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Philosophy for Kids Lesson Plan

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 3/2/2012

Critical thinking is an essential skill for children to have. What better way to teach children to think critically than through introducing them to philosophy. This philosophy for teaching kids lesson plan covers introducing the concept of philosophy in the classroom.

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    Lesson Plan Objective

    This lesson plan introduces children to the world of philosophical thinking and questioning through using children's books. The goal of introducing philosophy for kids is to have students discussing philosophical issues raised by situations present in the available literature. This plan will focus on introducing the concepts of philosophy to children.

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    Required Materials

    Before beginning the lesson plans teaching philosophy for kids, you will want a copy of Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty. This book outlines topics and discussion questions for teachers to use with their students. You will also want to look over the Teaching Children Philosophy website before beginning your lesson. This website features valuable information on the usefulness of teaching philosophy to children, book suggestions, and sample discussions for books. While this lesson plan covers introducing the idea of philosophy to your student, these two valuable resources will provide you with ways to keep the conversation going.

    You will also want to have on hand six envelopes and several sheets of paper.

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    Preparation

    picture To prepare for your lesson, you will want to create six envelopes - you will be dividing your class into groups of about 4-5 students in each group. In each envelope, you will place one of the following questions on separate sheets of paper.

    • What is life?
    • What is good? What is bad?
    • What is right? What is wrong?
    • What makes a good friend?
    • How do you know you know something?
    • Are you awake right now? How do you know?

    Close the envelopes and write the numbers 1-6 on the envelopes.

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    Class Time

    You will want about thirty minutes for group discussion and forty-five minutes to an hour for class discussion when preparing your lesson plans teaching philosophy for kids.

    Divide your class up into six groups. Hand each group an envelope. Tell the group they have about twenty minutes to answer the question on their piece of paper and write down (or draw) an answer that represents the thoughts of the group. Next, they need to discuss why they came up with that answer and prepare to present their answer - in five minutes - to the whole class. Have each group write their question on the board.

    After each group has presented, ask the class if they had any problems coming up with answers to the questions. Explain that this is normal in philosophy. Philosophers often ask questions that they don't know how to answer. Philosophy is about having a conversation about big topics, and trying to convince others of your position.

    Next, ask the class if there are any questions they would like to discuss. Allow students to discuss in a peaceful manner - make sure they understand that in order to have an open discussion, there has to be an open arena. Do not allow name calling, harsh argumentation, or judgments to enter the discussion.

    Finally, point out to students that the ways people answer these questions determine how governments are run, schools are run, laws are made and more.

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    Summary

    Philosophy for kids can be a great way to get children to think critically about the world that surrounds them. By giving children the tools for inquiry through introducing them to the study of philosophy, you can increase their ability for critical thought and success. Philosophy raises questions about important issues in life - by getting kids to think through these issues at a young age, it helps to engage them in the future.