Considering the huge amount of news shared every minute, how can we identify which ones are true and which ones are false? We present you the ‘Fact or opinion?’ Game that helps kids easily identify fake news!
Fake News are news that contain opinions passed as truths or simply false information. They are shared hundreds of times by many people, mainly through social media. Such data and information are sometimes interpreted by people who see them as an unquestionable fact.
Samantha Diegoli, director of Avalon Evolutive School, from Florianópolis (Brazil), shared a simple but useful game for kids to develop their observation skills and mental judgment to identify fake news – as well as help to handle emotions. This game is also useful for adults, since fake news affects all of us.
In a video published in Avalon’s YouTube channel, Samantha talks about the game:
“We teach kids not to take in information simply because someone important has said it, or because it’s from a website or from Wikipedia. We say: let’s search for the evidence. A is a fact and B is an opinion. Let’s find the A behind the B.”
She also explains that the game is very interesting to work our emotions.
“When we talk about interpretations, normally our emotional state becomes much more active. Besides, the discussions we have, whether at work or at home, usually involve one person trying to convince another that their own opinion is true, but none of them are. So this affects our emotions, it triggers emotional states in us. When we reach a fact, our emotions calm down. So we use this a lot, including in order to work our emotions.”
Before teaching the rules of this game specifically, we will introduce some definitions.
A fact is something that is possible to visualize and the people around me can see the same thing. In other words, a fact can be seen by everyone equally.
If I describe this fact or someone else describes it, theoretically, if it is a fact, the description will be the same.
An opinion is an interpretation. In other words, it’s a description with a “personal touch”.
An opinion can be a description, but it contains a personal opinion on top of it. The interpretation or the opinion leaves room for another person to say “I don’t agree with it.”
Example: “Today is very hot”. Is this information a fact or an interpretation/opinion?
If you can reply with “I disagree”, it’s an interpretation. Therefore, “Today is very hot” is a personal opinion regarding someone’s feelings about the weather.
A fact would be if the thermometer read 35 degrees Celsius today. Therefore, we can conclude that a fact is when everyone can see the same thing.
If anyone says “I don’t think it’s hot”, we can check the temperature and notice what is a fact, which is the temperature, since it’s the same for everyone. The description of the temperature, in other words, whether it’s hot or not, it’s a sensation and a personal opinion, not a fact. People may be seeing the same temperature in the thermometer, but some may be hot while others, not.
We can then say that, when an opinion is presented, we may disagree with what is said.
Here are some sentences for you to identify as facts or opinions.
Let’s imagine a cat lying on top of a wooden deck. Around the deck, there are some flowers, some trees and a lawn. This image will be useful for us to illustrate the following examples.
“Look, guys, what a cute cat.” Fact or opinion?
“Cute cat” is an opinion. Even though many of us have imagined a cute cat, it still comes down to many similar opinions.
Remember: similar opinions don’t make a fact – they remain only opinions.
“There’s a really cute cat here next to me.” Fact or opinion?
It is a fact that the cat is “next to me”. Whether it is cute or not, however, as we have seen above, is an opinion.
“Look, guys, the cat is smelling the flowers and enjoying nature.” Fact or opinion?
“Enjoying nature” is an absolute opinion, since there’s no way to tell what the cat is doing there, if it saw a beetle or another animal. Therefore, it’s an opinion.
“This cat named Moon climbed on top of my wooden deck.” Fact or opinion?
This sentence can make us think: is this cat named Moon? If you want to prove it is a fact, you need to ask its name to its tutor or to someone who knows the cat. But yes, the cat is named Moon, so it is a fact.
On to the second part of the sentence: “The cat climbed on top of my wooden deck.” It actually looks a lot like a fact, but no one knows if it climbed up there on its own or if someone put it there. The cat really did climb up there, that is a fact, but those who didn’t see it doing so won’t know how it ended up there.
“The cat is lying on top of the wooden deck.” Fact or opinion?
It is a fact, since everyone can see that the cat is lying on the wooden deck.
The game can be played with family or friends. The idea is that we speak sentences for the others to analyze and say whether they are facts or opinions. It can be played at home or in the car, since the things happening in our surroundings can be used as elements of the game.
Sentences are spoken and kids guess whether they represent facts or opinions. An example: “Look, there’s a woman on a red T-shirt sitting on that bench.” Fact or opinion? Or it can also be said: “Look, what a skinny woman!” Is that a fact or opinion? And so it goes.
At first, simpler sentences are recommended. You can start with five phrases that are facts and five that are opinions.
As parents and kids get more experienced in the game, we start to speak opinions as though they are facts in order to trick the other players. We win points each time we get it right – and the others win points each time we don’t. That is what the game consists of.
We’re in a car and I spot a person riding a bike. I say: “There’s a woman riding a bike on this street.” Fact or opinion? The answer is fact, because there is no opinion or interpretation in this sentence.
Example: “Look, this woman is riding a bike on this street in order to lose weight.” Fact or opinion?
In this case, kids have to identify that there is a fact there, since a woman is in fact riding a bike, but after that an opinion was added. In other words, half of the sentence is a fact and the other half is an opinion – and that is why this level is more advanced.
Important tip: there are certain words or expressions that, whenever they appear in a sentence, we can be sure it is not a fact. Some of these expressions are: always, never, everything, nothing, everyone, no one, something should/must be, etc. Every time these words are part of a sentence, it is an opinion.
Have fun playing the game!
Written by Débora Nazário
Translated by Mariana Gruber