I’ve been looking at the Molly Potter books recently and they have some fantastic activities to get pupils thinking. This activity (which I called What if? ) really produces a lot of interesting discussion. Give out a list of objects that all have magical properties and ask pupils to decide which ones they could use in school and on what day ( so they could link it to their class timetable if they wanted to). Items include a magic hat which helps you remember things and a key that can answer a certain amount of questions. Some of the items seem more obviously useful than others (although all have their merits) and listing a few possible uses can assist some of the pupils. Some pupils might play it safe and use the items to help them with class work etc. but there is scope for ideas that are truly inspired.
You could also try this second challenge (called Stranded!), which is about surviving in remote places and being able to design a shelter out of the things around you. Pupils are again given a list of possible choices and need to choose five items that might help them survive on a desert island. Some of the choices were electronic but, obviously, all of these needed battery power and some needed an internet connection (which there wasn’t likely to be on a desert island). Other choices included a torch, a sleeping bag and compass (obviously great if you know how to use it), in addition to other useful (or not?) items. This activity is another good one for problem solving and developing thinking. If you really consider the choices on offer you can come up with some great sensible answers (including making sure the torch was a wind up one) and good explanations on which items should be used and how(e.g. A sleeping bag would be useful as because you could unzip it and use it as a roof for a shelter). Some pupils, on the other hand, might look at the technology choices first (not considering signal or battery power) and may need a little guidance. But, however you use them, one thing both challenges are is fun.