Critical Thinking Games

I love to use games to get students thinking.  Years ago I made a game that I used in the classroom for lessons about goals and priorities.  It has since been published as a party game by Find It Games.  Even in some free and very inexpensive forms it can provide an excellent critical thinking game for kids in any educational setting including home, church, counseling sessions and the classroom.

Update 8/7/2013:  My friends at Fair Play Games have one edition of this game on sale for $7.99 for four copies.  That's enough for the whole class to play!  Check this post out for more information.

Here's a three-part series that explains its value best:
Here's a lesson plan for a critical thinking writing activity based on a computer version of the game.

And most recently I created this randomizer that selects five item cards from the game.  It can be used to play many of the games and activities below.

An overview of some of the resources I have created for that game is also included below.

But first I'll mention a lesson plan for critical thinking based on board and card games that I used in the classroom  The activity would take about a week and it was a favorite for my students.  Though many of the games I used in it are no longer in print, the final assignment of the unit can easily be adapted to other games.  The main idea of the lesson was that students would play a variety of games, then they would think about what they learned and the effects of their decisions in the games.

Oh, Really! (a.k.a What's It To Ya?) in the classroom

I have played this game with many students from middle school through college (here is a video I made with some former students at one campus) over the years and I have come to respect the power of the question that it raises.  Whether it is used as a game or a classroom activity, participants are simply asked What matters most?  By carefully choosing the words they'll use and by guiding the discussion, this can be a powerful catalyst for self-evaluation, debate, deeper thinking and problem solving.

Using the game without technology
The card game is the version I used most in class.  I would use a select subset of the cards based on the purpose of the activity.  From that, I’d randomly draw five cards and have students rank the items on the cards from most important to least important.  We would usually try to guess how another person in the room would rank them.

After such an introduction, students can play the game in groups of up to 8.  It works best when students can play in pairs.

The Inexpensive Option - Right now a friend of mine is selling the old edition of the complete game (called What's It To Ya?) for less than $4.  I no longer get royalties from that edition, so I don't mention this just to pad my wallet!  If you want to pick up a few copies (5 copies would allow up to 40 students play), check it out on this page at Fair Play Games while it’s on sale.  This is a bargain, believe me.

The Newer Edition - If you want the newer version, it’s probably easiest to find it here on Amazon.  The new publisher created a version that uses a board and score sheets.  It sells for around $20.

This requires technology, but again I'll mention the randomizer that draws five cards.  If students have laptops or the teacher can project it to the front of the room, this can be a great tool to play the use in a variety of ways.

Here's a short video overview of the game:

Using the game with technology
I posted several free activities on Promethean Planet based on this game.  They work easily with Promethean’s ActivExpressions for ranking, but you can run the activity with any response system or the students can rank them on paper.  A free version of ActivInspire will allow you to display these without actually using their other products, so any computer and projector will be sufficient.

In March, 2013 I created this randomizer that draws five cards from the game.  From there you can use it with almost any activity described on this blog.

Here is the original, generic activity that allows students to draw random words for the original game.

Oh Really Flipchart Activity

And the versions below are targeted toward a specific subject area with pre-selected sets of words and questions in context.  By examining these as samples it will be obvious how you can adapt them to your needs even if these don’t fit perfectly.

Family and Consumer Science
Vocations and Goals
Christian/Bible Studies

The version with the most downloads so far is this "Back to School" edition.  It can be used as an ice breaker in the first days of school or of a particular class:

Back to School

And finally, here is a simple Google Presentation version that you could change to use the activity in any subject.  The sample page is based on the popular Government flipchart above.

After corresponding with a Sunday school teacher and home school parent I converted the christian/Bible activity to these other formats for those who don't use ActivInspire:
You can read about them more in this post.

And if anyone is interested in the history of the game, here is my video about bringing a game idea into reality.

Donations are definitely accepted!
If you find any of these flipcharts or resources on the blog useful, please consider donating $1 to $3.  Any money I receive this way will be used in my district to purchase resources for technology integration. I and my students greatly appreciate your support!  I would love to hear how you use the resources too.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting one about the games. Planning for a career in designing games specially interested to pursue my B.Tech in Gaming industry. Very much into games from my childhood and this made me think for a career in gaming. Hopefully after pursuing my degree will design new and interesting games.