Your little one is officially a preschooler. She’s making her way out of the impulsive toddler-zone and heading into big-girl-ness right before your very eyes. Every day is a new adventure with so much to learn, see, and do!
The first 3 years of your child’s life are all about gaining the language skills needed to question the world around them. And now that they have all the language they need to ask a MILLION questions a day, your child is ready to spend the next 3 years building his critical thinking skills.
Preschoolers are the perfect candidates for learning critical thinking skills, because they are already so naturally curious. You’ll notice that right around age 3.5, young children have a sudden increased appetite for activities that excite and challenge their thinking and problem-solving abilities.
So start building on your child’s natural curiosity – and give their critical thinking skills a boost – with these 7 easy and play-based activities!
1. “Abra-Ca-Dabra” Memory Game
This game is an absolute favorite in our home. You take 3 objects that are really familiar to the child (that they can easily recognize and name) and place the items in a row on the floor. Take a small towel or cloth and cover the items. Wave your hands over the cloth and say “Abra-ca-dabra!” and as you lift up the cloth, grasp one of the items in your hand (so that only two items remain on the ground). Now ask your child to guess which item is missing. Let him peek inside of the cloth to see if he’s right! This activity facilitates their ability to use logic and make predictions!
2. “Storytelling Bag” Narration Game
Put several miscellaneous everyday objects from around your house into a bag. Tell your child that this is the “storytelling bag,” and together you will be making up a story using whatever is in their bag.
Help your child start the story by saying “Once upon a time there was a ___.” Ask your child follow up questions like “What happened next?” and “What else is in the story?” This activity encourages a higher level of planning in order for the child to weave all of the items from the bag into the plot of the story. For added literacy benefits, write down the words to their story so that they can revisit it later!
3. “Good Idea or Bad Idea” Pretend-Play Game
Children love to play make-believe, and it can also be a great opportunity for developing critical thinking skills. Get two of your child’s favorite dolls or stuffed animals and make up a little story about them.
Create a scenario in which the characters have to make a decision and ask your child if they think that it’s a “Good idea” or a “Bad idea.” Ask your child to predict what might happen if the character chooses the bad idea. Then play out what happens if the character chooses the good idea.
Through play, your child will be learning how to think through their own actions and predict what the outcomes might be if they make a good or bad decision.
4. “What’s In The Bag?” Guessing Game
In this game, you place a couple of really familiar objects or toys inside of a bag. Let your child reach their hand inside and (without peeking!) try to guess what it is.
Make sure you use items that are pretty easily distinguishable for them (a bear with a soft texture they know well, or a small ball, etc.) This is such an easy game that requires them to use their critical thinking and problem solving skills!
5. “Guess What I’m Thinking About” Logic Game
This game is similar to “20 questions,” except that YOU give them clues to make this game more age appropriate for your preschooler.
You choose an item in the same room and you give your child clues such as it’s color, shape, size, texture, or location. Keep giving them clues until they guess what object you were thinking about. If your child is an older preschooler (around 4 years old), they can try choosing an object and giving you clues to try and guess what it is.
6. “What’s going to happen?” Prediction Game
This game is all about teaching your child how to make a prediction. Cause and effect is something that your child has been experimenting with since they were born. Now that your child is a preschooler, she’s ready to take it to the next level by learning how to make a hypothesis.
For this game, think about simple cause and effect scenarios that you can create around your house. For example, you can say “What do you think is going to happen if I put this little ball near the edge of the table?” or “What do you think will happen if I drop this egg into the sink?” Let your child make a guess and then test it out and see what happens!
7. “What Happened Here?” Picture Game
The “What Happened Here?” game is about making inferences from pictures. You can use any pictures you have available – you can use pictures from a favorite book, actual family photos, or even pictures on the internet. Have your child look at the picture and guess what was happening in the picture.
See what kind of story your child comes up with when they see a picture of someone with a grumpy face, or a picture of a birthday party. The critical thinking skills and language opportunities in this activity are endless!