Critical thinking is the process of analyzing information and facts to solve a problem. Teens can benefit from a few simple critical thinking exercises that will get the mind thinking outside of the box. A teen can benefit from critical thinking activities by learning to think for herself. Critical thinking exercises can help a teen better analyze information without falling prey to peer pressure, media hype and group-think.
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To properly analyze data, which is the first step of critical thinking, a teen must be able to ask and answer questions about the object in question. Professor Barbara Penington from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater suggests asking questions that require something to be broken down into smaller parts. For example, tell the teen that they must choose between going without a vehicle or computer for one week. Have them choose an option and describe why. This will require them to analyze the pros and cons of each scenario and break it down into sections.
Teens can learn critical thinking skills by playing a few games. EducationWorld suggests playing Rock or Feather? Ask the teens whether they are more similar to a rock or a feather. Have all the rocks stand in one corner of the room and all the feathers in the other. Next have each teen explain why they chose that particular item. This requires them to analyze both objects and themselves to come to a conclusion.
Critical thinking is a skill that is used in daily activities. Teens can learn these skills by role playing routine worldly encounters. Write down a scenario on a piece of paper such as a construction worker who is afraid of heights. Allow only the lead player see the paper. The other teens must then guess who this person is through interaction. Teens can take turns interacting with the player until they have figured out his scenario.
Seemingly simple questions can be the most difficult to answer critically. Write down five to 10 questions on a piece of paper and have the teen briefly write a response. Questions should be obviously simple such as "describe a cell phone to someone who has never seen or heard of one" or "how would you celebrate yellow appreciation day." These simple and absurd questions will require deep thought and consideration on the teen's part. The answers might vary significantly and can open up discussion among the teens.