Easy Critical Thinking Games for Students: Warm-ups, media, school

Critical thinking is the objective analysis of facts to form a judgment. In a world where we are inundated with information, much of which is false or misleading, this skills has tremendous importance.

One quick and easy way to get students to think critically, is to brainstorm, sort and rank ideas.

Warm-Up: Would you Rather

  • As the warm up, try Would you Rather? Have students write at least two questions, one of which may be a fun one, such as “Tacos or Pizza” but the other must be deeper. Students physically walk to the side that represents their opinion. BONUS: On tougher questions, I allow students to debate the question. For example, “Samsung vs. Apple?” gets good debate, or Would you rather live in the past or the future?
  • “Attractive or Intelligent” is a common one.
  • Organized or Creative
  • Too Cautious or Too Reckless
  • Be too hot  or too cold
  • Make modest money and a happy family, or stinking rich and alone?
  • Famous alive or Famous when you are dead?

would your rather

MEDIA Game for 7/8 and high school

Students brainstorm types of media and cut them out on pieces of paper so that they can easily sort or arrange them. Then they are to rank them.

Example, oldest to youngest audience:

media oldest to youngest

Other options include,

  • “Most male to most female audience”,
  • most respectable to least
  • size of audience
  • Used by their age group the best to least

Next, give them a product to advertise or an announcement.

  • A) Ask them to pick three social media sites that they would use to get the message across to their target audience. OR
  • B) have them create a campaign to reach the largest audience on only one media platform.

SCHOOL Problems

You could also use this same idea to discuss problems affecting their school. Brainstorm issues at the school and rank them according to various criteria such as:

  • Affects the most students to least
  • Most urgent, to least pressing
  • Affects boys more, affects girls more, affects teachers more
  • Broadest impact (affecting community) to smallest (affecting a small, specific group)
  • etc…

Next, have them pick an issue and create a survey using Google forms to collect data on their issue. Graph and use this data to create Change Campaign.


Financial literacy resources & Activities

While not all kids “like” math, what kid isn’t interested in money? And what better time to talk about money than after the holidays where you likely spent a lot, and hopefully received some, too!

For students with enrichment needs, making math more meaningful and relevant will enhance their interest and engagement with the subject. It also provides teachers with some easy real-world extensions to the curriculum.

So what does it mean to be financially literate? It means you can

  • Understand how banks work and the different types of bank accounts
  • Understand basic financial concepts like wants vs. needs, saving, investing, borrowing and  compound interest
  • Understand financial products like bank cards, credit cards, mortgages and insurance.
  • Feel comfortable discussing money with family members and feel confident in your ability to make financial decisions
  • Are able to plan for your financial future!

Why Financial Literacy?

The reasons for teaching financial literacy are limitless! In the world of “tap-pay” debit, students aren’t even aware of what they are spending? Do students even know how much things cost today?  Do they know how much post-secondary school costs How long will it take them, working a minimum wage job to pay for 1-year of post-secondary school? What salaries they can expect when graduating?

Just as important as spending habits, saving and investing are equally important topics. Personal debt is increasing in Canada and is a leading cause of adult suicide. Worse, students think debt is inevitable – a normal part of life. However, much can be done to alleviate this problem by making money a topic of conversation in your classroom. Fortunately, there are many resources to help you get started!

Return on Investment (ROI) – More than just a financial concept

This is one of the most important financial literacy concepts as it relates to all aspects of life. In simple terms it calculates what is the payback for an action. What value does this action provide?

In financial terms, the return on investment (ROI) is a calculation used in business used to determine whether a proposed investment is wise, and how well it will repay the investor. We can also use ROI to evaluate our purchases. This can be harder to do.

  • For example, what is a better use of our money: a $2 toy from the dollar store, or $15 binder for organizing your school work? A new car or a used car? These are not simple, straightforward calculations and have many variables, like how long you plan to keep them for.  
  • Here’s a tough one: 4 years of university versus 4 years of working? Short-term pain, long-term gain? Or vice versa?

In life, we can look at ROI to determine how well our time is spent. For example, what is the ROI on a walk outside on our mental health? What do we spend a lot of time doing, but don’t get much out of? Or worse, comes with an emotional cost? As you can see, this becomes a philosophical question and way of evaluating our life choices.

  • Try thinking about this concept in your classroom: which actions have the greatest payoff, and which actions come at a cost?

After discussing this concept with your class, ask them the following questions:

  • What is something that comes at a high cost but has a high payoff?
    E.g., university?  A well-used gym membership? A house? A family?
  • What actions or purchases come with a low or negative ROI?
    E.g., purchases of something you don’t use much (stuffed  toys, collectibles)? Procrastinating?

CFEE – Canadian Foundation for Economic Education

CFEE is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that works collaboratively with funding partners, departments of education, school boards, schools, educators, and teacher associations to develop and provide free, non-commercial programs and resources for teachers and students – developed and reviewed by educators. Overall, CFEE’s work primarily focuses on youth but also aspires to help people of all ages be better prepared to undertake their economic roles, responsibilities, and decisions with confidence and competence.

Money and Youth

The world of money is one area where many people often feel they lack control. CFEE, in partnership with Investors Group, has produced this publication to provide youth with information that will help them to better understand the world of money, to enable them to begin to take more control over their financial future – and improve their chance of achieving success.

Table of Contents

CFEE Building Futures in Manitoba

Lesson Plans by Grade http://buildingfuturesinmanitoba.com/resources/

All about Bank Accounts

Download this document to discuss the different kinds of bank accounts with your students are send it home for students to read with their parents. What is a Youth Savings Account and who should have one? Do you have an RESP? Do you need one? These are the types of question they’ll discuss. http://bit.ly/2OmEnw0

Toronto Star – Classroom Connections

This program is designed to help you teach your students financial literacy. It comes with a Teacher Guide and a student section in both French and English! Download your copy today! https://www.classroomconnection.ca/mymoney.html

TRY THIS:  (a monthly section of ready to use ideas to push thinking in your classroom)

The Money Minute  & other money lessons for your class

b>Fairy Tale Values: Ask students to write a one- to two-page children’s bedtime story that would teach a young child a lesson about money.<
What’s more important—the job or the money? Discuss this question with students or ask them to write a brief opinion piece.

Keys Please? Grades 7/8: Discuss when and why it makes sense to borrow. Next, go find a car they’d like to own when they get their license. Use this car loan calculator to figure out how much they’d end of spending, and how long it would take to pay the money back. Have students share their answers. Lessons learned?

Get a job! Grade 7/8 – In groups, have students figure when they can start working, and how much minimum wage is (note: different for those under 18 than for adults). Next, research a couple of different jobs and pick one that you think is better than the rest.

  • A) Calculate how many hours/year they could work during high school? How much could they earn and save by the time they graduate?
  • B) Create a resume to match their “dream part-time job”. Conduct fake interviews with peers. Who would you hire and why?  Discuss all the ways a person could mess up a job interview and lose the opportunity to be hired.

Stop me, please! Discuss students’ greatest spending weaknesses. When do they wish someone would just stop them—and how could they stop? What could your family do with less of?


Money in my life. Discuss the role and importance of money in our lives. What are the benefits? What are the negative aspects? What’s important to keeping a proper perspective?

Reality check. Brainstorm to come up with a list of the basic expenses necessary for a modest level of financial comfort. What minimum annual income would be needed?

“I just can’t stand…” Which ads do students find annoying and why? Which ads do they like and why? BONUS: Create an ad for your favourite product.

Tic Tac Toe – Gr. 3-5 – Download this Tic Tac Toe Math Choice Board on money calculations and decisions. <

“Who wants to be a millionaire?” Who does want to be a millionaire and why? Who doesn’t and why not? Have each student make a list of what he/she would do with a million dollar windfall and hand it in on an unsigned piece of paper. Review the lists with the class.

Jobs we love: Brainstorm all of the jobs that students can think of. Next, brainstorm different industries: E.g., medical, education, manufacturing, government, fishing, retail, foods, services, hospitality. Have students add jobs that they were missing. Then start grouping them. From best to worst? Split them into “male jobs” and female jobs”.  White collar/Blue collar? Highest earning to lowest earning? Compare the different group answers. Why the difference?
Individually, have students pick their top 5-10 jobs.  Pick one job and research the qualifications required to obtain each job and their average salary (try Glassdoor).How many years of school will you need?  Have each student present their job to the class.

Bonus: research how much 1 year of schooling would cost. All years?

Time is Money: What do spend too much time doing when you could be more productive? Watching YouTube? Playing Fortnite? What could you be doing during that time that would be more productive? Set a goal to do 1h more work a week (or 10m/day). Bonus: negotiate with your parents to get chore money!

Savings Goal: Calculate how much money you think you get in a year (birthdays, chores, holidays). Make a goal to save half of that money. Calculate how much they’d have in 5 years. 10 years? Bonus, take into account extra money you might make as you get older!<

Spending Goal: Research 5 things you like to buy. Figure out how much they cost. Brainstorm ways in which you could earn enough money to buy one of them (NOTE: the money has to be earned).

Super Savers: There are lots of way to “earn” money by cutting back on spending. For example, cutting down on electricity  bill by turning off the lights. Saving on grocery bill by cutting coupons. In groups, brainstorm other ways to reduce spending costs for your family!<

Great Givers: In groups, research local charities and pick one you like the best. Keep a jar in your classroom for each group’s charity. Set a goal donation. Calculate how much each person would have to give over the course of a year. Make a goal of something like 25 cents a week/student. See much money you raise and make it a class trip to donate the money!

Hey, that’s my money! Research what fees you pay on bank accounts. Compare the major youth accounts. Which one would you pick and why?

Tooth Fairy: Primary – How much money do you get for 1 tooth? How much could you earn from all of your baby teeth? Set a goal to save some of this money. How much should you save? Discuss as a class.

Pizza Money: Do you get pizza at school? Chocolate milk? Calculate how much money you spend on lunch orders each week? How much will you likely spend in one school year?

Big Budgets: Depending on the grade, split the class into groups. Groups can choose to pick a big budget: a family, a university student, a school, a store, a city, the Canadian Government, a store, or something else of their choosing. Have each group brainstorm their expenses. BONUS: research the actual costs. How much should they put in savings based on the size of their budget (money for a rainy day)? How much should they set aside for investments, or donations?


Financial Literacy Terms & Word Wall Words


Financial Literacy Infographics

“Better Together” February

While working with a group of grade 4 girls, we were brainstorming “problems” at the school that we could aim to address.  Issues came up like:

  • physical contact in the halls and outside
  • stealing
  • disrespecting the buddy bench

When we tried to have a conversation about it, each had their chromebooks open and conversation went no where. The second we closed all of our devices, the conversation exploded with ideas. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that all of these problems had the same root cause: when students don’t feel connect e to each other, they don’t respect each other. 

In world where students are getting 4+ hours of screen time a day, in a world that is both competitive and individualistic, students are,

  • losing contact with the outside world
  • losing the ability to make real connections with humans and
  • are losing the ability to empathize with each other.

All of those factors lead to students not respecting each other!

Image result for better togetherOur solution was to create opportunities at school where we got to know each other better – to feel connected!  Since February is the month of Valentine’s Day and Family Day, we thought it created the perfect backdrop to our “Get Connected” initiative. We’re still working on the branding (getting connected is associated with connecting to the internet, which is the opposite of what we want people to do), so feel free to comment your ideas below!

  • Come Together by the Beatles?
  • Better Together by Jack Johnson?

We want to do a school-wide activity where each classroom hosts an activity where two grades work together on a project, and then rotate so that each class gets to know other classrooms by doing a shared activity such as:

  • Pictionary
  • Colouriing a picture
  • escape room or breakout box
  • puzzles
  • Mad Libs
  • Class-wide Rock Paper Scissors

Please contribute your ideas in the comments.






Teachers: win a 10-pack Lenovo Virtual Reality Classroom Kit

Lenovo announces Ontario Visionary Teachers Contest to bring immersive virtual learning to classrooms

Teachers are given chance to win a 10-pack Lenovo Virtual Reality Classroom Kit

Lenovo officially launched the VR Classroom Kit in Canada, a digitally immersive and educationally driven innovation, at the Immersed Conference in Toronto. The launch came with the announcement of the Lenovo Ontario Visionary Teachers Contest, whereby teachers’ grade 7 – 12 in Ontario have the opportunity to win a 10-pack VR Classroom Kit for their school.

“Digital innovation, like that found through VR, unlocks students’ learning potential and enhances education dramatically,” said Marc Saltzman, Canadian tech expert and Lenovo partner. “Imagine being able to virtually discover animal evolution by exploring the depths of Africa. On-demand lesson plans offer teachers more engaging content and dynamic learning tools for new classroom opportunities.”

PHOTO CAPTION: To demonstrate how educational technology can enhance lesson plans and lead to advanced learning opportunities, Marc Saltzman became teacher for the evening, leading guests on headsets through one of the Scholastic-built lesson plans

Designed for Classrooms

The Lenovo VR Classroom Kit is the first of its kind to be created specifically for use in the classroom for students grades 7-12. The kit, which come in three, ten or 24 packs, allow teachers to take students through lesson plans simultaneously and is made to be disinfected after each use. VR experiences are delivered using Lenovo’s first standalone Mirage Solo, the first all-in-one wireless VR headset with Google Daydream, which means no tethered cables, PCs or smartphones, a hand controller for increased interactivity, motion-tracking technology and 110-degree field view so that students can more freely discover the world around them.

Curriculum and Teacher Support

Captivating and curriculum-derived educational content are included with the kit. Custom Scholastic STEM lesson plans, VR videos from the Wild Immersion endorsed by Jane Goodall, and access to 1000+ virtual reality field trips through the Google Expeditions app make it easy for teachers to implement. Teachers are fully supported to implement the technology through a formal onboarding, ongoing training sessions and access to a fully bilingual helpdesk.

To learn more about the contest or the VR Classroom kit, teachers are encouraged to visit www.lenovo.com/vrcontest.

Superhero Quest: Compare Snowguard to Snowbird (First Nations connections)

Meet Marvel Superhero Amka Aliyak, an Inuk teenager from Nunavut, Canada Amka can harness the spiritual energies of the Arctic: resulting in the powers of:

  • Animal Shape-shifting,
  • Flight, and :
  • Aurora Manipulation

Who should be the next super hero? Who is not represented or under-represented in the super hero world? What problems would they solve? Who would be their nemesis?

Next, research and compare Snowguard to Snowbird.
  • What are their similarities? What are their differences?
  • Which one do you like better and why?
  • If they were to meet, would they be friends or enemies? Why?

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses

Universities around the world are offering their courses online for free (or at least partially free). These courses are collectively called MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. Here’s the list! https://qz.com/1437623/600-free-online-courses-you-can-take-from-universities-worldwide

Class Central! We are excited to be a part of your educational journey. If you are new to MOOCs or free online courses, please read our FAQ to understand how they work.

Class Central has helped over 10 million people find great online courses offered for free by some of the best universities and teachers in the world. Reviews from the Class Central community help you understand if a course is right for you.

Here are two ways you can use Class Central right away to find courses:

  1. Browse our Subjects categories for topics you are interested in. You can also use the search bar to type in keywords.
  2. Look at courses that are about to start or are self-paced. These are guaranteed to be available for sign up.

As you browse courses, you can use the + icon next to the course name to add it to your list of My Courses These can be seen on your profile page. Here is mine as an example: www.class-central.com/@dhawal

You will also be notified when new sessions of courses you are interested in are announced. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to send me a message by replying to this email.

Never stop learning!

Dhawal Shah
Founder & CEO, Class Central

Ingenium – Let’s Talk Energy – Climate Change Resources


Let’s Talk Energy is a national program aims to enhance energy awareness and literacy among Canadians to contribute to a sustainable energy future.


The Let’s Talk Energy initiative invites all people in Canada to explore energy systems, and to reflect on the relationship between energy, the economy and the environment.

Let’s Talk Energy also seeks to connect people in Canada with the realities of our changing climate. We deliver all of our programming aiming to be holistic in our storytelling so that the people we reach leave us more empowered in their own lives to make informed decisions about energy and climate change.

Let’s Talk Energy brings together a national network of partners and allies to inform and engage people in Canada on energy and climate change topics.

The initiative works to:

  • Further energy and climate change literacy amongst people in Canada
  • Maximize the number of people in Canada engaged in a dialogue on our energy and climate change futures
  • Educate people in Canada on the important role science and technology play and has played in shaping our energy past, present and future.

We do this using…

  • Exhibitions (in house and travelling)
  • School Programs and Kits
  • Lesson Plans and infographics
  • Social Media programming, outreach, and engagement
  • Virtual Tools
  • Outreach at events

To date our efforts have resulted in

  • 13+ million people reached since 2011
  • 46,000+ websites visits per year
  • 6 award winning exhibitions
  • Annual social media reach of 2+ million

Order our Free Educational Posters on Climate Change for your Classroom:

  • Educate on climate change, and the challenges and opportunities it poses (order here)
  • Teach about our changing climate, its impacts and how Canadians are adapting (order here)