Critical Thinking: Using minds to their full potential

activities that teach critical thinking

Critical thinking plays a big role in our education and in our lives.  What critical thinking provides for children is the ability to evaluate and problem solve.  In school, teachers will give children various exercises that involve anything from word problems to solving riddles and puzzles.  Because our minds use critical thinking in order to evaluate, it opens up a wide range of results.  Children may interpret things differently from each other, and that can lead to various emotional responses.

A loose definition of critical thinking is to decide what to do by way of reason and reflection.  Critical thinking problems draw from a certain criteria and the problem solvers (students) evaluate something based on validity.
There are many types of critical thinking activities for young children.  Some of the activities may seem a bit simpler than the others.


When children read, it opens up a world of imagination.  They create a new world in their heads based on characters and descriptions that are given in a story.  By reading and thinking at the same time, children can develop their own opinions, values and ideas.  Think of this as critical reading.  On a positive note, critical reading enables children to open up more to literature and allow them to develop a better understanding and relationship with the book.


Classifying items in groups lets children identity and sort.  Their minds are actively working to determine types of things fit best with others.  For example, a child can first begin by grouping vegetables together or animals together.  To take it a step further, you can ask a child what the similarity is between an orange and tiger.  These two items may seem like random items to compare with each other, but with a little bit of analysis, a child can point out that both things are the same color.


Puzzles range from easy to difficult.  Depending on your child’s age and the number of pieces included, putting together puzzles require a lot of patience.  If a child can sit down and try to solve a puzzle without being flustered, this is a great indication that he or she is really making an effort to see which pieces can logically fit together.  By looking at a picture of the finished product and returning to examine the loose pieces on the table, a child can determine which colors and shapes connect the best to form a completed puzzle.

Spelling games

There are many.  Games such as scrabble and hangman test a child’s spelling abilities.  These games depend on 1. The ability to use only the letters that are available and 2. The ability to determine the correct letters that will solve the problem. Some children are better at spelling than others.  Playing or participating in activities such as these can do nothing but improve a child’s spelling for the long run.

Math problems

The more advanced the level, the harder it will be.  Doing simple equations is one thing, but trying to find x or working to solve a detailed math problem is another. 
There are many ways to keep kids entertained while on a long, car trip.  This will help get rid of boredom.  Kids have short attention spans and keeping them occupied will ensure a fun and faster journey!




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