"I can explain!"

Developing argumentation skills through learning in science

This project created training materials and resources to support children with explaining their ideas in science. The resource uses high quality picture cards and language prompts to facilitate rational discussion and justify scientific ideas. This popular resource is now available to purchase from the Trust. More information can be found here.


  • To support subject leaders, Year 2 and Year 3 teachers, in enabling children to engage with the language of science and to justify their ideas with evidence.
  • To gain a greater understanding of designing and managing genuinely effective group talk
  • To develop a range of strategies to enable pupils to give rational explanations and to make cognitive gains in science through group talk activities


Project Lead: Alison Eley, Hampton Hill Junior School, Richmond, London

Twenty teachers from ten schools took part in the project. Through a number of practical workshops which enabled teachers to explore strategies and resources, teachers were able to establish secure and effective dialogic practices with the children they teach. All participating teachers implemented a series of activities chosen from the resource and “I can explain!” activities were created.

Each resource box included a Teachers’ Guide to using the materials and ten sets of picture cards for use in class to promote discussion. The teachers came to a second training day where the “I can explain!” lessons were introduced and a resource box was given to each school.

Teachers were given time to explore the materials themselves as well as carry out some of the activities together in order to understand their intended use. They also spent some time in developing a CPD session for teachers to deliver in their own schools.

This was a collaborative process, but there was scope for teachers to individualise their package to suit the needs of their particular school. Infant and Junior schools were encouraged to use this opportunity to plan for cohesion between their schools by working together on developing the CPD session.

In the next phase of the project, teachers trialled and evaluated the “I can explain!” lessons with the children they teach. Each school received a support visit from the Project Leader to teach an “I can explain!” lesson and allow teachers to observe and discuss.


  • A major outcome of the project was the production of the “I can explain!” materials which are available here (link to ICE resource)
  • Teachers engaged more with discussion activities
  • Children developed confidence in conducting scientific discussions using evidence and arguing to defend views
  • CPD activities were effective in sharing project ideas, strategies and materials



Hampton Hill Jnr 2012 conference poster [0.95MB]



Hampton Hill Jnr I can explain [43.90MB]



PSTT ICE digital [974.46kB]



Find out more about this project by completing the form below and a member of the Primary Science Teaching Trust team will get back to you.