January 24, 2019

Nupur Biswal

Improve Critical Thinking Skills With DIY Games

Topics: STEM Education / Play, Learning at Home, Learning Through Play, Girls & STEM, STEM, STEAM


In today’s technological and rapidly changing world, children need to be able to assimilate data and demonstrate critical thinking skills versus repeating a list of facts from memorization. Kids need to be critical thinkers who can make sense of information, analyze, compare, contrast, make inferences, and demonstrate higher order thinking skills.

The ability to analyze a situation or problem is an important skill and its demand will only grow as we continue to adopt technology throughout our lives.

As a parent or a teacher, our role is to ask our children open-ended questions that guide the thinking process. This allows our kids to explore and expand their curiosity.


How Can You Develop Critical Thinking Skills in Your Children?

  • Provide ample opportunities for play
  • Read books to them
  • Go hiking or take a nature walk with them
  • Encourage sequencing and organizing activities by engaging them in daily chores like cooking or doing laundry
  • Encourage STEAM activities
  • Do not intervene immediately - let them try to find the solution to their problem first
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Help children develop hypotheses or the cause and effect
  • Encourage critical thinking in new and different ways


Suggested  Games To  Improve Critical Thinking Skills

The most interesting way to improve your child’s critical thinking skill is to engage him/her in games. These games can help create critical thinkers, problem solvers and enable the next generation of innovators!


1. Match The Colored Popsicle Sticks Game



Find the matching strips of same color pattern dots, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Kids have to match the patterns of color dots on the popsicle sticks to that on the egg carton. 



Color card stocks to make dots or you can get color dot stickers too.



Glue stick

Egg carton (1)

Popsicle sticks


How to Make

Cut color dots from the colored card stocks. Or use colored dot stickers.

Paste the colored dots on the egg

Carton as shown in the pictures. You can do it in any order.

Then take a piece of popsicle stick and glued 3 colored dots on it according to the pattern on the egg carton. 

Make a bunch of colored sticks according to the patterns on the egg carton. Make the dot patterns on the popsicle sticks carefully so that they match with the patterns on the egg carton either horizontally or vertically or diagonally.


How to Play

Give the popsicle sticks to your child and ask him/her to find out the exact same or the matching pattern on the egg carton.

Ask him to look for a match carefully. He/she can look for the matching pattern either horizontally, vertically or diagonally.  

This game is fun, educational, and great for abstract thinking. 




2. Fill the Cupcakes in Proper Order





Put the color foam blocks in the cupcake box in the same order as the activity cards illustrate. With each new card, players much analyze the color pattern and try to replicate it by arranging the foam blocks in the cupcake box.



Empty Cupcake box clean it properly 

Foam blocks (  available  in Dollar Tree)

Index card ( plain )





How to Make the Game

Make equal compartments on the  index card as in the cupcake box.

Then draw color (same as the foam blocks ) cubes on the compartments on the card. 

Make various patterns as per your wish. I made 20 different pattern cards.


How to Play

Give your child a pattern card and the foam blocks.

Ask him/her to put the colored foam blocks in the cupcake box in same order by analyzing the card.

This game fires  up the analytical reasoning and problem solving skills in children . You can easily make this game at home.



3. Follow the  Sequence Game




Analyze the activity card and follow the sequence of the arrows to reach the goal.



Index card (Plain)

Color Markers and black marker

Sticky notes


How to Make the Game

Make any pattern with the sticky notes on the floor. ( check the pictures for your reference)

Draw the exact pattern with color markers on the index cards.

Then with a black marker draw arrows from one color block to another.

Draw different direction arrows on each card.


How to Play 

Give one card at a time to your child and ask him/her to analyze the card and follow the directions and reach the goal.

This game helps children develop their sequencing skill.



All these games can be easily made at home from very inexpensive materials with little commitment and patience. But if you don't have the time to make these game due to busy work schedules, just spending time together playing a board game that they enjoy will help boost their reasoning skills in a fun way. Almost any board game (make sure you choose one that is age-appropriate) enhances a child's critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills.

Note: With all children, it is important to take into consideration the child's interests, learning styles, and abilities to determine the best ways for them to learn.



Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 2.55.49 PMNupur Biswal is a mom of two beautiful girls, a wife, and a self proclaimed super nerd. With a background in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering and computer science, she is passionate about  STEM education among youth. She promotes STEM education by organizing STEM camps at her local library during holidays and also conducts after school STEM clubs. You can follow her on Instagram and her personal blogging Facebook page “Love My Game,” where she regularly shares her children’s STEM activities with other fellow parents and teachers.



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