of interest for use with Gifted
The If Machine - Peter Worley
This is a practical resource packed
with 'philosophical thought experiments' - imaginary situations designed
to test an idea or intuition though profound thinking. Can computers
think? What makes something human? How big is infinity? From Sartre to
Searle, this practical book is rooted in accepted philosophical theory,
and introduced at a level suitable for children aged 7+. Each chapter
offers an imaginary situation, followed by a series of questions to
encourage children to question key philosophical ideas such as values
and ethics, gender and identity, existence and beauty. All the thought
experiments have been tried-and-tested in the primary classroom, and a
handy star system is included to indicate the difficulty level of each
one, enabling quick ability differentiation.
Three of the episodes of the BBC's 'What Makes Me Me?" series are based
on chapters from this book. View the videos
For younger children, see also Peter
- Puzzles, Problems and Paradoxes in Poetry to Think With.
Finish this Book
- Keri Smith
Work your way through, carrying out
tasks to complete each section and produce a finished book.
"Your mission is to become the new
author of this work. You will continue the research and provide the
content. In order to complete the task, you will have to undergo some
secret intelligence training, which is included in this volume. Since no
one knows what lies ahead, please proceed with caution, but know...this
book does not exist without you."
See other books by Keri Smith at
How to Teach Thinking & Learning
Skills - C.J.Simister
a comprehensive set of thinking and learning skills to children aged 5 to
11, and shows how to integrate these skills through the curriculum. The
book and accompanying CD provide ready-to-use lessons involving
games, activities and
group tasks that will appeal to a wide range of learners and abilities.
C.J.Simister has also written 'The Bright Stuff' aimed at parents
who want to develop their children's curiosity, independent thinking,
perseverance and risk-taking, using a wide range of games, exercises and
Big Questions: Incredible
Adventures in Thinking -Matthew
brings the most challenging issues about life, the universe and everything
to 10-13 year olds. Is there a reason for everything? Can you trust the
experts? Can you prove who you are? Do animals have rights? Does anything
really exist? Is there only one answer? Asking questions can be a very
risky business. "Big Questions" is full of entertaining and
challenging questions about the world around us - and includes sections on
How to Win an Argument, Mind, Bodies and Brains and Right and Wrong.
In the same series as
"Big Numbers" by John & Mary Gribbin.
New Kinds of Smart - Bill Lucas
& Guy Claxton
Kinds of Smart brings together all the main strands of research about
intelligence in one book and explains these new ideas to practising
teachers and educators. Each chapter presents practical examples, tools
and templates so that each new strand of thinking can be woven into their
work as teachers and into their lives as learners.
Read an article on the 'myths of brightness' by Lucas & Claxton in the
Times Educational Supplement
The Little Book of Thunks: 260
questions to make your brain go ouch!
A set of
questions designed to provoke philosophical discussions amongst children
of primary school age, along with instructions on how to conduct such
discussions (mainly following a 'Philosophy for Children' approach).
You can try answering some
'thunks' online (or submit your own) at:
Frek and the Elixir - Rudy Rucker
A science-fiction novel for older children (and
adults) that is packed with wonderfully inventive extrapolations of trends
in science and technology embedded in a truly engaging story.
"Imagine Frodo Baggins as a 31st-century human kid in a transformed
Earth where bio-engineering and consumerism have run amok... Frek's grand
adventures will leave you simultaneously enlightened, awestruck, dazed,
and amused by an author working at the height of his powers."
Body of Evidence (Crime File
Investigations) - Jeremy Brown
Similar to 'Whodunnit Crime Puzzles'
(see below), but with the emphasis on forensic / CSI-style clues.
Suitable for older Juniors - probably with extra clue-giving necessary
to get to the correct solution, but (as with 'Whodunnit') likely to
provoke lots of interesting discussion along the way.
Also available in the same series:
Hidden Suspect (Crime File Investigations)
The Book Book - Sophie Benini Pietromarchi
Artist Sophie Benini Pietromarchi
gives children ideas on how to create their own books from everyday
materials; the book itself is a great example of book-design.
Developed from work done by the artist in workshops with children (and
featuring examples of children's own books at the back), the book
explores colours, textures, shapes and feelings, and demonstrates how to
turn these intangible elements into pictorial narratives.
The Philosophy Files - Stephen Law
Ideal for work with primary-age
children, The Philosophy Files tackles eight of the
Ã¢â‚¬ËœbigÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ philosophical questions, ranging from Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhat is
the Mind?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœDoes God Exist?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ to Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhere do
Right and Wrong Come From?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢. Each section is introduced by a
short story posing a philosophical problem, then various attempts to
answer the problem are examined using further stories, examples and
The Philosophy Files 2
My Map Book - Sara Fanelli
Fanelli challenges the concept of "map"
as she demonstrates that places aren't the only things that can be
charted. Exploring everyday aspects of a child's world, the author mixes
the expected, such as "Map of My Neighborhood," with more conceptual
subjects: "Map of My Family," "Map of My Day," "Map of My Heart" and even
"Map of My Dog." In some ways, the volume resembles a kit: the dust jacket
unfolds, revealing a poster of the contents, and empty areas on most
spreads encourage readers to personalize the book.
Ten Sorry Tales
A collection of dark, funny short
stories that will entertain both children and adults and are perfect for
"The ten sorry tales .. have a
timeless folk tale quality, each leaving you with the sense that - if
you'd been sitting on a shingled beach and spotted a bottle wash up with
the tale inside ... well, it wouldn't surprise you in the least. Each of
these ten sorry tales read like curious artifacts from an older time (a
time you're happy to have bid adieu to, a time in which people were ...
well, a bit creepy).... A pure joy from start to finish. There
isn't a word out of place here. This is just the kind of creepy,
malicious deliciousness guaranteed to get kids reading and keep 'em
reading - but it's also a hilarious endlessly re-readable treat."
from a review on Bookmunch
The Lost Happy Endings -
Carol Ann Duffy & Jane Ray
One night, a wicked witch steals the
happy endings to bedtime stories. Children weep as their bedtime stories
end horribly. It is up to Jub, the keeper of the happy endings, to save
A picture book that could lead to
some interesting philosophical discussions.
Thinking Stories to Wake
Up Your Mind - Mike Fleetham
"Each story in this vibrant collection leads listeners to the last scene
and then lets them go. This approach means they need to be active in
engaging with the story's dilemma. Each story is accompanied by teacher's
notes that outline the skills that are being developed, a series of
searching questions to develop those skills further and ways to apply all
the National Curriculum's thinking skills in all subject areas."
Each story comes with resources,
questions, illustrations and links to the National Curriculum.
See also 'Surprising Stories to Stimulate Creativity'
The Red Tree - Shaun Tan
"A small child
awakes to find blackened leaves falling from her bedroom ceiling,
threatening to quietly overwhelm her. Sometimes you wake up with nothing
to look forward to...The Red Tree is about feelings that cannot always
be simply expressed in words."
Another great picture book for prompting interesting discussions.
picture books by Shaun Tan:
Cunning Lateral Thinking
Puzzles - Sloane & MacHale
The latest collection of lateral
thinking puzzles from these authors, ranging from easy to very
"Instead of jumping to obvious conclusions, players have to ask lots of
questions, use their imagination, piece together the subtlest clues and
come at the problem from a variety of perspectives."
The Number Devil - Hans
The Number Devil appears in Robert's
dreams showing him all sorts of mathematical tricks using
giant furry calculators, piles of coconuts, and endlessly scrolling
paper. With engaging illustrations, this book provides a good
introduction to a wide variety of interesting mathematical ideas.
Can a Robot be Human? - 33 Perplexing Philosophy
Puzzles - Peter Cave
"In this fun and entertaining book of puzzles
and paradoxes, Peter Cave introduces a smorgasbord of lifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s
important questions with tales and tall stories, jokes and arguments,
common sense and bizarre conclusions. From how to get to heaven, to speedy
tortoises, paradoxes and puzzles give rise to some of the most exciting
problems in philosophy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from logic to ethics and from art to
Probably best used for inspiration, rather than reading directly to
primary age children, although
the website has a selection of extracts for download which older
children interested in philosophy will enjoy listening to. Five mp3
dramatisations (15 mins each) downloadable
The Learning Brain -
Blakemore & Frith
A survey of the many links between
brain science and education, written in a language accessible enough to
make it easy to discuss with children. A very good job of summarising
recent discoveries in neuroscience, brain imaging, and psychology, from
sleep to dyslexia, autism and attention deficit syndrome.
Ellsworth's extraordinary electric ears
"For each letter of the alphabet,
step into a mini theatrical set - constructed of materials such as
plastic toys, tin and clay - which not only illustrates the book's
alliterative text, but also features hidden objects beginning with the
Younger children will enjoy searching for all the objects beginning with
each letter in these wonderfully eccentric scenes.
Number Freaking - Gary
little mix of absurdly precise arithmetic ... this is a book for nutters
with calculators and a lot of fun' The Guardian
everyday numbers and spins them into small stories which are by turns
amazing, hilarious and revealing.'
For adults and older children
fascinated with calculations and eccentric logic.
The Wolves in the Walls -
Gaiman & McKean
"When Lucy hears noises from behind the wall she tries to warn her
parents that there are wolves banging about. But her parents don't listen.
When the wolves finally take over the house and Lucy and her family are
evicted to live in the garden her parents realise perhaps they should have
listened. But Lucy is no shrinking violet and pretty soon she has the
wolves out and the family back in the house. So what was that noise Lucy
heard coming from behind the wall...?"
PIcture book - ideal for
discussions on the nature of fear and frights!
The Cartoon History of the
Universe - Larry Gonick
The first of 3 volumes covering history from the BIg Bang up to the
Renaissance. The 'Cartoon History of the Modern World' (so far only 1 of
the 2 volumes published) continues the story to the present day.
Very informative and very funny - Gonick always likes to take a global
perspective on each era by covering many neglected 'by-ways' of history;
he also enjoys illustrating what life was like for the 'under-dogs' such
as slaves, peasants and foot-soldiers. A wonderful book for giving older
children a sense of the rise and fall of tribes and civilizations over
the whole span of history.
Details of other Larry Gonick books on his own website
Start Thinking - Marcelo Staricoff and
is a book of short daily starter activities to get children excited about
their own thinking and to develop their powers of independent learning. It
provides over 100 tried-and-tested starter ideas, and describes how to use
the starters to encourage children's imagination, curiosity and
persistence and to stimulate their enthusiasm for thinking and learning.
Suitable for KS 1-2.
Gifted and Talented in the Early
Years: Practical Activities for Children Aged 3 to 5 - Sutherland
"Margaret Sutherland draws on 16
years teaching experience to provide: practical and easily implemented
lesson ideas for physical movement, maths, language and music; guidance
on how to make sure all children are given the opportunity to achieve
and practical ideas for the identification of able young
Whodunit Crime Puzzles - Hy Conrad
There are lots of books involving reading a page or two
of story then trying to solve crimes by logical deduction and these are
great fun to use with groups of children acting as detectives.
This particular book is aimed at a younger audience than most of the
others (crimes are not overly violent, language not too difficult) and
works well with Primary-age children from about Year 2 up.
There are two other books in the series - 'Whodunit Crime Mysteries' and
'Whodunit - you decide'.
Encyclopedia Brown - Boy Detective - Donald J.Sobel
Another series of solve-the-case books first published
in the 1960s, in which 10-year old 'Encyclopedia' Brown solves crime
puzzles for his police-chief father.
Each chapter is
only 5-10 pages long and at the end of each you have to work out how
'Encyclopedia' knows who committed the crime. Logic and attention to
detail are required to recognise and follow the clues.
Available very cheaply in the UK from
These books (and
the Whodunit series) are ideal for reading aloud to a class or group to
encourage discussion of possible solutions.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick - Chris van Allsburg
This was recommended by Barry Teare at the Eastbourne
conference. It's by Chris van Allsburg who's more famous for other picture
books like Jumanji and Polar Express. It presents a series of
loosely related (and curious) drawings each
accompanied by a title and a caption which the reader may use to make up
his or her own story.
For examples of
the pictures and how a schools has made use of them click
'The Chronicles of Harris Burdick' is
available from October 2011. 14 best-selling authors have written stories
based on the illustrations in the original book.
Imagine a Night - Rob Gonsalves
This a really unusual picture book. To quote the
web-site for posters of Gonsalves' pictures:
Gonsalves' work may appear to be surrealistic, it differs in that the
images are deliberately planned and result from conscious thought.
Ideas are largely generated by the external world and involve recognizable
human activities, using carefully planned illusionist devices. Gonsalves
injects a sense of magic into realistic scenes. As a result, the term
"magic realism" describes his work accurately. His work is an attempt to
represent human beings' desire to believe in the impossible.'
The pictures are great for
discussions with children - both for the ideas in the pictures and how the
illusions are created, and could also be used to inspire story-writing.
To see a
selection of Gonsalves' pictures (not all in the book) click
Also now available:
Imagine a Day
Mad Maps - Bambi Smyth
There are 10 or so different booklets in this series.
Each one contains a large map (about 3' x 2') and a set of clues in verse.
The description for Runaway Ravens goes:
Legend has it that the Kingdom of
England will fall if the resident ravens permanently desert the Tower of
London. So when the birds disappear a brave, young traveller sets out to
find them, that is, until she, herself goes missing. The only trace of her
is her backpack containing a map of contemporary London showing well-known
buildings, streets and the places to visit along with 28 verses plotting
the route taken by the girl before she went missing. Did she ever find the
birds? Solve the cryptic clues and follow her route to see if you can
unveil the secret hiding place of the runaway birds and save England from
These maps are fun to use -
probably best given to a group of 2-3 children to try to solve - should
take about an hour. Seems to appeal most to children in Years 2-4.
This series seems
to have gone out of print, although some are still available on Amazon.
Calvin & Hobbes - Bill Watterson
Calvin and his best friend Hobbes (a stuffed
tiger) have philosophical discussions and strange adventures in Calvin's
hyper-imaginary world where dinosaurs and aliens can intrude at any moment
into his every-day world of school and baby-sitters. Many people's
all-time favourite comic strip has much to offer in terms of exploring
ideas as well as the subtlety of its humour.
There are 16 separate collections and numerous larger compilations. There
is an online index and display of all the cartoons 1985-95
If the World Were a Village
Aiming to provoke thought and elicit
questions, this book explains facts about the world's population simply.
Instead of unimaginable billions, it presents the whole world as a village
of just 100 people. We find out that 22 speak a Chinese dialect and that
17 can't read or write. This book includes guidance on teaching activities
for use in the classroom and includes notes for parents and teachers as
well as extra teaching activities.
There is a website at
http://www.acblack.com/globalvillage/ with KS2/3 activities linked to
the book. For a similar online view of a world of a 100 people - try
'The Miniature World'