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Group Critical Thinking Games And Puzzles

Specifically, questions 2,4 and 6 evaluate the knowledge or ideas the reader has on general topics, to a certain degree, rather than testing his reasoning skills. For instance, if I am aware, that human walking speed is somewhere in the range between 5-10 km/h, while most cars can move at a speed between 100 km/h-200 km/h, while I also know that the cruise speed for airplanes used in commercial flights is somewhere around 850km/h, etc. then there is no doubt I would place such options correctly when asked to order them from slowest to fastest. In order to give the right answer to this kind of questions, you only have to possess the piece of knowledge on a given topic and be able to recall the data, while the amount of actual reasoning thereafter is close to zero.( I can also agree with "Andra" user on the issue with question 6, i.e. volume of a creek). So they can hardly be described either as "critical thinking puzzles" or "puzzles" at all. Regarding the rest of the questions (1,3,5 and 7), they mostly call for the knowledge of definitions of respective items, where once again, as long as you know the definitions, you can automatically give at least one correct answer to them. Problems arise if you don't possess the necessary knowledge, but that's a different story. In any case, these 4 questions, similar to the other 3 can hardly evaluate your "critical thinking" skills.

An example of a low level "puzzle" to evaluate your critical thinking skills would be e.g. some variety of multiple choice test. A more complex alternative would be a text where you have to identify the issue(s), the conclusion(s), evaluate the consistency of the argumentation backing up the conclusion(s), reach your own conclusion about the authors conclusions...A somewhat different in nature and at the same time more abstract example would be to solve a mathematical problem or to prove a mathematical theorem.

I think an important idea is that, although we all inherently possess at least a bit of critical thinking capacity, so to speak, in order for this to make any sense at all you must develop critical thinking as a skill, much like you learn a language or mathematics...it's not about playing to see if you got something right or made an error per se, it's about acquiring and incorporating it as a habit for everyday life.

"Critical thinking" isn't primarily about knowing anything in particular. It has more to do with doubt and skepticism about information you have to deal with rather than with possessing or memorizing any particular piece of information. Critical thinking is mainly about the skills necessary to rigorously analyze and filter the incoming information, whatever it happens to be, and since we as humans made our verbal communication the most prestigious language to use, critical thinking is, as a matter of fact, mostly about the capability to evaluate the soundness of arguments of some sort.

So if you want to develop good critical thinking skills, the first option is reading some basic literature on the topic (there are many books of varying degrees of difficulty, although mostly accessible to "laypeople", treating specifically the topic of "critical thinking"). Ideally, you would want to study logic, which is basically the foundation of all critical thinking, paying special attention to fallacies, both formal and informal. If that doesn't happen to satisfy your thirst, then you can continue with the argumentation theory, the scientific method, cognitive science... epistemology, philosophy of science, mathematics (with its undeniably rigorous nature).

But for "beginners" and for those interested in the topic, you can check out the introductory books on critical thinking by Richard Paul (mentioned in this article) Richard Parker, Stuart Keeley, Debrah Jackson, Tracy Bowell and many more. There's a very short and simply written book, called "Being Logical - A Guide to Good Thinking" by D.Q. McInerny, which is probably a good choice if you want something simple and concise, but which I personally wouldn't recommend except for absolute beginners and only as a starting point before taking on some better and more comprehensive textbooks.

10 Team-Building Games That Promote Critical Thinking

by TeachThought Staff

One of education’s primary goals is to groom the next generation of little humans to succeed in the “real world.”

Yes, there are mounds of curricula they must master in a wide breadth of subjects, but education does not begin and end with a textbook or test.

Other skills must be honed, too, not the least of which is how to get along with their peers and work well with others. This is not something that can be cultivated through rote memorization or with strategically placed posters.

Students must be engaged and cooperation must be practiced, and often. The following team-building games can promote cooperation and communication, help establish a positive classroom environment and — most importantly — provide a fun, much-needed reprieve from routine.

10 Team-Building Games That Promote Collaborative Critical Thinking

You can purchase a classroom-ready version of team-building games that promote critical thinking here.

1. If You Build it…

This team-building game is flexible. Simply divide students into teams and give them equal amounts of a certain material, like pipe cleaners, blocks, or even dried spaghetti and marshmallows.

Then, give them something to construct. The challenge can be variable (think: Which team can build the tallest, structurally-sound castle? Which team can build a castle the fastest?).

You can recycle this activity throughout the year by adapting the challenge or materials to specific content areas.

Skills: Communication; problem-solving

2. Save the Egg

This activity can get messy and may be suitable for older children who can follow safety guidelines when working with raw eggs. Teams must work together to find a way to “save” the egg (Humpty Dumpty for elementary school students?) — in this case an egg dropped from a specific height. That could involve finding the perfect soft landing, or creating a device that guides the egg safely to the ground. Let their creativity work here.

Skills: Problem-solving, creative collaboration

3. Zoom

Zoom is a classic classroom cooperative game that never seems to go out of style. Simply form students into a circle and give each a unique picture of an object, animal or whatever else suits your fancy. You begin a story that incorporates whatever happens to be on your assigned photo. The next student continues the story, incorporating their photo, and so on.

Skills: Communication; creative collaboration

4. Minefield

Another classic team-building game. Arrange some sort of obstacle course and divide students into teams. Students take turns navigating the “mine field” while blindfolded, with only their teammates to guide them. You can also require students to only use certain words or clues to make it challenging or content-area specific.

Skills: Communication; trust

See also: 10 Team-Building Games For A Friendlier Classroom

5. The Worst-Case Scenario

Fabricate a scenario in which students would need to work together and solve problems to succeed, like being stranded on a deserted island or getting lost at sea. Ask them to work together to concoct a solution that ensures everyone arrives safely. You might ask them to come up with a list of 10 must-have items that would help them most, or a creative passage to safety. Encourage them to vote — everyone must agree to the final solution.

Skills: Communication, problem-solving

6. A Shrinking Vessel

This game requires a good deal of strategy in addition to team work. Its rules are deceptively simple: The entire group must find a way to occupy a space that shrinks over time, until they are packed creatively like sardines. You can form the boundary with a rope, a tarp or blanket being folded over or small traffic cones. (Skills: Problem-solving; teamwork)

7. Go for Gold

This game is similar to the “If you build it” game: Teams have a common objective, but instead of each one having the same materials, they have access to a whole cache of materials. For instance, the goal might be to create a contraption with pipes, rubber tubing and pieces of cardboard that can carry a marble from point A to point B in a certain number of steps, using only gravity.

Creative collaboration; communication; problem-solving

8. It’s a Mystery

Many children (and grown-ups) enjoy a good mystery, so why not design one that must be solved cooperatively? Give each student a numbered clue. In order to solve the mystery — say, the case of the missing mascot — children must work together to solve the clues in order. The “case” might require them to move from one area of the room to the next, uncovering more clues.

Skills: Problem-solving, communication

9. 4-Way Tug-of-War 

That playground classic is still a hit — not to mention inexpensive and simple to execute. For a unique variation, set up a multi-directional game by tying ropes in such a way that three or four teams tug at once. Some teams might choose to work together to eliminate the other groups before going head-to-head.

Skills: Team work; sportsmanship

10. Keep it Real

This open-ended concept is simple and serves as an excellent segue into problem-based learning. Challenge students to identify and cooperatively solve a real problem in their schools or communities. You may set the parameters, including a time limit, materials and physical boundaries.

Skills: Problem-solving; communication

While education technology is a basic and crucial component of the 21st century classroom, educators must still ensure that students are engaging with each other in meaningful ways. Team-building exercises are a great way to do this, and because of this, they will never go out of style.

See Also: 10 Team-Building Games To Promote Critical Thinking 

Aimee Hosler is a writer and mother of two living in Virginia. She specializes in a number of topics, but is particularly passionate about education and workplace news and trends. She hold a B.S. in Journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and is a contributor to several websites including OnlineSchools.com; 10 Team-Building Games For Kids, Teenagers, or Adults