Discussion Strategies

The following strategies are used extensively as part of the Discussions in Primary Science (DiPS) project, and have been proven to be successful when developing children’s independent thinking and discussion skills.

Use of these strategies is strongly recommended during the activities on this website. Icons shown here with a description of each strategy are provided on each activity’s web page, suggesting the type of discussions best suited to each activity.

Talk cards

Talk cards support the teacher in facilitating these discussions, with the letters, numbers, pictures and shapes enabling the teacher to group children in a variety of ways.

The example provided here shows one set for use with four children. The set is copied onto a different colour of card and talk groups are formed by children joining with others who have the same coloured card.

Children can then pair up by finding a partner with the same animal or a different letter eg. elephant, rhino or a + b pair. Each TALK pair would then have a card with a different number or shape.

The numbers or shapes may then similarly be used to form alternative groupings and pairings.

Talk Cards

Note: The example talk cards are provided in MS Word format so you may make changes if you wish.

individual thinking time iconITT (Individual Think Time)

Each child is given time to think about the task individually before moving into paired or group work.

talk partners iconTalk Partners

Each child has a partner with whom she/he can share ideas and express opinions or plan. This increases confidence and is particularly useful where children have had little experience of talk in groups.

a-b talk iconA > B Talk

Children take turns to speak in their pair in a more structured way, e.g. A speaks while B listens B then responds. B then speaks to A while A listens and then A responds to B.

snowballing iconSnowballing

Pupils first talk in pairs to develop initial ideas. Pairs double up to fours to build on ideas. Fours double up to tell another group about their group's ideas.

envoying iconEnvoying

Once the group have completed the task, individuals from each group are elected as 'envoys', moving on to a new group in order to summarise and explain their group’s ideas.

jigsawing iconJigsawing

Assign different numbers, signs or symbols to each child in a group. Reform groups with similar signs, symbols or numbers, e.g. all reds, all 3s, all rabbits and so on. Assign each group with a different task or investigation. Reassemble (jigsaw) the original groups so that each one contains someone who has knowledge from one of the tasks. Discuss to share and collate outcomes.


see also some ideas for discussion