Miss B.'s Classroom » Teaching critical thinking skills

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  • Welcome!

    Imagine the possibilities of developing a home environment that encourages and strengthens your child's creativity and innovation. Imagine a world where your child loves to think and explore, and you love providing him or her with effective and endless opportunities to do so.

    With 41 years of teaching experience and a sincere love of children, Miss Barbara, of Miss B.'s Classroom, wants to share tips and activities with you to help incorporate creative thinking skills into the daily lives of your children. You'll love the magic of thinking anywhere, anytime, anyplace!

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.

 

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d - fun project

Thinking Story | The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows

This is a great fall activity for homeschoolers, preschoolers, or any parent wanting to encourage creative thinking at home. You can use it when studying about the fall season, apples and seeds or when doing creative art projects. My grandmother used to tell this story to me and I can still remember my feelings of pure delight when she revealed the astonishing end. Your whole family will be intrigued and surprised when you share with them this story, that’s in the form of a riddle, ‘The Little Red House With No Doors and No Windows’.

For your younger thinkers, it may work better if you paraphrase the story into simpler language. They will still get to enjoy the surprise ending!

Before you can tell your story though, you’ll need:

  • a large red apple (the larger the apple, the bigger the star)
  • a cutting knife
  • some way to conceal both items until you’re ready for the surprise ending (i.e. under a towel)

ENJOY this European Folktale . . . Then download the free printable for easy retelling at the end of the story!

Once upon a time there was a young boy who played all day long. One day, he got so bored with his own toys and games, that he asked his mother, “What can I do?” His mother, who was full of wonderful ideas, told him, “I know about a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside. Why don’t you try to find it?”

The boy’s eyes grew wide with wonder. “Which way shall I go?” he asked. “How can I find the little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?”

“Go down the lane, past the farmer’s house, and over the hill,” said his mother. “Come back as soon as you can and tell me all about your journey.”

So the young boy started down the lane. He hadn’t walked very far, when he came to a girl who was dancing and singing in the sunshine. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?” asked the boy.

The little girl laughed and said, “No.  I don’t know. But why don’t you ask my father. He’s a farmer and he might know.”

So the young boy walked on until he came to a big, red barn. The farmer himself was standing in the doorway looking out over his green pastures. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?” asked the boy.

The farmer laughed and said, “I’ve lived a long time and I have never seen one. But ask Granny who lives at the foot of the hill. She knows how to make molasses taffy, popcorn balls, and red mittens. Perhaps she can help you.”

So the young boy walked on until he saw Granny sitting in her pretty garden of herbs and flowers. “Please dear Granny,” said the little boy,  “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?”

Granny was knitting a red mitten, and when she heard the boy’s question she laughed. “I would like to find that little house myself,” she said. Perhaps you should ask the wind, because the wind goes everywhere and I’m sure it can help you.”

The young boy waved good-by to Granny and began walking up the hill. He was beginning to wonder if maybe his mother had made a mistake about the ‘Little Red House’.  Suddenly, the young boy felt the gentle wind at his back and he called out, “Wind!  Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows and a star inside?”

The wind replied, “WHOOOOOO!  WHOOOOOOOO!   WHOOOOOOOOOO!” which sounded like, “Come follow me!” to the young boy. So he chased after the wind through a grassy field and into an apple orchard. Here the wind blew at the top of an apple tree and gently shook a large, rosy red apple to the ground. The boy picked up the shiny apple. It was so big that it took both of his hands to hold it. Then he knew! He ran all the way home, grasping his apple tightly in his hands.

“Mother! Mother!” he called as he entered his house. “I found it! I found the little red house with no doors and no windows!  But Mother, I don’t know if there is a star inside.”

Mother took the apple (reveal your apple) and very carefully sliced it in half (cut the apple horizontally). “Oh, now I see the star!” exclaimed the happy little boy. I asked the farmer, I asked the little girl, I asked the granny, but only the wind could help me solve the riddle of  the little red house with no doors and no windows.” (Show your children the star inside the apple.)

Click HERE to download a printable of this story, “The Little Red House with No Doors and No Windows”

Miss B.

p.s. Your children can extend their creative thinking and performing skills by illustrating the different scenes from the story and then retelling it to someone they love.  It is fun for older thinkers to draw their illustrations in a ‘comic strip’ format and then add in some conversation bubbles. :)

 

 

 

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It’s “Knock-Knock” Time | Creative Activity

“Knock-knock” jokes have been around forever!  I can remember telling them to my family and friends as a child, then enjoying them with my children, and now, my sweet grandchildren love to share them with me.:) But these jokes aren’t just for giggles and laughs.  Did you know you are actually getting three benefits for the price of one in this fun-filled activity?  (You can’t beat 3 for 1!)

With a “Knock-knock” joke, you’re getting:

  • a guaranteed way of grabbing your children’s attention.
  • lots of great moments filled with laughter and fun and occasional groans!
  • a stimulating way of exercising your children’s brains by helping them use their creative thinking skills.
Here are a few of my favorite knock-knock jokes with two answers for each one.  Yes, they are simple, but are meant to be easily understood and changed by your child. If he or she comes up with a new silly variation that brings on the giggles, be sure and share it with me!

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

Bear!

Bear who?

(Bear you been?  I couldn’t find you.) or (Bear are you going?)

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

Hoppin!

Hoppin who?

(Hoppin you’ll have a great day!)  or  (Hoppin we don’t have homework today!)

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

Annie!

Annie who?

(Annie body want some pizza?)  or  (Annie one know where my shoes are?)

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

Ima!

Ima who?

(Boo! Ima afraid of that spooky skeleton!) or  (Ima going outside to play.)

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

Dishes.

Dishes who?

(Dishes your friend, open the door!) or  (Dishes your Mother speaking.)

Knock-knock!

Who’s there?

Lettuce.

Lettuce who?

(Lettuce go shopping for a toy.) or (Lettuce stop telling these Knock-knock jokes!):)

In a later post, I’ll share some easy and effective ways to ramp-up the creative thinking by giving some tips on how to help your children to think . . . imagine . . . and then create their own Knock-knock jokes.

Have fun with these!

Miss B.

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Karina Tuazon - Fun! My Mags is at the perfect age of 4 3/4 to learn some of these! Thanks!

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.

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