone size) otherwise the experiment will be worthless.

We then moved onto estimating – what is a sensible estimate as opposed to a guess? How can we tell if we are in the right area with our estimate? The children put into practice what they had learned, using lots of socks and different sizes of beads. They then came back together to report on their progress and any problems they encountered.

In groups, with a set of random cards

I tried this activity with a more adventurous set of children who needed no extra help to come up with the following replies. Here are some of the results – each one could have been taken a lot further and extended into different areas if time permitted.

What do snowmen do in the summer?

  • They melt. (The obvious answer came first, then we began to branch out.)
  • They go off and sunbathe. (We said ‘Where?’ and ‘What might happen?’)
  • They give ice creams out. (This answer came by looking at the picture on the card, followed by other relevant holiday jobs.)
  • They have a long nap. (We talked about other seasonal workers, like Santas in shop grottos and summer workers – how do they earn money the rest of the year?)
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