Critical thinking is so important, but most students don't seem equipped to do it successfully. Asking higher level thinking skills in reading helps, but they hate answering them if they have to think. Don't quit asking question, but add some fun activities in your classroom to make your kids want to think things through on their own. I found a few games at my local Barnes and Noble that are just perfect to do the trick. Take a look at some of them.
The Brain Teaser Kit, by one of my favorite game companies - Thinkfun - has variety. Useful in grades 2-8, it has 8 different activities inside that encourage critical thinking and problem solving. Students remove pieces after shuffling pieces around the right way, build pyramids, build shapes and designs, and pack pieces into a small box. The great thing about this kit is that it is something students can do at their seats when they have completed their assignments. Hints are available, to help you scaffold the activities.
Another Thinkfun game that helps with problem solving/logic is Rush Hour. For kids as young as 8 to people my age and beyond, this game is fun and challenging. The student chooses a game card and tries to shift the vehicles around until they match the card. The cards range from beginner to expert. Another game that can go straight to a child's desk, Rush Hour can also be used by two students working together. You might even want to try it once the kids are gone for the day!
In my last post, Math Games on Friday, I talked about a fun math game called Math Dice Tournament Kit. If you want a brain challenge for your students without buying the entire kit, you can get a dice set and make up your own events (or follow the game described on the box.) Notice that one set of dice is for students as young as 6.
I would just like to say that I have no stock in Thinkfun and they don't even know I am talking about their games-I just love their stuff!
Finally, for today, my last Thinkfun game-Stenzzles. This is a layering puzzle. It comes in 8 different layers. There are eight challenges in the box. The company has more than one option. This thought-provoking activity is better for older kids as it presents a special challenge because of the layers.
Bring fun and challenging critical thinking and problem-solving games into your class and let your students think you are giving them a break to just have fun. The logic you help develop will be your own little reward.