Gone are the days where children were expected to memorize facts and recite them at any given time. Instead, it is hoped that children will develop critical thinking skills so that they can analyze situations, think about different outcomes, and present well-reasoned conclusions. To help children develop critical thinking skills, there are some apps, tools, and resources. Here is a list of the top seven.
- Guess the Code
While this app is presented as a game, it is actually a great way for children to look at patterns and sequences, and try to figure them out. The app generates different color combinations, and it is up to the user to decipher the pattern and enter the next color.
Physics can be a daunting subject, but the new way of approaching it makes physics more of a hands-on subject that gets students to engage in problem-solving actively. SimplePhysics provides games and puzzles that test the limits of students’ critical thinking skills.
- A Clockwork Brain
This app has a range of games in such categories as memory, attention, language, reasoning, and dexterity. Critical thinking is strengthened as children must work quickly to solve the problems before moving on to more challenging puzzles.
- Civilization VI
Now in its sixth iteration, this modern computer game is not just fun; it’s actually a place for children (and adults) to use the full extent of their imagination and critical thinking skills. The game starts with the dawn of humans, and it is up to the player to help them achieve civilization through each time period. Users must decide what it takes for a culture to evolve and this is no easy task.
- Whooo’s Reading
One of the most important steps in the journey towards critical thinking is the ability to read and interact with books. Reading is more than just memorizing letter combinations. It is about understanding the motive behind characters and the importance of setting. It is about connecting plot developments with real life and making connections between the two. To help students engage more when reading, Whooo’s Reading is a program that works to connect books at a deeper level. As a result of this program, students often increase their love of reading and as a bonus, do better on reading exams.
Social media has become pervasive in today’s culture, and while platforms like Twitter and Instagram can lead to more harm than good for most youth, social media can be used to an educator’s advantage. Edmodo provides a platform for students and teachers to engage in collaborative projects that help to foster creative thinking skills. It is a tool that can be used to bring students’ ideas together.
- Highlights Every Day
This app is a nostalgic treat for anyone that eagerly awaited their monthly Highlights magazine subscription. Updated for today’s technological world, Highlights Every Day is an app that features engaging puzzles, stories, and videos.
Critical thinking should be fostered because it creates students who actively engage in the world around them. It prepares children for a world where they will become adults and will need to navigate life. Critical thinking skills can be developed in fun, creative settings through the use of these apps, tools, and resources.
Critical thinking is an important aspect of learning. Understanding something is more than repeating facts, it’s being able to apply what you know in different forms. The practice of getting students to do this requires a shift from learning by receiving information to turning that information into something else, like a diagram or a storybook.
These five simple tools allow you to inspire critical thinking in your students. Encourage them to take the information you’re giving them, and show what they know with mind maps, puzzles and more!
Discovery Education: Puzzlemaker
Students can use Discovery’s Puzzlemaker suite of tools to make customized word searches, letter tile puzzles, hidden message games and more. Use this as a vocabulary activity station. Students pair up and create a puzzle for their teammate to solve using the words they’re learning that week.
This gives both students a chance to work with vocabulary in a new and fun way that requires extra thinking and problem solving.
Mind mapping is a valuable tool to facilitate critical thinking, and technology has made it easier than ever to bring this into your classroom.
Use MindMeister, a simple and easy to implement mind mapping tool, to encourage students to think about a topic, lesson, problem or subject from every angle. This activity helps them look at the whole picture with a critical eye, rather than just studying the facts that are being taught in the curriculum.
Check out this compilation of inspiring educational mind maps, which cover topics like grammar, geography and reading comprehension.
Answering open-ended questions is a simple way to facilitate critical thinking with students. However, many reading comprehension tools only allow students to answer multiple-choice questions, rather than requiring them to formulate their own answer.
Whooo’s Reading, an online reading log, not only requires students to answer open-ended questions, but every automatically prompted question is Common Core-aligned, so you can be sure your students are thinking about the text in terms of the various reading and writing anchors.
Learn more about how this tool has helped more than 10,000 teachers improve their students’ reading comprehension at the Learn2Earn teacher blog.
Neo K12: Flow Chart Games
While this tool only has pre-defined flow chart games, in a variety of categories ranging from life sciences to the human body, you can use them to inspire critical thinking where appropriate.
For example, use flow chart games when exploring photosynthesis. Students have to drag and drop the various stages in the right part of the cycle. Require each student to write what each part of the cycle is about for a complete interactive thinking activity. Note that use of this this tool requires a monthly subscription.
This online business tool was not made for the classroom; however, students can use it to map out the visual representation of a process, adding notes, colors and details to show their knowledge of the topic. All diagrams are saved in your “Online Diagram Library” so students can access this content when studying for an exam or to show their parents.
You also have access to a large database of pre-made diagrams. Use these as supplementary materials for a lesson you’ve already written or as examples of what you expect from students with their own diagram.
This is a guest post by Jessica Sanders. Jessica is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn, an online fundraising platform that allows students raise money by reading books. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.