Thinking Skills and Problem-Solving Teaching Resources
The suggested resources, picture books and videos support the teaching of thinking skills strategies, including critically and creatively solving problems.
Thinking Skills and Problem-Solving in the Classroom
According to the IB learner profile, effective thinkers “use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. [They] exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.”
Critical thinking is a necessary skill for children. We use thinking skills strategies every day. In the classroom, this involves thinking independently and being able to critically and creatively solve problems. They should have opportunities to analyse and evaluate information and draw their own conclusions. It is also important for children to be open-minded and listen to the opinions of others while still drawing their own interpretation.
Check out the post 25 of the Best Books for Thinkers and Problem-Solvers for more great book suggestions.
Characteristics of Using Thinking Skills Strategies
We can also be on the lookout for balanced traits in our students. The characteristics, which will exhibit in different ways depending on their age, including:
- Using knowledge to solve problems independently
- Predicting outcomes
- Thinking things through
- Making good decisions
- Trying new ways
- Making mistakes and trying again
- Recognising breakthroughs
- Using trial and error to find a solution
Key Benefits of Being a Critical Thinker
Teaching critical and creative thinking skills strategies will help your students perform better in school. Other benefits of critical thinking skills and problem-solving include:
- evaluate information and making reasoned decisions
- assessing strength and weaknesses independently through self-reflection
- analysing ideas and making connections
- developing creativity
- asking questions, testing their theories and making changes.
- using empathy to develop effective collaboration and cooperation skills
- improving comprehension skills
- developing self-directed and self-monitoring skills
- considering other perspectives and making more analytical decisions
- becoming an effective communicator
Resources for Teaching Thinking Skills Strategies
In this section, you will find resources to support your teaching of thinking skills and problem-solving strategies. You will find a list of books, short videos, online resources and reading questions.
Thinkers Picture Books
These books present independent and effective thinkers in different situations. They illustrate the characters:
- solving problems independently
- making reasoned and thought out decisions
- predicting outcomes
- analysing ideas and evaluating information
- thinking creatively and critically
- considering other perspectives than their own
- effective communicating
- working collaboratively
After the book suggestions, there is a list of questions you can use during a read-aloud session.
Thinkers Discussion Questions
- Describe the different ways the characters were effective thinkers and problem-solvers
- Which character was the more creative thinker? Why?
- How did [character] solve the problem? What strategies did they use?
- Why do you think [character] was an effective problem solver?
- Why did [character’s] idea work in the end? Did they think about how their decisions would affect the outcome and other characters?
- Did [character] make good decisions? Is there anything they could have done differently?
- Did [character] work independently to solve the problem or did they work collaboratively? Was this the best strategy?
- Does a thinker have to be brave, risk-taker….?
- Did their decision making surprise you? Were they creative in their thinking?
- How did [character’s] way of thinking impact the outcome of the story?
- How could the [character] have done things differently?
You can also ask open-ended questions to evaluate your students critical and creative thinking. Here are a few examples:
- Why do you think that? Explain your thoughts.
- Describe how you came to that answer/conclusion?
- Tell me more about your idea/results/opinion.
- How could you improve on your ideas? Could you use different methods or strategies?
- Are there any other ways to show your idea/results/opinion?
Thinkers and Problem-Solvers Online Resources
- 1001 Inventions: Discover a Golden Age – Inspire a Better Future
- A Mighty Girl: 20 Women Inventors You Should Know
- British Council: How to use inquiry-based learning with young learners
- CBeebies Grown-ups: Why asking questions is important
- Christchurch City Libraries: Inventions
- Edutopia: Inquiry-Based Learning: The Power of Asking the Right Questions
- National Inventors Hall of Fame: Search for an inventor’s biography
- National Geographic Kids: Brain Games video playlist
- Novak Djokovic Foundation: Riddles – The Way of Fostering Your Children’s Thinking
- PBS Parents: How to Help Your Five-Year-Old Build Social Problem-Solving Skills
- Psychology Today: Teaching Children to Think
- Under 5’s: Why ask kids open-ended questions
- Centre for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation: Teaching problem Solving
- Edutopia: Resources and Downloads for Teaching Critical Thinking
- Engineering for Kids: Curriculum Levels – Inspiring the Next Generation
- The Foundation for Critical Thinking: Lesson K-3
- Global Digital Citizen Foundation: 10 Great Critical Thinking Activities That Engage Your Students
- Inventors of Tomorrow: Hands-On Science & Engineering Education for kids
- National Parks Service: Teaching with Historic Places – The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison’s Laboratories
- PBS Kids: Design Squad Lesson Plans
- PBS Kids: Invent It, Build It
- Scholastic: Creating Curious Thinkers
- Scholastic: How Children Solve Problems
- Scholastic: Steps to Problem Solving
- STEM activities for Kids: Thinkers Who Tinker – Women Inventors
- Teach Wire: ‘Never Give Up’: Growth Mindset Advice & Lesson Plan For KS1 Maths
- The Teaching Center: Asking Questions to Improve Learning
- We Are Teachers: 10 Tips for Teaching Kids to Be Awesome Critical Thinkers
Thinkers Discussion Videos
These short videos can be used as discussion starters for talking about thinking skills strategies. Watch the video before playing them to your students. Some of them are simple while others are more complex or abstract.
How do you teach critical and creative thinking skills strategies in your classroom? Do you have any effective resources or book suggestions? Tell me about it in the comments!
Remember to check out the post 25 of the Best Books for Thinkers and Problem-Solvers.
- 25 of the Best Books for Thinkers and Problem-Solvers
- IB Learner Profile Children’s Books and Resources
- 6 Brilliant Ways to Promote Kid Inventors in the Classroom
- Children’s Books about Inventors Perfect for Teaching STEM
- Discover the Benefits of Picture Books for Older Readers
- 7 Reasons Why Wordless Picture Books are so Powerful
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