Activities and fun
Critical thinking activities for preschoolers
By Cara Mullin
In order to be able to recognise assumptions, make informed and unbiased decisions, solve problems and be fair to others, children need to learn critical thinking skills. However, it is important that parents understand and use age appropriate teaching methods.
Here are some activities for preschoolers that parents can encourage their children to engage in:
These are important as they require sorting according to a set of rules. You can follow up classification games with questions on why the grouped items are similar and why they are different.
An example is: Build a zoo or wildlife park - Help your child build a zoo or wildlife park. Ask her to group and classify all animals into diferent sections of the zoo or wildlife park. Suitable for 2-6 years.
An example of a sorting activity is to take out the box of wax crayons and ask your child to sort by size or colour. Suitable for 2-6 years.
Looking for patterns
Being able to draw out similar information from a variety of different sources is a highly useful problem solving skill.
An example is: Hunt for ABCs. Ask your child to identify letters on billboards, road signs, license plates and buildings or anything in your environment - do the same with shapes and numbers. Suitable for 4-6 years.
This helps to develop abstract thinking skills essential for problem solving and an understanding of symbols by using an object to represent another. Understanding symbols is the foundation for early maths, reading and writing.
Give your child an array of items, different colours, shapes and sizes that she can use for pretend play. Suitable for 2 years and up.
Letting children explore, test and manipulate lays the foundations for scientific reasoning.
In a safe environment let your child explore and play without any instruction from yourself. Let her choose the tools and what she would like to do with them. Be interested by asking her questions on what she is doing and observing so that she can verbally explain to you. Avoid being tempted to be directly involved. Nature provides the perfect environment for your preschooler to experiment with the laws of the universe. Try to ensure your preschooler has generous amounts of time interacting with nature.
Encourage creative thinking and innovation through art.
Let your child experiment with many different forms of art and craft materials. Drawing, colouring, cutting, pasteing, modelling, box construction, painting (mixing colours), play dough, chalk. Use materials from nature and recycled materials. The important thing is the creative process not the the end result. Let your child be in charge of her creativity.
- Build on your child's existing knowledge
- Note your child's special interests and involve her in activities that relate to them
- Choose activities that are connected to each other
- Use your normal vocabulary. Don't feel it is necessary to use alternative words that you think is easier for a preschooler to understand. For example in the garden use the words habitat and ecosystems.
- Make science tools such as magnifying glasses, scales, measuring cups, rulers etc part of everyday life
- Steer clear of lecturing, instruction and enforcing
- Preschoolers learn best by hands-on experiences
- Combine as many of the above into one activity. For example: If your child loves dinosaurs, encourage her to be a prehistoric park owner. She can classify the dinosaur toys into groups, build and create enclosures and scenery using recycled materials as well as sticks, sand and plants from the garden.
About the author:
Cara Mullin, a successful internet entrepreneur, is founder and owner of www.kidzworld.co.za, an online resource directory and ezine for parents.
10 Team-Building Games That Promote Critical Thinking
by TeachThought Staff
One of education’s primary goals is to groom the next generation of little humans to succeed in the “real world.”
Yes, there are mounds of curricula they must master in a wide breadth of subjects, but education does not begin and end with a textbook or test.
Other skills must be honed, too, not the least of which is how to get along with their peers and work well with others. This is not something that can be cultivated through rote memorization or with strategically placed posters.
Students must be engaged and cooperation must be practiced, and often. The following team-building games can promote cooperation and communication, help establish a positive classroom environment and — most importantly — provide a fun, much-needed reprieve from routine.
10 Team-Building Games That Promote Collaborative Critical Thinking
You can purchase a classroom-ready version of team-building games that promote critical thinking here.
1. If You Build it…
This team-building game is flexible. Simply divide students into teams and give them equal amounts of a certain material, like pipe cleaners, blocks, or even dried spaghetti and marshmallows.
Then, give them something to construct. The challenge can be variable (think: Which team can build the tallest, structurally-sound castle? Which team can build a castle the fastest?).
You can recycle this activity throughout the year by adapting the challenge or materials to specific content areas.
Skills: Communication; problem-solving
2. Save the Egg
This activity can get messy and may be suitable for older children who can follow safety guidelines when working with raw eggs. Teams must work together to find a way to “save” the egg (Humpty Dumpty for elementary school students?) — in this case an egg dropped from a specific height. That could involve finding the perfect soft landing, or creating a device that guides the egg safely to the ground. Let their creativity work here.
Skills: Problem-solving, creative collaboration
Zoom is a classic classroom cooperative game that never seems to go out of style. Simply form students into a circle and give each a unique picture of an object, animal or whatever else suits your fancy. You begin a story that incorporates whatever happens to be on your assigned photo. The next student continues the story, incorporating their photo, and so on.
Skills: Communication; creative collaboration
Another classic team-building game. Arrange some sort of obstacle course and divide students into teams. Students take turns navigating the “mine field” while blindfolded, with only their teammates to guide them. You can also require students to only use certain words or clues to make it challenging or content-area specific.
Skills: Communication; trust
See also: 10 Team-Building Games For A Friendlier Classroom
5. The Worst-Case Scenario
Fabricate a scenario in which students would need to work together and solve problems to succeed, like being stranded on a deserted island or getting lost at sea. Ask them to work together to concoct a solution that ensures everyone arrives safely. You might ask them to come up with a list of 10 must-have items that would help them most, or a creative passage to safety. Encourage them to vote — everyone must agree to the final solution.
Skills: Communication, problem-solving
6. A Shrinking Vessel
This game requires a good deal of strategy in addition to team work. Its rules are deceptively simple: The entire group must find a way to occupy a space that shrinks over time, until they are packed creatively like sardines. You can form the boundary with a rope, a tarp or blanket being folded over or small traffic cones. (Skills: Problem-solving; teamwork)
7. Go for Gold
This game is similar to the “If you build it” game: Teams have a common objective, but instead of each one having the same materials, they have access to a whole cache of materials. For instance, the goal might be to create a contraption with pipes, rubber tubing and pieces of cardboard that can carry a marble from point A to point B in a certain number of steps, using only gravity.
Creative collaboration; communication; problem-solving
8. It’s a Mystery
Many children (and grown-ups) enjoy a good mystery, so why not design one that must be solved cooperatively? Give each student a numbered clue. In order to solve the mystery — say, the case of the missing mascot — children must work together to solve the clues in order. The “case” might require them to move from one area of the room to the next, uncovering more clues.
Skills: Problem-solving, communication
9. 4-Way Tug-of-War
That playground classic is still a hit — not to mention inexpensive and simple to execute. For a unique variation, set up a multi-directional game by tying ropes in such a way that three or four teams tug at once. Some teams might choose to work together to eliminate the other groups before going head-to-head.
Skills: Team work; sportsmanship
10. Keep it Real
This open-ended concept is simple and serves as an excellent segue into problem-based learning. Challenge students to identify and cooperatively solve a real problem in their schools or communities. You may set the parameters, including a time limit, materials and physical boundaries.
Skills: Problem-solving; communication
While education technology is a basic and crucial component of the 21st century classroom, educators must still ensure that students are engaging with each other in meaningful ways. Team-building exercises are a great way to do this, and because of this, they will never go out of style.
See Also: 10 Team-Building Games To Promote Critical Thinking
Aimee Hosler is a writer and mother of two living in Virginia. She specializes in a number of topics, but is particularly passionate about education and workplace news and trends. She hold a B.S. in Journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and is a contributor to several websites including OnlineSchools.com; 10 Team-Building Games For Kids, Teenagers, or Adults