Critical thinking skills are an important part of successful growth and learning for children. When kids are given an environment that allows them to observe, experiment, inquire, design, and think about their world, they will begin the journey toward the development of independent problem solving skills.
By using Wikki Stix to help build important skills, the children will benefit from a multi-sensory approach to critical thinking that expands learning beyond basic facts and toward the application of knowledge outside of the classroom or home.
Materials needed: one Wikki Stix Circles printable (linked above), scissors, and assorted colors of Wikki Stix.
Set out assorted colors of Wikki Stix on a tray, at a center, or on a table. Cut the individual rows apart in the file and laminate for durability. Discuss with the children what colors are used to make the circles in each of the two boxes. Ask if the children can identify what colored circles are the same/different between the two boxes? Invite the children to use the Wikki Stix to trace around the circles in each box that are the same (or different) than the colors in the second box. The extra sensory layer provided by using the Wikki Stix will help cement the concepts of same/different as the children play and create the colored circles.
There are blank boxes at the end of the file. Invite the children to create designs using only Wikki Stix circles. Leave the play activity open-ended so the children can employ critical thinking skills in constructing their designs. **Note – use a larger blank sheet of paper and have the children work in small groups. Asking children to work together allows each child to gain knowledge from peers (or other family members).
Have the children share their Wikki Stix circle designs. Help the children build vocabulary skills and encourage discussion by asking open-ended questions about each of the designs. For example: Why did you decide to make the caterpillar? How did you know what a caterpillar looked like? Can you describe how you made the design?
Materials needed: Assorted Colors of Wikki Stix cut into various lengths and a tray or table for the children to construct designs.
This activity is an open-ended activity that compels the children to imagine various objects/shapes/designs that they can construct using only lines.
We used a painter’s palette to hold the different colors of Wikki Stix. The space in the middle of the palette worked well for creating. If available, use a digital camera and allow the children to take photos of their creations. Print the photos and have the children share or write about what they designed. In the photo above, a five year old created an “Indian feather.” This summer, the child’s family had a chance to visit North Dakota. The child loved looking at all of the artifacts and chose to use his lines to create a feather!:) As educators, it is amazing to learn about children and the reasons why they choose to create! The photos can also be used to make a picture book for the children to “read” and tell their own stories to accompany each photograph.
Critical Thinking: How to make Wikki Stix Spirals
Materials needed: assorted straight objects that the children might choose to make a Wikki Stix spiral, assorted colors of Wikki Stix, and scissors, if desired.
Make a tray or center area from the assorted Wikki Stix and objects to make the spirals.
Brainstorm possible ways to make a spiral from one strand of Wikki Stix with the children. For ex: a spiral can be made by wrapping the Wikki Stix around a finger, a pencil, a crayon, a marker, a glue stick, or other round objects. There are various ways to make a spiral and some objects work better than others. The Wikki Stix will adhere to some surfaces making it more difficult to remove.
Allow the children to experiment with different ways to create a spiral. It is great fine motor work, but also allows the children to really THINK about creating and what is working or not.
Come together after experimentation to allow time for discussion. There is no right way to create a spiral, but there are ways that work better. Ask the children how they discovered their “solutions” to creating a spiral. Ask the children why they think that some objects worked better than the others. It is a FUN way for the children to create, experiment, and form solutions to a problem with open-ended play.
**Note: The pdf file can be printed for the children to create different patterns using their created spirals and lines/circles. Some examples of designs have been given if the children would like to try re-creating those first. There are blank boxes at the end of the file for the children to create any designs desired.
Open-ended play with Wikki Stix can lead the children to discover basic facts, but it also allows them the opportunity to garner important critical thinking skills. As we invite our children to explore, inquire, share, and apply what they learn, we can help guide them to present and future success!