Critical Thinking Activities for Students - Ellipsis Education

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Critical Thinking Activities for Students

Critical thinking is an important skill for students, and computer science is a great way to introduce it. Ellipsis Education has computer science curriculum for all age levels. We put learning in context so a teacher, not a machine, helps students connect apply technology skills in their lives.

Critical Thinking Curriculum

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K-12 Computer Science Curriculum

Critical Thinking Activities

Download a free lesson plan from Ellipsis Education to use in your classroom.

Lunar Loops

In Lunar Loops, students will participate in a hands-on game introducing the concept of loops.

3D Printing Industry

In 3D Printing Industry, students explore roles within the industry and design & evaluate a product.

Digital Security Analyst

In Digital Security Analyst, students learn about Digital Security Analysts and how to leave a good digital footprint.

Ready to develop your students’ critical thinking skills?

Computer science courses from Ellipsis Education can help. We ensure teachers have the curriculum, resources, and support they need to confidently teach computer science – and computational thinking.


Critical Thinking Activities for Students

Critical thinking is a skill that even the most advanced educators can struggle with teaching. However, it is a crucial part of learning, especially in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

Training students to think critically can empower them to navigate academic and everyday life more effectively. With various strategies and practices at teachers’ disposal, fostering this in-demand skill can be an achievable goal within any classroom setting.

To help teachers implement critical thinking exercises in their curriculum, here are several critical thinking activities for students of all years.

Class Discussions

This encourages students to engage with their peers, analyze different perspectives, and deepen their understanding. Teachers can introduce diverse topics relevant to the curriculum or current affairs, provoking thought and discussion. You can find a comprehensive list of excellent class discussion topics here. This is one of the best critical thinking activities for students in the classroom, as it provides a safe space to explore significant issues.

Brainstorming Exercises

Similarly, brainstorming serves as an excellent platform for students to bounce ideas off each other, providing a sense of open-mindedness and enhancing problem-solving skills. Use a digital mind mapper like Popplet to allow your students to visualize problems during these critical thinking activities.

Case Studies

Utilizing case studies relevant to the course material can cultivate critical thinking by encouraging students to analyze, interpret, and apply knowledge. Professors can come up with hypothetical scenarios or use real-life examples. This is particularly relevant to critical thinking activities for university students in the classroom.


One of the best confidence-boosting critical thinking activities for students is debating. A structured argument where students defend their viewpoints can stimulate higher-level thinking. This practice nurtures critical thinking and cultivates public speaking and persuasive skills. Make sure to tailor debate topics for younger and older students.

Problem-Solving Activities

Strategic problem-based tasks can foster critical thinking by encouraging students to devise solutions to complex problems. Teachers can incorporate breakout sessions, puzzles, and riddles into these activities. Check out these great riddles you can use in the morning to get your students in the critical thinking mindset.

Role Play

These interactive critical thinking activities place students in diverse scenarios and persuade them to think from a different perspective. It encourages empathy and improves problem-solving abilities. For inspiration, check out these great role-playing classroom games.

Along with the links provided, you can find these activities on various online educational platforms, such as Edutopia, along with practical guidance on how to implement them in the classroom. Additionally, the Critical Thinking Community shares a series of lessons and strategies designed to aid teachers in fostering this skill in their classroom.

Remember, embedding critical thinking activities into the curriculum is not an extra task but instead supports and enhances students’ understanding of the content dealt with. It is about teaching students to receive information and process, analyze, question, and apply it, giving them a solid foundation to navigate the world responsibly.

Nurturing critical thinking can result in a more engaged, confident, and continuous classroom learning environment. Whether through debates, problem-solving exercises, or role-play, each activity listed offers a unique chance to enrich the educational experience and inspire students to analyze, question, and solve.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is an essential skill that plays a starring role in cognitive development. It signifies the capacity to analyze facts to form a judgment. It’s the cornerstone of rational thoughts, rational actions, and the ability to understand how all ideas and concepts connect.

In an educational context, especially in K-12 schools, fostering critical thinking skills in students holds immense value. The importance of critical thinking for students stretches beyond simply improving academic performance. It helps students to develop a versatile mind capable of comprehending complex concepts, making informed decisions, solving problems, and navigating the complexities of today’s information-heavy society.

Beyond academia, critical thinking empowers students to dissect various perspectives to discern the most rational views.

Unfortunately, there are common misconceptions surrounding teaching critical thinking, specifically within computer science education. For instance, some believe that computer science teaching can be delayed until high school. In reality, students require regular introductions to critical thinking-based computer science concepts from an early age.

It’s also a misconception that specialized knowledge or certifications are vital to teaching computer science. Truthfully, any competent educator equipped with an empathic approach, solid curriculum, and strong support can teach critical thinking through computer science appropriately.

The idea that computer science is exclusively for “gifted and talented” students is far from reality. Regardless of their status, every student stands to gain enormously from learning and incorporating critical thinking in their everyday life.

Lastly, computer science is not a code-dominated field. On the contrary, it’s about empowering students to apply critical thinking to navigate and understand a progressively digital world responsibly. And far from being just another demanding subject, it perfectly complements contemporary education priorities. Therefore, the inclusion of critical thinking through computer science in the K-12 curriculum is not only significant but indispensable.

Types of Critical Thinking Activities

When it comes to enhancing the minds of K-12 students, types of critical thinking activities play an essential role. These activities are not just haphazard games or exercises; they’re specially designed tools and strategies to prompt students to question, critique, ascertain, and create instead of just passively perceiving what they learn.

Teachers can incorporate plenty of easy critical thinking activity examples in the classroom. To help uncover the potential of critical thinking, we should analyze various types of critical thinking activities.

Critical Thinking Games

Educators have a rich array of options in the realm of critical thinking games. These games are designed to facilitate critical thinking while being engaging and enjoyable. For instance, games like chess and strategy-based board games push students to plan several steps ahead, understand opponents’ strategies, and adapt their moves accordingly. Puzzle games stimulate logical thinking and pattern identification, while deduction games like ‘Clue’ offer hypothesis testing and logical reasoning opportunities.


When it comes to problem-solving activities, educators can employ fun critical thinking activities to improve students’ abilities to make decisions. Engaging students in real-world problem-solving scenarios encourages them to analyze issues, consider alternative solutions, and make informed decisions. For instance, presenting students with complex puzzles challenges them to think logically and develop creative approaches to find solutions. Similarly, collaborative projects that require students to address multifaceted challenges provide a platform for them to apply problem-solving skills in a team setting.

Creativity and Innovation

Fostering creativity and innovation in students involves utilizing activities that stimulate unconventional thinking and idea generation. Implementing brainstorming sessions allows students to explore a variety of perspectives and generate novel ideas collectively. Creative problem-solving exercises encourage students to approach challenges with an open mind, fostering innovative thinking. By introducing structured creativity activities, teachers provide students with frameworks to think divergently and consider alternative solutions.


Collaboration is a cornerstone of critical thinking, and educators can enhance this skill through purposeful activities. Group projects allow students to work together, combining diverse perspectives to achieve common objectives. Jigsaw activities, where each group focuses on a specific aspect of a broader topic, encourage collaboration as students synthesize their collective knowledge. Engaging in collaborative critical thinking activities strengthens problem-solving skills and nurtures essential interpersonal skills.


Metacognition, the ability to reflect on one’s thinking processes, is one of the most powerful critical thinking exercises for students. Teachers can integrate metacognitive strategies into classroom activities to encourage self-awareness and continuous improvement. Self-assessment prompts students to evaluate their thinking strategies, identify strengths, and pinpoint areas for growth. Goal-setting exercises guide students in establishing specific objectives for their critical thinking development. By incorporating metacognitive elements into various activities, educators empower students to become more aware of their cognitive processes, fostering a habit of introspection and self-directed learning.

Teachers must remember that cultivating a culture of critical thinking extends beyond just academic benefits. Critical thinking activities induce adaptability, empathy, and resilience. These lifelong skills enable K-12 students to navigate academic challenges and life obstacles just as effectively. Educators can create an enriching learning environment that facilitates comprehensive skill development by employing critical thinking games, fun activities, and targeted exercises in the classroom.

Implementing Critical Thinking Activities in Education

Implementing critical thinking activities in education is a pivotal cornerstone in molding young minds, especially within the realm of computer science.

While classroom games are essential for critical thinking in schools, the addition of computer science brings a modern, relevant aspect that sets students up for the world beyond their education. Teaching critical thinking becomes a seamless addition to a powerful subject in a way that engages students meaningfully.

By weaving critical thinking into a comprehensive computer science curriculum, educators have the opportunity to sculpt a learning environment that nurtures analytical prowess and problem-solving acumen.

Embracing project-based learning, instructors can task students with real-world problems, beckoning them to apply coding skills to tangible scenarios. Adding ethical discussions, entwined with case studies as part of a critical thinking curriculum, encourages students to delve into the societal implications of technology. Collaborative software development projects mirror industry practices, nurturing teamwork and project management skills.

From debugging challenges that demand systematic issue resolution to simulations modeling real-world systems, students engage in hands-on problem-solving. Reflective journals and documentation instill the habit of introspection, while debates on programming paradigms encourage a critical evaluation of different approaches.

By thoughtfully integrating these activities of critical thinking in education, teachers shape a curriculum that not only imparts technical proficiency but cultivates a profound understanding of the ethical, collaborative, and systemic dimensions inherent in computer science.

At Ellipsis Education, we provide a robust platform for educators to integrate influential learning materials into their teaching regimen seamlessly. Our emphasis extends beyond just coding; we believe in nurturing students to become responsible digital citizens who navigate the continually evolving digital world with wisdom and forethought.

Any teacher can effectively impart computer science education through the right critical thinking curriculum and support.

Computer science, taught by teachers.