Critical thinking skills are necessary in order to be able to solve problems.

In large national surveys, teachers tell it like it is: “Critical thinking is one of the most difficult skills to teach students. “ Critical thinking requires students to ask questions and respond to information, not just accept it.

Most teachers say textbooks are very weak on teaching critical thinking. So, where can they turn? High quality supplemental tools, combined with inventive teaching, can help fill that gap!

Teaching critical thinking skills

 Collaborate & communicate

  • Provide opportunities for students to work cooperatively. In these situations, they can share ideas and learn from each other.

Be creative!

  • Get “little engineers” constructing with a building set. They’ll need to think critically as they experience key math and science concepts, especially cause and effect.
  • Practice 21st Century skills with a class newspaper or blog that the students help to format, produce, and publish.

Ask why!

  • Instill in children that “Why?” is a powerful question. An awareness of personal bias along with a little skepticism is crucial when it comes to evaluating and authenticating information.
  • Encourage students to ask why as they are reading: Why is the character doing what they’re doing? Why did the author have the character do what they did?
  • When a student gives an answer to something, ask them why they think that. Have them defend or prove their response. Discuss the difference between fact, opinion, and judgment.

Analyze and interpret!

  • Use graphic organizers to give students opportunities to organize, outline and structure information first, and then have them present their ideas.
  • Reinforce the notion that children should experiment, examine, compare and contrast everything. Conduct mini-experiments in a sensory way or allow kids to investigate their world up close with a digital microscope.

Try project-based learning

  • Have the class plan a mock trip to a country of their choice. Spend a semester on the project, and then wrap up with a dramatization. They can explore how to book their travel online, apply for their passports, plan each day’s itinerary and much more.
  • Hand over a REAL problem to your students that your school or community would like to solve. Maybe your school lunches need a healthy overhaul, or your town library wants to redesign its children’s area. Let your students investigate, plan and own the solution…and even participate in implementing it if possible!

No matter which way you decide to teach critical thinking skills, have fun with it!


Learning is Where We Play: