Category Archives: Critical Thinking

My Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps

I thought this might be a good time of year to summarize and emphasize some of the most valuable resources I have reviewed so far.  Today, I would like to offer my Favorite Strategy/Problem-Solving Apps:

#3:  Solitaire Chess Free – I reviewed this as a tangible game provided by www.mindware.com, but it is available as a free app as well.  This is a great way for children to learn how the chess pieces move, and to train themselves to think ahead.

#2:  Isle of Tune – You can play this for free on the web, or you can download the app for $2.99.  As it is a music app, you might question why I include this app in the Strategy/Problem-Solving category.  But, I think there is a lot of problem-solving involved in trying to figure out how to use the tools to compose your song.

#1 – Bubble Ball – This is the most requested app during Center Time or indoor recess in my classroom.  It is fun to stand near a small group of students who are playing this app as they discuss the strategies for getting the ball to the flag using the different tools provided at each level.  I still can’t believe this app is free, as it has provided endless engagement for my students at every grade level.  Another thing that I like about the app is that every level has several solutions.

Here are my original posts on each of these:  Solitaire Chess, Isle of Tune, and Bubble Ball.

Holiday Logic

I apologize to those of you who may not celebrate Christmas, as these puzzles all fit that theme.  I did look for online logic puzzles to represent the other winter holidays, and sadly did not find any that would be appropriate for this post.  I will try to be more prepared next year!

The following links are to online, flash based games that require strategy and/or logic.  They would make good centers for the last few days before the break if you are in the same boat as the teachers in our district, who are teaching into next week.  Parents, here is a way to keep your kids challenged over the holidays.  Remember, the games will be most effective if there is an accompanying reflection, whether written or verbal, about the thinking that is used to complete each puzzle.

Christmas Tree Light Up – Connect all of the bulbs and wires to light up the tree.

The Christmas Tree Maze – Drag the bar of lights at the bottom of the tree along the maze of white wires until one of the end bulbs lights up the star at the top.

Christmas Ornaments Swap – Try to get 3 or more Christmas decorations of the same type in a row.

The Centered School Library

If you are a librarian, or know a librarian who needs a Christmas gift, you should definitely “check this out!” This book, written by our very own school librarian at Fox Run, Cari Young, is a great resource for anyone who is interested in creating a library that is truly an inviting place to learn.  The Centered School Library includes ideas for twelve learning centers that incorporate library skills and are guaranteed to engage your K-5 students!

Mrs. Sunda’s Literature Links

If you are trying to allow some of your students who are reading at a higher level to work independently, you might find these literature units helpful.  There are only 6, but they include discussion guides written with Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind.  Another great thing about these materials is that they were created by students.  Not only could some of your students work through the units, but they could use them as examples for developing some of their own.  While you are visiting Mrs. Sunda’s site, check out some of her other links.  Many resources are given for teachers, including a link to a detailed article explaining the process behind the literature units.

Word Cloud Alphabet Book

I found this example on KB Connected.  You can see more examples and find the link to Mr. Zetterberg’s site on her blog post.  This idea could easily be modified for higher grades or more advanced students by using more challenging words or asking them to create their own books.

Mini Motivation

I’m not sure to whom I should attribute this site, but Mini Motivation is a handy tool for posting inspiring quotes during down times on your projector screen.  Every time you hit refresh, a new quote comes up.  It might be a good activity for high level students to research the quote’s author, explain the quote in his or her own words, find a way to relate it to the current curriculum, explain his or her own opinion, or even illustrate the quote.

Word Sort

Word Sort is one of the many “brain games” offered by Lumosity.  In this particular one, cards are revealed one at a time.  Each card has a word on it, and the player must determine whether or not the card “follows the rule”.  At first, the player has to randomly guess, but should soon see a pattern in the words that fall into the rule-following pile.  Once the player is able to correctly classify 6 words in a row, he or she is eligible for the next level.  This is a good game for practicing vocabulary and logical reasoning.  It would also be  a neat idea to extend it further for higher level students by asking them to create their own games with words from the curriculum.