Logic Puzzles for Kids: fun ways to teach critical thinking in 1st and 2nd grade

January 4, 2022

These logic puzzles are so much fun for kids to practice their critical thinking skills. In this post, I share 5 different types of logic/critical thinking activities that are great for young students to practice! Before I dive in, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:

Research has shown that critical thinking skills do not develop naturally. Humans need to be put in situations where they can practice these skills in order to get better at them, just like any other subject we teach in school!

The difference is with most subjects, we teach the skills in concrete linear ways (addition, for example). This makes it important to also teach our students how to think outside the box and pose questions in a different way to practice their critical thinking skills. In this blog post, I am going to share some of my favorite logic and critical thinking puzzles that your students can use to solve problems thoughtfully in all areas of learning!

 

Odd One Out!

Odd One Out! is a fun puzzle game where students have to look at a set of 4 pictures and decide which one doesn’t belong. After they determine the odd one out, they must explain why it doesn’t fit. As you can see in the example below, all four items are body parts, however, three go on your face. Therefore, the foot is the “odd one out.”

Your students will have to give their answer and their explanation when solving the puzzle!

This activity is great for developing vocabulary, characterizing uses, and comparing and contrasting various parts of the different items. You can group pictures together based on their shape, or items that all start with the same letter, or a group of items that all rhyme, to practice a bunch of different skills using this same type of logic puzzle!

 

Combinations and Pattern Completions:

In these types of logic puzzles, students will combine shapes or complete patterns in their head. For example, in the puzzle below, students have to use spatial reasoning to determine what shape will be made when they add the line with the triangle. All three options show triangles with lines, but only the middle triangle makes sense based on the size and direction of the line. 

Spatial reasoning has so many real-world applications and it’s great for all of us, young and old, to practice developing that skill!

Similarly, in the complete the pattern puzzle below, students will look at the pattern on the top of the page and have to figure out which option comes next based on what they see. Pattern puzzles are great because students need to use their logic and evidence of what has already come before to make predictions about what comes next!

 

Analogies

There are a lot of different critical thinking skills used for solving analogies. Students must figure out the meaning of the words, the uses of the objects, how the words in the first comparison are related, and how the first relationship relates to the second comparison in the analogy! Below is an analogy that I would use with my students:

The most important part when solving these analogies with your class is having them explain how they got their answer. In the example above, it might be easy for a student to say “rain”, but you really want them to verbalize why they knew that. That way, they will have to explain all the relationships and definitions in the analogy and explain the thought-process behind their answer. 

 

Sudoku

Anyone who has played sudoku knows that the more you practice, the better you get at it. That is why it is so important to keep practicing these logic puzzles with your students!

Sudoku puzzles are great for your students because they need to make quick decisions when determining which number or object goes where. They also need to be able to quickly recognize their mistakes along the way and fix them in order to progress with the puzzle.

Below are two kid-friendly sudoku puzzles you can use in your classroom using numbers or objects:

The above is a “classic” sudoku puzzle with numbers, but you can also use objects like shown below! Students will need to understand the basics of this type of game which is that each image or number can only appear once in each row, column, and block.

Classic Logic Puzzle

Last but not least, I love using a classic logic puzzle. Now listen… these were my nemesis! My brain would get so boggled thinking about how to solve these when I was a kid (and realistically, still now).  Here is an example of a kid-friendly puzzle so you know what I am talking about:

As you can see in the problem above, students can see the age of one child. Then, they have to use logic and reasoning based on the clues to determine the ages of the rest of the children in the puzzle.

Problems like this can be challenging because students need to organize their thoughts and develop a strategy first before they can solve the problem. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these are skills that don’t come naturally, so we need to make sure that our students are able to consistently practice these logic puzzles in order to develop their skills. We also need to model how we would solve some of these problems so our students can see the strategies in action. We can’t expect them to just solve them on their own!

All the puzzles and examples above are part of a new unit I created to help students develop their critical thinking and logic skills. I made 40 puzzles for each of the 5 categories above, so this unit has 200 critical thinking and logic puzzles to use in your classroom. What’s great is each puzzle can be displayed to work through in a whole group setting and they are also available in black and white printable versions so students could paste them in a journal and solve on their own!

FREEBIE ALERT: if you follow the link below and preview the product, you can download 10 free puzzle slides from the unit!

 

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