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Free Critical Thinking Problem Solving Activities

Welcome to Education World's Work Sheet Library. In this section of our library, we present more than 100 ready-to-print student work sheets organized by grade level. Click on a grade level folder below to find a library of work sheets that you can use with your students to build a wide variety of critical thinking skills. All the work sheets in this library were provided to Education World by our partners at Click on the small banner advertisement above for a complete catalog of teacher-ready activities.)


Visit Education World's Work Sheet Library for a wide variety of free printables for use across the curriculum and across the grades.

Solve the math problems to get the letters to a quote. (Grades 3-5)

Solve the math problems to get the letters to a joke. (Grades 3-5)

The Old House
Use math to figure out how to fix the old house. (Grades 3-5)

Balance Algebra
Use Algebra to balance the scales. (Grades 3-5)

Balance Benders
Given some facts, which objects weight will even off the scales? (Grades 3-5)

Paper Folding
Draw how a folded sheet of paper with holes punched in it will look when unfolded. (Grades 3-5)

Analogies With Shapes
Which shape completes the analogy? (Grades 3-5)

Color the thermometer to show the freezing point, then complete the picture of the pengin. (Grades 3-5)

Name That City
Read the story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Von Bayers Girlfriend
Read the true story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Whale of a Good Time
Read the story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#2)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#3)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#4)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#5)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#6)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Find 8 errors in this brief article about Antarctica. (Grades 3-5)

The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster
Find 7 errors in this brief article about the Loch Ness monster. (Grades 3-5)

Big Sky Country
A friendly letter about Montana helps reinforce letter-writing skills. (Grades 3-5)

Common Nouns
Find and write six common nouns found in each picture. (Grades 3-5)

Math Analogies
Can you correctly complete each of these math analogies? (Grades 3-5)

Math Analogies (#2)
Can you correctly complete each of these math analogies? (Grades 3-5)

The Best Pancake Recipe
Find the math answers in this story about Olgas sleepover party. (Grades 3-5)

The Color Spinner
Who is most likely to win the Color Spinner game? (Grades 3-5)

Leafy Lengths
Complete the graph to show the length of the leaves that Luis and Amy found. (Grades 3-5)

Allowance Graph
Answer questions about a graph that show how much allowance five kids get. (Grades 3-5)

Line of Symmetry
Which of the six shapes shown on this page are symmetrical? (Grades 3-5)

Find the Nickname
These clues will help you figure out each kids nickname. (Grades 3-5)

Order of Age
Use the clues to order three kids ages from youngest to oldest. (Grades 3-5)

Lots of Rocks
Use the clues to figure out the locations of three rocks. (Grades 3-5)

Theyre in the Band
Use the clues to figure out which instrument each kid plays. (Grades 3-5)

Novel Thinking
Read the definition. Write the vocabulary word and its part of speech. (Grades 3-5)

Maniac Magee
Answer questions with evidence in this excerpt from Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. (Grades 3-5)

The Moon by Night
Answer questions with evidence in this excerpt from The Moon by Night by Madeleine LEngle. (Grades 3-5)

Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Answer questions about this excerpt from Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. (Grades 3-5)

Pass the Salt
Use evidence from this story to answer the questions about it. (Grades 3-5)

Science Detective: Cells
Read the article. Then answer the True/False questions about it. (Grades 4-8)

Science Detective: Change of Phase
Use evidence from this article about friction and states of matter to answer the questions. (Grades 4-7)

Scratch Your Brain
Use addition and subtraction to figure out solutions to these brain benders. (Grades 3-5)

From One Word to the Next
Change a letter in the previous word to make the word that completes each phrase. (Grades 3-5)

Root Words
Complete this activity about words that have /capt/ or /tact/ as a root. (Grades 3-5)

Spelling Challenge
Circle the word in each group that is correctly spelled. Yes, you can use your dictionary. (Grades 5-8)

Prefixes and Roots
Complete this activity about words that have /phone/ as their root. (Grades 3-5)

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The sites listed below provide lesson plans and resources for promoting problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Click on a topic from the site index below to find what you need or go to my Gifted and Talented page.

Site Index: problem solving lesson plans,problem solving resources,creativity lesson plans,creativity resources,critical thinking lesson plans,critical thinking resources

Problem Solving Lesson Plans
Problem Solving Lesson Plan Index
Fourteen lessons for a variety of subjects and grade levels.   

Teaching Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Lesson ideas from Pinterest. Membership is required to view them all, but it's free to join.

No Quick Fix? Developing Problem-Solving Skills
A lesson plan from the NY Times.

Problem-Solving Process
A lesson plan in which students learn a 6-step process for solving problems.

Discover the Roots of a Polynomial Function
A high school lesson in shi9ch students are introduced to the four-step problem-solving plan.

Problem Solving Using Tables
From BrainPOP.  See also Word Problems.

Problem Solving
A high school lesson plan in which students apply technological problem solving to everyday problems.

Practical Problem-Solving Lesson Plan
This lesson from a nutrition unit requires students to use problem-solving skills to deal with "perennial problems."

Classic Middle-Grades Problems for the Classroom
Students work in groups to solve two classic problems (Mangoes Problem and Sailors and Coconuts) that can be represented and solved in several different ways

Problem Solving: Math, Episode 2
An elementary lesson plan requiring students to explore different ways to find solutions to problems or situations. See also Problem Solving: Math Episode 1.

Working with Environmental Issues
A learning module from the Peace Corps' World Wise Schools. in which students use problem-solving skills to address a real-world problem. It is intended for elementary and middle grade students.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
A creative problem-solving lesson plan for grades K-3.


Problem Solving Resources
Archimedes Laboratory
Puzzles and Mental Activities. See their Teacher's Resources.

Improve Problem-Solving Skills by Teaching Chess
Adaptable to many grades/

Problem Solving: Definition, Terminology, and Patterns
A concise, informative essay. See also What is Problem Solving.

Big 6 Model
Information and online resources for using this strategy.

The Problem Site
Educational Games - Free math problems, puzzles, word games, brainteasers, and mystery hunts.

Squiggle Art
A lesson plan for grades 2-3 requiring flexible and creative thinking.

Pourquoi Stories: Creating Tales to Tell Why
A lesson plan for grades 3-5 dealing with stories or folk tales that explain how or why something exists (usually in nature).

Creative Writing through Wordless Picture Books
A lesson plan for grades 6-8.

Create a New Ammendment
A middle grade or high school lesson plan from Education World in which students demonstrate critical thinking and creative thinking skills in developing a new amendment to the Constitution.

Writing Up a Spanish Storm: Using Creative Thinking for Creative Writing
Ideas for an advanced high school Spanish unit. The site also contains quite a bit of background information on creative thinking.

Creative Science Activities
Many lesson plans. Not all involve creativity.

Color Works
Clasroom art projects that allow students to express their creativity.

Creative Ideas for Science Projects
From EDinformatics.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box
A lesson plan involving divergent thinking based on a film by the above title.

Puzzle Solving 101: Lesson 9: Lateral Thinking

A lesson plan that helps students "think out of the box."

Creativity is Great
A lesson plan from Great Britain.

Creative Drama Lesson Plans
Many lesson plans sorted by age level.

Creativity Explored
An art lesson plan for grades 6-7.

Crayola Creativity Central
A searchable directory of lesson plans using Crayola products.   

Lesson Plans for a Creative Writing Course
Lesson plans for a thirteen-week course!

Creativity Activities
Ideas for exploring fluency, flexibility, elaboration, redefinition, and originality.

Creativity Resources
The Creative Teaching Web Site
An excellent site with articles, ideas, and information for developing more creative teachers.

How to Promote Creative Thinking
From Scholastic.

22 Simple Ideas for Promoting Creativity in the Elementary Classroom
From Edutopia. See also 40 Ways to Add Creativity to Your Lesson Plans.

Torrance Framework for Creative Thinking
An explanation of this framework for creative thinking processes.

Creativity and Innovation Rubric
For grades 6-12. See also Creativity and Innovation Rubric (Grades 3-5).

What is Creativity
Many definitions fro California State University, Northridge.

Creativity for Kids
Arts and crafts products.

Creative Thinking
Links to "handouts" with concise information on definitions, characteristics, traits, etc.

Critical Thinking Lesson Plans

Remodeled Lesson Plans from the Center for Critical Thinking
See their selection of "remodeled" lesson plans organized by grade level toward the bottom of the left-hand index. For information on the Center's approach to critical thinking, see Our Concept of Critical Thinking.

Critical Thinking Lesson Plans
More than 20 lesson plans from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics.

Critical Thinking Lesson Plans
Many lesson plans for a variety of subjects from Learn NC. 

Critical Thinking Lesson Plans
Many lesson plans for a variety of grade levels from Kimberly Kludt.

Teachable  Moment
The latest activities from Teachable Moment, many of which foster critical thinking on current issues.

On the Market: Thinking Critically About Advertising
From the NY Times Learning Network.

Rock or Feather? A Critical-Thinking Activity
From Education World.

Book Sorting: Using Observation and Comprehension to Categorize Books
A primary-grade lesson plan that addresses critical-thinking skills, observation and categorization processes, as well as reading comprehension and writing skills, while at the same time providing teachers with a vast array of diagnostics through observation of student interaction and conversation.

An Exploration of Simple Machines
An elementary lesson plan designed to promote the use of critical thinking and problem solving skills to help students understand how simple machines work.

Teaching Mysteries
Several lesson plans, ideas, and online mysteries to teach critical thinking and reading comprehension.

Critical Thinking with Fables New and Old
A lesson plan from Education World adaptable for grades 3-12.

Detective Fiction: Focus on Critical Thinking
A unit for grade 6.

Draft Letters: Improving Student Writing through Critical Thinking
A  high school lesson plan from Read-Write-Think in which students write reflective letters to the teacher, identifying theirown thoughts on the piece that the teacher is about to read. See also Developing Students' Critical Thinking Skills Through Whole-Class Dialogue,Analyzing Character Development in Three Short Stories about Women and Lights, Camera, Action . . . Music: Critiquing Films Using Sight and Soundfor other high school critical thinking lesson plans from Read-Write-Think.

Critical Thinking Resources
Critical Thinking Value Rubric
See also Higher-Order Thinking Rubric.

Resources and Downloads for Teaching Critical Thinking
Tools, rubrics and lesson plans from Edutopia.

The Critical Thinking Community
Much information and many resources.       

Critical Thinking: A Streamlined Conception
Concise article written by Robert H. Ennis.

Glossary of Critical Thinking Terms
"An Educator's Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts."

What is critical thinking?
A tutorial.