This page brings together the accumulated Christmas specials we've sent out over recent years. You can get thinking stories and resources all year round by signing up for the free P4C resources we send out on our bulletin. If you like the resources here, please share this page, with colleagues.
We are entering the season of the Christmas Special, when familiar TV shows take on a celebratory feel with bigger and brighter versions of their usual offerings. Could you run a “P4C Christmas Special”, perhaps with a whole-school stimulus acted out in an assembly and simultaneous enquiries running across many classes? “Rudolph’s Revenge” (pasted below) is just for two people, so makes an easy and colourful assembly performance - just add antlers!
The stimulus is as an encounter between a Rudolph whose celebrity has gone to his head, and a Santa who may have overestimated his merits as an employer. As with last year’s Elf dialogue, it recycles the lyrics of a Christmas song.
Christmas Every Day?
Would it be better if it were Christmas every day? Here’s a video that asks that question, from our forthcoming series for young children. It’s ready for immediate use with your class.
A race to be won
A new land to be explored
A photo album to be filled
A conversation to be enjoyed
A game to be played
A test to be passed
A home to be made
A role to be acted
An inheritance to be passed on
And which best describes what life is. Are they different? If so, why? And is there anything that could make both answers the same?
What is "real love"?
Can animals feel love?
Is it right to exploit emotions for commercial gain?
Other concepts to explore are imagination, toys, gifts and Christmas itself.
You might also explain that John Lewis is, almost uniquely among large British enterprises, owned by all its workers. Who should own what?
Feminist grumble: something I note with a tired lack of surprise is that once again, when there's only one child in an advert, the child is male. Girls almost always only get a look in when you have two or more children, or where gender is specific to the advert's appeal. I think the last three John Lewis ads have all had male protagonists. OK, one was a snowman so perhaps I should lighten up, but it's not rocket science. I'm conscious that most of the stuff I wrote in past years has male protagonists too, so I'm trying to write from a female perspective more often, and I've gone over to giving the characters in my dialogues unisex names.
You are one of a band of intrepid philosophers travelling the galaxy in search of a new world. You stop off to get Christmas supplies - but the aliens aren't sure this Christmas thing is at all good for you...
This is a bonus episode for the Philosophy Quest "Alien Adventures in Philosophy".
Here's the podcast (may take a while to load, but you can click play while it's still loading):
Or right-click this link to download it:
Explain Christmas to An Alien
Or here's the print version.
Explaining Christmas to an Alien
The brave know us well
But cowards fear us.
The wise greet us with smiles
But frown if we stay.
We are great teachers
Of ungrateful pupils.
Those who make us hide us
Those who do not, hide themselves.
Players stand in a circle around the facilitator. Each player holds his left arm out to the side, palm open and facing up. Then he places the middle finger of his right hand touching the palm of the player to his right, pointing straight down. When all the players are connected in a chain like this, you are ready to begin.
When the facilitator clicks his fingers (and not before) players simultaneously try to trap the finger of the player to their left by closing their hand, and avoid getting their finger trapped by the person to their right by pulling it away. Each player keeps his own score. Make a point of the absolute silence before you click your fingers.
My favourite fun thinking activity, used from primaries to PRUs with great success.
The Christmas Hat puzzle (very fiendish) I put up on this page last year proved so popular that I have added another elaborate one, the Princess and the Golden Key (quite fiendish). Both of them are available in Powerpoint and PDF versions. I've also added a three-pager with 25 Brainstretchers of varying levels of fiendishness, and a separate document that includes the answers.
You can download everything in one zip file by clicking Brainstretchers and Puzzles. Or click on the individual files below.
Puzzles are under-used because they seem frivolous, but they are excellent ways to get dialogue and collaboration going. Step back and let each speaker choose the next, giving priority to people who haven't said so much - it's a key move in shifting the focus away from you to them working as a team.
The hat puzzle requires both logic and empathy, and is more for secondary than primary pupils, but a good one for colleagues in any staff room to enjoy puzzling over. The Princess is a bit of an unknown quantity - it's brand new, though based on an old one. I hope you enjoy them.
Brainstretchers With Answers (PDF)
The Princess and the Golden Key (PPT)
The Princess and the Golden Key (PDF)
Christmas Hat Puzzle (PPT)
Christmas Hat Puzzle (PDF)
Zip file of all Brainstretchers and Puzzles
Here's how one teacher used them:
"Used the Hat problem with my Y6 class today. Although no-one worked it out at first, when we did it practically, the person in Egbert's place shouted out, "It's me- I'm yellow" and she was able to explain to the others how she knew! The Princess one was more manageable for them, most knew it was to do with weight (apart from those who thought about using a magnet). Once again using practical equipment they were able to work out the complete solution.
Have also read out some of the Brainteasers whilst we were waiting behind after the Christmas Carol Service- some needed an additional clue, but all the first sheet were solvable. Even the staff had a go!"
Caroline Massey, Hollinhey Primary