Now that we’ve explored what critical thinking is and why it matters, it’s time to talk about building those skills. Wabisabi Learning has developed a number of resources you’ll find useful for critical thinking skills development including:
Beyond that, we’ve sourced a number of games and activities that are easy to implement in your classrooms. These activities are designed to engage learners in critical thinking on multiple levels.
The following critical thinking games build team work skills and collaborative capacity. Not only that, your students will love them. You can find these inside our most sought-after resource The Critical Thinking Teacher’s Companion.
This fun collaborative team-building exercise develops aspects of Solution Fluency, Creativity Fluency, and Collaboration Fluency. Each group of students constructs a free-standing tower out of newspaper and tape.
It’s a fun and challenging activity that encourages critical thinking and problem-solving. Which team can build the tallest, structurally sound free-standing tower? Throughout the process, students will start to realize there are questions they have that they didn’t ask. This is a perfect time to get them to explore how to answer these questions for themselves.
There isn’t a time limit for this exercise unless you want to establish one.
In a crisis situation, teamwork is crucial to handling challenges effectively. Fabricate a scenario in which students need to work together and solve problems to succeed (ex: stranded on a deserted island, being lost at sea, trapped in an abandoned building, etc.). The rule is that every team member must contribute an idea for a possible solution.
For example, they may want to come up with a list of 10 must-have items that would help them survive, or devise a plan to find a passage to safety. Arrange for them to vote so that everyone agrees to the final solution.
Arrange the class into teams of 3-4 people and give them a period to map out a plan for how they want to improve something around the school. Have each team present their idea at the end of the period or beginning of the next. Finally, vote on each idea, and then see if you can all find a way to put that idea into practice.
Below is a list of scenarios to present for students to discuss and debate. They are based primarily on ethics and morality, and will encourage students to take a stand and defend their viewpoint. These can be done in pairs, but are much more compelling with larger class debate teams where views are divided.
Richard finds an expensive looking ring in the school hallway one day. It has no name on it and it’s not near anyone’s locker. Should he:
Judy’s friend is stressed about an upcoming test. If she fails the test she’ll be kept back a grade and won’t be able to graduate with Judy and her other friends. Judy already took the test and got 100%, so she knows all the answers already. Should she:
Nick overhears two students bragging about having posted some inappropriate images of a female student online for a joke. He is friends with both boys but has recently heard that they’ve done similar things to a few other female students in the past. Should he:
You witness a bank robbery and follow the perpetrator down an alleyway. He stops at an orphanage and gives them all the money. Would you:
A friend tells you that he/she has been receiving anonymous bullying messages online. They explain the bullying has affected their grades because they’re having trouble focusing due to fear and depression. You suspect that certain people are guilty of sending these messages.Would you:
Enjoy these other critical thinking games and exercises from Facing History.