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Stumped! Critical Thinking Web Games to Challenge Your Students

With all of the technology available these days, using the computer to keep your students engaged is a no brainer. However, what do they do on the computer? Multiplication games? Skill-based activities? No way!! The web is full of fun critical thinking activities that are sure to keep your students engaged in these last few days and weeks of the school year. I have two favorites– my “go-tos” for my know-it-all students who are always looking for more challenges to master– Bridge Crossing and Water Jars. Both games require students to use their critical thinking and strategic thinking skills to successfully complete the challenge. 

The first challenge is one of my favorite web games. It’s called “Bridge Crossing.” See the screenshot and game details below. 


Grade Level: This website is more suited to the reasoning skills of upper elementary/ middle school students. (See variations below for lower elementary challenges.)

Objective: Help all of the characters cross the bridge.

Task: Only two characters can cross the bridge at the same time. The lantern must be used when the characters cross the bridge. Each character shows how many minutes it takes him/her to cross the bridge. The lantern will lasts for 30 minutes; that’s how long the characters have to cross the bridge because they cannot cross the bridge in the dark. 

Note: This is a challenging task, but it is possible. I’ve had students master this task in the past! 

Ways to Utilize the Activity: This website is a great way to get your student thinking about how to solve problems such as these. Consider displaying the website to the class and review the directions. Then, as a class, discuss ways to approach the task. Ask questions such as: 

  • What is the task asking us to do?
  • What special conditions do we need to consider?
  • Which characters take the shortest time to cross the bridge?
  • Which characters take the longest time to cross the bridge?
  • How can we pair the characters together so that we use the shortest time possible? 
  • Which character can be easily used to travel back and forth across the bridge and hold the lantern?

You may also want to consider allowing students to work in pairs to approach the task and discuss ways to meet the goal together. 

This applet makes a great fast finisher activity. It can also be included on a math menu or used on a menu of problem solving station options. 

Variations: The two websites below are more suited for younger elementary students. They are similar to the challenge above but include special conditions, such as a small penguin cannot be left alone on a side with an unrelated adult penguin. The special conditions add an additional element of challenge, but these tasks are easier than the “Bridge Crossing” task. 

 

The second challenge is another one of my favorite web games. It’s called “Water Jars.” See the screenshot and game details below. 

Grade Level: This website is more suited to the reasoning skills of upper elementary/ middle school students.

Objective: Measure 6 liters of water from a 5-liter jug and a 7-liter jug

Task: Fill-up the jars and use them to measure 6 liters of water. The jugs can be emptied, refilled, and transferred to the other container multiple times until the goal is achieved. 

For example, if you fill up the 5-liter jug and then pour it into the 7-liter jug, you can refill the 5-liter jug and pour it into the 7-liter jug leaving 3 liters in the 5-liter jug. You’ve just measured 3 liters. 

Students will need to make moves like the one above to measure 6 liters. 

Note: This is a challenging task, but it is possible. I’ve had students master this task in the past! 

Ways to Utilize the Activity: This website is a great way to get your student thinking about how to solve problems such as these. Consider displaying the website to the class and review the directions. Then, as a class, discuss ways to approach the task. Ask questions such as: 

  • What is the task asking us to do?
  • What special conditions do we need to consider?
  • How can we measure different amounts, other than 5 liters or 7 liters, using these two jugs? Let’s try to measure 3 liters. 
  • What’s the purpose of being able to fill the jug and transfer it to the other jug?

You may also want to consider allowing students to work in pairs to approach the task and discuss ways to meet the goal together. 

This applet makes a great fast finisher activity. It can also be included on a math menu or used on a menu of problem solving station options. 

Variations: This activity can be simulated in the classroom with actual jugs of water. Set the situation up by saying that you need to measure ____ liters of water but you only have a ____-liter jug and a ____-liter jug. Try using this model to support the students’ understanding of the task before using the website for struggling or younger students. 

Note: Coolmath.com has updated its website. These screenshots are from the previous version, but the games are the same.

Sound Off! What websites do you like to use to challenge your students’ critical thinking? 

Shametria Routt Banks

Shametria Routt Banks

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