10 Fun Critical Thinking Activities for Middle School Students

Last Updated on October 11, 2022 by Editorial Team

Wouldn’t it be exceptional to see your children learning from games? That’s what activities usually ensure by giving them hands-on experience. While we see academic lessons thriving through activities, can teaching an idiosyncratic concept like critical thinking through activities be possible?

Critical thinking can be boosted at any age. However, being a part of overall development in students, schooling systems today are paying auxiliary attention to it. But, how do you inculcate critical thinking in middle schoolers? 

Just like grown-ups, middle schoolers would love some activities that hit at the right spot to help them think logically and rationally. In this post, we will dive into what critical thinking is, its benefits for middle schoolers, and finally, some cool activities to preach it better. 

Critical Thinking- What it actually is?

Appropriate thinking is imperative if it comes to the pinch. Purposeful thinking, decision making, and appropriate problem solving make a person a critical thinker. 

By Definition, Critical thinking is the “objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” This definition stipulates you have some crucial attributes. We have talked about this essential trait in our previous posts, but what aspects of critical thinking should middle schoolers be aiming at?

Aspects of critical thinking

You need to comprehend crucial attributes that form a critical thinking mix for middle school students with the definition. These are:

  • Quick Thinking

Critical thinkers attribute quick thinking in the first place. It is vital for making quick judgments regarding problems. Recognizing and remembering things is the basis for quick thinking. Identifying a problem, and thinking promptly yet logically about the solution makes a student an avid thinker. 

  • Creative Aspect

Being creative requires you to think broadly about the logic and reasons behind every problem. Additionally, it can bring out multiple perspectives, making solutions easier. Moreover, a person needs to visualize the given challenge and distinguish it to infer better to be creative.

  • Analytical Aspect

The final aspect is Analytical thinking. This includes taking proper inference, analyzing, and synthesizing the challenge. This not only is for a problem but even for data. This aspect of critical thinking typically succors students during examinations, where a student needs to analyze questions to draft an exemplary answer. 

Critical thinking activities- A virtue for middle schoolers

Based on the above-discussed aspects, some activities inculcate the best critical thinking characteristics that help students in the most quintessential ways. Lending a hand to middle schoolers and indulging them in critical thinking activities would give the students a taste of a better future; other benefits of these activities include-

  • Critical thinking activities make students understand the challenges so that they can plan for a solution. Ultimately, fearing and running away from challenges is not healthy.
  • Activities improve the student’s problem-solving ability. Brainstorming and getting out of the situation ultimately boosts the diagnostic and investigative spheres, which helps the child think logically, rationally, and critically.
  • Decision-making skills make an individual ardent and capable of mighty things. Practices and tasks that enhance critical thinking ensure students become independent during and after school. 
  • Activities help students perform better in school. This results in an improved academic performance as these activities also make them self-reliant learners.  

Critical thinking activities for middle school students

1. Mind Squeeze 

Mind Squeeze 

In this activity, the teacher would choose a set of 5 words for every student. The whole process revolves around the teacher showing these words for a few seconds and then hiding them; later, the student would recite the words aloud by remembering them. 

A lot like the memory game, Mind Squeeze tests the recalling ability of the students while giving them a chance to improve their memory. Thus, this is a good recognizing and recalling activity for middle schoolers.  

2. Anonymous Passage

Practising passages would be a great routine to develop reading habits in students. It also helps them retain crucial details. To start with, the teacher makes a passage and a set of questions. The teacher reads the passage aloud so that all the students can hear it. Now, a few questions are asked on the basis of the passage. 

 Anonymous Passage

The activity stipulates the students to remember the whole passage so that they can answer the questions being asked later. This game helps students improve their recalling memory, as the whole game is about remembering the passage. Moreover, the communication and understanding skills of the students are put to the test as their answers would wholly depend on it.  

3. The Scene Setting

Creativity is a crucial aspect of critical thinking. To be creative, students need to be good at visualising scenes too. The teacher shows a prop in this game—any object like a pencil, bird, or ball. Students need to create a scene and story around it. This game gets interesting as the prop gets unique. For instance, asking students to write a story around a needle can explore the depth of their creativity. 

 The Scene Setting

At first, it might seem like a challenging and daunting task. But later, it becomes quite fun, and students gather ideas of how to present their prop in front of the whole class. This not only boosts their creativity but also appraises their communication skills. 

4. Touch On The Error

The students can know about their abilities to distinguish by this activity. The teacher gives children a chance to play with letters here. For instance, the teacher provides children with a sentence where some letters are replaced with ‘Z.’ Now, children may be asked to distinguish the errors and find out the right answers for the same. 

Touch On The Error

The activity’s primary purpose is to form a pattern which the students can notice and later identify the actual word or sentence. For example, The teacher might give words like- BZG, CZT, ZND, ZPPLE. The common letter here is ‘z’; now, the students need to figure out what this Z stands for. 

Teachers may also mark off all vowels or cross 3rd word of each sentence. By increasing the difficulty level of these words, the teachers can help students brainstorm, which would ultimately add to their critical thinking skills. 

5. Settle the Confusion

Settle the Confusion

Critical thinkers seldom get bewildered. In fact, they make the right inferences from gathered information. Students are offered a confusing question to ensure the same. This way, they can infer and conclude better. In this activity, the teacher can read out a story or play a video for the students. Later, confusing and challenging questions can be asked for the kids. This helps them think harder and answer rationally based on their understanding. 

The questions might look baffling at first, but when a child pushes the right buttons, the complexity would not look like a stumbling block.

6. Award the Winner

Award the Winner

Here a student is called upon and asked to judge traits of peers. To prop up this, they asked to choose one peer whom they wanted to award. It doesn’t end here; they need to offer reasons behind their choice. To make it more exciting, teachers can take the call of pairing two extremely unlike students together and give them some time to know some crucial things about each other. Later, they can award each other based on their impression given during the few minutes. 

This shows and improves their judgment skills and, ultimately, critical thinking. 

7. One in Million Sentence

One in Million Sentence

Great for helping students get a new idea about the day-to-day objects, this activity would start with each student asked to write a small phrase on a piece of paper and put them in a box.  Once everyone is done with it, the teacher shuffles them up and hands one slip to each student; Later, the whole class is divided into small groups of 5-6 members. Now, each group is asked to arrange their slips to make a meaningful sentence. 

The way students unjumble the sentences to make them look the most meaningful would showcase a lot about their capabilities. Such activities also put their cognition capacity to the test.

8. Make Out Utilities

Make Out Utilities

Creative thinker analyses an object or challenge in multiple dimensions. Making out Utilities can help students to do the same. In this activity, students are provided with an item—say vegetables. They have to mention five ways to use them. Thinking about the five uses of vegetables can bewilder students and encourage them to think hard. This activity teaches students how to take multiple inferences from day-to-day properties.  

Teachers must give unique words to students. Words that have easily thinkable 5 uses should be avoided. This will make them deliberate through, which will ultimately impact their creative and critical thinking, 

9. One day President 

One day President 

The ultimate agenda of a critical thinker is to put things together for a solution. The activity, One day president, makes every student take the position of a president. Now, each of them should state what changes they can make in the country in three aspects: financial, educational, and people. Other than brainstorming, a lot of the child’s general awareness too can be judged by this activity. 

This game would be riveting if the children are aware of their surroundings and know what’s happening around the globe. As a president in the activity, they will also experience being a leader, which is crucial for free thinking.

10.  Adventure time

As the name implies, Adventure time activity lets students explore. In this, the entire class is divided into groups of 2-3 students. Each group is given a topic on which they have to make a board game. The best board game is the winner.

Adventure time

This activity makes students think about every aspect of the given topic. For instance, if the topic is forest, students will explore what can be the challenges they would face in a forest— wild animals, weather, and many more.

Summing up

Being a critical thinker can be far-reaching and make the students more decisive, insightful, and coherent. They can be a cut above when mastered at a tender age. 21st-century kids need essential critical thinking skills to apply knowledge and solve unconventional problems. These distinct skills are not limited to an inborn attribute but can be grasped through relevant practices. Personal practices accompanied by activities can give astounding outcomes; thus, the same should be ingrained in students. Ponder the activities above to see if they make a remarkable change.

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