Art Critical Thinking Activities For Kindergarten

We all learned about Bloom’s Taxonomy for Higher Order Thinking Skills as undergrads.  It isn’t a new idea; in fact, it has been around since the 1950’s.

But how do you actually use and develop these skills in the art room?

One method that I use is a simple technique I call an Interpretation Grid.  It is quick, easy, and applicable to almost any lesson or student critique.  All you need is a simple foursquare grid, an image, and a list of questions/prompts that help lead your discussion from Level 1: Knowledge to Level 6: Evaluation.

Here is how it works:

Begin with a 4 square grid.  You can draw one on the board or create an electronic document.

Write one word in each of the 4 quadrants: Description, Analysis, Interpretation and Judgment.

Place an image in the middle and make sure the credit line is included. You could use an artist’s work, like Frida’s Self-portrait with Monkeys in my example, or a student piece for a class critique.  Feel free to download the PowerPoint slide I use by clicking on the image below.

Ask students the questions from each quadrant in the order listed above (description, analysis, interpretation, judgment).  If you choose to use my PowerPoint slide, you will notice they are color-coded and in rainbow order.  The questions for each quadrant are listed below.  I print off a copy of the questions for my reference, but I don’t post them for students to read during a whole group discussion. If you posted the prompts on a bulletin board, it could serve as a self-reflection station as well or you could leave a space for responses and use it as an assessment piece.  There are really a lot of options. My list of prompts can be downloaded in a handy PDF by clicking on the image below.

You will notice the questions begin with simple, low-risk questions that focus on information students can easily access.  As you move through the grid the questions become increasingly open-ended and thought provoking.  Not all students will have an answer for each of the levels, but participating in the class conversation will encourage students to process their thinking at a higher level.  If you use this same technique frequently, you will begin to notice which students are using HOTS and which ones could use a little scaffolding to get there.

I have used this with Kindergarten to adults and I guarantee your students’ thinking will amaze you.  So give it a try and get ready to have a thoughtful discussion!  Interested in learning more?  Download out Jessica’s Question Deck for a collection higher order thinking prompts that fit in the palm of your hand.

How do you use Higher Order Thinking Skills in the art room?

What are some other question prompts you might add to the list? 

Activities and fun

Critical thinking activities for preschoolers

By Cara Mullin

In order to be able to recognise assumptions, make informed and unbiased decisions, solve problems and be fair to others, children need to learn critical thinking skills. However, it is important that parents understand and use age appropriate teaching methods.

Here are some activities for preschoolers that parents can encourage their children to engage in:

Classification games

These are important as they require sorting according to a set of rules. You can follow up classification games with questions on why the grouped items are similar and why they are different.

An example is: Build a zoo or wildlife park - Help your child build a zoo or wildlife park. Ask her to group and classify all animals into diferent sections of the zoo or wildlife park. Suitable for 2-6 years.

An example of a sorting activity is to take out the box of wax crayons and ask your child to sort by size or colour. Suitable for 2-6 years.

Looking for patterns

Being able to draw out similar information from a variety of different sources is a highly useful problem solving skill.

An example is: Hunt for ABCs. Ask your child to identify letters on billboards, road signs, license plates and buildings or anything in your environment - do the same with shapes and numbers. Suitable for 4-6 years.

Imaginative play

This helps to develop abstract thinking skills essential for problem solving and an understanding of symbols by using an object to represent another. Understanding symbols is the foundation for early maths, reading and writing.

Give your child an array of items, different colours, shapes and sizes that she can use for pretend play. Suitable for 2 years and up.

Independent Exploration

Letting children explore, test and manipulate lays the foundations for scientific reasoning.

In a safe environment let your child explore and play without any instruction from yourself. Let her choose the tools and what she would like to do with them. Be interested by asking her questions on what she is doing and observing so that she can verbally explain to you. Avoid being tempted to be directly involved. Nature provides the perfect environment for your preschooler to experiment with the laws of the universe. Try to ensure your preschooler has generous amounts of time interacting with nature.


Encourage creative thinking and innovation through art.

Let your child experiment with many different forms of art and craft materials. Drawing, colouring, cutting, pasteing, modelling, box construction, painting (mixing colours), play dough, chalk. Use materials from nature and recycled materials. The important thing is the creative process not the the end result. Let your child be in charge of her creativity.


  • Build on your child's existing knowledge
  • Note your child's special interests and involve her in activities that relate to them
  • Choose activities that are connected to each other
  • Use your normal vocabulary. Don't feel it is necessary to use alternative words that you think is easier for a preschooler to understand. For example in the garden use the words habitat and ecosystems.
  • Make science tools such as magnifying glasses, scales, measuring cups, rulers etc part of everyday life
  • Steer clear of lecturing, instruction and enforcing
  • Preschoolers learn best by hands-on experiences
  • Combine as many of the above into one activity. For example: If your child loves dinosaurs, encourage her to be a prehistoric park owner. She can classify the dinosaur toys into groups, build and create enclosures and scenery using recycled materials as well as sticks, sand and plants from the garden.


About the author:
Cara Mullin, a successful internet entrepreneur, is founder and owner of, an online resource directory and ezine for parents.

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