Thursday, April 14, 2011

Holiday Homework - Thinking Outside of the Box

A key skill that can help all children in their academic, social and emotional lives is the ability to think outside the box. You can help encourage this skill from an early age through a variety of activities. Even if children struggle to read, if we routinely read with them we can use this reading time to create activities that nurture and encourage their critical thinking abilities. Using critical thinking as a life skill is vital. 
When you share a book during the holidays consider spending an extra ten minutes to go further than just reading the text aloud. Here are some activities to try....

  1. Predictions

    • Periodically stop reading and ask for a prediction about what might happen next. Ask for a few different scenarios, too -- the child's first impulse will be to predict the story's actual ending, as stories tend to be on the predictable side. If you ask for a few different endings, though, they will have to think outside the box to come up with novel ideas.

    Open-ended Questions              


    • When you finish reading a book to or with a child, ask a few open-ended questions. This can be any question that doesn't have a one-word or one-phrase answer, such as "How did you feel about the story" or "Who was your favourite character and why?" These questions encourage thinking outside the box in order to both create and articulate an answer, which will encourage thinking critically in an alternative manner.



    • Read a book then ask for the story to be repeated in a child's own words. This encourages thinking outside the box in order for them to articulate themselves. By telling a familiar story in their own words, a child has to carefully consider how things are described and how stories are told. This encourages creative storytelling and general self-expression.

    Connecting Stories

    • Read a child two or more stories, then ask them to tell you some connections between the stories. Start with the basic connections, such as the gender of the main characters, then move into more-complex, creative connections, such as what the characters wanted and why they wanted it. Children will have to think outside the box to find these deeper connections in between stories, which will both help them understand the stories and improve their ability to think critically.

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