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Critical Thinking Activities and Games for Students

We often find ourselves at crossroads, unable to decide which way to choose. But when we start thinking critically and consider all the facts, it becomes easier to decide between all the choices that are presented. Critical thinkers are open-minded, respect fair mindedness, acknowledge the importance of reason and evidence along with remaining open to different viewpoints. It empowers you to make your own decisions.

As a student you soon will have to make your career choices, which have to be quick and adhere to your best interests, this is where the skill of critically analyzing will come handy. This blog will be providing you with critical thinking activities and games which are considered essential in the 21st century.

Critical Thinking Activities and Games

critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is a disciplined process of skillfully analyzing, synthesizing, applying and evaluating the gathered facts, observation, evidence or information. This is also an unbiased judgement of the available data. Some examples of critical thinking in day-to-day life are:

  1. An attorney analyses the evidence and designs a strategy to win the case, in court or settle it out of the court.

  2. Businessmen always have to pay an opportunity cost while making an investment. After studying the market critically, they decide the opportunity they will be investing in.

  3. While constructing a building, the engineers need to evaluate all the potential risks or hazards that could occur on the construction site to make sure that the workers can do their work safely. If the engineers or the project managers do not use critical thinking for analyzing the potential risks, the chance of injuries of the workers will increase.

Some important critical thinking games and activities include:

Express yourself in multiple ways

Each person has a different style of thinking and doing things. Some people are good with words, some find it easy to put everything on charts and some visualize things better than expressing them. You may have a preference towards visual, auditory or kinesthetic learning, but if you want to think in a different way you need to adopt different methods of expressing your problems or ideas. For example, if you find it easy to visualize a problem, then try to write it down or if you can talk about your ideas gracefully then try to put it down in a diagram or chart.


One of the best games to enhance a child’s thinking abilities is to make them solve riddles. While solving riddles children are compelled to think in several directions and often get to learn many new concepts. Riddles as simple as ‘What’s bright orange with green on top and sounds like a parrot?’ (carrot), will help them see things in a new light.


This technique asks a group of students to become ‘experts’ by researching on a particular topic and then disseminate the knowledge across the group. Once students gather all the necessary information, we can ask them to make a concluding report for the particular subject. This will help them analyse all the present information and contemplate a bigger picture from the small bits and pieces of information.

Work Backward

Going backward on things can help you notice things you otherwise disregard. Piecing a failed attempt from bottom to top helps you see things in a different light. You might be able to catch what went wrong and correct it by working backwards. This will allow you to see the actual impact of every phase in the journey. As simple as proofreading an essay sentence by sentence from end to beginning may help you identify minute grammatical errors, which you may overlook in general.

Debating induces Critical Thinking

Debating induces Critical Thinking

Debates and discussions always help a person to think out of the box and develop new skills. Participating in conferences like Model UNs gives a great exposure and allows you to interact with people having contrasting viewpoints. These kinds of conferences give you a platform to debate and improvise your speeches in real time. The impromptu actions sharpen your ability to analyse information.

Connecting Dots

Remember playing the games in which you have to connect dots to complete the figure? Doing the same with children helps them create a bigger picture with several pieces of information. You can ask them questions while reading or playing, this will help them understand how one paragraph of the story connects to the other and in that order they can predict how the story might end. This enhances their ability to size up a situation and predict the potential outcomes. You can also play games like treasure hunt with them. Drop clues for them to unlock a present at the end. Connecting these clues one after the other will make it a very interesting and fun critical thinking game.

Select from Alternatives

This particular critical thinking activity is an extremely helpful one as this pushes you to think in various directions instead of a very obvious one. Once you understand a problem you should try to figure out several ways for reaching the solution. For instance, you have to get to an important meeting in a different city the day after. A very obvious way would be by catching a train, but it may not get you to your meeting on time. So you switch to getting an air ticket, this will get you to your destination on time but is very costly as it is a last minute booking. But there is another way, you can get a one way taxi, this is cost efficient as well as will get you there on time.

Become Active Listener

Active listening is a crucial step for becoming a critical thinker. You need to listen to people in order to get your curiosity fulfilled. Listening to various people’s opinions and ideas will help you to form your own viewpoint on the subject. For example, you just got to know about cryptocurrency but you are not aware of its functioning or motive. You should hear others' views, both positive and negative, to develop your own opinion around it. Similarly some games can be played by students to improve their listening skills, such as ‘finish the story’ in which the teacher can start the story and ask students to add one sentence each to complete the story. Another very popular school game for improving critical thinking through active listening is ‘Simon Says’. Children need to be very attentive and listen to the instructions given by the host. If the host starts giving the order by “Simon says”, children have to follow it else they don't have to follow it. This critical thinking activity will increase their attention in the real-time and help them increase their reaction time.

Engage in activities like Chess and Sudoku

Games like Chess and Sudoku require a lot of concentration and innovative thinking. Playing these games calls for different strategies every time. You need to go around these games in different ways and moves. These critical thinking games enhance your ideation power.

Critical thinkers promote critical thinking

Surrounding Yourself With Critical Thinkers

You cannot see any significant change in your behavior without making some changes in your environment and lifestyle. Thinking critically is a behavioral enhancement. Surrounding yourself with critical thinkers is a great step towards increasing your critical thinking abilities. As the saying goes, “surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel.”

Critical Community Engagement Activity

This activity involves identifying waste material in the surrounding that can be recycled. You need to find different ways to recycle those objects. This activity is generally used in classrooms to give an opportunity to kids to give back to the environment. Upcycled cardboard boxes can be set up as bins, plastic bottles can be used to plant small plants in classrooms and waste left from sharpening the pencils for decorations.

Critical thinking is a very important modern day skill. Analytical thinking mindset is indeed quite useful for students to develop their cognitive skills. Even companies are attracted to people who have a flexible and innovative mindset; multi-dimensional approach is considered very crucial nowadays. Incorporating these skills from the very beginning of your learning cycle will help you in developing a great personality. Therefore we have discussed several critical thinking activities and games, for you to incorporate in your 21st century skill set.

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