This classroom strategy for G&T coordinators and leading teachers is a creative thinking activity, which aims to stimulate gifted and talented students

Activity: Odd One Out 
Subject: Any 
Key Stage(s): 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Time to allocate: Approximately five to 10 minutes as part of a starter or plenary activity. Alternatively, this activity may form part of a longer main-body activity and can last for 15 to 20 minutes if there is appropriate cognitive demand built in.
Suitable for: Students working alone or in pairs.
Activity overview: Odd One Out is a great thinking-skills activity that can be used in lessons to promote higher-order thinking, creativity, multiple-solutions thinking and metacognitive reflection. Gifted and talented learners often come up with different answers from everyone else (one reason why they may not always score well on multiple-choice tests), so this activity provides an opportunity for ‘thinking outside the box’ and encouraging those ‘quirky’ responses – as long as they can be justified.

Example 1: Which creature is Odd One Out?
Children in a Key Stage 1 lesson may have been looking at animals and their characteristics. As part of the starter activity, the students could be given three images of animals and asked to think about which is the odd one out. The creatures could be, for example, a cat, a frog and a bird.

Students may say that the cat is the odd one out because it is the only one that has whiskers. They may say that the bird is the odd one out because it is the only one that can fly. They may pick the frog because it is the only one that is an amphibian. However, there are many other possibilities why each could be the odd one out.

Example 2: Which number is Odd One Out? Students in a Key Stage 3 maths lesson could have been studying the area of number and have recently covered aspects of number such as even and odd numbers, prime numbers, triangular and square numbers. Their prior knowledge and coverage of number work may also include areas such as fractions, rational and irrational numbers, decimals and percentages. Based on this, students could be provided with a table of numbers and then asked to work out which number is the odd one out

in each row, column or diagonal line. An example grid is shown below:

5 11 225 25
7 121 36 7
1/2 1001 100 10
12 111 ? 3

Which number is the odd one out in: a) The first row of numbers b) The third column of numbers

c) The diagonal line starting in the top left-hand corner?

How does the activity work?
Students can be given a table of information or a number of items; this is often best done in a visual manner. They are then asked to decide which they think is the odd one out. On a very simple level, there may be quite an obvious choice. However, this activity works best when any of the items provided can be the odd one out, based on the criteria that the students bring to the problem – and, as this can change, there is no single ‘correct’ answer. When the activity is designed properly, it will allow students to come up with multiple solutions, demonstrate metacognitive control and display creative thinking.

Where else could I use Odd One Out?
‘Odd One Out’ activities can be used to good effect right across the curriculum. Some examples are listed below:

  • Biology: liver, kidney, heart?
  • Physics or chemistry: proton, electron, neutron?
  • Religious studies: God, Buddha, Yahweh?
  • French: vélo, voiture, train?
  • English: Armitage, Heaney, Kipling?
  • Geography: river, mountain, glacier?
  • ICT: mouse, monitor, printer?
  • D&T (Food): choux, shortcrust, filo?
  • PSHE: anger, impatience, temper?

Odd One Out is deceptively simple, but is actually quite challenging and fun. It also brings a number of other benefits to a lesson, including:

  • access to higher-order thinking skills
  • multiple solutions
  • differentiation by task and outcome
  • a focus on independent thinking and learning
  • a potential focus on aspects of literacy and numeracy
  • creativity
  • metacognitive techniques for self-reflection.

Could it be used in homework?
Odd One Out is an ideal activity to include in homework, as it adds variety, a focus on higher-order thinking, independent learning, research opportunities, differentiation by task and outcome and opportunities for creative thinking.