Summertime Activities That Hone Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills are important for toddlers. Over time, these skills become the foundation of a child’s overall decision-making, problem-solving, and communication. 

Fortunately, children can build these skills year-round whether they attend a Montessori toddler program in the summertime or not. Discover some simple summertime games and activities that can help your child hone their critical thinking skills.

Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles (sometimes called discovery bottles) are clear bottles filled with objects and liquids that engage a child’s senses. Many Montessori toddler programs use them because they activate prior knowledge and deductive reasoning skills to help children predict what might happen. 

For example, you may fill the bottle with metal objects and have children think about what will occur if you place a magnet on the outside.

I Spy 

The “I Spy” game simply requires you to describe something you’re looking at and then have a child try to guess the object. For example, you may notice a pillow and say, “I spy something green and white.” 

The child will then look around and point out objects, asking questions until they guess correctly. This game builds excellent observational skills and the ability to think critically through the process of elimination. The child will also learn to form a hypothesis and refine it based on new information until they reach the right conclusion.

Once Upon a Time

Children love stories because they nurture their creativity and allow them to craft a world beyond the one in which they live. Instead of simply telling your child a story, you can help them build their critical thinking skills by letting them build a story with you.

Start the story with “Once upon a time,” and then take turns telling what happens first, next, and last. This also allows children to use inference skills to predict future actions.

Mazes and Obstacle Courses

Mazes and obstacle courses engage multiple senses and allow for some physical activity. They also help children learn to observe a situation and figure out how to solve the problem at hand. You can build a maze or obstacle course around your home using many everyday objects, including:

  • Plywood
  • Tarp
  • Bouncing balls
  • Cones
  • Stools
  • Pool noodles
  • Chairs

Make sure that the items you use are safe for young children to touch and climb on.

Building Structures

Blocks and interlocking cubes are perfect tools for building critical thinking skills. To bring their thoughts into reality, children have to use their imagination. They must figure out how to create particular shapes and ensure their structures don’t fall over. This means that while they’re having fun, they’re also learning how to process their own ideas.


Puzzles are easy to find, but they can also create a world of fun and learning. They give children the opportunity to recreate a picture piece by piece. Your young ones will use their critical thinking skills as they learn which pieces fit together and which colors belong in different parts of the puzzle. 

Guessing Games

Guessing games are similar to “I Spy,” except the child won’t be able to see the object. Instead, you’ll hide it behind your back and invite them to figure out what you are holding. They’ll have to use prior knowledge, reasoning skills, and critical thinking to assess the clues you give them and refine their answers until they get it right.

Bring Fun and Learning Together With Skill-Building Activities

Learning doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, young children learn best when they engage in enjoyable activities that stimulate their senses. If you’re looking for an educational program that will support your child’s natural curiosity while helping them build real-world skills, Montessori West can help. Contact us today to learn more about our Montessori toddler program and discover how our proven education methods instill a lifelong love of learning from the very beginning.

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