Fun Critical Thinking Activities

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81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities Engaging Activities and Reproducibles to Develop Kids’ Higher-Level Thinking Skills by Laurie Rozakis SCHOLASTIC ROFESSIONAL OOKS P B New York Toronto London Aukland Sydney 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Introduction Today’s students will inherit a complex and rapidly changing world, a world in which they’ll be required to absorb new ideas, examine and interpret informa- tion, apply knowledge, and solve unconventional problems. To deal with the information explosion of the twenty-first century, students will need to develop systematic ways of thinking and reasoning. Critical-thinking skills will be essen- tial. What is critical thinking? It’s the ability to: • solve problems • make products that are valued in a particular culture • be flexible, creative, and original • think about thinking • locate the appropriate route to a goal • capture and transmit knowledge • express views and feelings appropriately Effective critical thinkers use one or more of the seven multiple intelligences identified by Dr. Howard Gardner: 1. verbal/linguistic 2. logical/mathematical 3. visual/spatial 4. bodily/kinesthetic 5. musical/rhythmic 6. interpersonal (the ability to work cooperatively in a group) 7. intrapersonal (self-identity) Research indicates that critical thinking is neither inborn nor naturally acquired. In fact, fewer than half the adults in America today have the ability to reflect upon their thinking and explain how they solved a problem. Fortunately, critical thinking can be taught and learned. This book, and its companion volume for younger grades, will help you teach students to reflect upon their own thinking processes and become more successful, active learn- ers. Both professional educators and parents can use this book to help children learn to think critically. In our daily lives, we use many critical-thinking skills simultaneously—and not in any prescribed order. For the purposes of this book, however, the critical- thinking activities are arranged in a hierarchy, beginning with the skills of 4 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resourcesrecognition and recall and working up to the more advanced skills of analysis and synthesis. This arrangement will help you and your students more clearly understand and identify the specific critical-thinking skills they are using. For each thinking skill in this book, there are two kinds of activities: (1) those that you, as the teacher, will lead, and (2) student reproducibles for indepen- dent work. On the introductory pages for each section of the book, you’ll find ideas for introducing and using the student reproducibles. You can use the Try This activity at the bottom of each reproducible as an extension of the lesson, a challenge activity, or a homework assignment. Here are some ways you can use the lessons to help students become more effective thinkers: 1. Read each activity aloud or have a child read it aloud to the rest of the group. 2. Allow children ample time to think and respond. 3. Ask students questions to assess their understanding of the problem. 4. Welcome different strategies for solving the problem. Encourage divergent thinking. 5. Observe children as they work in order monitor their problem-solving skills. 6. Give helpful hints to those children who are having difficulty finding ways to approach the problem. 7. Guide children to link the problem to others they have already solved. 8. Encourage children to check their work. 9. Help children explore their thinking and identify the strategies that worked—and those that didn’t. 10. Invite students to share their results. Since critical thinking doesn’t end when an individual project does, you will want to give students sufficient time to evaluate their thinking strategies. Guide students to formulate ways they might adjust their critical-thinking strategies with the next problems they solve. Finally, model critical thinking for students by sharing your own problem-solv- ing strategies and accepting unusual and unexpected strategies and solutions. Your participation as an active learner will further reinforce the critical-thinking skills you teach. Above all, encourage your students to see themselves as thinkers. 5 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Recognizing and Recalling Activities To begin thinking critically, students must first learn to recognize and recall key information. These skills are important for the mastery of higher-level skills such as classification, inferring, and analyzing. The activities in this section will help students tap their prior knowledge to iden- tify and remember key facts. You can present each of the following activities as a complete lesson or integrate the activities into lessons in different curriculum areas. The section begins with the easier activities and concludes with more diffi- cult ones. Instructions for teacher-led activities appear on the same page as the activity. Use the teacher notes that follow for the student reproducibles. Cross-Curricular Links Activity Page Content Area Time Capsule 8 language arts Mind Squeeze 9 language arts Trivia Trackdown 10 math, science/social studies Wordplay 11 language arts Making a Menu 12 science/health Recycled Words 13 language arts What Am I? 14 language arts/science/social studies Arctic Facts 15 science/social studies Antarctic Facts 16 science/social studies What’s Up & What’s Down? 17–18 science/social studies Transformations 19 mathematics Teacher Notes for Student Reproducibles Page 9: Mind Squeeze This activity tests students’ observation and memory skills. After the class com- pletes the reproducible, discuss various strategies that students used to recall the items on the page. For example, they might have memorized them in rows or columns; they might have classified them into groups. Page 10: Trivia Trackdown Trivia Trackdown is a great way to sharpen students’ recognition and recalling skills. You might begin by having students complete this page independently or with a partner. Then have the class research general information on science, 6 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources art, music, literature, sports, geography, history, and other subjects. Students can write questions on index cards with the answers on the back. Collect the cards and divide the class into teams. Have the teams line up on different sides of the room and take turns answering the questions as you call them out. Award points for correctly answered questions. Page 11: Wordplay Before students begin this page, you might want to review the parts of speech— noun, pronouns and verbs—essential to a sentence. Invite students to read their word lists and paragraphs aloud to the class. Page 12: Making a Menu You may wish to have students work with partners to complete this page. Encourage the teams to share their “menus” with the class. Page 13: Recycled Words Before assigning this page, review what students know about open and closed compound words. Point out that compound words can also be proper nouns. Page 14: What Am I? After students complete the page, work with the class to come up with more definitions for other words beginning with h. Students might also enjoy acting out some of their definitions. Page 15: Arctic Facts This page helps students recognize, recall, and organize facts. It also gives them practice in extrapolating important information from a passage. Encourage stu- dents to paraphrase the information they include in the web. Page 16: Antarctic Facts This page is similar to page 15. Completing the web will help students recog- nize, recall, and organize facts from a nonfiction passage. Discuss with the class why these are important skills. Pages 17–18: What’s Up and What’s Down? Students will need to review the information on pages 15 and 16 before playing this game with a partner. Encourage the teams to make up additional questions for others to answer. Page 19: Transformations This page calls for students to use shape, size, and color to identify a pattern. You may wish to complete the first item with the class to be sure students understand what they are expected to do. 7 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching ResourcesTime Capsule Here’s a unique way to use literature to help your students recog- nize and gather key ideas. Begin by selecting a novel or short story that the entire class has read fairly recently. Write the title and the name of the main character on the chalkboard. Then ask students to list six to ten items from the book that were impor- tant to the main character. This can be done individually or in small groups. If the students read Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, for example, the list might look like this: Next, ask students to put themselves in the main character’s place. As the main character, which of these items might they want to save in a time cap- sule? What other items might they add? Have each student create a short list of things they would put in a time capsule for the main character. Stu- dents should be able to explain their choices. You can expand this activity by having students make real time capsules for characters in other books and stories or for themselves. What items might best express other characters’ personalities—or their own? What items best capture the fictional or real experience? You might want to create a class time capsule. Ask each student to contribute one item. Then bury the cap- sule somewhere on the school grounds. 8 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources hatchet bow and arrow airplane cave fire lake fish emergency transmitter raspberries Name _______________________________________________________________ Mind Squeeze Take two minutes to look at the words and objects on this page. Then turn the page over and see how many you can recall. Good luck HOMEWORK STUDY SUMMER VACATION GOOD RAINBOW SUNGLASSES LUNCH D Do o I It t A Ag ga aiin n Repeat the activity. Can you improve Try This your performance? 9 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ Trivia Trackdown How many of these questions can you answer? 1. How many squares are there on a checkerboard? 2. What is the name of Mickey Mouse’s dog? 3. What kind of animal is Babar? 4. What was the name of the Wright Brothers’ airplane? 5. What is the capital of New York? 6. What do frogs have in their mouths that toads don’t? 7. Who was the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court? 8. What nations border the continental U.S. on the north and south? 9. Who created The Cat in the Hat? 10. How many queen bees are in each hive? 11. Who was the second president of the United States? 12. How many teaspoons make up a tablespoon? 13. What two states share Kansas City? 14. Who is the Friendly Ghost? 15. Name the Great Lakes. 16. Who painted the “Mona Lisa”? 17. What substance inside corn makes it pop? 18. How many sides are there on a snowflake? 19. How many wings does a bee have? 20. How many pints are in a quart? T Th hiin nk k o of f A An no ot th he er r Think of another trivia Try This question for a classmate to answer. 10 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ Wordplay Imagine you live in a world with only 20 words. You can use these 20 words as much as you want, but you cannot use any other words at all. In the space below, list the 20 words you’d pick: 1. ___________________ 11. ___________________ 2. ___________________ 12. ___________________ 3. ___________________ 13. ___________________ 4. ___________________ 14. ___________________ 5. ___________________ 15. ___________________ 6. ___________________ 16. ___________________ 7. ___________________ 17. ___________________ 8. ___________________ 18. ___________________ 9. ___________________ 19. ___________________ 10. ___________________ 20. ___________________ U Us se e Y Yo ou ur r W Wo or rd ds s Now, write a paragraph using Try This only your 20 words Make sure your paragraph has at least five sentences. 11 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ Making a Menu It’s dinner time, but what are you going to eat? Complete this page to help you think of a menu. Food that begins with b: Food that grows below ground: 1. ______________________________ 1. ______________________________ 2. ______________________________ 2. ______________________________ 3. ______________________________ 3. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ Fast food: Food that grows on trees: 1. ______________________________ 1. ______________________________ 2. ______________________________ 2. ______________________________ 3. ______________________________ 3. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ Food that is white: Now, list your five favorite foods: 1. ______________________________ 1. ______________________________ 2. ______________________________ 2. ______________________________ 3. ______________________________ 3. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 4. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ 5. ______________________________ F Fa av vo or riit te e F Fo oo od ds s Make a graph showing the five Try This favorite foods of your classmates. 12 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ Recycled Words You probably recycle cans and newspapers, but did you know that you can recycle words too? You can use the same word to make many different words and phrases. For example, you might use the word ice to make the words ice skate, iceberg or ice water. For each row, add the same word on the lines to make new words. Example: coat check coat room coat of arms 1. lash brow sight 2. mark mine scape 3. born England Year’s Day 4. work test block 5. around away off 6. shape wreck yard 7. bow coat dance 8. storm plow shoe 9. pen house room 10. roll shell nog U Us se e t th he e W Wo or rd ds s Use the words that you Try This made in sentences. 13 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ What Am I? Below is a list of definitions for words that begin with the letter h. See how many you can guess. Words That Start With h 1. Balls of ice that fall from the sky ________________ 2. A 17-syllable Japanese poem ________________ 3. Not whole ________________ 4. A patty of chopped beef ________________ 5. An allergy to grasses and weeds ________________ 6. The organ that pumps blood ________________ 7. A great person; someone people admire ________________ 8. Opposite of low ________________ 9. The study of past events ________________ 10. A country known for its tulips ________________ D De ef fiin ne e I It t Write a definition for each of these h words: Try This hello, handkerchief, horse. 14 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ Arctic Facts Read the passage about the Arctic. Then fill in the web with facts from the passage. Include at least three facts for each heading. The Arctic is a large region of the Wildlife in the Arctic includes earth around the North Pole. This wolves, polar bears, foxes, many birds, region includes the Arctic Ocean, caribou, lemmings, voles, walrus, and Greenland, Iceland, thousands of Arctic hares. The most common Arctic smaller islands, and the northern parts fish is the char, a kind of trout. of three continents: North America, The Arctic climate is harsh. Tem- Europe, and Asia. Many of the inhab- peratures can reach 70 degrees below itants are Eskimos, people native to freezing in the winter. Blustering winds the region. Still others are Lapps, make the weather even more bitter. Yakuts, and Chukchi. Summers are short and cool. People Location 1. ________________ 1. ________________ 2. ________________ 2. ________________ 3. ________________ 3. ________________ ARCTIC Animals Climate 1. ________________ 1. ________________ 2. ________________ 2. ________________ 3. ________________ 3. ________________ A Ad dd d M Mo or re e Add another circle to the web. Label it Try This “Plants”. Then find three facts to put in the circle. 15 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ Antarctic Facts Read the passage about the Antarctic. Then fill in the web with facts from the passage. Include at least three facts for each heading. Antarctica is the continent at the With the exception of a few insects, South Pole. Antarctica is surrounded Antarctica has no animal life on its by three oceans—the Atlantic, Pacific, land. However, penguins, seals, and Indian. It is the fifth largest conti- whales, krill, and seabirds thrive in the nent and the coldest place on Earth. oceans around the continent. Likewise, Because it is below the equator, winter few plants besides mosses grow on the ice-covered land of Antarctica. in Antarctica takes place when it is No people live permanently on this summer in the United States. Metal continent, but Antarctica is known for shatters like glass in the brutal Antarc- its scientific stations. Many nations, tic winter. Temperatures drop to 120 including the U.S., Chile, Norway, below zero; a person without the right Great Britain, and Australia have large clothing would freeze solid in just a few research centers where scientists minutes. Winds gusting up to 200 miles study earthquakes, gravity, oceans, per hour come screaming down the ice, and weather conditions. tearing into the piles of snow. Location Climate 1. ________________ 1. ________________ 2. ________________ 2. ________________ 3. ________________ 3. ________________ ANTARCTIC Wildlife Science 1. ________________ 1. ________________ 2. ________________ 2. ________________ 3. ________________ 3. ________________ L Le ea ar rn n M Mo or re e Find out about the first Try This people to explore Antarctica. Add another 16 circle to the web to show what you learned. 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Name _______________________________________________________________ What’s Up and What’s Down? See how much you learned about the Arctic and Antarctic by playing this game with a partner. Here’s how: 1. Cut apart the cards, shuffle them, and place them in a stack facing down. 2. Take turns picking a card and asking your partner a question. 3. If their answer is correct, pick another card and ask another question. If they answer incorrectly, they pick a card and ask you a question. 4. The player who answers the most questions correctly wins. What continent is the What is the coldest Who lives at the North South Pole on? place on the earth? Pole today? What large birds live At which Pole can you find Who lives at the South near Antartica? wolves, foxes, and polar Pole today? bears? F Fiin nd d M Mo or re e Use a book to find more Try This animals that you can add to this page. 17 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources visiting scientists only the North Pole penguins mostly Eskimos, the South Pole, Antarctica Yakuts, Lapps, Chukchi Antarctica Name _______________________________________________________________ What kinds of plants What is a char? In what region of the grow at the South Pole? earth would you find Greenland? What oceans surround In which region would you Which region includes Antarctica? expect to find temperatures parts of other continents? 120 degrees below zero? What do scientists What animals live perma- What is the fifth largest study on Antarctica? nently on Antarctica’s land? continent? W Wr riit te e a a Q Qu ue es st tiio on n Make up a question of your own Try This about the Arctic or Antarctic. Have your partner answer it. 18 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Antarctica none, only insects earthquakes, weather con- ditions, gravity, oceans Arctic Antarctic Indian, Pacific, Atlantic Arctic a kind of trout mostly mosses Name _______________________________________________________________ Transformations Study the first pair of shapes in each example. Think about how A changes into B. Then look at C. Which of the six numbered shapes changes in relation to C in the same way that A changes to B? Find that shape. Circle the number of your answer. 1. A B C 1 2 3 456 2. A B C 1 2 3 456 3. A B C 1 2 3 456 4. A B C 1 2 3 456 5. A B C 1 2 3 456 6. A B C 1 2 3 456 E Ex xp plla aiin n Write a sentence or two to tell why Try This you chose the answer you did. 19 19 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Distinguishing and Visualizing Activities When students become skilled at distinguishing between important and unim- portant data and visualizing problem-solving strategies, they naturally develop more logical and effective patterns of thinking. The activities in this section will help students learn to identify specific items and form strong mental images. Use the chart to help you relate the activities in this section to your class cur- riculum. In general, the easier activities appear at the beginning of the section, and the more difficult ones follow. Instructions for teacher-led activities are on the same page as the activity. Notes for using the student reproducibles follow the chart. Cross-Curricular Links Activity Page Content Area Set the Scene 22 art/language arts The Qqqqqooooo 23 art/language arts Tight Fit 24 art/mathematics Within a Word 25 language arts Real Estate 26 social studies/ mathematics Tricky Twins 27 art/mathematics Stargazing 28 science Triangle Challenge 29 mathematics Tangrams 30math/multicultural/ art How Do You Hide an Elephant? 31 language arts Magic Words 32 language arts Anagram Adventure 33 language arts Origami 34–35 multicultural/art Teacher Notes for Student Reproducibles Page 23: The Qqqqqooooo As a follow-up to this activity, you might have students write a story about the creature they create. Invite students to share their artwork and stories with the class. 20 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Page 25: Within a Word In this activity, students must visualize the word bar in other, longer words. Follow up by having students write a sentence using each of the words they identify. Page 26: Real Estate Before students complete this page, you might want to discuss the term real estate to make sure everyone knows what it means. Follow up by talking about the variety of homes pictured and how and why homes differ around the world. Page 27: Tricky Twins To further enhance students’ visual skills, have them describe each pair of cats that they identify. Page 28: Stargazing Follow up by having students find at least one fact about each of the names on the puzzle. Page 29: Triangle Challenge Before students begin working on the page, have them identify the kind of trian- gle they see (equilateral). What other kinds of triangles can students name? What other geometrical shapes? Page 30: Tangrams Have students identify the geometrical shapes that make up the seven tangram pieces. Create a bulletin board display with the tangram pictures students make. Page 31: How Do You Hide an Elephant? Point out to students that they can use the hidden word idea as a code. Chal- lenge them to write coded messages. Page 32: Magic Words In this activity, students must visualize and rearrange letters into different word configurations. Challenge students to use the new words in complete sentences. Page 33: Anagram Adventure This page builds on the activity on page 32. However, students are now asked to rearrange letters to create more than one word. Again, encourage students to use the words they create in complete sentences. 21 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources Set the Scene One way to enhance student’s visualization skills is to have them create dioramas or other three-dimensional representations of spe- cific scenes from literature. Ask students to bring in shoe boxes. Begin the activity by reviewing the stories, poems, novels, and plays the class has read during the year. Discuss scenes that are especial- ly dramatic. List some of these scenes on the chalkboard. Then invite students to select a scene to bring to life. They may want to sketch the scene on a piece of paper before transforming it into three-dimensional form. Students can use construction paper and small objects such as pebbles, sticks, and blocks in their scenes. Encourage them to experiment with depth and space by placing figures and objects in the background, middle ground, and foreground of their scenes. Students can use strips of fanned paper to anchor the figures and objects. 22 81 Fresh & Fun Critical-Thinking Activities © Laurie Rozakis, Scholastic Teaching Resources

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