Use Board Games to Teach Critical Thinking Skills
If I had to pick one method for teaching critical thinking skills, I would choose games. Why games? Games are entertaining, and they don't feel like you're "doing homeschool." Plus, using games to teach critical thinking skills works. Even if they weren't so much fun, the successful teaching and learning nature of games makes them a clear winner in my homeschool curriculum plan!
My family played countless board games, card games, indoor games, outdoor games, and even games that required each of us to use our entire bodies.
For several years, Fridays were designated "math game" day, and the kids happily pushed the math text aside in lieu of the more exciting frolic in imagination and strategic thinking. Little did they realize that Mom was up to her sneaky tricks to make learning fun; they never suspected that they were actually acquiring and improving their critical thinking skills each time they tackled a new game. Today, Meredith is away at college, but she made sure to pack a couple of her favorite games (Anomia & Mexican Train), and like most young men today, Connor is still a computer game fanatic.
Use a Game Compendium
When I was preparing for a recent speech club meeting, I came across an excellent gaming resource for teaching children critical thinking skills at the local library called The Reader's Digest Treasury of Family Games. You can't get a new copy at amazon anymore, but you can find a used copy or maybe, like mine, your library stocks it. I wish I'd had this 250 page book when the kids were still little!
Divided into categories like "race games" and "pencil and paper games," the Treasury is easy to navigate to find the perfect one of more than 200 of the world's most popular pastimes. Each game is rated according to difficulty; for example, it might say "for young children," "ages 7 and up," or " for adults and older children" making it easy to locate appropriate challenges. Many of the games can be played in a short window of time making the temptation to put down the text book in exchange for a quick critical thinking exercise attractive.
Favorite Board Games for Little Kids
Favorite Board Games for Older Kids
Create Your Own Games
Another good way to teach critical thinking skills is to have your child create his own game. And just think...your kid is thinking about how to create his own game before he even resumes thinking to play the game. Brilliant.
He can come up with it from scratch or adapt an existing critical thinking game. For instance, if he's familiar with the game Scattergories, all he'd have to do is come up with new content. You could ask him to use content that was related to some other topic that he was studying like history. Wouldn't he giggle with delight if he put together a game that was full of details that stumped Mom and Dad? He might just decide he likes creating his own games!
If you decide to create your critical thinking skills games from scratch, you might want to check out the math games book that I used: Games for Math by Peggy Kaye. I used this teaching resource for several years, and every game was very easy to recreate using simple household items like posters, markers, coins, or dry beans.
What are your favorite family games for teaching children critical thinking skills? Share your favorite homeschool games in the comments section below.
P.S. Here's another option for teaching critical thinking skills (like this free science lesson plan on molecules).