20 Quick & Fun Creative and Critical Thinking Activities

Here are 20 fun activities you can use whenever you have a few minutes. These would make terrific writing prompts. They could also spark some interesting discussions. You can get 150 of these activities in card format right here.
  1. How would life be different if there were no electricity? List three different ways.
  2. Explain a flower to someone who has never seen or heard of one before.
  3. Write a story about the zoo without using the names of any animals.
  4. Pretend that you get to make one rule that everyone in the world must follow. What rule do you make? Why?
  5. What kind of soup would you eat for dessert? Write a recipe for dessert soup.
  6. You can have any three things that you want. In return you must give away three things that are about the same size as the things you get. What do you get and what do you give away?
  7. What are some ways you could celebrate "Backwards Day?"
  8. Are you more like a square or a circle? Why?
  9. How would the game of soccer be different if the ball was shaped like a cube?
  10. What are three ways the world would be different if people did not need to sleep? What would you do with the extra time?
  11. What would happen if all the bowling balls and bowling pins in the world suddenly became alive?
  12. Which do you think is more important: motorized vehicles like cars and  airplanes or computers? Why?
  13. If you could choose one thing that costs money and make it free for everyone forever, what thing would you choose? Why?
  14. If you could live in a tree house, would you? What are three advantages and three disadvantages to living in a tree house?
  15. If people could not see colors, how would traffic lights work? Design a traffic system that does not rely on colors.
  16. What are the ten most important jobs in the world? Do you want to do any of these jobs when you are an adult?
  17. Pretend that parents have to take a test before they can have children. Write six questions that would be on the parenting test. 
  18. If you could invent a new subject that would be taught to all children in school, what would the subject be? Why do you think children need to learn about your subject\?
  19. If you could talk to trees, what do you think they might say? Create a conversation between you and a tree.
  20. Are you more like a river, a lake, an ocean, or a waterfall? Why?

Five Fun Summer Journal Ideas

Kids often embrace the idea of a summer journal because it is a nice way to capture some summer experiences and it has a finite end - the end of summer is the end of the journal. Here are three fun ideas.

Nature Journal
Use a book with unlined pages (or half lined pages) for a nature journal. Use the journal to record interesting things found in nature. Each entry should include the date and time, the place where the object was found, comments about the object and a realistic sketch. Other possibilities include labels for the sketch, a poem about the object, reflections about emotions, thoughts, and ideas that the object inspires. Pencils work well for a nature journal

Photo Journal
A photo journal great for kids who love to take pictures. In a photo journal, pictures from the day are used as writing prompts. To make a photo journal entry, take several pictures throughout the day. Choose 1-3 pictures to print. Glue the pictures into the journal and write about each one (this could also be done in PowerPoint or on a blog instead of in a book). Encourage children to go beyond simply writing a sentence or two about what is going on in the picture. Feelings about what is happeing, what happened before and after the picture, and opinions about what happened are all good for a photo journal.

Comic/Graphic Journal
This is a journal that is done all in comic book style with frames that include pictures, captions, speech/thought bubbles. This is great for the aspiring manga artist, but even if a child just wants to draw stick figures, this can be a fun and useful form of expression. You can use the chart function in Word to make a grid of 6 or 9 even frames per page or just allow children to draw their own.

Journal Scrapbook
A Journal Scrapbook is a combination of whatever feels right and fun - words, sketches, printed out photos, photos from magazines, ticket stubs, comics...whatever gets the idea across. Many children enjoy this kind of journal.

Fill-in-the-Blank Guided Journals
You can buy these in every flavor imaginable. My favorites are the ones that are as open ended as possible. One of these is Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith and of course there is always my Journal Jumble pages for mix and match fun. Looking for a quickie journal for adults? I am having fun with Simple Diary Vol. One by Philipp Keel. It takes literally less than two minutes to complete an entry. Another great option for grown ups are these delightful pages by Christie Zimmer.

 Journal Mix and Match

Got another fun journal idea? Please share!

Quickie Share a Quote Giveaway

I am doing a quickie contest on my facebook page. All you have to do to enter is share a favorite quote. Winners get a product of choice from my TpT store (it would be great if you would "Like" the page as well). Contest ends tomorrow afternoon.

Get your High School Freshman Motivated this Summer

I rarely write personal stories on Minds in Bloom, but in addition to being over the moon about my daughter's grades, there is a good takeaway for parents, so please bear with me (or just skip to the last paragraph for the takeaway).
Before this school year my daughter Lucy's academic career was far from stellar. She was at best a C student with little motivation to do better. Then, last summer on the way home from a road trip we visited a university campus with her older brother who was a high school senior. An enthusiastic blond student gave us a tour and she did a terrific job of telling us all about how awesome college life is. While this didn't impress my son much (he choose a different college) it did leave a lasting impression on my daughter who was going into her high school freshmen year. A few months later, we visited another university (my own Alma mater), and Lucy got to stay over night in the dorm with a family friend who is a freshman there. Of course, she had an amazing time and decided that she wants to go there. While this school isn't the UW, it is not an easy school to get into.
This year, Lucy's academic life changed dramatically. She has gotten straight  A's. And at the Recognition Assembly at the end of the year, she got special recognition certificates from four of her six teachers. But even better than the grades, she has developed a real love of learning. She frequently shares what she has been learning with me and reads me her papers. This never used to happen.  
So, here is my advice to all you parents of teenagers. Don't wait until junior or senior year to visit colleges. The summer before ninth grade is the perfect time. The universities in our state (Washington) all have short tours you can take, which for most ninth graders is probably a better option than the whole day seminar/tour that seniors often opt for. Maybe Lucy would have decided to apply herself without the visits...but they certainly helped!

MEGA Contest at Teacher2Teacher

There is an amazing contest over at the Teacher2Teacher blog. 

You can win a bunch of teaching resources in one of 3 categories and you can enter several times! 

My contribution is my best selling Literature Response Worksheets in the 3-6 category. 

Take an ABC Nature Walk!

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books."
-John Lubbock

This summer, Minds in Bloom will be focusing on nature - certainly one of the greatest inspirations for creativity. Posts will mostly be activity based, starting with this one:

An ABC Nature Walk is fun for any group of kids - or even adults. Choose a natural setting such as a park or forest. Make sure you have a clipboard and a pencil for each child. Participants can use this free ABC recording sheet to write and/or sketch things found in nature that begin with each letter of the alphabet.

You can all walk together, or let older children strike out on their own. Encourage children to use their imaginations. For example, "X" could be "extremely small ant." "C" could be "frog croaking."  At the end of the activity, compare answers. Which letters were easy? Which were challenging? What were some of the creative answers that people came up with?

Another option is to allow participants to fill in the sheet over a period of days or weeks, using several different settings. This could work well for a summer camp activity.

Be sure to check back soon for more nature activities! You could even become a Minds in Bloom follower by clicking the link on the right sidebar.

Looking for more great ways that parents can teach their kids? Check out the linky party at Teaching Blog Addict!

Contest for 6-12 Teachers!

Be sure and check out the contest on Teachers 2 Teachers. Super easy to enter and you could win over $100 in great resources!

Also my son graduated from high school yesterday, so to celebrate, I am having a 20% off sale on everything in my TpT Store. Today and tomorrow only!

Diffy - A Fun Subtraction Game!

Diffy is great for practicing subtraction - but it also requires students to think logically and identify patterns. It can be played with integers, negative numbers, fractions, decimals, and money, but I think it is most fun with whole numbers. Great for kids, but adults enjoy playing too.

Begin by writing four different numbers into the four circles on each of the outer corners. Fill in the outer squares by subtracting the smaller number from the larger number on each corner. Continue working toward the center, subtracting the corners. What patterns do you see? Can you get to the middle without a difference of zero?

Image created by Rachel Lynette Copyright ©2011 all rights reserved
Here is a completed one. As you can see, the player (who was me) did not win because the circles furthest to the center all came up zero. Can you win? Can your students? And perhaps more importantly, what will your students learn about number relationships while they are trying?
Image created by Rachel Lynette Copyright ©2011 all rights reserved
 You can get a Student copy of Diffy (with directions) right here for only $1.00

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