Collaboration – Secret figures and curious questions

In this variation of 'Build the hidden figure', the children have roles that give them the opportunity to ask questions to the secret figure and answer.
The task

We build each other’s secret figures using two roles: Figure Owner and Copycats. The purpose of the activity is for us to practice asking each other good questions with good answers while we build.

Collaboration – Build the Hidden Figure We create a motivating framework for the children. 



Suggestion for introduction

We create a motivating framework for the children. 

For example, we can say: ”Maybe we learn something new about each other today, like how we ask curious questions and give answers. Today, we will build secret figures with two rules:

  1. We each build a secret figure with 10-15 bricks. It does not have to look like anything in particular.
  2. Our figure needs to be hidden from the others at all time.

We have two roles that we switch having: the Figure Owner and the Copycats. The Copycats work together creating a copy of the Figure Owner’s secret figure. Their only information are the questions that they ask the Figure Owner. And the Figure Owner answers as best he can. The Copy Cats may talk to each other and make a shared plan.”


The activity can be adapted to the framework of one lesson and varied according to the time available and the children’s prerequisites.


We use small Lego sets that we are familiar with, or wooden blocks, colored cubes, magnetic tiles, paper, or something else. The most important thing is that there are many bricks of all kinds, so that all the figures can be copied. In addition, we must have some kind of shielding for each child.

During the activity

During the play session, the children encounter challenges and successes, where we can stop and help spot what is difficult or what is going well. We can do this in several ways:

Reflection routines 

When we get the opportunity to reflect together with the children on what challenges or discoveries arise along the way, we can use one or more reflection routines. It could be, for example, a learning metaphor with a social strategy that we practice, an emoji that describes the feeling we have right now, or a rating of how well we think the building is going. In this way, a reflection routine can help to show and put into words the experiences that the children have during the play session.

Facilitating questions

We can ask facilitating questions to the children along the way, as they naturally arise in the building process. In this way, we facilitate the play session so that we continue the play and at the same time learn something from it. For example: 

  • I see that you have stopped building. I wonder how we can continue from here? 
  • I see that you have encountered a challenge. Should we try to solve it together? 
  • Try to notice what you are doing right now. Do you think this is a collaborative strategy? 
Show and Tell

Finally, in the play session, we give a Show and Tell of our construction, so that we have the opportunity to share our experiences, reflections, and feelings about the construction process.

First, we talk about our model and the process of building it. During the Show and Tell, we can use reflection routines and reflective questions to support the discoveries that have been made. For example:

  • What went well? 
  • What was difficult?
  • Is there anything that you want to do differently the next time we build hidden figures?
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