7 Mobile Games That Will Develop Critical Thinking Skills In Your Child

Looking for ways to boost the critical thinking abilities of your child? Go no further than these super apps for six to nine-year-olds, recommended by a renowned educator.

By Indhu Rebecca

7 Mobile Games That Will Develop Critical Thinking Skills In Your Child

Thirty-five-year-old ‘quiet’ Meera was at her explosive best one day when she noticed her eight-yearold daughter Snigdha immersed in a smartphone. “Keep that phone away! You are going to get sucked into that screen now,” yelled Meera.

Does this remind you of your own conversations with your child? Though phones and tablets are seen by many parents as a source of irritation, the zillion apps they come with are actually changing the way our children are exploring the world. Research suggests that when a primary schooler works with useful apps, he is likely to pick up several skills that will help him solve problems, draw inferences, make predictions, reason better and validate choices. All these are elements related to ‘critical and independent thinking’.

Critical thinking is an important skill your child should develop. In the ‘hi-tech’ world that we live in, your child will be swamped with a multitude of information and news, both fake and authentic. Your little critical thinker will need to make informed choices. Schools and universities around the world list critical thinking as an important part of the overall curriculum. The onus is on parents and educators to lay the foundation for the child to develop this skill as early as possible.

What does critical thinking include?

To the surprise of parents around the world, children between the ages of six and nine seem to get wiser overnight. According to Piaget’s stages of development, children at this age become skilled at carrying out higher order mental operations, processing logical thoughts and even reversing a mental process in their head. In short, they are giving first glimpses of their critical thinking abilities. You shouldn’t be surprised if your seven-year-old figures out that the milk you just poured into the big glass (which fills only half of this glass) is the same amount of milk that was in the small glass (which fills to the brim). Your child is actually resisting passivity, and is starting to explore and reconstruct new and old ideas and beliefs. Critical thinking is often described as reasoning in an open-ended manner with an unlimited number of solutions, which involves defining, analysing, arguing, evaluating, and problem-solving.

7 digital apps to boost your child's critical thinking

Encourage and hone critical thinking skills in your child by introducing him to the right kind of activities. Today, we look at some fabulous apps that can help you do just that. Here’s a list of seven popular and highly-rated game apps that help in developing critical thinking in children between six and nine years of age.

City Island 3

If your child loves to build and break ‘em down, then City Island 3 is the perfect choice. It is a building simulator game where a player starts with an empty island on which he designs and builds a city from scratch. Your child will bring to the fore his spatial reasoning, analytical and problem-solving skills. The infrastructure of the city, and the businesses that it needs to generate money to invest further is planned and created solely by the player. It will be interesting to see your child employ his logical reasoning. He will figure out that for more income, he will need to build more houses and accommodate them in the available space. The player will also have to balance his profits in a way that he has enough money to pay the employees to run the businesses. Almost like a crash course in entrepreneurship and business studies, City Island requires clear decision-making skills that are based on accurate inferences and predictions. It is a fun game for children thanks to its features, which make it challenging and equally creative.

Penguin Rescue

This is a thrilling ‘match-3’ game, whose visual appeal is enough to keep your child rooted to it. The game functions at three levels, where the player must clear the table with the least number of moves possible. You will see how this keeps your child’s fingers and brains running in 'Speed' mode. Logical processing of visual information and decision-making abilities are thoroughly tested in this game. Unlike other match-3 games, this one has expert-designed levels where the layout is often moved around to increase the complexity of the game. Your child will easily get tuned into the game as she strives to achieve the assigned objectives to complete every level with varied degrees of challenge.

Flow Free

This game allows your child to practice swift and accurate reasoning skills as he tries to connect a series of (similar) coloured circles using an unbroken line. Don’t be surprised if your child does not give your phone back to you after being introduced to this game. This app also has puzzles that increase in difficulty with each level. It can also be tweaked to introduce a time trial mode where your child must solve as many puzzles as possible. It is a lesson in effective decision-making skills under stressful situations.

Microsoft Minesweeper

This overlooked gem among the free games apps needs no introduction. It is a logical game that requires analysis of visual and numerical information to figure out the presence of mines that can ‘blow up’ the game. When your child feels confident, she can step up the difficulty level of the game by increasing the number of grids on the Minesweeper. Beware parents! Once your child figures out how to predict the presence of mines by using the revealed numbers, she is sure to get addicted to this simple-yet-challenging game.

Birds and Blocks 2

This game is designed to hone your child’s reasoning abilities. Your child needs to ensure that the birds with clipped wings, that can’t fly, do not touch the ground or fly off the screen. But, the twist comes when you realise that it is up to the child to get the bird to a safe stone block while avoiding the unsafe blocks on the way. Your child will have to employ his critical thinking skills to figure out which blocks to use – the normal ones, the bouncy ones or the ice blocks that the birds slide off from. With almost 120 levels, this game is fun and exciting!

Toon Clash Chess

No other game can beat chess when it comes to challenging your child’s brain to think critically. Chess teaches your child to make predictions and inferences – key inputs for coming up with solutions. Toon Clash Chess, a child-friendly chess game, has three levels of difficulty that allows for a gentle learning curve for your child to explore and learn the game confidently. Your child can change the settings of the game, and use the unique action 3D characters with hundreds of fun arcade-style animations. He can also play the game at three provided locations.

Puzzles and Pixies

How can your child resist a game with pixies and puzzles? This brilliant matching game will push your child to use her logical processing abilities. She will need to decide how to string together similar-coloured butterflies in a way that they can summon a powerful pixie helper. The longer the strings, the more powerful the pixie gets, who can then save her forest using her newfound power. With almost 200 levels to conquer, this game induces a sense of responsibility for the environment in a young mind while also honing her intellectual skills.

All of these apps can be downloaded for free on both iOS and Android devices. These apps will not only engage your child with devices in a productive manner, but also nurture the genius of critical thinking in her. In no time, your child will grow to be a sound critical thinker. Prepare yourself for some intriguing questions along the way.

Indhu Rebecca is an educator from Australia. She specialises in teaching Psychology to children. 

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