Critical Thinking for Kids

I think Critical Thinking is a skill┬áthat needs to be fostered as we develop. Too often in our attempt to make life easy for our children, we take away opportunities for them to problem solve and strengthen their critical thinking skills. Our schools unfortunately do much of the same – teaching kids what they need to know rather than how to find the information and what to do with it.

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Kids need to learn through different experiences how to take in all the information available, process it, and come up with whatever “answer” is required. In many situations there is no one correct answer, but it is the process of working through the information that is important.

There are many different ways to “teach” critical thinking skills to children – basically we are providing various situations and scenarios for our children to work through. The methods we use to present these scenarios can vary.

Workbooks/Worksheets

I think I am lucky in that Kyri loves to do fun worksheets. One resource we have used this school year is Lollipop Logic. These workbooks cover a variety of exercises: sequences, relationships, analogies, deductive reasoning, pattern decoding, inference and critical analysis.

 

Games

We have some really fun games we enjoy around here. These are not your typical Monopoly-type games. I have tried to build up our collection of logic games so that we can play and have fun, but still have an educational experience. These games from FoxMind are awesome – they are challenging and a lot of fun. Even for the tougher levels, you can work with your kids and help a little, but still have them do the bulk of the problem solving. Metaforms is a logic game where you follow a set of sequential instructions to fill in a 3X3 grid with colored geometric shapes. Tanagramino is a tanagram game where you are given a list of pieces to use and a final shape to build. Equilibrio is essentially a 3D tanagram game much like Tanagramino.

 

Computer Games and Apps

National Geographic Kids – lots of games here. Kyri LOVES the Dung Beetle Derby, where you have to make paths for the dung beetle to roll… you guessed it… dung!

Minecraft – We just put this on the iPad (the Pocket edition) and Kyri really loves it. She build houses and fences and has fun tormenting zombies. There is a lot of thinking and planning that is required playing in Survival mode.

National Geographic GeoDash – This game involves jumping and maneuvering around to collect animal traits, and collecting animal cards along the way. We just downloaded the second Habitat, which has twenty additional levels to explore. She loves this game, and as an added bonus, she is learning about animals and their habitats at the same time.

Flow Free – This is a really cool app where you connect colored dots in a minimum number of moves, and without crossing paths. The puzzles increase in difficulty as you go up in level.

CDC Solve the Outbreak – This is definitely a lot tougher for Kyri’s age and experience. This app puts you in the role of disease detective. You are tasked with solving a disease outbreak, and as you read details about the case you have to decide what to ask (from a short list of choices) and how to proceed in the investigation. You ultimately determine what caused the outbreak. It is a lot of fun, and it is one that we work on together. I do a lot of the heavier reading (it is designed for slightly older kids) and we talk about the options we are presented with. Even if it is still a little advanced for her, she really enjoys it!

 

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