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Article:    Developing Kids' Thinking Skills 

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hile academic facts are important to learn, kids with well-developed higher order thinking skills have a clear advantage. The ability to think logically, solve problems, and engage in lateral thinking are important skills that cross the entire school curriculum—these skills will help kids in math, science, language arts, and more. Though it can be tempting to buy software titles that promise to cover a broad range of curriculum skills—and these often do have value—the following titles should not be overlooked simply because they don't explicitly deal with facts and figures.

Thinking Skills Software for Kids up to 8 years old

As kids get ready for a birthday party for Sam the Lion in Reader Rabbit Thinking Adventures Ages 4-6, they play 8 different activities, each designed to build problem-solving and thinking skills. This clever game has kids sorting items into Venn diagrams, decorating cookies with designs that require some strategy to get just right, moving along a grid map using directional icons, and extending patterns, to name a few. This title is a little more challenging than most titles designed for this age group, mainly because kids need to pay attention to directions and draw on their observation skills in order to succeed at the activities. This title is now a little harder to find, though it is available in a software bundle entitled Adventure Workshop: Preschool-1st Grade along with Reader Rabbit Math and Arthur's Birthday. [Buy Adventure Workshop Preschool - 1st Grade or Reader Rabbit: Thinking Adventures... (jewel case version)]

Clifford Thinking Adventures is a non-linear adventure starring Clifford the Big Red Dog, and designed for Kindergarten-age children. As with Reader Rabbit Thinking Adventures (above), kids are preparing for a birthday party, but this time around, children need to solve problems by collecting items in addition to completing activities. Most of the problems kids must solve have something to do with Clifford's awkwardly big size--such as an activity in which kids must re-sort items that Clifford has knocked from a market stand. [Buy Clifford The Big Red Dog Thinking...]

I Spy Treasure Hunt is the latest I Spy CD-ROM, and it is fabulous. Children hone their observation and thinking skills as they solve riddles and search for objects in detailed scenes. Once they have collected 20 pieces of a map (after solving 20 different I Spy riddle screens), the learning doesn't end--they must search for hidden treasure by following directions left behind by a pirate. Best for children ages 6-9. [Buy I Spy Treasure Hunt at]

Thinking Skills Software For Kids Ages 9 & Up

Top Pick Logical Journey of the Zoombinis and the latest addition to the series, Zoombinis Mountain Rescue, are both fabulous journeys that require children to think logically in order to succeed. Both exercise brains in special ways, with the latter, slightly more challenging title especially focused on developing thinking skills for the Information Age. [See our review of Zoombinis Mountain Rescue. Buy Zoombinis Logical Journey or Zoombini's Island Odyssey]

The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions presents a series of wacky, partially built contraptions that must be completed. Children use special parts to build fully functioning contraptions as they work through puzzles that increase in challenge as they go along. Because more than one solution is possible for many puzzles, kids can experiment, get creative, and train their brains to be resourceful. [Buy The Incredible Machine: Even More...]

ClueFinders Search & Solve Adventures focuses on problem solving skills with the ClueFinders gang. Set in an amusement park, this program requires kids to work through a number of activities that are specifically designed to develop thinking skills. [Buy ClueFinders Search & Solve]

Uncle Albert's Magical Album is an older title (which means it can often be found at a deeply discounted price!) that can be considered an undiscovered gem. Its non-linear adventure format allows--and actually requires--kids to experiment in order to solve problems. This title is unusual and unique. [Buy Uncle Albert's Magical Album]


Rush Hour Junior is a fun and challenging game that requires kids (approximately 6-8 years old) to strategize. This junior version of a popular game features 40 puzzle cards. The goal is to get the ice cream truck back home before the ice cream melts. [Buy Rush Hour Junior] 







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