Thought Bombs . . .

Lisa Jane Ashes recently presented at the National Literacy Network in Dunblane as the keynote, presenting her work on embedding Literacy across Learning. She introduced the concept of Thought Bombs.


Thought Bombs – the resource is fairly simple; the plastic balls that you’d find in a child’s ball-pit, with a small hole cut out to make room for a slip of paper detailing a question, conversation starter or statement.

When posing learners a question, Thought Bombs can be used to sporadically add extra information to further guide or probe learners’ responses.


In this example, learners could be posed with the following question:
‘Our ship is sinking! Only one of us can survive . . . who would you pick?’

Learners would then discuss their opinions in small groups, justifying their responses based on the information that they know about each person.

After learners have been given a few minutes to discuss their thoughts, you could place Thought Bombs with their groups that provide more information or further questions, e.g.
– Marni is a convicted criminal and has spent time in a Young Offender Institution
– Robert has hunting skills that allow him to survive in the wild
– Roberta is an MI5 agent
– Marni is Roberta’s daughter
– Roberta is Robert’s daughter
– Robert does charity work at his local food bank
– What skills would Marni have to survive?
– What assets might Roberta have to help her live longer?
– How do you think Robert would survive?
– What crime do you think Marni convicted?
– Create a survival plan for your chosen survivor
– What has caused the ship to sink?

CLICK HERE to download the questions above to use in Thought Bombs.

The SSLN (Scottish Summary of Literacy and Numeracy) Professional Learning Resource includes a great resource – Lost – that could be used to facilitate the use of Thought Bombs.


When analysing a text, use Thought Bombs to discuss character, setting, plot and themes.

Thinking of using Thought Bombs to promote thinking and develop listening and talking skills in your classroom – leave us a comment to let us know how you plan to develop the resource?

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