Philosophy For Children P4C

Philosophy For Children P4C - A Muddle of Mistakes

 Download PDF Version

  • Pick 9 of the mistakes in the book. Write them onto 9 cards. In pairs/small group, create a Diamond 9 formation with the cards in order of the most serious down to least serious so that all the group members agree. Group members should discuss and reason their ideas with the group to agree on a final formation.

(This exercise is good to develop team thinking skills and agreement as a warm-up and to consider what kind of mistakes are silly or potentially more serious, setting out their reasoning for this. It is also another way of engaging with the text.)

  • Create a physical line in the classroom/outdoors/hall (you could use string for this). One end of the line is Strongly Agree the other is Strongly Disagree. There is Agree and Disagree in the middle of the line, so there is a graded set of opinions:

Strongly Agree / Agree / Disagree/  Strongly Disagree

Use the following statements and ask the children to position themselves on the line where they feel in relation to this statement. (You could get them to peg their name on the string if you prefer for them not to be standing).


  • Mistakes are important in learning new things.
  • Mistakes make people sad.
  • This book makes me think about mistakes in a new way.
  • I have changed my opinion about making mistakes.
  • Fortitude is wise.
  • Fortitude is right to ignore ‘The Biggest Mistake of them All’.

There are a lot more statements you could come up with in relation to the text but the idea is that you want them to think about and express WHY they have positioned themselves in the place they have. This encourages them to process the message and why it is important. It also gives you and the other children chance to challenge any ideas that may need challenging.

Questions to encourage talk about making mistakes:

  • Why are the mistakes portrayed, mistakes? Explore. What could be learnt from making them?
  • One of the mistakes is 100 – 67 = 43. Why is this a common mistake? What has happened? Can you think of other sums or mathematical ideas that could have been used because they are a mistake that could be made by lots of people?
  • What mistakes can you think of that lots of people might make? Write these onto slips of paper/post-its/ speech bubbles and collect them in the box, just like Fortitude did at the beginning of the book! Have children come and pick out a mistake at random. Read it out to everyone and suggest why it is a mistake and how you would learn from it.
  • What else could you collect like Fortitude collects mistakes? This could involve a discussion about the difference between nouns and abstract nouns as this is what mistakes are. How could you represent these abstract nouns to put in a box?
  • ‘A Muddle of Mistakes’ is a made-up collective noun. Make up your own collective nouns for abstract nouns, (e.g, a sleep of dreams, a giggle of laughs, a gift of smiles)
  • Pick a page in 'A Muddle of Mistakes' book that you like. Think about why it appeals to you and then try to sell this page to the rest of the class drawing on the aspects that you like. Pairs of children put together their presentation and then the class vote on the page they would like to buy.