Monday, June 25, 2012

Critical Thinking/Logic Studies

By Becca Evenson
It is important to remember that critical thinking is developed with the assistance of someone more advanced than the student.  These activities work best when done with a parent or older sibling; they do not work in a vacuum.  Teaching critical thinking is also difficult if it is not practiced by the adults in the child's life.  Do your children hear you discussing the "pros" and "cons" of a certain activity?  Are current events discussed and reviewed?  Are you careful with the decisions made for your family, or do you take the path of least resistance?  Remember, children learn what they live!
Early discovery learners spend much of their time learning critical thinking skills automatically.  As toddlers, they observe, and then attempt, such tasks as setting the table, building with blocks, or returning books to the shelf, they practice creating patterns, establishing order, and comparing size and shape.  Doing chores teaches them to create order from chaos. The ability to accomplish a job even when they do not want to is a skill that will serve them well when faced with paradoxes and challenges as they learn.

As they grow, find ways to encourage them to classify, match, sequence, and explore.  Look for opportunities to use the following skills:

·         patterns

·         opposites/comparisons

·         classification

·         cause and effect

·         listening counting/ordering sets

Also look for ways to produce or acquire games/activities that allow them to spend time with the following: 

·         nesting cups/building blocks

·         matching games, lotto boards (such as bingo), dominoes

·         phonics/phonograms

·         word games

·         dot-to-dot pages

·         hidden pictures

·         sequencing cards/activities

·         puzzles

·         picture books without words

Critical thinking games to consider for purchase:  (Consider asking for some of these when Grandma wants ideas for birthdays or holidays.)

·         Think-It-Through Tiles (Discovery Toys)

·         Giant Pegboard (Discovery Toys)

·         Playful Patterns (Discovery Toys)

·         Number/picture slide

·         Camelot Jr. (Smart Games)

·         Mighty Mind (Leisure Learning Products, Inc.)

Later discovery learners have already begun establishing a mental picture of the way the world works.  Take that opportunity to introduce activities and habits that will assist them is building a correct, clear concept of the world around them.  Otherwise, they may begin to rely on an odd (sometimes humorous) logic all their own!  Just remember to keep things concrete and literal.  The time for abstract games will come soon enough.

·         Mad-libs

·         word searches (use while they are still learning to spell)

·         brain teasers

·         Encyclopedia Brown books

·         puzzles, tangrams, pentominoes, soma cube

·         word problems

·         I own a game called Drive Ya Nuts (Mattel).  It is no longer available for purchase, but if you look for it on Google , there are a number of sites that have directions for making your own version.

Critical thinking games to consider for purchase (These also work for later learners.)

·         Rush Hour (Thinkfun)

·         Square by Square (Thinkfun)

·         Cuisenaire Rods and books (Cuisenaire Co. of America)

·         Wrap-ups (Learning Wrap-ups)

·         Labyrinth Board Game (Ravensburger)

·         Tilt (Thinkfun)

·         Blokus (Mattel)

·         Izzi (Thinkfun)

·         Cool Moves (Thinkfun)

·         River Crossing (Thinkfun)

Analysis learners are beginning to understand abstract thought, and humor.  They can seem to question everything you say and expect.  Stay calm.  They need to learn how to challenge other's thought processes with courtesy, and logic.  As you talk them through the challenges, you teach them to think for themselves (which is what we want them to do when faced with the world's logic and values!).  Now is the time to introduce current events and opinion as a regular part of their academics.  Go ahead and ask them questions for which they do not have the answers.  Then help them go find them.  You can also encourage their ability to pick things apart with any of the following:

·         logic problems

·         crosswords

·         vocabulary activities

·         grammar study

Critical thinking games to consider for purchase

·         Equate(Conceptual Math Media)

·         Q-Bitz (Mindware)

·         Wrap-ups (Learning Wrap-ups)

·         Visual Brainstorms 1and 2 (Thinkfun)

·         TipOver  (Thinkfun)

·         Rubik's Cube

·         any game listed for later discovery learners

Application learners should be preparing for life after their teen-age years.  Proficiency in expressing themselves with clarity both verbally and on paper should be a major focus of their studies. Continue with the things they were doing previously, simply add the following:

·         editorial writing and analysis

·         formal logic study

No comments: