Building Critical Thinking Skills in Kids: 5 Activities for Pre-Schoolers

There are plenty of supplemental activities that you can do with your child (and which you may do already) that promote logical reasoning and problem-solving.

For example, engage in games and activities that promote higher-order thinking, and which strengthen your pre-schooler’s short-term memory and listening skills.

Below you will find our suggestions on the top 5 supplemental activities that help build critical thining skills in kids.

  • Do Skills-Builder Activities

It can also be worthwhile to buy workbooks that contain exercises and activities or test prep books that include 'critical thinking' question types, such as books created for preparing for the CogAT, OLSAT or NNAT. You can also put together a series of worksheets that promote the kinds of skills that the test measures.

For example, worksheets on ‘sequences’, “what does not belong”, and 'analogical thinking' (with images, not words) would be useful places to start.

You can download some of these types of questions by clicking the button below.


  • Build Vocabulary Through Seeing In Context

Enhance background knowledge and expand visual vocabulary by visiting places such as a zoo, museum, circus, farm or aquarium, where a child can encounter objects and animals in context.

  • Play Traditional Memory Games

Play traditional memory games such as 'Matching Pairs', the 'Ever-increasing Shopping List' (I went to the shop and bought a .... ), and 'Which Item is Missing?', where items are placed and named on the table, then one object is removed.

  • Work With Flashcards

Use picture flashcards to help your child classify how different items share a common category because of shared characteristics.

  • Play Games That Help Your Child Learn About How To Classify Objects

Engage in play experiences that involve naming and sorting and classifying common objects, including types of clothing, furniture, tools, vehicles, animals, vegetables, fruits and plants. For example:

One player (without telling the others) chooses a common object (eg: an orange) and uses specific words to describe which category it belongs to, and other defining concepts such as its color, shape, size, use, location, etc. (''I'm thinking of a fruit that is round, orange, juicy, grows on trees, makes juice). The other player/s guess what is being described.

Players choose a word category (e.g., footwear) and try to describe as many objects as possible that are part of the category (include sneakers, shoes, boots, sandals, socks, slippers).

Players choose a topic ( eg: cats) and together try to think of familiar concepts related to it (include has four legs, has whiskers, runs away from dogs, can be a pet, purrs).

We hope you find these tips helpful for building critical thinking skills in your child. Learn more about tests and assesments that measure these critical thinking skills by visitng our pages on the OLSAT test, amd the NNAT test.