Posted 3/9/08
Derren Brown is a British TV hypnotist and sceptic. In the above clip, he demonstrates a simple principle of human behaviour. In the lesson plan, students are told what happens in the clip without any reference to the circle. Their task is to work out why nobody took the wallet.
  • Language level: Pre-intermediate (A2) +
  • Learner type: Young learners; Teens; Adults
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Main activity: Speaking; Making questions
  • Topic: Psychology and behaviour; Money
  • Language: Question forms
  • Materials: Video
Wallet Mystery pdf [downloaded 4350 times]

Lesson plan outline

    1. Tell your students that you have a puzzle for them. Tell them the following:
It is 10:30 in the morning. A man is walking along Regent Street in the centre of London. He stops and takes a large amount of money out of his pocket. He counts it and then puts it into his wallet. He bends down and places his wallet on the pavement. The man walks away.

Approximately six hours later, the man returns. His wallet is still there. He bends down and picks it up. He counts the money. It is all there. He puts the wallet back in his pocket and leaves the scene.

How can this be?
    1. Repeat the whole puzzle as many times as necessary until everyone understands it.
    2. Ask students to work out why no one took the wallet by asking you closed questions (i.e. questions to which you can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’). Work on the grammar of the question forms.
    3. When students either give up or work out the puzzle, show the clip.
    4. Dictate the questions below or write them on the board. Ask students to discuss them in pairs or small groups:
      • Have you ever found a purse or wallet in a public place? What did you do with it?
      • How would you react if you saw a wallet with a circle drawn around it like the one in the clip?
      • Why do you think the circle makes a difference?
      • Do the think the clip was made honestly or is it possible that they cheated in some way or another? *

* Some people may be sceptical about the authenticity of the video. Regent Street is a busy place. Why wasn’t the wallet accidentally kicked out of the circle?

Posted 3/9/08

3 Responses to Wallet mystery

  1. Kit Johnson says:

    Just in case anyone wants it, there is a youtube version of this video (which for me at least makes it easier to download):

  2. Kit Johnson says:

    This activity builds on a theme I have used before: presenting a riddle and then fielding yes-no questions from the class. In my context (Thailand) students are often slow to get into it. This lesson plan however really helps because
    1) it is based on a true event (although some will be skeptical!)
    2) there is a video at the end which is genuinely thought-provoking
    3) there is an opportunity to discuss it at the end.

    So thanks once again Jamie for a quality classroom idea.

  3. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Kit
    Glad you like it.
    I am also skeptical about the video and it’s a question that I always ask my students. I don’t think the film crew would really leave the wallet for so long and then go back later. And wouldn’t someone kick the wallet out of the circle by mistake?
    Thanks for the comment
    Jamie :)