Lists and Categories
Use an idea from the fluency page to generate a list. Then categorize the things you came up with into several categories. For example, if you were generating a list of different uses for water, washing dishes, washing clothes, brushing teeth, would all fall into one category, while generating hydro power would fall into a different one. Discuss why some things fall into the same category. Try to come up with new categories and new list items.
Three Possible Reasons Why
Use "Give 3 Possible Reasons" Questions. These ask children to think of 3 reasons why something that one would expect to happen, didn't. They make great writing assignments or can just be used in a discussion format. They are great for flexible thinking because kids must think of an unusual, yet plausible reason that something has occurred. Here are some to try:
- Susie did her homework but she did not turn it in. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- Amber rides her bike home from school every day, but yesterday she walked home. Give 3 reasons possible why.
- Tom loves chocolate cake. His mother served chocolate cake for dessert, but Tom did not eat it. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- Rover always comes when he is called, but yesterday he did not come when his owner called. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- James bought a new jacket but he never wore it. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- Kate broke her pencil point but she did not use the pencil sharpener. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- For studying dinosaurs: A Tyrannosaurus has killed a Stegosaurus, but he did not eat it. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- For studying government: Paul E. Tishan was elected as Governor, but he did not serve his term in office. Give 3 possible reasons why.
- For studying Native Americans: A tribe of Native Americans built a longhouse, but no one lived in it. Give 3 possible reasons why.
Lateral thinking stories are also a great way to practice flexible thinking. These are stories that ask you to come up with a reason for what seems to be an impossible situation. The way to get the most from one of these stories is to have a leader who tells the story and knows the answer. Then the listeners ask questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no." Generally, this leads to one or more participants suddenly having one of those wonderful "aha!" moments and solving the puzzle. A classic one you may have heard involves a man who is lying dead in the middle of a desert. He is face down, wearing a backpack. There are no footprints or other markings in the sand around him. How did he die? There are many more excellent lateral thinking stories at Jed's List of Situational Puzzles.