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Worksheet library: critical thinking: grades 3-5.

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

Visit Education World's Worksheet Library for a wide variety of free printables for use across the curriculum and across the grades.

Quotes Solve the math problems to get the letters to a quote. (Grades 3-5)

Jokes Solve the math problems to get the letters to a joke. (Grades 3-5)

The Old House Use math to figure out how to fix the old house. (Grades 3-5)

Balance Algebra Use Algebra to balance the scales. (Grades 3-5)

Balance Benders Given some facts, which objects weight will even off the scales? (Grades 3-5)

Paper Folding Draw how a folded sheet of paper with holes punched in it will look when unfolded. (Grades 3-5)

Analogies With Shapes Which shape completes the analogy? (Grades 3-5)

Penguin Color the thermometer to show the freezing point, then complete the picture of the pengin. (Grades 3-5)

Name That City Read the story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Von Bayers Girlfriend Read the true story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Whale of a Good Time Read the story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#2) Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#3) Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#4) Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#5) Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#6) Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Antarctica Find 8 errors in this brief article about Antarctica. (Grades 3-5)

The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster Find 7 errors in this brief article about the Loch Ness monster. (Grades 3-5)

Big Sky Country A friendly letter about Montana helps reinforce letter-writing skills. (Grades 3-5)

Common Nouns Find and write six common nouns found in each picture. (Grades 3-5)

Math Analogies Can you correctly complete each of these math analogies? (Grades 3-5)

Math Analogies (#2) Can you correctly complete each of these math analogies? (Grades 3-5)

The Best Pancake Recipe Find the math answers in this story about Olgas sleepover party. (Grades 3-5)

The Color Spinner Who is most likely to win the Color Spinner game? (Grades 3-5)

Leafy Lengths Complete the graph to show the length of the leaves that Luis and Amy found. (Grades 3-5)

Allowance Graph Answer questions about a graph that show how much allowance five kids get. (Grades 3-5)

Line of Symmetry Which of the six shapes shown on this page are symmetrical? (Grades 3-5)

Find the Nickname These clues will help you figure out each kids nickname. (Grades 3-5)

Order of Age Use the clues to order three kids ages from youngest to oldest. (Grades 3-5)

Lots of Rocks Use the clues to figure out the locations of three rocks. (Grades 3-5)

Theyre in the Band Use the clues to figure out which instrument each kid plays. (Grades 3-5)

Novel Thinking Read the definition. Write the vocabulary word and its part of speech. (Grades 3-5)

Maniac Magee Answer questions with evidence in this excerpt from Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. (Grades 3-5)

The Moon by Night Answer questions with evidence in this excerpt from The Moon by Night by Madeleine LEngle. (Grades 3-5)

Sideways Stories from Wayside School Answer questions about this excerpt from Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. (Grades 3-5)

Pass the Salt Use evidence from this story to answer the questions about it. (Grades 3-5)

Science Detective: Cells Read the article. Then answer the True/False questions about it. (Grades 4-8)

Science Detective: Change of Phase Use evidence from this article about friction and states of matter to answer the questions. (Grades 4-7)

Scratch Your Brain Use addition and subtraction to figure out solutions to these brain benders. (Grades 3-5)

From One Word to the Next Change a letter in the previous word to make the word that completes each phrase. (Grades 3-5)

Root Words Complete this activity about words that have /capt/ or /tact/ as a root. (Grades 3-5)

Spelling Challenge Circle the word in each group that is correctly spelled. Yes, you can use your dictionary. (Grades 5-8)

Prefixes and Roots Complete this activity about words that have /phone/ as their root. (Grades 3-5)

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critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

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critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

85 Fun Critical Thinking Questions for Kids & Teens

students laughing as they answer critical thinking questions

Have you ever thought about using fun questions to practice critical thinking?

Students may need a little guidance to think their way through questions that lack straightforward answers.

But it is that process that is important!

How the Right Questions Encourage Critical Thinking

Every parent knows how natural it is for children to ask questions. 

It should be encouraged. After all, asking questions helps with critical thinking.

As they grow older, however, training them to answer questions can be equally beneficial.

Posing questions that encourage kids to analyze, compare, and evaluate information can help them develop their ability to think critically about tough topics in the future. 

Of course, critical thinking questions for kids need to be age-appropriate—even better if you can mix a little fun into it!

That’s what I hope to help you with today. I’ve organized the questions below into three different ages groups:

  • Upper elementary
  • Middle school
  • High school 

20 Questions: Exercises in Critical Thinking

Get a Question-Based Critical Thinking Exercise—Free!

Introduce critical thinking gently & easily with thought-provoking exercises.

Upper Elementary

Students in upper elementary grades can be reluctant to put themselves out there, especially with answers that seem weird. 

In some cases, such hesitancy is actually fear of differing from their peers (and a barrier to critical thinking ). 

But that’s exactly why it’s important to practice answering ambiguous questions. 

We want our children to stand firm for their beliefs—not cave to peer pressure. 

Additionally, students may feel uneasy about answering serious questions, uncertain of tackling “big” problems. 

However, with careful use of creative questions for kids, it’s possible to engage even the most reluctant children in this age group. 

The idea is to simply get them interested in the conversation and questions asked.

If you have an especially reserved student, try starting with the funny critical thinking questions. 

Humor is a natural icebreaker that can make critical thinking questions more lighthearted and enjoyable. 

Of course, most younger kids just like to be silly, so playing upon that can keep them active and engaged.

With that said, here are some great questions to get you started:

1. Someone gives you a penguin. You can’t sell it or give it away. What do you do with it?

2. What would it be like if people could fly?

3. If animals could talk, what question would you ask? 

4. If you were ice cream, what kind would you be and why?

5. Do you want to travel back in time? If yes, how far back would you go? If no, why not?

6. What could you invent that would help your family? 

7. If you could stay up all night, what would you do?

8. What does the man on the moon do during the day?

9. What makes something weird or normal? 

10. Can you describe the tastes “salty” and “sweet” without using those words?

11. What does it feel like to ride a rollercoaster?

12. What makes a joke funny?

13. What two items would you take if you knew you would be stranded on an island and why?

14. Do you have a favorite way of laughing?

15. What noise makes you cringe and cover your ears? Why?

16. If you could be the parent for the day, what would you do?

17. If you could jump into your favorite movie and change the outcome, which one would you pick and why?

18. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

19. What makes a day “perfect”?

20. If you owned a store, what kind of products would you sell?

21. If your parents were your age, would you be friends with them?

22. Would you still like your favorite food if it tasted the same as always, but now had an awful smell?

23. What would you do if you forgot to put your shoes on before leaving home?

24. Who would you be if you were a cartoon character?

25. How many hot dogs do you think you could eat in one sitting?

26. If you could breathe under water, what would you explore?

27. At what age do you think you stop being a kid?

28. If you had springs in your legs, what would you be able to do?

29. Can you describe the color blue to someone if they’re blind?

Middle School

At this point, students start to acquire more complex skills and are able to form their own conclusions based on the information they’re given. 

However, we can’t expect deep philosophical debates with 12 and 13 year olds. 

That said, as parent-teachers, we can certainly begin using more challenging questions to help them examine and rationalize their thought processes. 

Browse the fun critical thinking questions below for students in this age range. 

You might be surprised to see how receptive middle school kids can be to such thought-provoking (yet still fun) questions .

30. What would happen if it really did rain cats and dogs?

31. What does it mean to be lucky?

32. If you woke up in the middle of a dream, where would you be?

33. Is it ever okay to lie? Why or why not?

34. If you were solely responsible for creating laws, what one law would you make?

35. What makes a person a good friend?

36. What do you think is the most important skill you can take into adulthood?

37. If you had to give up lunch or dinner, which would you choose? Why?

38. How much money would you need to be considered rich?

39. If you knew you wouldn’t get caught, would you cheat on a test?

40. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

41. What is your greatest strength? How is that an asset?

42. If you had an opportunity to visit the International Space Station, would you do it?

43. Is it better to keep the peace or speak your mind?

44. Imagine yourself as your favorite animal. How would you spend your day?

45. Would you be friends with someone who didn’t have the same values as you?

46. How much screen time do you think is too much?

47. Can you describe your favorite color without naming it?

48. If you suddenly became blind, would you see things differently?

49. Would you ever go skydiving?

50. Describe the time you were the happiest in your life. Why did this make you happy?

51. If you had a million dollars, what would you do?

52. If you had to move to a new city, would you change how you present yourself to others?

53. What do you need to do in order to be famous?

54. If you could rewrite the ending of your favorite book or movie, what changes would you make?

55. How would you tackle a huge goal?

56. How would you sell ice to an eskimo in Alaska successfully?

57. What makes you unique?

High School

Critical thinking takes on an entirely different role once students reach high school. 

At this age, they have a greater sense of right and wrong (and what makes things so) as well as a better understanding of the world’s challenges.

Guiding teens to delve deeper and contemplate such things is an important part of developing their reasoning and critical thinking skills. 

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

Whether it’s fun questions about hypothetical superpowers or tough critical thinking questions about life, older teens typically have what it takes to think their way to a logical conclusion . 

Of course, use your discernment as you choose discussion topics, but here are some questions to help get you started:

58. How can you avoid [common problem] in the future?

59. Do you think it’s okay to take a life in order to save 5, 10, 20 or more people?

60. If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would it be?

61. Is it better to give or receive a gift?

62. How important is it to be financially secure? Why?

63. If it was up to you, what one rule would you change in your family?

64. What would you do if a group of friends wanted to do something that you thought was a bad idea?

65. How do you know that something is a fact rather than an opinion?

66. What would it take to get you to change your mind?

67. What’s the most important thing in your life?

68. If money were of no concern, what job would you choose and why?

69. How do you know if you’re happy?

70. Do you think euthanasia is moral?

71. What is something you can do today that you weren’t able to do a year ago?

72. Is social media a good thing or not?

73. Is it right to keep animals in a zoo?

74. How does your attitude affect your abilities?

75. What would you do if you found out a friend was doing something dangerous?

76. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?

77. What will life on Earth look like in 50 years?

78. Which is more important, ending world hunger or global warming?

79. Is it a good idea to lower the voting age to 16? Why or why not?

80. If the electrical power went out today, how would you cook if using wood wasn’t an option?

81. If you could magically transport yourself to any other place, where would that be and why?

82. When should teenagers be able to stay out all night?

83. Does the number zero actually exist?

84. What defines a generous person?

85. Does an influential person influence everyone?

Feel free to print out these fun critical thinking questions and incorporate them into your homeschool week!

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

will your children recognize truth?

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critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

Grades 3-4 Critical Thinking Test - eBook

Grades: 3-4

Critical Thinking, Test Prep & Tests

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

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Description and Features

Third and Fourth Grade Critical Thinking Test PDF Free Online

Assess your child's critical thinking skills with our exclusive Grades 3-4 Critical Thinking Test . This resource offers a variety of activities making it an invaluable diagnostic tool for educators and parents alike. Critical thinking forms the bedrock for success in academics and life. It equips students with the skills to analyze and form well-reasoned evidence-based conclusions. By teaching and developing critical thinking skills, you're exponentially improving a child's chances for success throughout life. "If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless." -Michael Baker

eBook Ordering eBooks are electronic versions of the book pages in PDF format. You can open the PDF eBook from any device or computer that has a PDF reader such as Adobe® Reader®. You can legally keep a copy of this eBook on three different devices. After purchase, you can immediately download your eBook from "My Account" under the "My Downloadable Product" section after you place your order.

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TeachThought

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

Critical thinking questions include, ‘Why is this important? What are the causes and effects of this? How do we know if this is true?”

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

What Are Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area?

by TeachThought Staff

Critical thinking is the heart and soul of learning, and–in our estimation anyway–ultimately more important than any one specific content area or subject matter.

It’s also an over-used and rather nebulous phrase — how do you teach someone to think? Of course, that’s the purpose of education, but how do you effectively optimize that concept into lasting knowledge and the ability to apply it broadly?

Looking for more resources to teach critical thinking? Check out our critical thinking curricula resources on TpT.

What Is Critical Thinking?

This question is what inspires the creation of seemingly endless learning taxonomies and teaching methods: our desire to pin down a clear definition of what it means to think critically and how to introduce that skill in the classroom.

This makes critical thinking questions–well, critical.  As Terry Heick explains in What Does Critical Thinking Mean?:

“To think critically about something is to claim to first circle its meaning entirely—to walk all the way around it so that you understand it in a way that’s uniquely you. The thinker works with their own thinking tools–schema. Background knowledge. Sense of identity. Meaning Making is a process as unique to that thinker as their own thumbprint. There is no template.

After circling the meaning of whatever you’re thinking critically about—navigation necessarily done with bravado and purpose—the thinker can then analyze the thing. In thinking critically, the thinker has to see its parts, its form, its function, and its context.

After this kind of survey and analysis you can come to evaluate it–bring to bear your own distinctive cognition on the thing so that you can point out flaws, underscore bias, emphasize merit—to get inside the mind of the author, designer, creator, or clockmaker and critique his work.”

A Cheat Sheet For Critical Thinking

In short, critical thinking is more than understanding something — it involves evaluation, critiquing, and a depth of knowledge that surpasses the subject itself and expands outward. It requires problem-solving, creativity, rationalization, and a refusal to accept things at face value.

It’s a willingness and ability to question everything.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Digital Thinking by Global Digital Citizen Foundation is an excellent starting point for the ‘how’ behind teaching critical thinking by outlining which questions to ask.

It offers 48 critical thinking questions useful for any content area or even grade level with a little re-working/re-wording. Enjoy the list!

48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

ultimate cheatsheet for critical thinking

See Also:  28 Critical Thinking Question Stems & Response Cards

TeachThought is an organization dedicated to innovation in education through the growth of outstanding teachers.

The Hun School of Princeton

15 Questions that Teachers and Parents Can Ask Kids to Encourage Critical Thinking

By Maureen Leming

Each student walks across the graduation stage, diploma in one hand and a proverbial toolbox in the other. Inside the box is every skill and piece of knowledge they've learned throughout their childhood. The contents of this toolbox will be their building blocks to success beyond high school.

In addition to impressive classroom discoveries — like producing electricity from potatoes or building their own paper mache volcano — there's a vital skill every student should possess: critical thinking. They'll use this skill to assess, critique, and create, propelling them to thrive in the real world as they participate in engaging conversations and offer constructive solutions to real-world issues.

Fortunately, this valuable skill can be developed both inside and out of the classroom. Teachers and parents can encourage kids to think deeply and critically about the world by asking good questions. We'll explore why, as parents and teachers, the questions we ask our kids matter — and what we can be asking to help them excel.

How Questions Guide Young Students’ Critical Thinking 

Critical thinking is about so much more than simply knowing the facts. Thinking critically involves applying reason and logic to assess arguments and come to your own conclusions. Instead of reciting facts or giving a textbook answer, critical thinking skills encourage students to move beyond knowing information and get to the heart of what they really think and believe. 

15 Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking

What is one of the best ways to encourage critical thinking? By asking excellent questions! 

We have compiled a list of 15 questions that you, as a teacher or parent, can ask to encourage kids to think outside the box. Let's dive in.

1. How Do You Know This? 

Whether it was by word of mouth, classroom knowledge, or a news report, this question prompts students to consider whether their source of information is reputable.

2. How Would Your Perspective Be Different If You Were on the Opposing Side?

This question encourages kids to role-play from an opposing person’s viewpoint and discover a perspective outside their own so that they can better understand the broader situation. Extracurriculars like debate class — mandatory for all Hun middle school students — is a powerful way to accomplish this goal, as students must thoughtfully anticipate their opposition's arguments in order to counter them.

3. How Would You Solve This Problem?

Finding creative solutions to common problems is a valuable life skill. This question is the perfect opportunity to encourage young minds to wander!

4. Do You Agree or Disagree — and Why?

Choosing a side in any debate challenges students to consider both perspectives, weigh the arguments, and make an informed choice. 

5. Why? Why? Why?

Just like when you were a young kid, ask why repeatedly to push students beyond a simple first, second, or even third answer, to get to the real depth. Be careful, though, not to ask them to the point of frustration — you want learning and exploring to be a positive experience.

6. How Could We Avoid This Problem in the Future?

Ask students to apply critical thinking by analyzing how they could prevent a certain issue from reoccurring.

7. Why Does It Matter?

Whether they're learning about a historical event or a mathematical concept, it's important to understand why the topic is relevant today.

8. What's Another Way to Look at This Issue?

It can be easy to learn one worldview and automatically believe it is the only, or the best, way. Challenging kids to think of a creative alternate perspective encourages them to think more broadly.

9. Can You Give Me an Example?

Inventing an example, or pulling from experience to share a real one, is an excellent way to apply critical thinking skills.

10. How Could It Have Ended Differently?

It takes some innovation and careful analysis to storyboard a different ending, considering "what could have been" rather than "what is." 

11. When Will We Be Able to Tell If It Worked?

Kids will be pushed to consider what constitutes success and how it can be measured in scenarios where the results aren't set in stone.

12. Why did you ask that question?

Instead of answering a question at face value, this question encourages kids to think about what the merits of the question may be.

13. Who Would Be Affected by This?

Students as the next generation of leaders and game-changers. When making any decision, it's important to consider who will be impacted and how.

14. What Can This Story Teach Us About Our Own Lives?

From literature to social studies, students interact with all kinds of different stories. Help them take these narratives one step further by examining how it relates to their lives.

15. Why Is This a Problem?

Analyzing why something is a problem — rather than just accepting that it is — will help students develop strong problem-solving skills of their own.

The Hun School of Princeton Teaches Critical Thinking

At the Hun School of Princeton, our teachers ask these questions, and more, in combination with our student-centered learning approach that helps kids of all ages think critically about what they’re learning. 

As a premier private school in Princeton, NJ , we aim to help students think deeply and develop well-rounded skill sets through immersive, problem-based learning . 

Schedule a tour today to see our program in action!

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180 Unique Question of the Day Ideas To Promote Critical Thinking

For discussions, journaling, and community building.

Unique Questions Feature

Students get better at answering questions by, well, answering questions. Asking a question of the day, where each student has an opportunity to think about it and respond, builds a knowledge of how questions work. It also improves students’ language and communication skills as they create their answers and listen to what others are saying. Questions that are more introspective can also help students understand themselves better as they reflect on their day or experiences.

Below are 180 questions to use with students from kindergarten through high school to get them thinking and talking.

Want this entire set of questions in one easy document? Get your free Google Slides presentation by submitting your email here. All you need to do is post one of the questions on your whiteboard or projector screen. Then let kids take it from there.

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How To Use Questions of the Day

By definition, you can use questions of the day any time. But it can be helpful to set up structures around them. For example, you could incorporate a question of the day during morning meeting. Or you could end the day with a question of the day that students respond to in the time between packing up and going home.

When you assign a question of the day, provide routine around it. Incorporate a question of the day into each morning meeting or daily warm-up. Give students time to think about the question and jot down some notes if they are going to discuss it. And for students who are able to write, give them time to write their response in a journal.

If a question of the day has few answers (yes or no, would you rather …), encourage students to expand on why they chose their answer. Is there a funny experience that makes them choose one thing over another? Or can they talk about the time they held a lightening bug or jumped off the diving board?

Question of the Day Ideas for Early Elementary Schoolers

Young students love to share and are eager to feed off each others’ answers. Use these questions to engage kindergartners through second graders in thinking about topics that might be top of mind or something they’ve never thought about before.

Experience Questions of the Day

  • Have you ever been to a farm?
  • Have you ever been on a road trip?
  • Have you ever been on an airplane?

Have you ever been on an airplane?- question of the day

  • Have you ever traveled by boat?
  • What is the most interesting vehicle you have ever traveled in?
  • What country are you most interested in visiting?
  • Do you like to swim?
  • Would you rather swim in a lake, the ocean, or a pool?
  • Have you jumped off a diving board?
  • Have you ever climbed a tree?
  • What games do you like to play with friends?

What games do you like to play with friends?

  • When it rains, do you go inside or play outside?
  • Have you ever caught a lightning bug?
  • Have you ever held a ladybug?
  • Have you ever been inside a fire truck?
  • What is your favorite ice cream?
  • What musical instrument would you like to play?

Imagination Questions of the Day

  • Would you live in a tree house?
  • If you found a pot of gold, what would you do with it?
  • Would you let Goldilocks come to your house?
  • Would you have a pig for a pet?

Would you have a pig for a pet?

  • What do you put on your ice cream?
  • Do you like sunny days or rainy days?
  • If you could have a wild animal for a pet, which wild animal would you choose?
  • What fairy-tale character would you like to meet?

Preference Questions of the Day

  • What is your favorite animal to see at the zoo?
  • What is your favorite sport to play?
  • What is your favorite Olympic sport to watch?
  • What’s your favorite flavor of chips?
  • What’s your favorite Popsicle flavor?
  • What do you like to watch on TV?
  • What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?- question of the day

  • What is your favorite time of day?
  • What is your favorite day of the week?

Reflection Questions of the Day

  • What are you very good at?
  • What makes your family special?
  • What is one rule at home that you would change if you could?

What is one rule at home that you would change if you could?

  • What is your best quality?
  • What makes you different from your friends?
  • What makes you unique in your family?
  • How does your family show you that they love you?
  • Think about a friend you have. What is special about that friend?
  • What makes you a good friend?

Question of the Day Ideas for Upper Elementary Schoolers

Third, fourth, and fifth graders are eager to share and are ready to really reflect and think through scenarios. For more personal questions, give students the option of whether or not they want to share.

  • If you were a shark, what kind of shark would you be?
  • Would you rather be a giraffe or have a giraffe for a pet?
  • Do you think you would like to be president of the United States?
  • When you are sad or mad, what makes you feel better?
  • Which fictional character are you most like?

Which fictional character are you most like?

  • If you invented a robot, what would it do?
  • If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for?
  • If you could invent a new video game, what would it be about?
  • If you could fly, where would you go?
  • Would you rather sit in the back of the class or the front?
  • If you could paint your own room, what color would you paint it?
  • If you were principal for a day, what would you do?
  • If unicorns were real, would you want one for a pet?
  • If you could travel to any planet, which one would you choose?

If you could travel to any planet, which one would you choose?- question of the day

  • If you could open a store, what would you sell?
  • If you could start a club, what club would you start?
  • What is the best gift you have ever given someone?
  • What is a time you felt lucky?
  • If you were going to start a band, what genre of music would you play?
  • What is your favorite kind of birthday cake?
  • What is a movie that you would recommend to everyone in your grade?
  • What is a book that everyone in elementary school should read?

What is a book that everyone in elementary school should read?

  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • Who is your favorite person in the world?
  • What is the best gift you have ever received?
  • Which do you like better, ice cream or cookies?
  • Do you like clowns? Why or why not?
  • What is your favorite type of weather?
  • Where would you like to go on vacation?
  • If you were going to take a long trip, would you rather travel by car or plane?

If you were going to take a long trip, would you rather travel by car or plane?

  • What sports do you play or what activities do you do after school?
  • If you were going to compete in the Olympics, which sport would you compete in?
  • Do you prefer to do sports or athletic activities by yourself (running, yoga) or with a team?
  • What is your favorite snack food?
  • What word would you use to describe yourself?
  • What skills are you particularly good at? What helped make you so good at these skills?
  • What chore do you actually enjoy doing?
  • What is your least favorite chore to do?
  • Which family member do you want to be like when you grow up?

Which family member do you want to be like when you grow up?

  • How do you show your family that you love them?
  • What makes you unique in your group of friends?
  • What makes your group of friends special?

Question of the Day Ideas for Middle Schoolers

Middler schoolers are full of opinions. Help them think through their reasoning by modeling how you think through your responses to questions of the day. Consider providing a journal that students can respond in, and let them indicate whether or not they want you to read it.

  • What is a movie that everyone in middle school should watch?
  • What is a book that everyone in middle school should read?
  • What is your favorite holiday tradition?
  • What is your favorite sport?
  • Of all the places you’ve visited, what is your favorite?

Of all the places you’ve visited, what is your favorite?- question of the day

  • What is your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant?
  • Would you rather watch a movie at home or in the theater?
  • What is your favorite board game or video game to play?
  • If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
  • If you could add one thing to the lunch menu at school, what would you add?
  • If you could learn a new instrument, which would you choose?

If you could learn a new instrument, which would you choose?

  • If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
  • If you could live on Mars, would you?
  • If you were going to open a business, what kind of business would it be?
  • If you could eat one snack for the rest of your life, which snack would you choose?
  • If you could give one gift to every child in the world, what would it be?
  • If you had a signature sandwich, what would it be made of? What would you name it?
  • If you had to throw out everything but one possession, what would you keep?

If you had to throw out everything but one possession, what would you keep?

  • If you were president of the United States, what kind of president would you be?
  • What mythical creature would you want for a pet?
  • What ecosystem would you like to explore?
  • What is the hardest thing about being a middle schooler?
  • What three words would you use to describe yourself?

What three words would you use to describe yourself?

  • What irritates you the most?
  • What makes someone a hero?
  • What is the biggest challenge facing humanity today?
  • How do you define success?
  • What is one thing that adults could learn from kids?
  • How does the weather affect your mood?
  • On your favorite vacation, where did you go? What did you do?
  • What sports do you play now? Do you think you will continue those in high school?
  • What do you think makes a good teammate?

What do you think makes a good teammate?- question of the day

  • What skill could you teach to others?
  • When you’ve had a bad day, how do you help yourself feel better?
  • What motivates you most? (Rewards, prestige, knowing things, power)
  • When do you think a person becomes an adult?
  • What makes your best friend special?
  • What family member do you admire the most?
  • What chores do you actually like to do?

What chores do you actually like to do?

  • What is most important to your family?
  • How do you show your family you appreciate them?

Big Picture Questions of the Day

  • What would you like to see changed in the world?
  • If you could invent a rule that everyone followed, what would the rule be?
  • How do you think life will be different when you are an adult?

How do you think life will be different when you are an adult?

  • What do you think the world will be like in 50 years?
  • If you had a time machine, would you travel to the past or the future?
  • Do you think students should have to take gym (or play a sport)? Why or why not?

Question of the Day Ideas for High Schoolers

High schoolers are coming into their own. They’re ready to think through questions and discuss and debate them with evidence and support, not just their opinion. Questions of the day in high school are a way to build in more critical thinking and to encourage students to think through their values and beliefs.

  • What TV show could you binge-watch over and over?
  • What is a movie that every high schooler should watch?
  • What is a book that every high schooler should read?
  • What is one holiday tradition that you plan to keep doing as an adult?

What is one holiday tradition that you plan to keep doing as an adult?- question of the day

  • Where is your favorite place to sit in a class? Do you think this would change if it were a large lecture hall compared to a small discussion class?
  • If you got to plan a vacation, where would you go?
  • When you plan a vacation, do you prefer to have everything planned out or would you rather play it by ear?
  • What would you do with one extra hour each day?
  • If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would you eat?
  • If you could teach a class, what would you teach?
  • If you could change the ending to a book or movie, which ending would you change and why?
  • If you could meet someone from the past, who would you like to meet?

If you could meet someone from the past, who would you like to meet?

  • If you could go back in time, what period would you travel to?
  • If you were president of the United States, what policies would you focus on?
  • If you were stuck on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
  • If you could travel back in time to five years ago, what would you tell your younger self?
  • What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
  • What is the hardest thing about being a high schooler?
  • What is the hardest thing about growing up?
  • What is the best advice someone has given you?
  • What has your most significant accomplishment been so far?

What has your most significant accomplishment been so far?

  • How would you describe your personality?
  • How do you handle it when you are confused or unsure about something?
  • What was the most important invention in human history and why?
  • In your life, what is one thing you would want to become an expert at and why?
  • What is the most valuable thing in your life and why?

What is the most valuable thing in your life and why?- question of the day

  • How important is the weather for you when you are planning where to live or where to move for college?
  • What sports or extracurriculars have you done in high school? What are your favorite memories from these activities?
  • What sports or activities do you want to keep doing in college or after high school?
  • What skills have you gotten really good at as a child/teen? What could you do with those skills after high school?
  • How do you help yourself recover from a setback or bad day?

How do you help yourself recover from a setback or bad day?

  • What values are most important to you?
  • What would you like to be famous for as an adult?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • How can you change the world in your lifetime?
  • What is the most valuable quality in a leader?
  • Should everyone have to get a high school diploma? A college degree?
  • What should the United States require of its citizens?

What should the United States require of its citizens?- question of the day

  • Would you support every 18-year-old having to complete a year in the army? Why or why not?
  • Do you think the voting age should be moved from 18?

Get morning meeting questions .

Questions to End the Day

Sometimes you need a question to wrap up the day. Since every day is different, set a schedule for how to end each day.

  • What made you smile today?
  • Who was kind to you today? Who were you kind to?
  • What made you happy (or excited or proud) today?
  • What made you laugh today?
  • What are you thankful for today?
  • What was the best part of your day?
  • How did you challenge yourself today?
  • Are you ending the day more stressed or more relaxed than you started?

Get your free Google Slides presentation with 180 questions of the day!

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Asking a question of the day builds community and critical thinking. Here are lists for every grade plus a free Google Slides presentation.

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The Integrated Teacher

19 Short Stories and Questions For Critical Thinking

Apr 2, 2024

There have been rumblings in different online teacher groups recently about replacing novels with short stories and informational articles in middle and high school English classrooms. I have to admit I was shocked when I first read the comments because I am a book lover at heart, but since then, I’ve considered that there are several pros and cons to this approach.

Short stories and other smaller texts can provide a briefer timeline to complete tasks, and this process is helpful when there is already SO MUCH curriculum to cover. Short stories and related activities can also be more engaging for our students because of the exposure to diverse voices and themes! Using short stories and lessons provides students with amazing choices to meet their needs and preferences!

On the other hand, incorporating mainly short stories and other shorter passages means students’ already-pressed attention spans (as a result of social media influences and pervasive sources of technology) are reinforced. Plus, students miss out on the more complex stories within longer pieces of fiction that are, dare I say, life-altering! A novel can provide opportunities for sustained reading and layers for analysis that shorter pieces of literature like short stories and related texts cannot offer.

Ultimately, no matter where you find yourself on the issue, I think we can all agree that short stories and their counterparts can be vital, effective, and helpful in the modern classroom!

Continue reading for 19 Short Stories and Questions For Critical Thinking!!

Need help with Test Prep ?  Check out this  FREE Pack of 3 Test Prep Activities  to help students achieve success on standardized tests!

short stories and activities picture

Table of Contents

19 Short Stories and Questions – Suggestions for Teaching Them

You don’t need to remove all novels to be able to include short stories and smaller passages like vignettes, articles, and narratives; there’s a time and place for all genres! But if you’re thinking about ways to include more short stories and fun activities, check out this list of 19 varied short stories and critical thinking questions as well as suggestions for teaching them in middle school and high school.

1.  “The Most Dangerous Game” 

“The Most Dangerous Game” is one of my absolute favorite short stories and overall plots to teach! This suspenseful short story by Richard Connell follows the harrowing ordeal of Sanger Rainsford, a skilled hunter who becomes the prey of a deranged aristocrat named General Zaroff. Stranded on Zaroff’s secluded island, Rainsford must outwit the cunning general in a deadly game of survival, where the stakes are life and death. 

the most dangerous game short stories and activities

SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHING:

  • You could focus on the setting (description of time and place) and examine how the setting changes throughout the story.
  • Students could learn about the plot (major events in the story) and list the major events and evidence as they read.
  • Define foreshadowing (hints for what will happen by the end of the story) and encourage students to hypothesize about what will happen after every page.
  • Analyze the character development (how a character changes over time) of Rainsford and highlight his traits/actions as you read along.

CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS:

  • How does the setting contribute to the tension and suspense in the story?
  • How does the author use foreshadowing? How does the author hint at the danger Rainford is facing?
  • What inferences can you make about the main character and the changes he undergoes from the beginning to the end of the story?

If you want to teach plot elements and plot analysis , check out this lesson bundle for the story , which includes comprehension quizzes and a variety of activities!

2.  “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

Ambrose Bierce’s story is a gripping tale set during the American Civil War, where a Southern civilian named Peyton Farquhar faces execution by hanging after attempting to sabotage a Union railroad bridge. As Farquhar falls through the trapdoor, time seems to stretch, and he experiences a surreal moment, only to realize his grim reality. 

Integrating historical texts with other short stories and passages like “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” will make history come more alive and relevant for our students!

  • Teach about irony (when the opposite occurs from what is expected) and how it plays a role throughout the story.
  • Explain the term characterization (how a character is depicted) by looking at direct and indirect references while reading with your students.
  • Discuss the major themes (messages) of the story and how they connect to our modern era within a Socratic Seminar.
  • How does the author use characterization to convey Peyton Farquhar’s thoughts, emotions, and motivations?
  • What is the purpose of irony in this story? How does its use affect the reader’s interpretation and understanding of events?
  • What is the significance in our contemporary/real world of the themes of the story, including reality and fantasy, the passage of time, and the consequences of actions?

Ensure students’ understanding of the story with this set of reading questions that are perfect for state test prep, too !

an occurence at owl creek bridge short stories and questions

3.  “The Masque of the Red Death”

This chilling tale from Edgar Allan Poe is set in a secluded abbey where Prince Prospero and his wealthy guests attempt to escape a deadly plague known as the Red Death. Despite their isolation efforts, the guests are confronted with their own mortality as a mysterious figure in a blood-red mask appears.

If you have not read any short stories and poems from Poe, this story is a perfect journey into the horror genre!

  • The setting (description of time and place) plays a MAJOR role in the story, so following the Prince from room to room and highlighting the imagery (description that connects to the five senses) is very important when reading.
  • If you have not introduced mood  (emotion intended for the reader to experience), this story is PERFECT for delineating its progression from start to finish.
  • As students read, you might guide them through identifying various examples of  symbolism  (object, person, or place that represents something else); each room, objects within, and the “antagonist” is symbolic in some way!
  • How does the author convey the tone of the story? How would you, as the reader, describe the story’s mood?
  • What role does the plot structure (focus on the different rooms) play in shaping the reader’s understanding of the story?
  • What is the purpose of the symbolism in the story such as the clock and the masked figure?

Check out this EASY-TO-TEACH bundle , you can practice with your students, so they will feel more confident analyzing higher-level language in “The Masque of the Red Death!”

4.  “The Cask of Amontillado”

Another chilling tale from Poe is the classic story “The Cask of Amontillado.” This one is set during Carnival in an unnamed Italian city. The plot centers on a man seeking revenge on a ‘friend’ he believes has insulted him. If your students are anything like mine, they will relish the ending particularly!

This is just one more of Poe’s short stories and tales that will capture the mind of every reader!

  •  As you plan for this short story, be sure to encourage your students to analyze the changing setting (description of time and place); following Fortunato from scene to scene will help your students track what is really going on.
  • This story is the perfect moment to teach about dialogue (conversation within someone=internal and/or between someone and someone/thing else=external); Montresor certainly means more than what he SEEMS to say!
  • You might also offer a mini-lesson on the 3 types of irony and how each plays a role in the story: verbal (when a person says the opposite of what is really intended), situational (an action occurs that is the opposite from what the reader expects), and dramatic (a character expects a result, but the opposite occurs and the audience can tell what will happen)!
  • Describe Montresor. What are his motives and personality?
  • What inferences can you make about Montresor’s mindset based on his dialogue?
  • What is the purpose of the family’s motto and the carnival atmosphere? 

Check out this Short Story Activity & Quiz Bundle for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” which contains questions and answers modeled after various reading standardized tests as well as pre-quiz reading comprehension questions, graphic organizers, and a writing activity to get students thinking critically about this classic short story involving REVENGE!

Want 7 more teaching ideas for one of Poe’s epic short stories and questions to go with it? Click below!

questions for the cask of amontillado

5.  “To Build a Fire”

This story by Jack London describes the treacherous journey of a man through the harsh Yukon wilderness during extreme cold. Despite warnings and the company of a loyal dog, the man’s arrogance and underestimation of nature’s power lead to a tragic end.

Short stories and ideas related to survival in nature are still relevant today! Who knows when you might get lost on a hike or crashland in no man’s land?

  • This story is PERFECT for a bit of  literary analysis  (examining the impact of various ideas, elements, or themes within a piece of literature); you could hone in on literary devices, characterization, theme, etc.!
  • Integrating clips from survival shows will help students see connections to the world and extend their thinking by comparing (recognizing similarities) and contrasting (recognizing differences) varied experiences!
  • Write a short narrative about surviving 24 hours in a different setting (description of time and place).
  • How does the author use irony? Provide an example and explain. 
  • What real-world connections can be made between this story and our contemporary life? 
  • What is the story’s message about preparedness and respecting nature?

Grab these engaging short stories and activities to make teaching this Jack London story stress-free!

6.  “The Cactus”

Told from the point of view of a young man at his former lover’s wedding, the narrator retells their story. Like most of O. Henry’s short stories and texts, this one has a twist that involves the titular cactus plant.

The ending will end in a bit of fun for your students!

  • Introduce diction (word choice) and its impact within the story by hyperfocusing on specific words within the story . Students can look up definitions, locate synonyms, create their own sentences, replace the words, etc.
  • Investigate twist endings (unexpected finish to a story); before reading the end of the story, ask students to guess why the girl “rejected” him. Some students may know the answer before reading it!
  • Describe the main characters. What similarities and differences are evident? How does this affect the story’s action?
  • What inferences can you make about Trysdale and his feelings about love and marriage?
  • What are the real and symbolic meanings of the cactus?

This resource packed with questions and answers, graphic organizers, and writing activities is sure to get your students thinking about this love story driven by misconceptions.

short stories and activities image

7.  “After Twenty Years”

This tale of friendship and betrayal focuses on the reunion of two old friends after twenty years apart on a New York City street corner. As they reminisce, something is revealed that demonstrates the reality of their bond as well as the choices they’ve made in life.

If you have not read O. Henry’s short stories and incorporated character analysis yet, this is your chance! The story is not long and can be completed in one to two class periods!

  • Sometimes, we ask students to visualize (create a picture) in their minds, but why not give them the opportunity to use their artistic skills to draw the two characters?
  • As students read, annotate for a description of each character; then, students can do a character analysis (investigation of the characters’ similarities and differences).
  • What type of irony is used in the story? How does its use affect your interpretation and understanding of the story?
  • How does the urban setting contribute to the mood of the story?
  • What is the story’s message about friendship and loyalty?

Examine the links between loyalty and duty with this set of resources designed specifically for this O. Henry story.

8.  “The Lottery”

“The Lottery” is the quintessential short story for middle school or high school English! Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” tells the story of an annual ritual that takes place in a seemingly idyllic town. When the townsfolk gather for the lottery drawing, a shocking turn of events demonstrates the dark side of human nature and their ties to (outdated) traditions.

  • Introduce the terms suspense (uncertainty and/or excitement leading up to a major event) and tension (anxiety or uneasy feelings experienced by characters). While reading, identify evidence that relates to each of these concepts and chat/write about their impact on meaning and plot.
  • Teach title (the name of the text) analysis. The title of “The Lottery” is perfect for teaching the impact of the title and audience expectations. Before reading, students may write what they believe the story will be about based on the title. After reading, students can complete a quick write responding to their previous expectations! You can do a text analysis for all short stories and poems!
  • What role does the plot structure play in building suspense and tension? (Consider the revelation of the lottery’s ‘prize’ in particular.)
  • What social commentary is being made through the story and its characters?
  • Describe Mr. Summers, Tessie, and Old Man Warner. What does the story reveal about their role in the community and their feelings about the lottery?

Give yours elf a breath of fresh air with this NO PREP curriculum that integrates test prep within the teaching of literature by using Shirley Jackson’s quintessential story!

the lottery short stories and activities

9.  “The Pedestrian”

This Ray Bradbury story follows a lone walker in a futuristic society in which everyone else is consumed by technology, particularly the television. One evening, the walker encounters a police car that questions his unusual behavior and the end is quite unexpected! (Most of Bradbury’s short stories and texts connect to the future and technology in some way!)

  • This story exemplifies Dystopian Literature (texts that include a supposedly perfect future society marred in some way by governmental or societal oppression). Using this story to introduce this type of literature is always fun for students because they will easily make connections to other dystopic short stories and poems!
  • Teach about mood (the emotional impact of a story’s description/action). The goal is to get students to deepen their critical thinking skills by recognizing how the mood changes and the purpose for that change!
  • How does the author use foreshadowing and suspense to build the mood of the story?
  • What is the central theme of the story? How might it connect with our current world?
  • What similes and metaphors does Bradbury use to describe the community and its members? What is notable about these comparisons?

With this resource about Bradbury’s “The Pedestrian,” you can just print and teach the lesson and activities with EASE! 

10.  “The Gift of the Magi”

This 1905 story by O. Henry relays a tale about a couple struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the story, they both figure out gifts to buy one another for Christmas and realize what love truly means!

  • Review character traits (how a character is depicted internally and externally). Log the traits of each character within the story and how they are important to the meaning of the story.
  • Extend (move beyond the text) critical thinking skills by encouraging students to think and write about other people. If they had $1,000 to spend on someone else, how would they spend the money and why?

the gift of the magi short stories and questions

  • How would you describe Della and Jim, and their relationship?
  • What values do the characters have, when you consider their actions and decisions?
  • Explain how dramatic irony is used in the story. Is it necessary? Is it effective? Why or why not?

This tale is a great addition to your short stories and questions unit around the winter holidays! Save yourself time at that time of the year with this lesson bundle . 

11.  “The Monkey’s Paw” 

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a classic horror story about the White family who come into possession of a mystical monkey’s paw that grants three wishes. Despite warnings, they use it and then face devastating consequences as a result.

  • Teach about the elements of the horror/suspense genre (Ex. Scary movies are typically dark, stormy, surprising, morbid, etc.).
  • Create a thematic statement (message relayed by the text in a complete sentence). There is no perfectly created theme (message) unless it is directly stated by the author; however, students can create a theme by supporting their ideas with evidence from the story!
  • What is the main theme of the story? Or how does the author communicate the themes of greed or fate? Is one stronger than the other?
  • Are Mr. and Mrs. White more alike or different from one another? How do you know?
  • Should we be afraid of the unknown? What message does the story share? Do you agree or disagree?

Examine W.W. Jacobs’ classic story with this set of questions and answers along with rigorous reading and writing activities . While it is ideal for a spooky season, the story is valuable for its ability to hook readers any time of year!

12.  “Lamb to the Slaughter” 

This classic story with a killer plot twist is about a woman who kills her husband and gets away with murder thanks to cooking a leg of lamb!

  • You could introduce the plot elements (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution), encourage students to identify major events to fit each element and write down textual evidence to support their ideas.
  • Complete a film analysis (examination of film techniques and their effects) to compare/contrast the short story with the classic Alfred Hitchcock television episode.
  • What is Mary Maloney’s state of mind? Does it remain the same or does it change throughout the story? Explain.
  • Is the resolution of the story satisfying? Why or why not? Why do you think the author ended it as he did?
  • How does irony contribute to the theme of deception in the story? Explain.

Spice up your middle school English or high school English class with this short stories and activities bundle for Dahl’s famous story!

13.  “The Tell-Tale Heart” 

Poe’s classic psychological thriller is narrated by an unnamed protagonist who insists on their sanity while recounting how they murdered an old man. The narrator is haunted by the sound of the victim’s beating heart, which ultimately drives him to confess to the crime despite not originally being a suspect. 

  • Teach symbolism (object, person, or place that represents something else) by focusing on the heart and eye . The author used these symbols in various ways!
  • Investigate psychology (the study of the human mind) as a part of the story. Determine what is fact and what is fiction within the narrator’s mind.
  • What does the story reveal about the human psyche?
  • What is the deeper meaning of the two key symbols in the story – the beating heart and the eye of the old man?
  • What role do the narrator’s inner thoughts play in the development of the plot?

the tell tale heart short stories and activities

This Short Story Comprehension Bundle offers quick (and effective!) ways to assess students’ learning and understanding of the story. It’s easy to use and will no doubt save you time too!

14.  “The Scarlet Ibis” 

Emotional short stories and their counterparts have a place as well in English classrooms! This short story by James Hurst about two brothers is a heartbreaking must-read. Through flashbacks, the unnamed narrator tells the life story of his younger sickly brother William Armstrong, who is nicknamed Doodle. And the end…well, you’ll see.

  • Define and explain the purpose of a flashback (referring back to the past within a story). Think about the implications of never thinking back on the past or always thinking about the past.
  • Complete a comparison chart between Doodle and the Ibis as you read along. Then, students can create a visual of each after they have ready by using their own evidence!
  • What is the meaning of the story’s title and the presence of a scarlet ibis in the story?
  • What is the central theme of the story? How do the events of the story support this chosen theme?
  • How does the author use personification for the storm? What effect does this have on the story?

This flexible resource features critical thinking questions and answers as well as writing and reading activities for students to explore Hurst’s heartbreaking story.

15.  “The Veldt” 

This science fiction story by Ray Bradbury was first published as “The World the Children Made” and it is quite fitting as a title! The story focuses on a futuristic world in which a video screen can be controlled and it turns out to be more than simple virtual reality! By the story’s conclusion, the world the children made is the downfall of their parents. 

  • Compare and contrast “The Veldt” with “The Pedestrian,” two short stories and dystopic texts by Ray Bradbury. Analyze the similarities and differences of both short stories and create a thematic statement that connects to both texts!
  • Make connections to our current reality in the 21st century. Locate research about the implications of technology on young people and integrate this information as you discuss this short story.
  • How does the author address the theme of technology versus humanity in the story? Do you agree with this commentary? Why or why not?
  • How does the nursery reflect the personalities of Wendy and Peter in this story?
  • Do you know the story of Peter Pan and his friend Wendy? What connections can you make between it and this story by Ray Bradbury?

Ray Bradbury’s classic short stories and similar passages are the BEST to teach in middle and high school English! With so much to dive into, they are sure to be a hit with your students. Grab this set of activities to extend your students’ engagement with rigorous reading and writing activities about “The Veldt.” 

16.  “The Necklace” 

A woman who longs for a life of luxury and elegance beyond her means faces consequences when she loses a borrowed necklace. Guy de Maupassant’s story ends with a twist that has the reader question the value of material possessions. 

  • I love comparing this short story with O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” You might choose to focus on the theme, characterization, setting, etc.
  • Summarize (writing about the main idea with details) each chunk of the story as you read with your students. Instead of asking students to write a paragraph, you could ask students to create each summary in only one sentence.
  • The story explores vanity, deception, and the consequences of striving for social status. Which theme do you think is the most important? Explain with support from the story.
  • Is Mathilde Loisel a likable character? Does this change during the story? Does it matter if the reader likes her? Why or why not?
  • What clues does the author provide throughout the story that foreshadow the twist at the story’s end?

Focus on the standards with this Short Story Lesson Bundle for “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant!

Need help with implementing activities for “The Necklace?” See below!

the-necklace-by-guy-de-maupassant

17.  “A Vendetta” 

Guy de Maupassant’s late-19th-century story is all about REVENGE. A mother is obsessed with creating a plan to avenge her son’s murder and she then puts the plan into action with a morbid outcome.

  • There are so many texts that involve REVENGE! Why not use this concept as a focus for a thematic unit (texts linked to a similar concept and/or message)? You could read “A Poison Tree,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “Lamb to the Slaughter” as well as “A Vendetta” with the intention of writing about all 4 for a comparison/contrast paper, presentation, or seminar.
  • Analyze the development (how a character changes over time) of the mother and the dog throughout the story; you might annotate for similarities and differences as well as their motivations!
  • What comment is the story making about the nature (or need) for justice? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  • What similes and metaphors does the author use to communicate the main character’s feelings about the vendetta?
  • How does the author use details to explain the main character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivation?

Add these activities for this lesser-known work to your short story plans. It’s sure to keep things fresh for your short stories and activities unit! 

18.  “Thank You, Ma’am” (also known as “Thank You, M’am”)

This heartfelt story by Langston Hughes tells the story of Luella, an older woman in the neighborhood, who is nearly robbed by a young man named Roger. In response to Roger, Luella brings him back to her home and treats him with an abundance of kindness, which has a profound effect on Roger.

This tale is at the top of the list for the BEST short stories and passages for upper middle and younger high school students!

  • Introduce perspective and/or point of view (how a story is told: 1st, 2nd, 3rd omniscient, 3rd limited, 3rd objective). Students might rewrite the story from another perspective or extend the story using the perspective of one of the main characters.
  • Review plot elements with a focus on the exposition (introduction to the characters, setting, and conflict), climax (highest point of interest/turning point of the story), and resolution (how the story is concluded and/or resolved in some way.) You could assign an activity surrounding each concept: visualization of the scene, a journal response to the event, or a short response focused on how the element is important to the overall theme!

thank you maam short stories and questions

  • Do you believe in second chances? What does the story say about second chances? 
  • How might the climax of the story also be seen as the turning point in Roger’s life?
  • How would you describe Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones? Are her actions expected or unexpected in the story? Consider from Roger’s and the reader’s point of view.

Click to check out all of the details for this BUNDLE with differentiated options , which includes a Test Prep Quiz (with varied options), Venn Diagrams, Graphic Organizers, and Writing Responses!! 

19.  “Click Clack the Rattle Bag”

This short story by Neil Gaiman is creepy and fun in the best ways possible! The narrator is taking care of his girlfriend’s little brother and walking him to bed when the child asks for a story. Instead of the narrator sharing a story, the boy shares about the Click Clacks who drink their prey and leave behind rattling bodies. The end is too good to be missed!

Short stories and plots like those in “Click Clack the Rattle Bag” will most certainly engage even your most struggling learners!

  • We all know that test prep can be tough as many reading passages are, well, boring! Why not accomplish some test prep with your students and incorporate 5 standardized test-related questions ? You could focus on theme, structure, order of events, characterization, etc.!
  • Help students make inferences (acknowledging and hypothesizing about the impact of details that are not directly referenced or stated) as the scene moves along. Students can analyze the change in the setting, the little boy himself, the story the boy is telling, and specific phrases from the story.
  • What details in the story contribute to its eerie atmosphere or mood? Or what figurative language devices does Neil Gaiman use to create a sense of suspense in the story? 
  • How does the author use ambiguity in the story? Is it effective or not? Explain.
  • What inferences can you make about the relationship between the narrator and the young boy?

click clack the rattle bag short stories and questions

This “Click Clack the Rattle Bag” Quiz Pack for middle and high school students uses the Common Core standards and contains questions and answers modeled after various state standardized tests! Make teaching this amazing short story by Neil Gaiman SIMPLE & EASY!

Why should we incorporate more short stories and activities in our teaching?

While I would never advocate replacing all novels with short stories and smaller texts, there is still something to be said about spending quality time with short stories and excerpts. 

Including short stories and standards-based activities is an ideal option to improve reading comprehension and develop skills, especially in middle and high school English classes!

SHORT STORIES AND ACTIVITIES RESOURCES: 

short stories and questions unit

This  Short Stories and Test Prep Questions ULTIMATE BUNDLE with Lessons, Quizzes, and Activities uses the Common Core standards with reading comprehension QUESTIONS and ANSWERS for 18 short stories such as “The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Monkey’s Paw,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “After Twenty Years,” “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Veldt,” “The Lottery,” “The Pedestrian,” etc. modeled after various state reading exams.

Make teaching short stories and activities SIMPLE & EASY!

Just PRINT & TEACH with engaging short stories and lessons!!

Need more fun ideas for teaching short stories and corresponding activities? Check out my store Kristin Menke-Integrated ELA Test Prep !

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Free Printable Who What When Where Why Questions Worksheets for 3rd Grade

Who What When Where Why Questions: Discover a collection of free printable Reading & Writing worksheets for Grade 3 students, designed to enhance comprehension and critical thinking skills.

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Explore printable Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for 3rd Grade

Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for Grade 3 are an essential tool for teachers looking to enhance their students' reading and writing skills. These worksheets focus on developing critical thinking skills by encouraging students to ask and answer the five W's (who, what, when, where, and why) while engaging with a variety of texts. By incorporating these worksheets into their lesson plans, teachers can help students improve their reading comprehension strategies, allowing them to better understand and analyze the texts they encounter. As students progress through Grade 3, these worksheets will provide them with the necessary foundation to excel in their reading and writing abilities, ultimately setting them up for success in their academic journey. Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for Grade 3 are a valuable resource for teachers looking to foster a love of reading and writing in their students.

Quizizz, an online platform that offers a variety of educational resources, is an excellent source for teachers seeking Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for Grade 3, as well as other reading and writing materials. In addition to worksheets, Quizizz provides teachers with interactive quizzes, games, and activities that can be easily integrated into their lesson plans. These resources not only help students develop their reading comprehension strategies but also make learning fun and engaging. By utilizing Quizizz's extensive library of resources, teachers can create a dynamic and interactive learning environment that caters to the diverse needs of their Grade 3 students. With Quizizz, teachers can feel confident that they are providing their students with the tools necessary to excel in reading and writing, setting them up for a successful academic future.

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3rd Grade Critical Thinking

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1. THE CRITICAL THINKING

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Critical thinking

200+ critical thinking questions.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire As critical thinkers, it’s our job to question everything, instead of just blindly believing what we’re told, but what kinds of questions should we be asking though? What are the “right” questions to ask? In this article I’ve compiled a list of 200+ […]

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“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” – Voltaire

As critical thinkers, it’s our job to question everything, instead of just blindly believing what we’re told, but what kinds of questions should we be asking though?

What are the “right” questions to ask?

In this article I’ve compiled a list of 200+ of the very best critical thinking questions for almost any situation.

Critical thinking questions:

  • If you’re presented with a claim

If you’re reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching TV or YouTube

If you’re watching an interview.

  • In a group or panel discussion
  • In an argument or debate

If you’re watching the news

  • If you want to spot a lie

If you want to spot a scam

  • If you’re presented with statistics
  • Critical thinking about your life

Let’s begin:

  • Is this an argument, a claim, a belief, an opinion, or a fact?

When you’re presented with information, whether it’s something you’re reading, watching or listening to, ask yourself:

  • How do you know it’s a fact?
  • What evidence exists to support this “fact”?
  • Has this “fact” been proven?
  • Do the majority of experts on the subject agree that this is a fact? Is there an expert consensus on this fact? If not, why not?
  • Is this an ordinary or extraordinary claim?
  • Do the majority of experts agree with this claim? Or is it contentious?
  • What is the source of this claim?
  • Who is making this claim?
  • Is this person an authority or expert?
  • How reliable is this source?
  • What are the best arguments in support of this claim?
  • What do the harshest critics against this position say?
  • What arguments do skeptics of this position give?
  • Has this claim already been debunked?
  • Is this evidence good enough to accept the arguers assertions?
  • Would this evidence stand up in court?
  • Or is the arguer/author/speaker making assertions without evidence?
  • What is the strongest evidence against this claim?
  • Is there more confirming or disconfirming evidence?
  • Is the expert consensus (if there is one) for or against this claim? Why?
  • Do the majority of experts agree or disagree with this claim? Why?
  • How can we verify or falsify this claim?
  • A statement may be true, but is it relevant? Why?
  • To what degree? To what extent?
  • Under what conditions?
  • In what context or circumstances?
  • This claim is 100% true
  • This claim is 100% false
  • This claim is mostly true, partly false
  • This claim is mostly false, partly true
  • This claim is half true, half false
  • Remember: There are degrees of “rightness” and “wrongness”. Statements are rarely 100% true or 100% false
  • What further claims does this claim logically entail?
  • Which of my beliefs would I have to change if I were to accept this claim?
  • If this is an argument, is it deductive or inductive?
  • If an argument is deductive, is it sound, valid, invalid, or unsound?
  • If an argument is inductive, is it cogent, strong, weak, or unsound?
  • How do you know this?
  • How did you determine this?
  • What evidence or proof do you have for this claim?
  • What is their background?
  • What makes them qualified to speak on this subject?
  • Are they an expert in the field?
  • On what basis is the author or speaker an authority or expert on the subject, or at least credible?
  • Are they conservative or liberal?
  • Atheist or religious?
  • Feminist or MGTOW?
  • (No author/speaker is completely neutral, unbiased and objective)
  • When was the article, book, podcast, video etc., written or recorded? Is it possibly outdated? Is there a more recent up-to-date version available?
  • Why did the author write this article/book?
  • Why is the speaker giving this talk? What is their motivation?
  • What is the purpose of this information? Why was it created?
  • Why did I choose to read/watch/listen to it?
  • Who benefits from this information? Why? How?
  • Is this information relevant to you? If so, how? Why do you need to know this? How does it affect you personally?
  • What are the authors/speakers main arguments and assertions? What is their philosophy? What are their main points?
  • Is the author/speaker arguing for anything controversial? If so, there are likely to be good counterarguments on the other side
  • Anonymous authorities aka “weasel words” e.g. “experts say…” “scientists say…” “studies show…”
  • Deductive or inductive reasoning
  • Expert opinion
  • Expert consensus
  • Randomized controlled trials
  • Scientific studies
  • Scientific consensus
  • Or are they making assertions without evidence?
  • What is the strongest evidence in support of these assertions? Is this evidence good enough to accept the authors/speakers conclusions? Would it stand up in court?
  • What is the strongest evidence against these assertions?
  • What might be another equally valid interpretation of the evidence or study results?
  • What conclusions does the author/speaker want you to draw? What do they want you to think/believe/understand/do?
  • Is the author/speaker/news station trying to push a narrative? e.g. “Diversity”, “Gender pay gap”, “Immigration”?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers assertions? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers philosophy? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers “facts” and description of “reality”? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers arguments and rationale? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Are there any fallacies in the authors/speakers argument or rationale? If so, what?
  • Does the author/speaker address counterarguments, disconfirming evidence, objections etc.? If so, how effectively do they rebut these points?
  • If the author/speaker provides a “rule”, are there any exceptions to the rule that are not explained or accounted for?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers conclusions? Why/why not? (You might agree with their arguments and rationale but not with their conclusions) Are they backed up by sufficient evidence? Or is the author/speaker jumping to conclusions too quickly from insufficient evidence?
  • Are there any other equally valid conclusions or interpretations that could have been drawn from the evidence, or any other competing theories with better explanations for the evidence? If so, what?
  • What is the perspective of the author/speaker? Do they seem like an insider or outsider? Why?
  • Whose perspective is this information presented from? America’s or someone else’s? Conservative or liberal? Men or Women? Gen X, Y or Z?
  • What perspectives/viewpoints are not represented here? What other perspectives might be equally valid, or worth looking into?
  • What would (person) say about it?
  • What would (group) say about it?
  • Is there better evidence for one perspective/viewpoint than another?
  • Is the author/speaker presenting you with both sides of the story – or only one?
  • How has the author/speaker framed the information or story?
  • Is the author/speaker embellishing or sensationalizing the story for dramatic effect? Do you think the story really took place the way the author/speaker tells it?
  • What assumptions is the author/speaker making? What does the author/speaker have to believe is true before the rest of their argument makes sense?
  • What are the implications of the authors/speakers argument? If this is true, what else must be true?
  • What are the main problems the author/speaker is trying to solve? What solutions do they propose?
  • Do you agree with the authors/speakers proposed solutions? Can you think of even better solutions to these problems?
  • Has the author/speaker identified the real problem/s, or only a symptom of the problem?
  • Is the author/speakers analysis or solution to the problem or situation oversimplified or incomplete? What needs to be unpacked or expanded upon?
  • Is the author/speaker engaged in oversimplified black and white thinking as if something “always” or “never” happens, or as if “everyone” or “no one” should think/believe/do something, or as if something was right/wrong, true/false, correct/incorrect, without any grey areas in between?
  • Are you engaged in black and white thinking, as if “everything” or “nothing” the author/speaker says is true? Or are you judging the validity of the information line by line, sentence by sentence, claim by claim, realizing that some parts could be true, and other parts false?
  • Is the author/speaker emotional reasoning? Is it facts over feelings, or feels over reals?
  • How would you describe the author/speakers tone? Dogmatic? Overconfident? Emotive? Pay attention not only to what  is said, but  how it’s said. How does the tone affect your response to the speech/text?
  • Is the author/speaker using emotive language/tonality, and/or dramatic images or video, in an attempt to alarm, scare or outrage you?
  • Is the author/speaker guilty of magical or superstitious thinking? Is there a lot of talk of “the law of attraction”, “miracles”, “soul mates” etc.?
  • Does the author/speaker treat their opponents charitably and fairly? Do they treat the other side as intelligent people with a difference of opinion/perspective? Or do they demonize them as “crazy”, “dangerous”, “evil”, “dumb”, “stupid”, “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic”, “transphobic” etc.?
  • Does the author/speaker seem intellectually honest? Trustworthy? Why/why not?
  • Is the author/speaker trying to be objective in their analysis and critique? Perfect objectivity isn’t possible, but are they even trying to be impartial, unbiased and objective?
  • Yes: Be careful you’re not automatically believing everything they have to say without evidence, and letting them do your thinking for you
  • No: Be careful you’re not automatically dismissing everything they have to say because you don’t like them (Remember: Examine the statement – not the speaker)
  • Yes: Beware because you’re more likely to believe it whether it’s true or not
  • No: Beware because you’re more likely to dismiss it whether it’s true or not
  • The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
  • Half-truths and holding something back
  • Straight up lying
  • Is the author/speaker misquoting people, or taking quotes out of context?
  • Did the person really say …? Is this a real quote/tweet? Or has the person been misquoted or quoted out of context? Is this a fake tweet?
  • How are you going to use this information? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to put it into practice? How will it make a difference to your life?
  • What is the purpose of this interview? Is it to educate or entertain the audience? Is it to promote a product or service?
  • Who is the interviewee? Why is this person being interviewed?
  • When did this interview take place? Is this information possibly outdated and no longer relevant?
  • Is the interviewer asking the interviewee mostly softball or hardball questions?
  • Is the interviewer asking the interviewee a lot of leading, loaded or gotcha questions? Do they seem to be trying to lead or trap the interviewee? e.g. “Yeah, but isn’t it true that…”, “Yeah, but don’t you think…”, “Yeah, but what about…”
  • Is the interviewer really listening to the interviewee? Are they making a real effort to try to understand the interviewee and their position, or are they simply trying to promote or condemn it?
  • Is the interviewer deliberately trying to make the interviewee look bad? e.g. Are they being overly disagreeable or standoffish? Do they only ask hardball or gotcha questions and then interrupt the interviewee mid-sentence with another difficult question every time the interviewee starts to give a good answer?
  • Does the interviewer interrupt or cut off the interviewee if they start talking about anything controversial, or if they start talking about anything that doesn’t align with the narrative of the network e.g. anti-abortion, pro-gun or pro-Trump comments?
  • Has the interview been edited to make the interviewee look bad, to paint them in a negative light?
  • What additional questions would you ask the interviewee that the interviewer didn’t ask?

If you’re watching a group or panel discussion

If you’re watching a group discussion or debate, especially on a contentious topic e.g. abortion or gun control:

  • Who are the panel members? What makes these people authorities or experts on the subject?
  • Are both sides of the debate equally represented with intelligent people? Or is one side represented by heavyweights and the other side lightweights?
  • Is there an equal distribution of liberal and conservative pundits? Or is it a majority liberal panel with a token conservative? (or vice versa)
  • Does the host seem biased towards one side over the other? Is the host picking sides and showing their approval/disapproval of one side?
  • Is the audience showing an obvious bias to one side of the debate? Are they only applauding/booing one side of the debate?
  • Is the host giving more airtime, credibility and/or respect to one side?
  • Is the host trying to make one side look bad, ignorant or stupid?

In an argument or a debate

If you’re in an argument or a debate, or watching one:

  • Is this an argument or an assertion? If it’s an argument, is it deductive, inductive or abductive? Is it sound or cogent? Valid or invalid? Strong or weak?
  • Are all of the premises true and correct? Do all of the premises necessarily lead to the conclusion? Are there any unjustified leaps of logic?
  • Am I clear on how each word is being defined in the argument?
  • Is someone attempting to redefine words e.g. “rational”, “reasonable”,   “racist” etc., to support their preferred conclusion?
  • Is someone trying to shift the burden of proof? Note: The burden of proof is the obligation to provide evidence to support one’s assertion e.g. “You are guilty” and it is always on the one making the claim – not the other way around
  • Has this argument already been debunked?
  • Is someone making a PRATT? (Point refuted a thousand times)
  • Is this a strawman or steelman argument?
  • Is this the best argument in support of …?
  • What are the best arguments in support of …?
  • What are the best arguments against …?
  • What is the strongest evidence in support of …?
  • What is the strongest evidence against …?
  • Is the preponderance of evidence for or against …? Is there more confirming or disconfirming evidence?
  • Is the expert consensus (if there is one) for or against …? Why?
  • Do the majority of experts agree or disagree with …? Why?
  • Are there any fallacies in this argument or rationale? If so, what? (Fallacies don’t necessarily make an argument invalid but it’s still good to be aware of them)
  • Am I 100% certain I understand my opponent’s position? Am I sure? Could I argue my opponent’s position convincingly? Could I steelman it? Could I pass the Ideological Turing Test? If not, you don’t understand it. Don’t argue for or against a position until you fully understand it
  • What are the strongest points of my opponent’s argument?
  • What are the weakest points of my opponent’s argument?
  • What are the weakest points of my argument?
  • What is the strongest evidence against my position?
  • What are the best arguments against my position?
  • How would I attack my argument if I had to?
  • What do I like about my opponent’s position, and what do I dislike about mine?
  • What aspects of my argument are likely to be unconvincing to those that don’t already agree with me?
  • Does my opponent seem intellectually honest? Are they arguing in good faith? Are they willing to follow the evidence where it leads? Are they willing to admit when they’re mistaken or wrong? Am I?
  • Does my opponent seem more interested in “winning” the argument or discovering the truth?

Ask the other person:

  • How did you determine that?
  • How did you come to that conclusion?
  • What do you know that I don’t?
  • Where am I wrong in my argument or rationale?
  • What evidence would it take to change your mind, to convince you otherwise?
  • Are these your real reasons for believing X? If all of these reasons were proven wrong, would you still continue to believe X? If yes, let’s not even worry about these reasons because they’re not the real reasons you believe X. What are the real reasons you believe X?
  • Why do you think other smart people aren’t convinced by the same arguments and evidence that you are?
  • Associated Press News
  • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
  • The Economist
  • Pro Publica
  • What is the bias of this news station? Are they liberal or conservative? You can check the bias of a particular news station here:  Media Bias Fact Check
  • Fear mongering
  • Gossip/rumors
  • Hatchet jobs
  • Outrage porn
  • Puff pieces
  • Is this really the most important “news” of the day? Why is this story being prioritized over everything else that happened today?
  • Why do I need to know this? How does it affect me?
  • What is the purpose of this news story? Why was it created? What does the news station want you to think/believe/do?
  • When was this news story published? Is this information current, or is it outdated and/or no longer relevant?
  • Has this story already been debunked?
  • Truth or Fiction
  • The Washington Post Fact Checker
  • Hoax Slayer

Check these websites to see if a claim or story has already been debunked, but don’t rely on any of these websites to do your thinking for you, because they may mislead you with their own political biases

  • Has this story or headline been written to educate, entertain or infuriate you?
  • Is the headline an accurate summary of the information – or is it just clickbait?
  • Do the photos fit the story?
  • Has an unflattering photo been deliberately chosen to paint the subject e.g. Trump in a bad light?
  • Is it likely that this story has been embellished or sensationalized?
  • How has this information been framed or spun?
  • Are you being presented with both sides of the story – or only one?
  • Whose perspective is this presented from? Conservative or liberal? America’s or someone else’s? Men or Women? What other perspectives might be equally valid, or worth looking into?
  • What do the other news stations say? e.g. if you watch CNN or MSNBC, what does CBS or FOX say? (and vice versa)
  • Are you being presented with facts or opinions?  If “facts”, on what basis are they “facts”? What evidence exists to support these “facts”?
  • Do the media’s “facts” and description of “reality” seem accurate? Why/why not? Anything you disagree with?
  • Did someone really say that? Or have they been misquoted or quoted out of context?
  • Does the domain look credible?
  • Is this satire?

How to spot a liar

  • Does it seem like this person is lying or telling the truth? Why? Are they a known liar?
  • Is this person motivated to deceive me? Do they stand to gain something by lying to me? What might this person gain by lying to me?
  • Dodge the question
  • Ignore the question
  • Attack you for asking the question, “How could you ask me a question like that!”
  • Refuse to answer the question
  • Answer a different question
  • Turn the question back on you, “I could ask you the same thing!”
  • Give short one word answers
  • Give vague or ambiguous answers
  • Talk around in circles without answering the question
  • If you ask the person the same question multiple times using different words, do they give different answers and contradict themselves? Do the details in their story keep changing?
  • Uncomfortable
  • Does the person speak slower or faster or louder than normal when answering your questions?
  • Does the person hesitate, take long pauses, or talk slower than normal when answering your questions? (maybe in an attempt to think on the spot and buy time?)
  • Do they avoid eye contact and/or cover their mouth when answering questions?
  • Do they start sentences and not finish them, or change topics and start talking about something else mid-sentence?
  • Does the tone or volume of their voice change? Does their voice crack and/or go higher than normal? Do they cough repetitively and clear their throat, or stammer or stutter?
  • Do they blink rapidly, or not at all, or have a fake or nervous smile?
  • Do they roll their lips back or purse them?
  • Does their body language seem uncomfortable?
  • Do their emotions and facial expressions match their words? When they say they’re “good” or “okay”, do they seem good or okay?
  • Does it seem like they’re in a hurry to change the subject?
  • This person is telling “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”
  • This person is telling half-truths and holding something back
  • This person is playing dumb and pretending to know less than they do
  • This person is straight up lying
  • What does your gut/intuition say? Does it seem like they’re lying or telling you the truth? (or both)
  • Is a stranger emailing, texting or calling you out of the blue claiming something too good to be true? e.g. you’ve entitled to a large inheritance – and all you need to do is provide bank details, or pay taxes or transfer costs? Or that you’ve won a prize in a competition or lottery you’ve never entered?
  • Is someone calling you claiming to be from your bank, gas/electricity provider, phone company etc. and asking you to verify your personal contact details, password, bank details, credit card number etc.? maybe due to “unauthorized” or “suspicious activity” on your account?
  • Does a google search on the exact wording of the email, text or ad reveal a scam?
  • Does the email contain any grammatical or spelling errors, or overly formal language?
  • Does the email ask you to click a link or open an attachment?
  • If you’re buying something online is the seller asking you to make payment with an insecure payment option? e.g. direct bank transfer, money order, or a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin?
  • In an online dating scenario, is someone professing strong feelings for you after only a few encounters?
  • Does the person have a sense of urgency? Are they claiming to need money urgently for a personal or family emergency, medical attention, or to come see you?
  • Is someone using pressure tactics, and trying to make you feel guilty or selfish for not buying their product or service, or donating to a charity?
  • Is someone trying to manipulate you with sleazy sales/self-help seminar type questions e.g. “Do you want to be rich or poor?” “A winner or a loser?” “A success or a failure?”
  • Does it seem too good to be true? Does it seem like a scam? If so, it probably is
  • What does your gut/intuition say?

Statistics questions

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Ask yourself the following questions whenever you’re presented with any statistic:

  • Who paid for the study or survey?
  • Who conducted the study or survey? Does it come from a credible source?
  • Why was the study or survey done? What is the likely agenda?
  • When was the study done? Is the information outdated? Is it still relevant? Times change. Public opinion changes
  • Who was polled? Conservatives or liberals? Men or women? Asians, Blacks, Hispanics or Whites? What age group? Gen X, Y or Z? How diverse was the group?
  • How large was the sample size? How many people were surveyed? Is the sample size large enough? Is it qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods? Was the sample size sufficient?  Was it  representative enough of the wider population? Did the participants come from different cultural and social backgrounds? How generalizable are the findings?
  • What are the statistics measuring?
  • How long did the information take to gather? Was it a 2 week survey? A 6 month study? A 10 year study?
  • What questions were asked?
  • How was each question asked? Were the questions leading or loaded or worded in such a way as to encourage a certain answer?
  • What is the context of the survey?
  • How was the research done? Phone, email, social media, face to face?
  • What is the number as a percentage? e.g. 55, 000 Americans is 0.0167% of the population
  • Is the percentage statistically insignificant? e.g. 500, 000 Americans might be addicted to Heroin, but as a percentage that’s ‘only’ (any number above one is obviously too high) 0.153% of Americans
  • Do the author’s conclusions and the headline logically follow from the data? Or are they reading too much into the data? Find the raw data if you can. Don’t just accept and believe headlines for statistics. Make sure it says what the headline says it says. Statistical headlines are often used to suggest things the data doesn’t actually say
  • Is the research confusing causation and correlation? Check out: spurious correlations for a perfect visual example of why correlation does not equal causation
  • Has this study been peer reviewed by experts?
  • Beware of unsourced statistics

“I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.” – George Canning 

Critical thinking about your life questions

“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates

You can apply critical thinking to the books you read, the podcasts you listen to, the information and “news” presented to you, but ultimately, what better place to apply critical thinking skills than to your own life?

  • Which biases and fallacies are you most guilty of?
  • Where/when do you most often fail to practice critical thinking?
  • What are your sacred cows? What shouldn’t be questioned? What is off limits? God? Jesus? Buddha? Krishna? Muhammad? The Bible? The Bhagavad Gita? The Quran? Your Guru?
  • What do you need to start/stop doing?
  • What do you need to do more/less of?
  • What are your best/worst habits?
  • Where do you waste the most time?
  • Who/what should you cut out of your life?
  • What one thing, if you were to take action on it, would produce the greatest difference in your life?
  • A year from now, what will you wish you had started today?

Recommended reading

For additional critical thinking questions check out:

Critical Reading: The Ultimate Guide

The Socratic Method

50 Critical thinking tips

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

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Teaching Ideas & Classroom Resources to help your students reach their highest potential

Developing critical thinking skills with multi-step word problems

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

Our biggest goal as math teachers is to help our students become critical thinkers and problem solvers. I help my third graders develop critical thinking skills by using multi-step word problems in my math class every day.

When you need to find how much fencing you’ll need for your dog pen… does a worksheet appear that says “Find the Perimeter” in a cute font?!

When you are planning a party and want to make sure the amount of hotdog buns you purchased will be enough for every guest to have two… does a teacher tap you on the shoulder and remind you to multiply the number of guests times 2 to figure this out?

Math in the real-world

As adults we use math all the time. Except, we have to decide in the moment if we need to be using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division or a mixture. We are able to do this because of the teachers who taught us how to problem solve.

One way that we can encourage more thinking in math class is by utilizing multi-step word problems. I don’t mean word problems that contain answer choices A, B, C, or D. I mean open-ended, multi-step word problems where students have to do some thinking to arrive at the answer.

These word problems must encourage thinking and, beginning in 3rd grade, must be multi-step.

What are multi-step word problems?

Multi-step word problems are problems that require students to do more than one math operation before getting the answer to the problem. Introduction to these multi-step word problems should begin in third grade.

Here is an example:

To solve this, you must first add 19 + 48 = 67. This answer is John’s total. Then, you add 67 + 48 to get Tommy’s total.

This differs from this one step problem: John has 19 more marbles than Melissa. If Melissa has 48 marbles, how many does John have?

Why teach problem solving skills?

There is more to teaching math than giving students a paper with directions that spell out exactly what needs to be done (ex: Add these three digit numbers, Find the perimeter of these shapes, etc.) Yes, this kind of stuff is absolutely needed, but not what this post is about.

Students need to be challenged with math situations daily. This type of brain work prepares them to be successful problem solvers as adults. It teaches them that there are multiple ways to solve problems and helps them see that math class has a real life purpose. Students will also learn to use multiple math process at the same time and to have perseverance to try multiple strategies until they are able to be successful.

Are you providing your students with daily experiences like this?

How this works in my third grade classroom:

Each morning when my students come in my classroom, they complete a multi-step word problem for morning work.

  • I project a problem on my ActivPanel from my 3rd grade multi-step word problem PowerPoint
  • Students solve it in their math composition books .
  • We begin math class by discussing the problem each day.

Here is a sample problem from my multi-step word problem PowerPoint :

critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

The Problem Solving Mat

Friday mornings, I lay a printable word problem on their desks and they complete it and turn it in for me to see. I can use this to assess student understanding, look for common mistakes, and see where I need to go next with my problem solving instruction.

The Friday printable looks like this: (These are also included in my multi-step word problem product)

multi-step word problem- problem solving mat

I really like the layout of this page because it walks students through the problem solving process.

Step 1: Picture.

It is important to start working by relating to the problem and understanding exactly what is being asked. One of the best ways to do this is by drawing a picture. A picture could mean a model, a chart, table, etc. Some type of drawing that helps them understand the information from the problem.

Step 2: Solve it.

This is where students “show their work” and do the necessary math to solve the problem.

Step 3: Answer.

I instruct my students to include a label with their answer. For example in the problem above, the answer is 236 seashells . Adding a label helps me ensure that my students know what the answer even means.

Step 4: Explain it.

My favorite & my students’ least favorite part (muahaha).

I think explaining the answer is very important. I teach my students to evaluate their answers and ask themselves “Is this reasonable?” For example, would it make sense that my answer for the above question would be 842? I know I need to add 111, 83, and 42. Knowing this, 842 would not be a reasonable answer.

I provide my students with a writing frame in the beginning of the year to help them put their math process into words.

If you need help implementing a daily word problem into your math instruction, check out my 100 Two-Step Word Problems product on Teachers Pay Teachers. These are the daily word problems that I use with my students. Every problem contains multiple steps and uses the 4 operations to solve.

Teachers Pay Teachers product cover: 3rd Grade Multi-Step Word Problems

With this download, you’ll get 100 word-problems presented in a few different formats. The same 100 problems are used in each of the different formats, this is so you can use them however you like. The different formats make this product adaptable to your classroom.

You can see each format below:

Math Journal Prompts: 3rd Grade multi-step word problems

I am always looking for more ideas to help my students with problem solving. What have you found that works well in your math class?

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Questions for your text feature lesson plans to help promote higher level thinking in 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders

Higher Order Questions for Your Text Feature Lessons

Questions for your text feature lesson plans to help promote higher level thinking in 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders

When we question our students about text features, we often focus too much on having students identify different nonfiction text features.  While this is essential, it is equally important to get our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students thinking more deeply about text features - moving past knowledge and recall questions and into more higher order thinking questions.

Below, find text feature questions you can include in your upper elementary lesson plans for each of the levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.  You'll find a free pdf printable of these questions at the bottom of the webpage.

Knowledge Questions

  • List all of the text features you found on this page.
  • Circle the heading.
  • Describe the diagram.
  • Draw an example of bold letters.
  • Explain where you would find the table of contents of a book.
  • Point at the bullet points on this page.

Comprehension Questions

  • Explain what a table is in your own words.
  • How are a photograph and an illustration different?
  • How are captions and labels alike?
  • Which text feature best supports the main idea of this paragraph?
  • What text feature should you use to figure out the meaning of a word: an index or a glossary?  Why?
  • Based on the text features in this book, what do you think the book will be about?

Use this free text features chart to help your students learn about the purposes of different nonfiction text features.

Application Questions

  • How could you use the title or headings of this book to predict the main idea?
  • In what other situations would bold letters be useful?
  • What caption would you write for this photograph?
  • What text features would you include if you were writing an article on basketball?
  • Organize the information in this paragraph into a table or chart.
  • Write an appropriate heading for this paragraph.

Text Feature Activities for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade - posters, charts, no prep activities, task cards, scavenger hunts, and more

Want to make your lesson planning even easier?  Find everything you need to teach nonfiction text features in this  Text Features Bundle.   

There are posters, task cards, no prep activities, reading passages, and more to help your students have a deep and thorough understanding of text features and their purposes.

Analysis Questions

  • How do the text features on this page relate to each other?
  • If you were asked to divide the text features on this page into 2 groups, how would you categorize them?
  • What inference can you make about this book based on its text features?
  • How do the text features on this page relate to the text?
  • Compare and contrast two of the text features on this page.
  • Explain the different parts of this diagram or chart.  What text features are included within the diagram or chart?

Evaluation Questions

  • Which text feature was most useful in helping you understand the text?  Why?
  • Which text feature was least helpful to you in understanding the text?  Why?
  • Where in the text could the author have added a table, chart, or diagram?
  • Which text feature do you think is the most important to nonfiction books?  Why?
  • Why do you think the author chose to add this text feature?
  • Which text feature did the author use most effectively?  Defend your reasoning.

Synthesis Questions

  • Write a nonfiction article that includes at least 6 different text features.
  • Create an additional text feature for this book.
  • How would this book have been different if the author hadn't included any photographs or illustrations?
  • Choose one of the text features on the page and write your own paragraph to support the text feature.
  • What text feature could be added to help you understand the text better?
  • How would the book have been different if the author had not included any headings or titles?

Download a free pdf version of these questions here: Text Feature Questions for Higher Level Thinking

You. might also like these other text feature ideas and activities or these other questions for higher level thinking in upper elementary. 

Get Another Text Feature Freebie

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A no prep resource to help your students learn the purposes of the most common text features!

Comments 10

I love those sub plans. They are ideal. Do you have any for Non-Fiction?

I don’t have any nonfiction sub plans. I like that idea, however – I might look into creating some in the future.

Thank you for these resources. They have helped me a lot. These are very interactive and helps my students to use their higher level thinking skills.

I’m so glad you have found some helpful ideas!

Thanks for this resource. Check the PDFs heading. It says Character Traits.

Thanks! It has been updated.

I love this free resource but the text features PDF says character traits at the top.

Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll update that.

Check the spelling error.. evaluation. I love this and plan to share it.

Thanks for pointing that out! I plan on turning this information into a pdf document so that its easier to print, so come back and check for that!

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Comprehension and Critical Thinking Grade 3

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DOWNLOAD Sample Pages

Comprehension and Critical Thinking Grade 3

ISBN 9781425802431

Language English

Build Grade 3 students' comprehension and critical-thinking skills and prepare them for standardized tests with high-interest nonfiction articles from TIME For Kids® This easy-to-implement resource includes accompanying document-based questions that focus on key strategies for breaking down informational text to help students build cross-curricular reading skills. A document-based assessment sheet is also provided for each passage so students can investigate the text in even deeper and more meaningful ways. This resource is aligned to state and national standards and supports the development of college and career readiness skills.

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critical thinking questions for 3rd grade

Critical Thinking Question Prompts for 3rd -5th graders- Would You Rather?

Make your students’ virtual learning experience more intellectually stimulating and fun with our kid-friendly “thinking questions” for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. These question prompts make icebreakers designed to engage kids to think critically while having fun. All players pick between two intriguing scenarios or unlikely situations that each person might give a different answer to. Players find out interesting things about each other that they otherwise wouldn’t in a normal conversation. Perfect bonding opportunity for teachers’ back to school events, family get-togethers, parties and screen-free events.

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  1. Worksheet Library: Critical Thinking: Grades 3-5

    Scratch Your Brain. Use addition and subtraction to figure out solutions to these brain benders. (Grades 3-5) From One Word to the Next. Change a letter in the previous word to make the word that completes each phrase. (Grades 3-5) Root Words. Complete this activity about words that have /capt/ or /tact/ as a root.

  2. Critical Thinking Questions: The Big List for Your Classroom

    All Grades K-5 All Grades 6-12 PreK 6th Grade Kindergarten 7th Grade 1st Grade 8th Grade 2nd Grade 9th Grade 3rd Grade 10th Grade 4th Grade 11th Grade 5th Grade 12th Grade. Topic Topics. ... Students can use these critical thinking questions with fiction or nonfiction texts. They're also useful when discussing important issues or trying to ...

  3. 85 Fun Critical Thinking Questions for Kids & Teens

    Humor is a natural icebreaker that can make critical thinking questions more lighthearted and enjoyable. Of course, most younger kids just like to be silly, so playing upon that can keep them active and engaged. With that said, here are some great questions to get you started: 1. Someone gives you a penguin.

  4. Third and Fourth Grade Critical Thinking Test PDF Free Online

    Assess your child's critical thinking skills with our exclusive Grades 3-4 Critical Thinking Test. This resource offers a variety of activities making it an invaluable diagnostic tool for educators and parents alike. Critical thinking forms the bedrock for success in academics and life. It equips students with the skills to analyze and form ...

  5. 48 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Content Area

    The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Digital Thinking by Global Digital Citizen Foundation is an excellent starting point for the 'how' behind teaching critical thinking by outlining which questions to ask. It offers 48 critical thinking questions useful for any content area or even grade level with a little re-working/re-wording. Enjoy the list!

  6. Critical Thinking Skills for Kids (& How to Teach Them)

    All Grades K-5 All Grades 6-12 PreK 6th Grade Kindergarten 7th Grade 1st Grade 8th Grade 2nd Grade 9th Grade 3rd Grade 10th Grade 4th Grade 11th Grade 5th Grade 12th Grade. ... Multiple-choice questions can be a great way to work on critical thinking. Turn the questions into discussions, asking kids to eliminate wrong answers one by one. This ...

  7. Free 3rd grade critical thinking resources

    These 18 digital or print Would You Rather questions are great for discussion, class polls, writing prompts, language building, facilitating higher-level thinking, brain breaks, b

  8. Free 3rd grade critical thinking worksheets

    Logic grid puzzles encourage critical thinking, the use of deductive reasoning, and require students to determine the relationship between two things based on clues. Students will use the clues provid. Subjects: Critical Thinking, Gifted and Talented, Halloween. Grades: 3 rd - 7 th.

  9. Free 3rd grade critical thinking worksheets

    Book vs. Movie Printables: FREEUse these two printables after you have read the book and then seen the movie version. Great for comparing and contrasting and thinking critically a

  10. 15 Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking

    Thinking critically involves applying reason and logic to assess arguments and come to your own conclusions. Instead of reciting facts or giving a textbook answer, critical thinking skills encourage students to move beyond knowing information and get to the heart of what they really think and believe. 15 Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking ...

  11. Printable 3rd Grade Text Evidence Worksheets

    Browse Printable 3rd Grade Text Evidence Worksheets. ... Get your third grader in the habit of reading closely with this multi-page story featuring questions on the main character, sequencing, and recalling details. ... This cause and effect worksheet opens your child up to improved critical thinking abilities. Use this cause and effect ...

  12. 180 Unique Question of the Day Ideas To Promote Critical Thinking

    Asking a question of the day builds community and critical thinking. Here are lists for every grade plus a free Google Slides presentation. ... All Grades K-5 All Grades 6-12 PreK 6th Grade Kindergarten 7th Grade 1st Grade 8th Grade 2nd Grade 9th Grade 3rd Grade 10th Grade 4th Grade 11th Grade 5th Grade 12th Grade. Topic Topics.

  13. 19 Short Stories and Questions For Critical Thinking

    Table of Contents. 19 Short Stories and Questions - Suggestions for Teaching Them. 1. "The Most Dangerous Game". 2. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". 3. "The Masque of the Red Death". 4.

  14. 50+ Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for 3rd Grade on

    Explore printable Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for 3rd Grade. Who What When Where Why Questions worksheets for Grade 3 are an essential tool for teachers looking to enhance their students' reading and writing skills. These worksheets focus on developing critical thinking skills by encouraging students to ask and answer the five ...

  15. 3rd Grade Critical Thinking Worksheets

    3rd Grade Critical Thinking. Displaying top 8 worksheets found for - 3rd Grade Critical Thinking. Some of the worksheets for this concept are The critical thinking, 81 fresh fun critical thinking activities, Essential standards third grade social studies unpacked, Grade 3 math, Analogies, Improving reading comprehension in kindergarten through ...

  16. Free 3rd grade critical thinking worksheet pdfs

    ** UPDATED MARCH 1ST, 2022 ** --> Now includes 26 different templates!It's always great to have a variety of writing papers! In this resource, you'll find 26 different writing

  17. 200+ Critical thinking questions

    In this article I've compiled a list of 200+ of the very best critical thinking questions for almost any situation. Critical thinking questions: If you're presented with a claim. If you're reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching TV or YouTube. If you're watching an interview. In a group or panel discussion.

  18. Developing critical thinking skills with multi-step word problems

    One of the best ways to do this is by drawing a picture. A picture could mean a model, a chart, table, etc. Some type of drawing that helps them understand the information from the problem. Step 2: Solve it. This is where students "show their work" and do the necessary math to solve the problem. Step 3: Answer.

  19. Higher Order Questions for Your Text Feature Lessons

    When we question our students about text features, we often focus too much on having students identify different nonfiction text features. While this is essential, it is equally important to get our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students thinking more deeply about text features - moving past knowledge and recall questions and into more higher order thinking questions.

  20. Comprehension and Critical Thinking Grade 3

    Item 50243. Grade 3. ISBN 9781425802431. Language English. Description. Build Grade 3 students' comprehension and critical-thinking skills and prepare them for standardized tests with high-interest nonfiction articles from TIME For Kids®. This easy-to-implement resource includes accompanying document-based questions that focus on key ...

  21. Critical Thinking Question Prompts for 3rd -5th graders- Would You

    Make your students' virtual learning experience more intellectually stimulating and fun with our kid-friendly "thinking questions" for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. These question prompts make icebreakers designed to engage kids to think critically while having fun. All players pick between two intriguing scenarios or unlikely situations that each person might give a different answer to ...

  22. Results for critical thinking grade 3

    The Critical Thinking Co. 166-page printable ebook of easy-to-use activities to teach physical science and develop scientific thinking for grades 1- 3! The fun, hands-on physical science lessons/experiments in this book teach science principles found in state and national science standards.

  23. PDF 3rd grade critical thinking questions

    3rd grade critical thinking questions Public Domain eBooks 3rd grade critical thinking questions eBook Subscription Services 3rd grade critical thinking questions Budget-Friendly Options Variety: We continuously update our library to bring you the latest releases, timeless classics, and hidden gems across fields. There's