It goes without saying

An activity that explores the hidden or unwritten rules that help us all to live together.

KS2/3 | 60 Mins | Teacher led

KEY QUESTION: What are hidden rules that help us all to live together?


We live our lives through rules. They are all around us and yet not all of them are written or visible. These rules determine how we behave and how we expect others to behave around us.

We are often told what these rules are – think of the rules board in a park or at the swimming pool for example – but there are many situations where this is not the case.

In these instances, we may often assume that “it goes without saying”. This activity is aimed to help learners think about some of these hidden rules. You might also like to help them think about how the rules might vary in different situations.


  1. Introduce your learners to the idea of rules. A good way to do this might be to share a familiar set of rules such as those at a swimming baths or at a park. You may have a set of class or school rules that are also readily available.
  2. Now ask them to think about all the different situations where they behave according to rules that are unwritten or unsaid. These are things we just do as part of our everyday lives living together. To help them think about this read this following example from the South American city of Bogota in Colombia.

Bogota is the capital city of Colombia in South America. As one of the ways to help its residents live together it introduced citizen cards. These cards were to reward what people considered good behaviour and to show disapproval when they felt something was poor or bad behaviour. Good actions were rewarded by showing the white side of the card with a thumbs up. If people considered something poor behaviour they would show the red side of the card with a thumbs down.


  1. Ask learners to create a thumbs up and a thumbs down card for themselves. Placing these on a table or on a large sheet of paper, ask learners to brainstorm the sort of things they might use the cards for in their everyday encounters. You might like to help them by giving some ideas such as in school, at the park, at home, in town, at the supermarket, at worship etc.
  2. Are there different types of hidden rule that come into play in different situations? How do we adapt behaviour in different situations such as being with our friends or being with our grandparents?



Once learners are familiar with the idea of the activity they could apply it to thinking about the hidden rules (behaviour expectations) that they might have for working with a link partner.

These could be gathered and exchanged with a link partner to show that each party is considering how they are going to interact and work together.


Based on original material created by The Linking Network and Lifeworlds Learning

Resources to download