Amazing Minds

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions we are asked.  We will add additional questions over time.  If you do not see an answer to your question, please contact us by email at with your question. One of our team members will respond to your inquiry. 

Why should I use your logic puzzles and other materials instead of other critical thinking materials?

You should not use them instead of other materials; you should use them in addition to other materials!  Using just one or two types of puzzles, games, or problems is helpful, but it does not develop the flexible thinking we want for all students!  I published the logic puzzle books because the types of thinking skills were a valuable part of a program I developed for my students, and I could not find those types of materials written for students.  Through the blog, I will be happy to share some of the other materials I recommend!  I hope you will consider my materials as one piece of the puzzle as you build an environment that inspires and builds thinking skills!

There is so much variety in ‘problem-solving’ materials. How do I know what to use?

I agree; there is a lot of variety!  Some people believe that any problem that is written with words is problem solving.  I disagree.  Here is one example:

Jared has 5 apples.  He eats 1 apple.  How many apples does Jared have now?

Is this problem-solving?  I would argue that it is NOT true problem-solving.  It is a word problem.  I also call these ‘application’ problems, because problems like this ask students to apply basic skills.  There are different types of these, and we will discuss those in the blog, too.

Which grade levels should use Building Problem Solving Strategies?

My recommendation is to start with Level C problems in third grade.  Level C has 2 options for the first problem.  One is for students who have had experience with problem solving strategies in second grade, and the other is for those who have not. 

For older students, it depends on their experience, which is why they are written by levels.  Students learn and develop true problem-solving strategies, and the challenges increase as they move through the problems.  Fifth grade students who have not had a lot of experience or exposure to problem-solving strategies would be frustrated with level E.  Sixth grade could use level E problems, but for older students, I have other suggestions.  You will find those in the blog!

The samples included should help you determine which level is best for your students.

Why should I incorporate critical thinking when it is not directly part of the curriculum?

Our goal as teachers and parents is to help students develop thinking skills.  We should be teaching them HOW (not what) to think!  Thinking skills can be taught.  Critical thinking and reasoning affect all areas of life; not just education.  We have the opportunity to give our students a great gift!

This is a common concern, but remember the jobs our students will have might not even exist right now.  In my first year as a math coach, I asked a third grade teacher if she would work with me to implement these strategies.  The first few weeks, most of her students did not find solutions, but they loved the challenge!  They were thinking and developing new strategies.  Our district gives a standardized test in math and language arts every nine weeks.  After the first test, she came to see me on the way out of the lab.  She was so excited!  She said she had never had a class who had done as well.  She admitted that she did not know how much of an impact we were having, but she realized her students were really thinking about the questions.

We will discuss ideas on how to incorporate this in the blog.

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