Worksheets. Every kid that goes to an elementary school brings them home most nights. Worksheets on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division facts and spelling words.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer of repetition and memorization. It’s absolutely necessary as a building block for strong mental math, and ask my kids- I’m a stickler about mental math. I don’t let them use calculators until Algebra 1. They learned not to ask… and they all realize they are better for it when they are older.
I think any parent will agree, there are many ways to learn different things. While repetition is important, schools often miss the boat on getting young fabulous little minds to think about things differently. There is a huge difference between solving and calculating.
I’ve spent countless hours creating curricula for my kids to meet their individual needs, as well as meet their strengths and weaknesses. One thing I’ve been sure to incorporate into the early years is logic. And by “early years”, I mean preschool. I have found that the earlier the better when it comes to shaping the way I want my kids to think.
It is critically important for young ones’ brains to understand that there are different ways to solve problems other than just computing addition and subtraction problems. Those are important, but the brain needs to learn how to find the answers by other means. Logic comes in many forms these days and I haven’t met the young learner that hasn’t loved it in one form or another.
As I’ve said (ad nauseam…possibly?) I’ve been homeschooling for 20 years and I have formulated some thoughts on teaching logic skills to younger kids.
First and Foremost, Keep It Fun
I start with games like LogicLinks and Cart Before the Horse. Both are fun and engaging and can be played at beginner levels.
If you want some great online fun, try out these. There are some (annoying) ads, for sure, but you can ignore them or pay to play ‘ad free’. I would recommend these games for 7 and up, partially because of the ads and there is also more of a challenge involved.
Civiballs at Cool Math Games: When you cut the chain, how will the ball swing? Get the colored balls into their matching buckets… But, you’ll need to do some planning!
“Civiballs is a fun challenge! Players have to snip the chains on the screen in the correct order. Weights will drop, cannons will shoot, and everything has to be timed perfectly to get the balls into the right buckets!”
Factory Balls 1 at Cool Math Games: A cool logic game! Duplicate the designed balls by dropping white balls into different buckets of paint, putting belts on and more.
“A recently discovered logic game: players have to figure out through reason and elimination which tools do which tasks. They then have to carry out the tasks in the correct order to finish decorating each ball according to the instructions. A tricky game, but a fun one!”
Keep A Variety Of Options At The Ready
Once they get older, not only do they still enjoy these games(and they play them independently). They also can handle a little more of a challenge. That’s when the Zoombinis make their grand entrance. I actually put this game into their weekly school schedule for something that they can look forward to. It makes them feel like they’re playing and I know they are learning. It’s a win-win, but don’t tell them.
In the entertaining and educational game Zoombinis, players guide the little blue creatures through fun and increasingly challenging puzzles on their way to a new home.
“Zoombinis is a classic family favorite; ask any of us! Everyone remembers Bubble Abyss and the Fleens. No one can possibly forget Arno the Pizza Troll. Each step on the Zoombinis’ Logical Journey involves puzzles that you have to solve in order to bring the little blue characters to their new home. Whether it’s delivering them across the Allergic Cliffs or organizing them in a specific order on a river barge, players have to stretch their brains in order to guide the Zoombinis safely. It’s definitely worth checking out!”
When it comes to logic in their curriculum, I use some really great stuff. I incorporate this into their daily schedules and try to switch them around so they don’t get bored.
Perplexors is a reading/language based logic puzzle. The series of books require a fair amount of attention, so I’m inclined to wait until 3rd grade or so. They come in
multiple levels to keep them challenged through middle school and the logic puzzles are goofy and entertaining. I highly recommend!
Finally, to complete your logic curriculum for elementary through middle school age students, I find the more traditional grid-style logic puzzles in Mind Benders. As with the Perplexors series, these puzzles are great for helping kids learn about deductive reasoning skills. Like other books and online programs, Mind Benders puzzles are available from the early grades all the way up. The benefit to these is that there is less reading required, so kids can be successful at an earlier age. They also come in Cd-Rom format (although I prefer old-fashioned pencil and paper for these puzzles).
There is untapped potential in our children that our current school system is sadly deficient in developing. Please, parents, teach your kids how to think and solve through logic and reasoning. They will thank you.