Miss B.'s Classroom » Teaching critical thinking skills

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Brainstorming 101/ Jump-start Your Child’s Thinking

When I asked one of my 2nd grade classes if they knew what brainstorming was, Amy came up with this definition:

“The fun activity where you get to share lots of ideas without being afraid you’ll get laughed at.”

Amy hit the nail-on-the-head, so to speak. Brainstorming is a process that will literally jump-start your children’s thinking skills into high gear; because, it gives them the confidence to express their unique and imaginative ideas without any fear of rejection.  It is the seriously fun and creative part of any problem-solving activity. Merriam-Webster Word Central defines brainstorming as: “a technique used to solve problems and encourage creativity in which members of a group share their ideas about a subject.” This skill plays an extremely important role in both the critical and creative thinking processes.

This skill plays an extremely important role in both the critical and creative thinking processes. That’s because it builds on the knowledge and experiences that your children already have and then encourages them to come up with a variety of new and unique ideas. This then enables them to solve their own problems more independently. Brainstorming helps your children become innovators, not imitators!

As adults, we have to consider a wide variety of options (brainstorm) all the time. For example, we might talk and dream about the all the places we want to visit on vacation next year; or, we try to figure out how we can possibly get all three kids to their different activities at 4:00 this afternoon. Fast forward twenty years. Your daughter, Sally, has her first job in a major toy company. The managers have put her on a team that’s in charge of developing a new interactive video game. With the brainstorming skills you’ve taught her, she will be able to play a vital part in the creation of this new product. Tommy, your son, has just figured out how to bring more people into his small business by using the same skills of brainstorming that he practiced at home. It is a valuable problem-solving technique for your children now and in the future!

 The guidelines for the brainstorming activities in Miss B.’s Classroom are simple:

  • First, someone asks a question or states a problem. For example, ”Grandma’s birthday is next week. What can we do to make it special for her?”
  • You encourage the responses to flow. The more the merrier! (i.e. “Good idea! Can you think of another way?” “Wow! What else?”)
  • Every idea, no matter how unique or zany, is accepted. Creativity thrives in your acceptance! :)
  • It’s ‘fair game’ to build onto someone else’s suggestions. If one child suggests making a card and another wants to draw a picture of flowers, then you can combine the ideas and create a beautiful card to give Grandma. (This is especially helpful for younger thinkers.)
  • The whole family, from 2 to 102, has an opportunity to express their own creative opinions and ideas.

Some of the rewards for you and your children are:

  • Your child will discover the fun of looking at a problem or puzzle from many different angles.
  • Learning and practicing this skill will give your child a brighter future by giving him/her a valuable problem-solving tool.
  • The bond your family will experience, by thinking together and sharing ideas, will be amazing. Being able to share ideas freely, without being made fun of (like my student Amy said) really does develop trust and confidence!

Most of the brainstorming activities found on Miss B.’s Classroom will be focused on fun, imagination, and creativity; however, the skills that are learned can be used to solve many of the problems, academic or real-life, that your child might face now or in the future. The practical made fun as you think . . . imagine . . . create!

Miss B.



MissB - Thanks for your comments, Chris. I’m so new at the ‘blogging business’ that I forget that every word counts! You are right! We don’t want to suggest that one idea is good and another bad. My intent was to encourage the responses to keep the ideas flowing. Perhaps I should have suggested some others phrases such as: ‘You’re thinking’ or ‘Keep it up.” It also could be that we have different styles in dealing with our students. I’m an old softie. :)

Chris McNaught - I’m enjoying your site, even though I’m not a teacher or even in public education any more. I used to be a school counselor working at the elementary and middle school levels.

My comments is about your possible responses to the brainstorming activity, ie., “Good idea!” When I had students participate in brainstorming activities, I avoided the use of praise, and reminded them, “While we’re brainstorming there are no good or bad ideas – just ideas.”

My response was more often, “That’s one idea. Do we have anymore?”

Just a thought for you.

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