In a few days time the kids will all be back at school for the start of the summer term This is my favourite term of all. The children are settled into their routines and the teachers and support staff are now very aware of each child’s particular needs. We have had the chance to observe the children at work and we are well aware of each child’s strengths and their preferred style of learning.
Most people agree that active learning is the best way to learn. Gone are the days of learning facts by rote. Recall of facts may once have been needed in order to pass tests, but they aren’t much use in daily life. After all, when will I actually need to recite the names of the rivers of Yorkshire?
Thinking skills, the ability to solve problems and to reason, and the ability to analyse facts, are now seen as far more useful for children in this day and age. One great way to do this is to constantly ask questions. ‘Why did that happen?’ ’How can we prevent…?’ ’What if…?’
In the eighties, an Australian called Tony Ryan developed this even further by creating different ways to encourage critical thinking. In his book ‘Thinkers Keys For Kids’ he explains how to encourage children to become thinkers. He recommends activities that can be used to get children into the habit of analysing information, solving problems and interacting with information to form conclusions.
I used to regularly use ‘Thinkers Keys’ as starter activities. When children came into class at the start of the day or after lunch, there would be a thinking activity written on the board for them to complete. My favourite one was to give them an answer, for example – The Rain Forest. They would have to think of five different questions that could only have the rain forest as the answer. Another popular activity was to find different uses for an object, for example – Find ten different uses for egg boxes.
There are loads of other ideas on his website. Well worth a look.
I’ve pasted a link below, but you could just type ‘Tony Ryan Thinkers Keys’ into the address bar.