As an advocate, I’m always on the lookout for innovative ways to help my clients. That includes being collaborative with IEP teams and bringing ideas to the table.

That’s why I’m excited to share with you the benefits of using critical thinking games in the classroom. These games are a fun and engaging way to encourage students to think outside of the box and practice decision-making in a playful setting.

Close-up of a critical thinking risk board game with colorful miniature troops and dice.

From puzzles to role-playing activities, critical thinking games offer a variety of mental exercises that can help students hone their problem-solving abilities.

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As someone who has played critical thinking games, I can attest to their importance in developing problem-solving skills. These games provide an engaging and fun way to practice creative thinking, brainstorming, and logical reasoning, which are all essential skills that can be applied in real-world situations.

Jigsaw Puzzles

As a critical thinking game, jigsaw puzzles are great for developing problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, and attention to detail. Players look at a picture and then put together different pieces to complete it.

This type of game challenges the brain to think creatively and logically, as well as encourages the development of spatial awareness and fine motor skills.

Logic Puzzles

Logic puzzles are perfect for older students and require more advanced problem-solving skills. These games are typically set up in a grid with clues that the player must use to determine which items go in each square.

I have a crowd-sourced article on this site that is the “best gifts for autistic teens and adults” and logic puzzles are a popular suggestion every single year! You can visit that list to get specific ideas.

This type of puzzle stimulates critical thinking as players must look for patterns and logical deductions to solve it. Logic puzzles also help develop analytical skills, reasoning, and cognitive flexibility.

Puzzles are a fun and engaging way to develop critical thinking skills. They provide a mental challenge that can help students develop their cognitive abilities, learn from their mistakes, and come up with new ideas to solve complex problems.

Whether it’s a jigsaw puzzle or a logic puzzle, these games offer a great way to exercise the brain and improve critical thinking skills.

Dungeons & Dragons

As a fan-favorite and iconic role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons provides an excellent opportunity for players to practice their critical thinking skills. This game requires players to work together, solve problems, and overcome obstacles. Players must develop their character’s story and strategies for success.

With each turn, players are presented with different situations that require quick thinking and problem-solving. Dungeons & Dragons is an excellent game for developing problem-solving skills, strategic planning, and creative thinking.

D&D is also a popular activity for autistic kids to do as a social activity. Let’s be honest–many people think of D&D as “nerdy.” I don’t think it’s cool to ever make fun of something that someone is enjoying, but it happens.

If D&D people are your people, go for it! Let people enjoy things without criticism.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a collectible card game where players build decks of cards representing monsters, spells, and traps, and then use them to battle against each other.

Yu-Gi-Oh involves strategic gameplay, where players must manage resources, plan their moves, and outmaneuver their opponents to win. It has a vast array of cards with different abilities and effects, allowing for diverse and customizable decks.


Sudoku is a popular math critical thinking game that requires players to fill in blank squares with the correct numbers in order to complete a 9×9 grid. This game encourages critical thinking because it involves finding patterns and using logic to solve the puzzle.

Some benefits of playing Sudoku include:

  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Enhancing logical thinking
  • Boosting concentration and memory


Set is a card game that involves pattern recognition, logical thinking, and quick mental processing. In the game, players are presented with a collection of cards that each have four attributes: color, shape, number, and shading. The goal is to identify sets of three cards where each attribute is either all the same or all different across the three cards.

Players must analyze the cards quickly to identify valid sets, requiring them to think critically about the relationships between the attributes and to efficiently scan the cards for potential matches. Set is a highly engaging and challenging game that exercises mathematical and logical thinking skills in an enjoyable and competitive context.

Math Matching

Math matching activities are super fun to do and usually easy to find online. Part of the activity is solving the math problem or question. The next step is taking the answer to a different component.

For example, I have a math problem color by number page.

MLK Activities for Kids: Martin luther jr color by number.
MLK Peace Sign

Some benefits of playing math matching games include:

  • Improving memory skills
  • Enhancing problem-solving abilities
  • Boosting math fluency

Math worksheets can be found on this site and other places online.

There are plenty of creative activities you can explore that combine artistic expression and critical thinking.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Origami: Try your hand at the traditional Japanese art of paper folding. You can find instructions online for a wide variety of origami models, from simple to complex. Here is one: How to Make an Origami Heart
  2. Clay modeling: Work with clay or playdough to sculpt three-dimensional figures. You can create anything from animals to abstract shapes, letting your imagination run wild.
  3. Drawing or painting: Grab some paper, pencils, pens, or paints, and let your creativity flow. You can draw from observation, create abstract art, or illustrate your own stories.
  4. Collage: Collect images from magazines, newspapers, or old books and arrange them into collages. This can be a great way to explore themes, express emotions, or create visual narratives.
  5. Jewelry making: Use beads, wire, and other materials to create your own unique jewelry pieces. You can experiment with different colors, textures, and techniques to design earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and more.
  6. Creative writing: Write short stories, poems, or even start a journal. Writing can be a wonderful outlet for self-expression and can help you explore your thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
  7. Sculpting with found objects: Gather natural or discarded materials such as stones, sticks, shells, or bottle caps, and use them to create sculptures or assemblages. This can be a fun way to repurpose items and explore different textures and shapes.
  8. DIY crafts: Explore various DIY crafts such as making friendship bracelets, fabric painting, candle making, or soap carving. There are countless tutorials and ideas available online to inspire your creativity.
  9. Photography: Grab a camera or even just your smartphone and go out exploring to capture interesting scenes, landscapes, or portraits. Photography allows you to see the world from a different perspective and express your unique vision.
  10. Cooking or baking: Get into the kitchen and experiment with different recipes and flavors. Cooking and baking can be a creative outlet that engages all your senses and produces delicious results to enjoy and share.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but the possibilities are endless when it comes to creative activities. Follow your interests and passions, and don’t be afraid to try new things!

Brain Teasers

Brain teasers are an excellent way to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These puzzles require players to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions to complex problems. Brain teasers can be in the form of riddles, puzzles, or even mathematical problems.

They can be used in a classroom setting or as a fun activity with friends and family.

Some benefits of brain teasers include:

  • Developing analytical skills
  • Improving memory and concentration
  • Encouraging creative thinking
  • Boosting problem-solving abilities

Sorting Games

When it comes to developing critical thinking skills, sorting games are an excellent choice. You can use playing cards, Uno cards, or any other something that you have a lot of.

Sorting is a beginner math skill too.

Shape Sorting Game

The shape sorting game is another great way to develop critical thinking skills. This game involves sorting various objects and shapes into the correct slots. Players must think logically and use problem-solving skills to correctly place each item.

To play the shape sorting game, simply provide players with a set of objects and shapes and a corresponding set of slots. Then, players must match each object to the correct slot based on its shape and size. The game can be played individually or in teams, and the player or team with the most correctly sorted objects wins.


When it comes to critical thinking games, LEGO activities are an excellent way to engage students and help them develop their problem-solving skills.

Ask a student to come up with specific criteria for the project. Examples may be the number of LEGO bricks they must use, the color, type, etc. Then, individually or in teams, they build that item.

Students can learn how to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions to complex problems.

Testing, 1, 2, 3……….

Critical Thinking Questions in the Car

As a parent, I am always looking for ways to encourage my child to think critically and creatively. I have found that asking open-ended questions is a great way to spark their imagination and engage them in thoughtful discussions.

I don’t even know if my teenager has figured it out yet–that I use the many car rides we do together as an opportunity to chat about all kinds of stuff. Arguably, I talk with him much more in the car than I do at home.

He plays travel basketball, so we’re in the car a lot.

Here are 20 critical thinking questions that I have found to be particularly effective:

  1. If I could solve one world problem, what would it be and why?
    • How would I go about solving this problem?
    • Who would I need to help me solve this problem, and why?
  2. Imagine I’m a detective solving a mystery. What steps would I take to solve it?
    • What clues would I look for?
    • How would I decide which suspects to question?
  3. If I could invent something to make life easier, what would it be?
    • How would my invention work?
    • Who would benefit most from my invention?
  4. Think of a time when I had a disagreement with a friend. How did I resolve it?
    • What could I have done differently?
    • How did the resolution affect my relationship with my friend?
  5. If I found a wallet on the ground, what would I do?
    • How would I decide the best course of action?
    • What would I do if I couldn’t find the owner?
  6. How would I plan a surprise party for your dad?
    • What steps would I need to take to keep it a surprise?
    • How would I ensure that the party is something he would enjoy?
  7. If you could change one rule at my school, what would it be and why?
    • How would the change benefit students?
    • Can I think of any negative consequences of my change?
  8. Imagine I’m an astronaut exploring a new planet. What do I hope to find?
    • How would I prepare for my journey?
    • What challenges do I think I would face?
  9. If I could talk to animals, which animal would I talk to first and why?
    • What questions would I ask the animal?
    • How do I think this ability would change my perspective on animals?
  10. I’m designing a city of the future. What features would it have?
    • How would it be different from cities today?
    • What technologies would I incorporate to improve people’s lives?
  11. If I could design a new school subject, what would it be and why?
    • What skills or knowledge would students gain from this subject?
    • How would it benefit them in their daily lives and future careers?
  12. Imagine I’ve discovered a new planet. What is the most surprising thing about it?
    • Describe the creatures that live there. How do they interact with their environment?
    • What kind of weather does my planet have, and how do the inhabitants adapt to it?
  13. If I could create a new holiday, what would it celebrate and how?
    • What traditions or activities would people do on this day?
    • How would my holiday promote positive values or behaviors?
  14. Think of an invention that could help protect the environment. What is it and how does it work?
    • Who would use my invention, and how would it change their habits?
    • What challenges might I face in convincing people to use my invention?
  15. If I had the power to change one law of nature, what would it be and what effects would it have?
    • How would animals, plants, and humans adapt to this new law?
    • Could there be any unintended consequences of this change?
  16. Design a game that teaches players about kindness. What are the rules?
    • How do players win, and what do they learn in the process?
    • Can I think of a way to include players who typically have a hard time in competitive games?
  17. Imagine a world where everyone has the same dream at night. What is the dream about?
    • How would this shared dream experience affect society and relationships?
    • Would people interpret the dream differently? Why or why not?
  18. If I could communicate with plants, what would I ask them?
    • What do I think plants would want to tell humans?
    • How could this ability change the way we care for our environment?
  19. Create a superhero whose main power is empathy. What adventures do they go on?
    • How does their power help them solve problems?
    • What challenges do they face, and how do they overcome them?
  20. If I could build a machine that does one chore for me, what would it do and how would it work?
    • Why is this chore important, and how would having it done

What are some popular board games that can help improve critical thinking skills?

There are several popular board games that can help improve critical thinking skills.

I have another whole list of Unique, Educational Board Games.

Critical thinking is an important executive function. Learning and developing this skill doesn’t have to be boring! I hope these games help.

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