Growing Bookworms – Activities to teach children critical thinking skills

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse facts and form a judgement.

In order to develop critical thinking skills, the following characteristics need to be fostered:

  1. An attitude of open mindedness, respect for evidence and reasoning, and the ability to see things from different perspectives and points of view;
  2. The ability to make a statement or decision based on supporting evidence;
  3. The ability to use reasoning skills to come to a logical conclusion. In other words, the ability to infer an outcome based on the facts and arguments presented;
  4. The ability to analyse information to assess its truthfulness. In other words, an ability to determine what is believable based on the facts and circumstances, and what is not.

Critical thinking skills help children learn how to work independently and solve problems.

Activities for teaching children critical thinking skills

  1. Creating art – when you express yourself using an artform, music or drawing or painting, you show an emotion or thought without using words and this encourages critical thinking.
  2. Games and puzzles – these activities help children learn to formulate strategies and understand how to approach a game with a plan of action.
  3. Reading books – while readings books, ask the child about the activities, thoughts, and emotions of the characters in the stories. Let them volunteer how they think a character will react to a certain situation and ask them how they think the story will end. This teaches the child to consider various options and outcomes and come up with theories.
  4. Real problems – modern children are exposed much younger to the problems of the world such as drought, hunger, and global warming. Discuss these issues with your child and help them consider possible solutions. The ability to find solutions to problems is a great skill and also encourages positivity and a sense of control. It is encouraging to think there are potential solutions to big issues.
  5. Building blocks – playing with lego and building blocks helps children to sift through endless possibilities, decide on one, and implement it. If it fails, they can try again.

My blogging friend, Norah Colvin, ex-teacher and developer of Readilearn Early Childhood Teaching Resources, recently shared an excellent post called Teaching thinking in the early years with itc thinkdrive. This post offers teachers some excellent resources for teaching critical thinking skills. You can read Norah’s post here: https://www.readilearn.com.au/teaching-thinking-in-the-early-years-with-itc-thinkdrive/

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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43 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – Activities to teach children critical thinking skills”

  1. Jane Risdon says:

    Fascinating, thanks. We were taught at school to question everything, listen and debate. Everyone’s opinion is valid and due respect. How things have changed in the Woke world of today. Great article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jane, we weren’t taught to question anything. We were just given big stretches of text to study, especially in History. Teaching methods vary vastly now depending on the resources of the country and community.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jane Risdon says:

        How sad. I used to drive my parents mad. They grew up in the 30s and were ‘taught,’ not engaged in the why or where and how etc. We had debating societies at school, we had a POV to debate and then swopped POV and debated the alternative arguments. Fun. My Eng Lit and Lang master was a former actor, so English was amazing. We read, discussed, wrote a precis and often comprehension about the books. In depth discussion about plots, what an author was conveying and so on. History, former male ballet dancer. No homework, he spoke without notes, no blackboard. We took notes. Explained and discussed. Fun. Art, the same and so on with every lesson. Hated maths, the master was nice and a former Olympic long distance runner. He explained until he was blue in the face, maths, to me. LOL. Chemistry, physics and biology were fab. It depends on the era and the school I guess. We were lucky. We had to learn the why to be able to say we understood a subject for exams. the 1960s in the UK were not times of wealth, but the teachers were often ex-army or had a vocation. It showed.

        Liked by 2 people

        • HI Jane, I think you got the best of teaching in the UK during your school career. My mom has fond memories of school and she was a war baby. Her memories revolve around food though – smile. Make no mistake though, my mom and her siblings were all smart and they still are even though they are now in their 80s and 90s.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Jane Risdon says:

          An amazing generation. Mum is 92, her remaining sibling 86. Mum did her lessons in an Anderson shelter with gas mark on most of the war. They went without and made do and mended. My Nan acould turn a blanket into a coat and nothing into something to eat. Mum;s education ended aged 14 and she went on to be a dispenser all her life. They were not snowflakes. Yes, no waste of food/or anything else has been passed to we children of the 1950s too.

          Liked by 2 people

        • My mom and her siblings are the same. I’m wondering if we might all be headed back in this direction with the chaos of the current world.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Jane Risdon says:

          Back to the caves if some have their way. Not a happy thought. x

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Staci Troilo says:

    What a change from the “children should be seen and not heard” mandate I grew up with. I always encouraged my kids to think critically, and now I get to see my granddaughter learn the same as she grows. Excellent advice, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Staci, both my parents had Victorian-styled upbringings like you. We were four girls and my dad encouraged us to be free thinker and have opinions. He was quite progressive with women’s rights for his generation. My sons think so much, and have such strong opinions, they sometimes wear me out.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    This month’s Growing Bookworms article discusses critical thinking skills and activities to develop them in children. Thanks for hosting Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Darlene says:

    I agree with all of these points, Robbie. Critical thinking is such a valuable skill that will take young people far in life.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. beetleypete says:

    Shared both posts on Twitter, Robbie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. olganm says:

    Simple and easy to implement but very useful strategies, as always, Robbie. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So much to think about, when raising children. And for those who were not raised with honed critical thinking skills, I truly believe it is not to late to learn!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Excellent strategies for developing critical thinking skills in children. It has become increasingly apparent to me in the last few years that critical thinking isn’t just a way to get good grades in school and move up the career ladder. In today’s world, it’s a survival skill.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Carla says:

    These are all great ideas for parents to try at home with their children instead of them playing video games. Wonderful time together while developing some great skills. I love these ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Kerfe says:

    I remember teachers who were open to questioning and some who were not. I think now we are reverting to a universal fear of asking questions though, when we need critical thinking more than ever. At least here in the United States, there is a lot of pressure from people who want schools to teach only one point of view, a totally unquestioning conforming one that is evangelical Christian based. I’m glad my children are adults and I don’t need to fight for their right to a good education.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kerfe, this is an interesting comment. Most government schools are no longer religious but rather teach about different religions for purposes of greater understanding and cultural and religious awareness. Many school curriculums are outcomes based and involve a great deal of personal analysis and duel sided debate from the learners POV.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. petespringerauthor says:

    Critical thinking is perhaps the most crucial academic skill kids learn at school. It was sunny when discussing something in current events as many of the upper elementary students had adopted their parents’ views by that point. In some cases, it felt like their parents could have been talking. I always tried to get my students to consider different points of view and learn to be open-minded. One of the teaching lessons I incorporated was several examples where the original belief of humans proved wrong after we collected more information.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You were, and still are, a great teacher, Pete. Teachers need to be open minded and accepting of diversity. I went to a convent for my primary school years. Strangely, Sister Agatha was quite open minded and gave me excellent books to read for my personal development.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. petespringerauthor says:

    * it was funny, not sunny. 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Toni Pike says:

    Fascinating tips, Robbie – absolutely vital skills. Toni x

    Liked by 2 people

  14. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please enjoy this excellent post featuring Robbie Cheadle!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jim Borden says:

    lots of good advice here on how to develop such an important skill. and I also enjoyed Norah’s post on ithinkdrive…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Jennie says:

    This is excellent, Robbie. You touched on everything that’s important. Your suggested activities are exactly what children need. I also really enjoyed Norah’s post.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. This is such a great post and so vital to instill in the minds of children today. It’s not easy with parents that are so busy and can’t even check in on their kids homework due. My daughter struggles with this as and 8th grade science teacher.
    It’s important to pass along these skills to train the generations to come, to think.
    ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Cindy, it is difficult for double full time working parents. I struggle too. I sat with Michael for over an hour every night last week helping him to catch up the work he missed due to being sick. It goes much quicker for him if I help. Children are a full time job.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Norah says:

    Great suggestions, Robbie. It is extremely important to encourage children to be creative and think critically. Thank you for linking to my article and mentioning thinkdrive too.

    Liked by 2 people


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