Logic Shapes Critical Thinking Puzzles Grade

The theme of this blog is critical thinking—and the kinds of puzzles that can be constructed around it. This term is used frequently in psychology and education. There are various definitions, but the one that best suits our purpose and which is, in the end, perhaps the best, is the ability to comprehend the logical connections among ideas, words, phrases, and concepts. In the relevant scientific literature, of course, the term is used much more broadly as a framework for understanding human cognition. But in my opinion, the best way to understand things is to construct puzzles to illustrate their basic essence.

Critical thinking involves skill at recognizing a pattern in given information, and especially recognizing how the information is connected to the real world. Here are a couple of very simple examples. First, consider the five words below:

  1. cruise ship
  2. bicycle
  3. airplane
  4. walking on foot
  5. automobile (not a race car)

Now, put them in order from the slowest to the fastest, when they are going at maximum speed. The solution, of course, is: 4-2-5-1-3. As with all such puzzles, there might be slightly different solutions—one could claim that some automobiles go faster than cruise ships. This “indeterminacy” characterizes this kind of thinking. However, some puzzles are straightforward. For instance, what do the following five things have in common?

  1. sky
  2. navy
  3. celeste
  4. azure
  5. cerulean

The answer? These are all words referring to shades of blue.

The seven puzzles below are to the ones above, though hopefully more challenging. Some involve knowledge of facts, but critical thinking is still involved in such cases because the organization of the facts according to some principle is always involved—for example, a puzzle may ask you to put five items in order of their dates of invention.

The following tongue-in-cheek definition of critical thinking by Richard W. Paul, a leading expert on critical thinking theory, says it all: “Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.”

I. What do the following 5 things have in common?

  1. milk
  2. soda pop
  3. coffee
  4. orange juice
  5. beer

II. Put the following buildings or structures in order of height, from the shortest to the tallest.

  1. shed
  2. skyscraper
  3. duplex
  4. bungalow
  5. typical camping tent

III. What do the following animals have in common?

  1. cat
  2. fox
  3. raccoon
  4. squirrel
  5. mouse

IV. Put the following inventions in order from earliest to most recent.

  1. radio
  2. television
  3. gramophone
  4. telephone
  5. telegraph

V. What feature do the following words have in common?

  1. armchair
  2. egg
  3. imagination
  4. over
  5. understand

VI. Put these bodies of water in order in terms of volume, from smallest to largest.

  1. lake
  2. pond
  3. ocean
  4. brook
  5. sea

VII. What do the following land masses have in common?

  1. Italy
  2. Gallipoli
  3. Karpass
  4. Istria
  5. Sinai

(Answers below.)


I. They are all drinkable liquids.

II. 5-1-4-3-2

III. They all have a tail. They are also all quadrupeds.

IV. To the best of my knowledge: 5-4-3-1-2

V. They start with a vowel: a, e, i, o, u

VI. 4-2-1-5-3

VII. They are all peninsulas.

Source: Forster Forest/Shutterstock

Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Critical Thinking Puzzles
Make Puzzles

Critical Thinking Logic Puzzles
Puzzle Workbooks for Kids - Updated Each Month!

On this page, you will find dozens of different logic puzzles in over a dozen different categories, including general logic printables in both two and three dimensions, decimals, and measurement. You can choose several different customization options, including whether or not to include algebra in the logic problem and how many different printables to make for each logic puzzle. If logic puzzles are something you want to incorporate into your school day, either in math class or in language arts, you will find everything you need.

     A family
     Color of cars
     Height of leprechauns
     Easter eggs
     Recycle cans
     The planets
     Thanksgiving family dinner
     Valentine's Day cards

     Jobs and salaries
     Brothers and sisters
     Vacation to a foreign country
     Doctor's office: match patients with their weight and height
     Students: match grade levels and favorite subjects
     Medical practice: doctors, appointments, and patients
     Women's singles figure skating competition
     Gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded
     Winter Olympics: competitor, country, event
     Bring plants to class

     Students: match grade levels and id numbers
     What is each person's number?
     Number of pennies


     Number of books (Odd and Even)
     Tickets sold by the school drama team

     Find each person's age
     Basketball: How many points did each person score?

     A vote for president
     Number of pens
     Money in a piggy bank
     Recycle cans

     Employees: hours worked and pay
     Time watching television (with division)
     Fuel economy
     Weight on other planets
     Length, width, height, and volume (same unit)
     Length, width, height, and volume (mix of units)

     Employees: hours worked and pay (decimals)
     Employees: hours worked and pay (pay differs by less than $1)
     Track team: distance traveled
     Track team: time to finish
     Weather: normal and actual precipitation
     Bobsled competition
     Fuel economy
     Weight on other planets
     Mass, volume, and density (with decimals)
     Shipping packages
     Snow accumulation

     Distance a car is driven and its speedometer

     Making ice cream
     High and low temperatures
     Width and length of rooms (feet)
     Width and length of vegetable plots (meters and centimeters)
     Length, width, height, and volume (same unit)
     Length, width, height, and volume (mix of units)
     Mass, volume, and density
     Mass, volume, and density (with decimals)
     Shipping packages
     Snow accumulation

     Student attendance records

     High and low temperatures
     Weather: normal and actual precipitation

     Time it took to finish homework
     Medical practice: doctors, appointments, and patients
     Time watching television
     Time watching television (with division)
     Bobsled competition

     Money spent at the mall
     Time watching television
     Time watching television (with division)

     Car down payments
     Price of gas and fuel economy

     Number of gold medals won
     Time to paint a room
     Time and speed
     Interest and deposits
     Number of coins
     The theater
     Points scored in a basketball game



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