Miss B.'s Classroom » Teaching critical thinking skills

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Category Archives: thinking games

Thinking activities and games that encourage creative thinking

This is one FANTASTIC site!

I recently came across an awesome educational site that uses computer games to reinforce basic academic skills, plus it provides many fun and creative thinking activities. You will want to check this one out! The site categorizes their games, ‘K thru 5th grade,’ but many of the ‘K’ games can be used for pre-k, and I’m still trying to master one of the 5th grade activities!:)

If you are a parent, grandparent or teacher – this ones for you!  (Oh, did I mention the word - free?) Let me know what you think about it.

It’s so rewarding when we can help our children to think…imagine…create!

Miss B.

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A Pumpkin Patch of Thinking Activities for Fall

Welcome leaves, pumpkins and fresh apple cider!

I think that you’ll enjoy using each of these fall creative thinking activities. They will turn those ’down and boring times’ into highly productive and creative ones. It’s amazing that such a small, fun-filled investment of your time pays such big dividends in your child’s thinking abilities!

Ever heard of a Pumpkin Tree?   (A fall Making a Mind Movie scenario)

You are looking out of your window one fall morning and are so surprised to see that a new, very strange tree has just appeared in your backyard. It definitely doesn’t look like any tree that you’ve ever seen before. You also notice that it has a very weird shape to it and that it’s leaves are not green. But the most amazing thing is: there are tiny pumpkins growing on all of it’s branches and each pumpkin has two eyes and a mouth! What are you going to do? Should you be afraid? Is it a plant or an animal? Have you just discovered a new species?

Think about it – - – - then share your ’mind movie’ with your family. ( It would also be fun to create a movie poster.)

What a Pumpkin!?!?

How many different ways can you think of to decorate a pumpkin? Together with your child, brainstorm various ways that they could transform a plain pumpkin into an  “original-for-sure-no-one-else-thought of this” work of art. Then have your child make one or more of these creative pumpkins to help decorate your home for fall. You can use paints, ribbons, yarn, leaves, feathers, or any other art supplies that you can think of.  Beautiful or wacky, silly or stylish, who cares because it’s an original!

Have fun reading: Jeb Scarecrow's Pumpkin Patch
Your children will love this story about a very clever scarecrow who uses his creative thinking skills to outwit a flock of crows that are trying to destroy his family’s pumpkin patch.  After reading the story, have your children think about other ways that Jeb could have saved the pumpkin patch from the pesky crows.



Pumpkin Jokes  :)

What is huge and orange and good at math? (The Great Pumpkin with a calculator)

How does a pumpkin get down from a tree? (He sits on a leaf and waits for the fall)

Why did the pumpkin paint her toenails red? (So she could hide in an apple tree)

How do you mend a broken pumpkin? (With a pumpkin patch)

What is as big as the Great Pumpkin but doesn’t weigh anything? (His shadow)

What vegetable does a pumpkin turn into when an elephant steps on it? (Squash)

What if…

What if pumpkins were an animal instead of a fruit? What would yours look like? Would it be a pet?

What if pumpkins were no larger than grapes, would they still be useful?  Why or why not?

That Many?

How many words can you and your children come up with using only the letters found in ‘a tasty pumpkin pie’. What are the shortest and longest words that you thought of? Can you make a sentence from the letters?

Would You Rather Be….

This activity is great to use anytime or anywhere. You simply ask, “Would you rather be a _____ or a _____? Why?

Here are some fall choices to begin the fun, but your children will soon be coming up with their own:

  • pumpkin or apple
  • leaf in a tree or leaf on the ground
  • decorated pumpkin or jack-o-lantern
  • carmel apple or pumpkin pie

Creative thinking activities like the ones above help and encourage your children to become CREATIVE THINKERS, which leads to all kinds of success, but I’ll leave THAT for another blog post!;)

I hope you enjoy this colorful season of autumn with your children as you inspire them to think…imagine…create! 

Miss B.

 

Creative Activity | Make a Mind Movie

Your children will love the opportunity to fantasize about and then star in their own “movie” by using this creative activity.  Making a movie in their minds will capture their imaginations and spark their creativity!  They’ll never guess that they are actually using five of my ‘Top 10 List’ of creative thinking skills (imagining, creating, perceiving, elaborating and performing) when they come up with their own unique scripts!

Here are the simple steps for creating a ‘mind movie’ with your children.

  1. Set up the “movie” scenario.  This is so much fun because you get to use your skills of imagining and performing. You get to set the stage for the magic to begin!  In your most dramatic voice, and using those skills of elaboration, set up a scenario like this: “We were sitting at home watching TV one day, when suddenly a news-flash came on.  The announcer said, ‘All parents must immediately stop what you’re doing and go do something very special for your children.’  Then you ask your kids, ”What would you want me to do for you?”
  2. Your children begin making up a movie in their mind of what they wish you would do for them.  You may need to use a few prompts at first, just to give them some ideas of where to go with their movie.  (i.e. “Where do you want me to go?  What am I going to do for you?  How will you feel after I do something special just for you?”)
  3. Give them time to think.   “Losing track of time” is OK in this activity. :)
  4. When they are ready, ask them to share their ‘Mind Movie’ with you.  You’ll be in for an experience of pure delight and fun!

S-t-r-e-t-c-h those brain cells even farther by having your children design and create a movie poster announcing their new ‘Blockbuster’.  It is a wonderful way for them to be able to remember and share their ‘Mind Movie’ with family and friends.

Here are three more scenarios for other mind movies.  With imagination, you and your children will also be able to come up with oddles of blockbuster movie scenarios.  Please share some of them with me!

  • You are outside one night looking at the stars.  All at once you see two huge, round lights coming slowly across the yard.  What in the world is happening?
  • You are playing a game on your iPad and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get to the next level.  All of a sudden you hear one of the game characters talking to you.  Are you going crazy? What is happening?
  • You are a little mouse that has sneaked aboard the Mayflower.  You just heard the Captain tell his crew that there are 5 mean cats on the ship.  How are you going to keep out of the way of those cats?

The stars of this activity are your children.  Celebrate with them as they “think…imagine…create”!

Miss B.

p.s.

I’ve used this process many times as a pre-writing activity and have always been surprised and pleased with the unique narrative stories that were produced.  Usually, I would give 3 scenarios and after considering all of them, the children would choose one prompt as their inspiration for a  ”mind movie”.  The students often told me how much it helped, because they were able visualize their whole story (beginning, middle, end)  before they even picked up a pencil to write.

Thinking Game | If You Were…

I have used this great ‘kid tested’ thinking activity for years and it never fails to excite a child’s sense of imagination.  Plus, it provides countless possibilities for using and building up imaginative and creative thinking skills.

You start by asking a question like: “If you were a person no bigger than your thumb, what could you use a shoebox for?”  Some of the answers that I have gotten in the past were, “I would use it to make a bedroom. I could make a car with it.  I would make a look-out tower so my cat couldn’t sneak up on me.”  After you have explored several options for the shoebox, you could change the item to be used to:  a flower, a hamster ball, some Legos, a pencil, a rock or some string.

Sometimes your children may need a ‘jump start’ to begin the imagining process and it helps if they can hold their thumb up to the actual item that you’re talking about (i.e. a shoebox or a flower).  This will visually spark their imaginations into action.  Once your children get the hang of it – watch out – you’re in for some crazy, silly answers; but then, isn’t that the fun of it?

A great extension for this activity would be to actually take a shoebox, and have your children design and create a place for the imaginary ‘thumb high’ person to live.  Encourage them to make some of their own props (out of clay, blocks, paper, etc.) and then to use any other articles that they might find from inside and outside your home.  This activity will take the skill of imagination to a whole new level, because your child is now designing and creating a finished product that is a new invention.

Here are some other examples of “If You Were” questions:

  1. If you were a mouse, what could you use a stick for?
  2. If you were stranded on an island, what could you use a leaky boat for?
  3. If you were a monkey, what could you use an umbrella for?

If you come up with some other creative “If You Were” questions, please share them below or on Miss B.’s Facebook page!  Have fun while you “think…imagine…create”.

Miss B.

Thinking Game | How Many Things?

This creative thinking activity is pure fun for the whole family.   It won’t cost you a penny and takes absolutely no time to prepare!  With just a few minutes a day,  you’ll be helping your children experience the excitement of brainstorming and creative thinking.  Another great benefit to you, is that this activity can be used anytime, anywhere, or anyplace.  It truly helps you turn wasted minutes into thinking ones.

You begin by coming up with a single characteristic, such as a color, shape or texture.  Then you ask:

“How many things can you think of that are red?”  (Other characteristics might be: small, round, slimy, stripped or sour.)

Now you and your children will begin the fun of thinking out loud.  (Later, to get the creative juices flowing even more, add a pair of characteristics such as: green & eatable, fast & furrysoft  & cuddly.)

learning game how many things can you think ofOf course, you can continue to increase the difficulty level of this activity by simply adding another characteristic or two.  (This depends on the ages and interests of your children.)  Questions for school age children might even come from their science books, such as: ’How many things can you think of that are brown, have four legs & are carnivorous?  How many things can you think of that crawl, bite & have an exoskeleton?’

Here are a few tips that might help:

  • start simple
  • encourage many different responses – giggles are welcomed and encouraged!
  • you are also brainstorming and giving answers right along with your children
  • let each child come up with their own characteristics
  • think… imagine… create!

Miss B.