A lesson based on the tale of Winnie the Pooh, who got stuck in a rabbit hole after eating too much, may seem to teach children only the consequences of ignoring healthy eating guidelines.
But discussing the dangers of eating so much may help pupils learn to think clearly, say researchers from the National Foundation for Educational Research.
Their report has found that three to seven-year-olds are capable of thinking about intangible or abstract things and benefit significantly from being encouraged to reason, enquire and evaluate.
The NFER team, Geoff Taggart, Kate Ridley, Peter Rudd and Pauline Benfield, suggest teachers try asking children:
* What would have happened if Pooh had not eaten the honey?
* What does Pooh think has happened to stop him getting out?
* What could Pooh do next?
The NFER report "Thinking Skills in the Early Years" has looked at 27 studies of how thinking skills are taught and 24 studies of how young children think, to find ways that foundation and key stage 1 teachers can help them.
As well as timetabled opportunities for thinking times, the researchers suggest that children should be given the chance to write down arguments, evaluate their work critically and have solitary as well as social playtimes.