Discussion starters

Open discussions can help children to consider what they already know about a topic. This provides evidence of the children’s understanding of the topic which can inform teacher’s planning. They can help to identify potential misconceptions to be addressed later, as well as assessing the class’ use of scientific vocabulary.

Strategies to prompt such discussions include:

  • Collections – exploring or sorting a collection of objects or materials.
  • Odd one out – consider 3 or 4 objects/images and identify reasons why each could be the ‘odd’ one. Since there is no right answer, then all answers can be plausible if justified with a reason.
  • Big pictures – a large detailed or unusual photo to provoke explanation.
  • Zoom in Zoom out – magnified photos to support close observation.
  • PMI – consider Positive (P), Minus (M) and Interesting (I) points about a statement or scenario.
  • Big questions – about a big philosophical or over-arching idea e.g. what if there was no friction, how do you know the person next to you is alive?

For further examples see:



Pictured odd one out examples: Y1 materials topic (plastic, glass, card), Y5 animals topic (worm, snake, centipede), Y3-6 light topic (torch, moon, bulb).