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20 Critical Thinking Activities for Middle Schoolers

critical thinking activities for middle schoolers

June 17, 2022 //  by  Lesa M.K. Bullins, EdS

Critical thinking is the process of using higher-order thinking skills in which students observe, conceptualize, apply, evaluate, and synthesize information that they learn in order to solve problems and make decisions effectively. Critical thinking is crucial for middle school students to be equipped to respond to academic, social, and emotional challenges successfully.

As an educator, developing critical thinking in students is paramount. Critical thinking skills are built through exploration, inquiry, questioning, discussion, and collaboration. Below are my top 20 classroom activities to transform your middle school students into critical thinkers!

1. Service Projects


Service projects support the development of global-mindedness in addition to building creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. Service projects allow students the opportunity to engage their interests, apply learning to real-world situations, and actively problem-solve. Service projects could relate to classroom topics, holidays, or community areas in which students have concerns.

Learn more: Kid Activities

2. Project-Based Learning


Project-based learning builds creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving while creating opportunities for student motivation and engagement. You can learn about how to execute project-based learning here.

Learn more: PBL Works

3. Problem-Based Learning


The other "PBL" of education is problem-based learning. Problem-based learning activities are critical to the development of problem-solving skills. You can learn how to implement problem-based learning approaches here.

Learn more: Educators for Social Change

4. Get Outside the Classroom

Take learning outside the classroom. Applying learning to the world around them will support students in making crucial connections that build critical thinking. Check this video for ways to bring the outdoors to your classroom!

Learn more: Edutopia

5. Promote Inquiry


Inquiry-based learning is a cornerstone of critical thinking skills that creates in students an avid thinker of creative solutions. Instead of giving students the questions and then the answer, flip it! Give students information and have them build questions from their own thinking, or give students questions then allow them the space needed to find comprehensive solutions. Inquiry builds analytical skills.

Learn more: Taylor & Francis Online

6. Incorporate Turn and Talks


Turn and talks allow students to briefly share, review, and make connections to things they are learning. It is one of the top critical thinking resources when executed effectively in the classroom. Turn and talks allow for the exploration of an array of topics.

Learn more: Smekens Education and The Thinker Builder

7. Group Work Galore


While group work teaches cooperation, it also provides an opportunity for building critical thinking attributes like task deconstruction, planning, and explanation of thinking.

Learn more: Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

8. Bring Centers Back


Centers are not just for elementary students. Centers create a diverse learning interaction that allows opportunities for students to be more expressive in the learning process. Critical thinking skills come out of such active learning. It is also a great way to leverage resources, especially teacher one-on-one time!

Learn more: Rachel Mccollum

9. Revive Reader's Theatre


Using a reader's theatre gives students a more enriching reading comprehension experience due to the highly engaging and interactive approach. Read more here about why you should use this reading approach to support critical thinking.

Learn more: Mrs. Beers

10. Hold Debates

Debate is an opportunity for individuals to consider, discuss, and analyze a controversial topic. Middle school students have ideas that they want to express and discuss. Giving them healthy opportunities for expression not only builds their critical thinking but also their confidence and sense of self.

11. Provide Creative Choices

Choice prompts critical thinking because it allows students to practice in a safe learning environment. Student choice can enhance the learning environment through deeper interest and engagement as well. Providing choice is a very effective opportunity for differentiation, and can even support metacognitive development.

Learn more: The Modern Classrooms Project

12. Promote Invention and Innovation 


Creating inventions and innovations involved analyzing situations, considering outcomes, developing processes, and making connections to prior and related knowledge. Innovation and invention are essentially complete critical thinking activities.

Learn more: Invention and Education

13. Make Opportunities for Students to Teach


The deepest learning occurs when we teach others. Critical thinking elements can really be tapped into when students are the teachers. Give students a chance to build critical thinking and deepen their understanding of concepts by reteaching during reviews. We can also build confidence and classroom culture by allowing students to teach others their interests or hobbies.

Learn more: Harvard Graduate School of Education

14. Always Make Time for Reflection


Reflection is indispensable to the critical thinking process. Reflection empowers students as learners and prompts deeper thinking. Reflection allows students to tackle higher levels of thinking resulting in better consciousness of self and learning. You can provide opportunities for silent reflection, exit tickets, journals, etc.

Learn more: Responsive Classroom

15. Create Mysteries


Critical thinking hinges significantly on students interpreting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions. Mystery activities are exciting ways to engage these elements of critical thinking in a variety of subjects! Check out the example of a classroom mystery lesson here to inspire the use of mysteries in your own classroom subjects.

Learn more: Engaging Effective Teaching

16. Create Escape Rooms


It is not just mysteries that present logical thinking challenges and encompass the elements of critical thinking for practice in the classroom! Escape rooms are exceptional critical thinking activities. For some ideas on how to create escape rooms for different subjects in your class, check here.

Learn more: 23 Escape Room Games for Kids of All Ages

17. Prompt Class Discussions


Class discussions are the most naturally occurring critical thinking resources, so just harness the power by guiding and building skills for class discussion processes in your classroom. Class discussion fosters enhanced articulation, deep thinking, stronger connections to prior knowledge, deeper connections across content, and much more!

Learn more: University of Waterloo

18. Create a Job Board


Application of critical thinking skills in real-life scenarios like work is essential. Having classroom jobs is a practical way to put skills into practice. Classroom jobs can build a sense of community and responsibility in the classroom culture. I suggest using a job board approach and incentives for taking jobs such as free choice activities, extra time, etc. instead of assigned jobs. You can also make the job board a game similar to the popular Among Us game (minus the killing of course), to grab student interest.

Learn more: The Literary Maven

19. Encourage Habits of Mind

Habits of Mind are the same skills that make up the critical thinking concepts. Habits of Mind prompt analytical thinking, build strong learning habits, and sufficiently change patterns of thinking for students to truly become critical thinkers.

Learn more: Increasing Autonomy with Habits of Mind

20. Push a Growth Mindset

In conjunction with the skills of habits of mind, a growth mindset also presents students with an avenue to build lasting change in thinking patterns to become skillful critical thinkers. Students with a strong growth mindset have the power of resiliency.  Resilience is a crucial aspect of critical thinking as it helps us to manage stress and adapt to change. Analyzing and solving problems requires adaptability.

Learn more: In Control Middle School SEL

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Critical thinking activities and ideas

critical thinking activities ks3

In an age of misinformation and in the midst of a global pandemic, critical thinking and judgement have fast become essential life-skills. Rebecca Kitchen reports on a CPD project to improve young people’s critical thinking and discusses some approaches and best practice

The current coronavirus pandemic means that now, more than ever, our newsfeeds are being bombarded with data. There is so much data available from a variety of sources that it is easy to become overwhelmed. There is also the issue of trustworthiness – to what extent should I trust what I am reading and hearing? What are the issues with comparing data from different countries and health systems operating in different contexts that collect data in different ways?

Fortunately, there are a significant number of teachers and their pupils who are well prepared for the critical thinking challenge that this abundance of data provides.

Over the last 18 months, the Geographical Association working in partnership with the Association for Science Education (ASE) engaged more than 1,050 teachers from nearly 400 different schools in their Critical Thinking for Achievement programme.

This plan-do-review CPD focused on knowledge application, the critical use of data, and the construction of evidenced arguments to raise achievement in geography and science.

Funded by the Department for Education (DfE) Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund, it was particularly aimed at priority schools (Ofsted category 3 or 4) and schools within priority areas, including the DfE’s Opportunity Areas. The plan-do-review aspect was particularly important and enabled the programme to meet the DfE’s Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development (2016).

Teachers were introduced to a range of critical thinking activities and ideas and were then able to apply and experiment with them in their own classrooms and with their own pupils. They then returned a couple of months later to share and discuss what they had learned.

This opportunity for focused, professional discussions around practice within a subject-specific context was crucial. Other benefits of this approach were that the experience was sustained, rather than being a one-off.

The Geographical Association has developed the classroom practice section of its website to outline some of the critical thinking ideas that teachers were introduced to as part of the programme and to present a selection of case studies describing how teachers from the early years to key stage 5 used these with their pupils. These resources are open access until the end of the academic year. The remainder of this article will provide a taster of three of these practical activities and will also suggest ideas for best practice that have surfaced throughout the project.

Activity 1: True for who?

The “true for who” technique is designed to support pupils in considering different perspectives on an issue, which enables them to think more critically about it. For example, when considering the production of palm oil, most pupils will instantly consider deforestation and loss of habitats, but may not consider the potential positive impacts for local communities such as income and schooling. Here, an issue is presented to the pupils and possibly some background information, such as data or statistics about palm oil production in this example. Then:

Activity 2: Argument frames

Argument frames are designed to structure and work through the different stages in making an argument, so helping develop pupils’ understanding, their ability to articulate and communicate their reasoning, as well as being a focus for discussion and analysis.

As with most such frameworks, the aim is to hardwire the approach into pupils’ thinking, for example to include arguments and counter-arguments, and remember evidence and sources, so they can use it independently.

The approach is particularly useful for making and writing balanced arguments, for example to tackle questions with command words such as examine, evaluate and justify in their exams, where a common weakness is to put forward only one perspective.

critical thinking activities ks3

Argument frame: A tool to help students structure and work through the different stages in making an argument

Activity 3: Continuum line

A continuum line can be used as a whole class activity where the two extremes of the continuum are written on opposite walls of the classroom. The teacher provides a statement for discussion and pupils stand between the two extremes at the point which best represents their opinion.

For example, the two extremes of the continuum could be “always” and “never”, and the statement could be: “The number of tourists in the Lake District should be restricted.” The teacher then questions some pupils to understand why they have stood at particular points on the continuum.

Alternatively, a continuum line can be used as an individual or paired activity. Pupils are given a number of statements which they place along the continuum before explaining their positioning. So, taking the example above, pupils may be given several different types of tourist management – parking charges, zoning, developing tourist facilities – and are asked to put them on a continuum between “effective” and “not effective”.

Best practice advice

For those schools and teachers who are interested in embedding critical thinking strategies within their practice, the following suggestions emerged from the project and may prove useful:

To be a good geographer or scientist necessarily involves thinking critically about the world – so critical thinking is best taught by “infusing” it in the curriculum, rather than treating it as a separate, generic skill. Teachers that embedded critical thinking techniques throughout their teaching said that this did not take up greater amounts of curriculum time. They explained that over time, pupils’ became more independent, were more engaged, and their thinking became more efficient.

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critical thinking activities ks3


Critical thinking activities for kids.

Kids are open and willing to learn new fundamental skills as long as they are taught in a fun and entertaining manner. JumpStart’s critical thinking activities are therefore a great way to engage students and encourage critical thinking and logical reasoning skills in them!

Squeeze in Words - free critical thinking activity for kids

Importance of Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking enables kids to reason better. It helps them base conclusions on facts rather than emotions. From puzzles to activities that require analytical reasoning, there are a variety of ways to encourage kids to use and develop their problem-solving skills.

Our critical thinking exercises for kids are fun and stimulate thought. They can serve as a valuable resource for homeschooling parents as well as teachers who are looking to engage the little ones with productive activities. You can also come up with simple activities of your own that can be used in class or even at home. Provoking kids to think out of the box and come up with solutions to challenging activities will always have long-term benefits.

Free Critical Thinking Activities

It is easy to find a variety of free critical thinking worksheets and activities online. Activities like these are sure to excite the little ones and teach them important reasoning and thinking skills at the same time!

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Critical Thinking Games & Activities for Kids

critical thinking games for kids

Critical thinking skills are essential to succeed in everyday life, and there are ways to enhance these abilities for children of all ages.

But what is critical thinking for kids? It means being open to new ideas, arguments, and information. Children with strong critical thinking skills are rational and look for alternative ways to solve problems.

We've collected together the best critical thinking games and critical thinking exercises for kids to make them become critical thinkers!

Online Critical Thinking Games

The most effective way to improve your children’s thinking skills is to engage them with educational games. Here are critical thinking games for kids to support their school success

Critical Thinking Game

Critical Thinking Game

This fun critical thinking game for kids is all about reasoning as fast and accurately as you can. Let’s try!

Puzzle Critical Thinking Game

Puzzle Critical Thinking Game

It’s important to use your critical thinking skills even when you play with puzzles! Discover Tangram to develop it.

Math Critical Thinking Game

Math Critical Thinking Game

Critical thinking exercises and math can be the best friends! Here is a great critical thinking game with them.

Collaboration Game

Collaboration Game

Collaboration games are the best, and now it’s time to collaborate these numbers to find 10! Hurry, time is ticking!

Online Critical Thinking Game

Online Critical Thinking Game

Here is a fun critical thinking activity with candies! Attention and critical thinking skills make you eagle-eyed.

Basic Critical Thinking Game

Basic Critical Thinking Game

In this critical thinking activity for kids, they need to select the image that is appropriate for the given condition.

1 Number One Letter Game

Easy Critical Thinking Game

These fun critical thinking questions for kids are perfect for students in the early grades of school to sharpening their counting and math skills.

Cool Critical Thinking Game

Cool Critical Thinking Game

It’s a critical thinking test for kids! Use your thinking skills to find out the correct answer!

MentalUP offers 150+ critical thinking games besides attention, concentration, logic, language, visual intelligence, and memory games ! 🚀✨

The best part of the multi-awarded app is all these gamified exercises are developed by pedagogues , academicians , and game designers . 🎓🙌

That’s why kids enjoy playing these games a lot; meanwhile, they boost their cognitive skills. 🤩

As parents, you can track your kids’ development with different report tools . These analyses are helpful to you in determining your kids’ strengths and the skills that need to be improved according to their peers ! 📊🎯


Critical Thinking Activities for Kids

Now, let’s take a look at some fun activities that can help you encourage younger children to improve their critical skills! These exercises can help them to think critically whether they are at home, at school, or in online classes. Critical thinking in classroom can make them more successful even in their exams, such as the Kangaroo Math Competition .

1. Encourage Thinking

Critical Thinking Questions for Kids

Children are full of questions, aren't they? So, to encourage their thinking process, you can ask them to try answering their questions. And in the process, you can help them arrive at the answer using logical thinking instead of providing them with a direct answer.

It is possible to improve critical thinking skills even for preschoolers; one of the key elements of high-order thinking is making rational choices and justifying kids' own decisions.

Let's help your preschooler analyse the objects to make a logical decision themselves using critical thinking worksheets for preschoolers.

2. Play Sorting Games

Critical Thinking Activities for Kids

Critical skills include the reasoning ability to solve real-life problems. And of course, one of the great ways to support children’s reasoning and classification skills is sorting games.

This activity will help children see the differences among various groups and enhance their understanding of the objects.

To play, you can simply ask your children to sort the same kind of objects using different features like colors, shapes, or sizes. Or if you would like to have an online solution here it is: Educational Games for 4 Year Olds

3. Solve Brain Teasers Together

Critical Thinking Examples for Kids

To trigger brain activity, you can always benefit from brain teasers. Solving any kind of brain teasers together will allow your children to learn from you and challenge their problem-solving skills at the same time.

Also, brain teasers are one of the greatest and fun critical thinking games for adults!

4. Ask Them Riddles

Riddles are also an excellent way to help your children become critical thinkers, not to mention how fun they actually are. Asking riddles as team building activities high school are great examples of critical thinking in the classroom!

Interactive Math Games for 5th Grade

So, let your children promote their reasoning, problem-solving, and many other skills with a critical thinking activity as simple as riddles!

5. Create Games from Real-life Problems

Since critical skills are absolutely necessary for our daily lives, then why not apply them to some educational activities?

Critical Thinking for Kids

You can take real-world problems like recycling or water scarcity as an open ended questions game and ask your children to think of solutions.

These kinds of pretend competition games for kids will not only boost their problem-solving skills as they focus on creative problems but also help them learn about their environment and develop their good sense.

Critical Thinking Questions and Answers for Kids

These fun critical thinking questions and answers are perfect for students in the early grades of school to sharpen their critical thinking, counting and math skills. It is also a very good alternative for kindergarten math games .

Critical Thinking Test for Kids

Find the Path Brain Puzzle

Bip bip! Can you tell which scooter will reach the gas station? 🛵

The answer is B!

If you follow the road path, you will see that only B can reach the gas station.

Want to solve more puzzles? Let’s try MentalUP Brain Teaser for Kids

Click to Try

Critical Thinking Example for Kids

Visual Brain teaser

Can you guess who is left-handed and why? 🧐

It’s irregular to serve drinks with left hand for a right-handed person. So, the answer is 5.

You’re good at hard riddles! Let’s continue with MentalUP to see your detailed performance reports.

Critical Thinking Activity for Kids

People Buy Me to Eat Brain Teaser

What am I? 😋

Tip: You’re using this magic word every day!

The answer is easy. It’s a plate!

Use the app for more questions and exercises.

Play for free

Critical Thinking for Kids

Bus Direction Brain Teaser

Which way is the bus going? 🚌

Here is a tip for you: This is a bus in the U.K

The bus is moving left.

Because we cannot see the door of the bus in this picture!

Couldn’t find the answer? You can always do brain exercises and improve your visual attention easily with MentalUP!

get Brain Teasers App!

Critical Thinking Question for Kids

bear riddle

What colour was the bear?

The bear was white!

The only place you can hike 3 miles south, then east for 3 miles, then north for 3 miles and end up back at your starting point is the North Pole.

There are only polar bears in the North Pole, which are white.

Can’t find the answers? Do brain exercises and improve your problem-solving skill with MentalUP Brain Teasers App!

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Critical Thinking Game for Kids

Which Glass Gets Full First Viral Teaser

Which shadow corresponds to the image on the left? 🐓

The correct answer is D.

For more visual brain teasers for kids, download MentalUP and test your visual intelligence skills. You can see your detailed working reports and even compare your results with your peers!

Download MentalUP

FAQ About Critical Thinking For Kids

How to improve a child’s thinking skills.

The most effective way of improving a child’s thinking skills is to support them with educational games. If you are looking for the right games to develop critical skills, you can jump right into MentalUP games specifically designed for your children. Also, don’t forget that MentalUP provides kids with lots of different options such as Math Kangaroo problems , math riddles, and puzzles to empower their critical thinking abilities.

How to raise critical thinkers?

Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you can do activities with your children to help them become critical thinkers. Some of these activities include encouraging their thinking process, playing sorting games, solving brain teasers and riddles, and creating pretend games from real-world problems.

What are the 5 critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking skills are a combination of various abilities, including analysis, evaluation, explanation, problem-solving, and decision-making. There are more elements to be included, but most people accept that these are the 5 most important critical thinking skills.

At what age does critical thinking develop?

They start developing around the age of 2 since a two-year-old can communicate, recognize objects around them, and comprehend the differences between them.

Does critical thinking increase with age?

Critical abilities are related to one’s age and education. But it can be improved with practice at all ages.

Is critical thinking taught in schools?

It is a part of most educational programs, such as solving math word problems requires critical thinking skills. However, critical thinking in school must be especially encouraged by teachers to help children develop and upgrade these skills. It is possible to improve it by using suitable back to school activities .

What activities improve critical thinking?

Playing critical thinking games for kids like MentalUP, doing puzzles, and solving riddles are the most important thinking activities.

Which game is the best for thinking?

It would be wrong to choose only one game to develop any skills. Instead of looking for the best game, playing beneficial critical thinking games for kids and adults would be more helpful. MentalUP offers 150+ critical thinking games, so the brain keeps being active with different kinds of games all the time.

Is Sudoku good for critical thinking?

Sudoku is suitable as a critical thinking game that both kids and adults enjoy to play. It stimulates other types of cognitive skills like attention and concentration too, so playing Sudoku is always a good choice.

MentalUP Educational Games are designed by academicians, game designers, and scientists to support the mental development process of your children. Because they are in the category of best safe kids games , you can be at ease! 🌈 You can benefit from MentalUP, which is among the best funny apps for kids to boost their skills. 💪

Try MentalUP

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STEM Journals, Activities & Experiments.

Critical Thinking for Kids: Activities, Games and Books

February 23, 2021 | Published by Shreiya

Critical thinking for kids helps children think beyond the obvious. It is an essential life skill which is required across all walks of life.

Critical Thinking is a tool that aids us in making informed, rational decisions. It enables us ‘how’ to think and make sense of the data and information presented to us. 

Simply put, it is the ability to analyse the existing information to make a logical decision.

A child with a critical thinking mindset is able to question, interlink information & ideas, make rational choices and most importantly justify their own decisions.

This is crucial for development of the human brain as it shifts the focus from being a passive listener to an active learner.

Jump to the section that interests you most!

Why Critical Thinking Matters? Critical Thinking Activities for Kids Critical Thinking Games for Kids Critical Thinking Books for Kids

Why Critical Thinking Matters?

As we go further into the future, this skill will be valued more than ever. With Artificial Intelligence and Automation doing most of the processing and knowledge based jobs, it is this skill that will keep the need of humans for a job ticking.

For young children, this ability translates into a mindset that is conducive for growth and lifelong learning.

Critical thinking empowers kids to cultivate a growth mindset that is ready to absorb new information, make meaningful connections between the existent knowledge and newly acquired information and most importantly use their knowledge bank to solve problems.

This makes critical thinking a formidable weapon in the mental ancillary. So much is the significance of Critical Thinking that it  has become one of the most vital skills of the 21st century .

That said, young children, according to Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, are concrete thinkers until the age of 12years. They learn mostly through trial and error approach and are unable to think ‘critically’ unless explicitly encouraged.

While young learners may not have the inherent circuitry in place to think critically, a guiding caretaker or an encouraging parent can certainly make a difference in wiring them to think logically.

That’s where we as parents and caretakers need to work. We need to coach our kids to think critically so they can survive the challenges of future. Here are our suggestions.

Critical Thinking Activities for Kids

1. inculcate creativity.

Encourage your child to draw a scene to explain her thoughts. We need critical thinking skills to depict our thoughts into pictures.

That is the reason why art is valued. It is not an easy task. For older children, play games like Pictionary and ask them to justify what they draw.

Creativity in kids

2. Play Sorting Games 

Classification and sorting skills are great for logical reasoning.

Ask your child to sort same list of animals/objects using different attributes like size, color, geometry, shape etc. Group animals into categories based on their habitats, eating habits, body structure, reproduction mechanism etc.

These sorting activities help children see the differences and similarities across various groups, thus enhancing their understanding.

Related: Also try these Memory Games for Kids to kick start your child’s memory training.

3. Solve Puzzles and Brainteasers Together

These are great for problem-solving in kids . Be it jig-saw, tic-tac-toe, mazes or whatever your child loves.

Solving puzzles and brainteasers together helps your children learn from you and formulate a strategy of their own.

While doing these activities alone may be frustrating for kids, a playful encouraging parent can make a great difference.

Throw in some Math Jokes in between to lighten the mood and add humour to your brain building session.

4. Real Problem Pretend Play

Bring in a real world problem like water scarcity to pretend play and ask them to think of solutions. Such games help children learn about their environment and surrounding.

It also aids them to understand the challenges faced in real world. Motivate them not only to think of solutions but also to implement at their level.

Like we thought how using a steel straw could reduce the waste generated by straws and save so many marine lives. For plastic bags, we brainstormed and made reusable cloth bags out of an old t-shirt.

Related: Read how Design Thinking for Kids is helping raise the next generation of problem solvers.

5. Get Creative with Blocks

Blocks are great at building logical skills. They help children give a sense to their imagination. Also they are great for loose parts play .

Every time you encourage your kindergartener to repurpose old blocks into new games, neurons fire up in her brain.

Blocks for kids

6. Inspire Thinking

Ask them to think of answers to their own questions. Aid the process of arriving at the answer rather than providing the answer.

Once they have arrived at a possible explanation, ask them to reason with their own answers.

This process of thinking about thinking – Metacognition, will help them find flaws (or support) in their own arguments and fine tune their opinion. Thus, making them better critical thinkers.

7. Teach Cause and Effect

Let them explore and test independently in a safe environment. Lot of discoveries were made by simple explorations. Such expeditions often teach a good lesson on cause and effect.

A great game for teaching cause and effect is the old classical Marbles. Same goes for Pool and Snookers.

Related: Science Experiments are a perfect way to teach cause and effect. Try a few from our vast list of Preschool Science Experiments .

8. Let Them H ypothesise

When reading a story, stop midway and ask them what they think is going to happen, how is the story going to end?

Open ended questions like these fire up the grey cells and force them to think of logical and creative outcomes. Give them time to think and come up with an elaborated answer.

You can even use real life situations to ask open-ended questions like, when struck in a traffic jam, ask them to think of a solution that could help ease congestion.

9. Play Guessing Games

Guessing games are excellent at building reasoning skills. Our favorite is ‘Animal Guess Who’. Drop hints describing the animal and then let your child guess it out.

10. Riddle Them

Riddles are a great way to fire up neurons and get your child thinking logically and critically. And the best part – riddles are SUPER fun!

Your kiddos wouldn’t even know that you are secretly working at their critical thinking skills. Here is an  exhaustive list of riddles to get you started.

11. Dumb Charades

This is another simple family game wherein the child is asked to guess the name of the movie ( STEM or sci-fi movies make it harder) — or anything else — by decoding the sign language of his team mate.

12. Let Them Play Detective

Hone your kid’s critical reasoning and thinking skills by letting them don the detective hat.

A simple treasure hunt to find a hidden object of joy could translate into great fun and critical thinking activity for kids.

For older kids, introduce the basis of kid appropriate Crime Scene Investigation to give them the taste of real thrill and a safe playground to practice their critical thinking.

13. Rebus Puzzles

These creative visual puzzles are perfect for polishing critical thinking skills in children. They are great for visual learners and secretly work at literacy skills as well.

Critical Thinking Games for Kids

1. guess who.

This is a great family board game that works at boosting critical reasoning. The task at hand is to guess the opponent’s card by asking her/him the valid questions. Suitable for kids 6year and above.

Critical thinking games for kids

2. Connect Four

Connect 4 is a classic game of strategy that will encourage your child to think critically and plan her moves to win the game. Super easy to learn and play, connect 4 does a great job at boosting thinking skills while having fun.

Critical thinking games for kids

Related: Also check out these Exciting Toys for Kids that secretly sneak in learning into play!

Another critical thinking game for kids 6years and above, Othello packs a whole lot of fun! Besides being highly addictive, this classic game is great at boosting spatial reasoning and logical thinking skills.

Critical thinking games for kids

Looking for Board Games? Check out our Giant List of Board Games for Kids for a fun family game session.

This single player game is great boredom buster and is a perfect brain building game for kids 5years and above. It comes with an increasing level of challenges that gradually build up logical reasoning skills. Neatly packed, it makes up for a nice travel game as well!

Critical thinking games for kids

5. Parking Puzzle

Parking Puzzle works at reasoning and critical thinking skills in children 6years and above. The task is to assign parking spaces to the cars according to the challenge cards.

The challenge cards start from an easy level and scale up to expert level to keep children (and adults!) genuinely scratching their heads.

Critical thinking games for kids

6. Brainvita

This marble eliminating game is a pure delight and a perfect game for the entire family. This brain bending game is simple enough to understand but packs a great challenge.

Critical thinking games for kids

Got a brainy kid? Check out Trivia Questions for Kids to test their knowledge.

7. Mastermind

Take on the role of a code breaker with this game of Mastermind. Thrilling and exciting, this game boosts deduction and logical skills. 

Critical thinking games for kids

Adapted for younger kids, this version comes with jungle animal pegs and 3 levels of play to make it more apt for kids 6years and above.

8. Domino Maze

Domino maze does a great job at gamifying logical and critical reasoning skills. This single player game is challenge based wherein the player has to add indicated tokens on the board to trigger domino effect. Suitable for kids, 8years and above.

Critical thinking games for kids

9.  Swish

This is a wonderful critical thinking card game for kids 8 years and above. One of the few games that is equally loved by kids and adults, Swish is an award winning game!

Critical thinking games for kids

10. Noggin Playground Dragon Dash

Dragon Dash is a cooperative game that not only teaches team building but also works at developing critical thinking skills. Targeted at kids 5 years and above, this critical thinking game is quick to play and understand and is loads of fun!

Critical thinking games for kids

Critical Thinking Books for Kids

1. more-igami.

This is a lovely book to introduce critical thinking to kids in the most matter-of-factly way!

Your kids wouldn’t even realise the skills they are picking up while reading this heartwarming story of a boy, who has discovered the joy of origami and is ready to dive deep into the art of paper folding.

Critical thinking books for kids

2. Flat Earth? Round Earth?

This is another gem of a book when it comes to teaching children the importance of critical thinking. Flat Earth? Round Earth? encourages children to ask questions and not take things for their face value. Highly recommended!

critical thinking activities ks3

Also see Inspiring STEM Books for Kids to add STEM to your child’s reading.

3. Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy

What better way to encourage curiosity and critical thinking than by introducing children to the long-standing questions about life.

Children often wonder about these truths of life and more than often are shushed than encouraged. Here is your chance to inspire thinking about the greater things of life!

Critical thinking books for kids

4. What To Do With a Box?

Turn your children into innovators with this charming book that wonders what all can be done with a cardboard box.

This book will encourage your children to question, wonder and give life to their ideas…just the perfect way to encourage critical thinking skills in kids.

Critical thinking books for kids

5. Thingamabob

Thingamabob is a cute, humorous book that is sure to inspire critical thinking in kids as young as 3year old. Join the protagonist as it wonders what really thingamabob is and questions its own assumptions.

Critical thinking books for kids

6. Learning to Fly

This is a story about an unlikely friendship between a man and a penguin, which believes it can fly!

Together they question, design and build to discover the secrets of flying. Highly recommended, this book is a real treasure!

Critical thinking books for kids

7. Nibbling on Einstein’s Brain: The Good, the Bad and the Bogus in Science

If there could be a short course of critical thinking for kids, this book tops the list. It is the perfect guide to critical thinking.

It delivers great tricks on how to spot the phony facts from real science. Fun and interactive, this book is simply delightful!

Critical reasoning books for kids

8. A Home For a Bird

This is a beautiful story of friendship and how critical thinking can be used not only to solve scientific problems but also help a friend. A great book on various accounts – literacy, illustrations and the important lessons it delivers. Perfect for kids 5years and above.

Critical thinking books for kids

9. Perfectly Logical

If you are looking for a book to put your child’s critical thinking skills to test, look no further. Perfectly logical is packed with 100 mind benders and puzzles that will progressively challenge your child.

Critical thinking books for kids

10. Thinking Like a Lawyer

Coming form teacher-turned-attorney-turned-educationist-turned-innovator, you can expect a lot from this book and rightly so! One of the best books to introduce critical thinking tools to kids.

Critical thinking books for kids

Children are great thinkers and often have out of the box creative ideas which we lack. So to develop critical thinking skills in kids, we really just have to listen and be more open to our children’s thought process.

We need to assure that we do not dumb them down with our standardized way of thinking. These simple, fun games and play ideas can go a long way in nurturing this essential skill.

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links, which means that I earn a minuscule (< 5%) commission if you purchase.

Reader interactions.

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September 18, 2020 at 8:02 am

Loved all the games which you have shared with us. Perfect way to engage kids in such fun games for long hours which helps to nurture their overall growth. In this world of technology. where kids are inclined more towards playing online or video games, which affects their physical as well as mental growth. I think it the responsibility of parents to involve kids in games or activities which helps to improve their overall development. Saved your entire list of games to incorporate these in regular kids play. Thanks for sharing such an awesome list of games with us.

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November 5, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for sharing this amazing article.

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January 18, 2021 at 5:05 pm

Such an amazing article. After reading this article I am helping my baby kid to know more about those 10 games. And I hope she enjoys it. Thanks

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May 20, 2021 at 7:10 am

Nice Article. Critical thinking is important skill to improve many learning and life skills. Critical game is an effective ways to develop critical thinking skill in children.

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5 Activities for Your Child That Teach Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is one of the most crucial life skills to have. It not only builds a strong character, but also creates a wise person that is humble, and successful. However, most schools are not able to nurture critical thinking abilities due to a standardized syllabus. Yet, as a parent, you can nurture your children to think critically with some activities that you can do at home.

Here are some examples of activities that you and your children can start on right away!

1. Creating art.

Encouraging your child to express their thoughts through artistic outlets is an incredible way to nurture critical thinking skills. As children draw pictures or compose music to express things they might not know how to do in words, this requires a degree of critical thinking skills.

Practicing artistic skills and nurturing creativity is an indispensable activity for children to build their critical thinking skills. It is by no means a simple task. This is one of the many factors as to why art has been highly valued throughout history.

2. Solve puzzles together.

Puzzles are proven to be a great activity for children to build their neurons up. Whether it is Monopoly, tic tac toe, connect 4, jigsaw puzzles, snakes and ladder, and many others, your child will actively be building their critical thinking skills by playing these games.

Through puzzles and brain teasers, your child slowly learns how to formulate strategies, understand the fundamentals of game theory, and gradually build up these skills until it is second nature.

When it comes to puzzles, your presence is also incredibly important. These puzzles might seem daunting and unenjoyable if you let your child play alone, but it can become a fun and wonderful bonding experience when you are playing together.

3. Teach them how to create a hypothesis.

You can actively teach your child how to come up with their own ideas and theories when you are spending time with them. For example, if you are reading them a story, you could stop halfway through and start to question them about things such as what do they think about the characters, what do they think will happen later and why do they think so. Ask them how they feel the story would finish.

Impromptu and open-ended questions such as these give your child the chance to think logically, and outside the box. Sometimes, their creative answers might even surprise you! Encourage them, ask them open-ended questions, and give them ample time to come up with a great answer.

You could even use real-life situations to ask questions like these. For example, if you are having dinner together, you could ask them how they think these noodles were made, and what was the process involved. Or if you are stuck in traffic, you could ask them if they have any input on how they would fix congestion problems if they were the prime minister.

4. Play with building blocks.

Building blocks and LEGOs are great toys to build critical thinking. The endless possibilities allow your child to let their imaginations loose. By building various things with them, you are also encouraging them to utilize more of their brainpower to bring their ideas to life. From dinosaurs and buildings to space ships and model homes, as your child builds their imaginations into reality, they are actively firing up those neurons throughout the whole process.

You can also achieve great results by playing Minecraft with them. Essentially a virtual world made out of building blocks, you and your child have a great bonding experience that is both fun and educational. If Minecraft isn't your thing - programs like Engineering For Kids encourage creativity and critical thinking in their STEM camps, classes, and events.

5. Real problems, pretend play.

Bring up a real-world problem such as world hunger or global warming to pretend play and ask them to think of solutions. For example, if they were the president of the United States of America, how would they solve these issues? Such games allow children to learn about their surroundings and be aware of their environment, while also critically thinking about the issues and how to work around them.

These games also allow your children to understand the real challenges that are faced by people in the world. Through your encouragement, you can even motivate them to not only think heavily about these problems but also actively think of solutions, which might have an incredibly beneficial impact on their future careers and ideologies.

Critical thinking is the key to success

Critical thinking abilities are crucial in order to achieve success in life. It allows an individual to live their life to the fullest and to always think ahead of their actions and the consequences that will come. By nurturing critical thinking skills in your children, they will undoubtedly have a bright future ahead.  

critical thinking activities ks3


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