Critical Thinking

The tools have been grouped according to the “Ceed” or skill that they are attempting to guide, teach, or practice. Many of the tools in this toolkit correspond to more than one ceed and are therefore listed in multiple places.

Critical Thinking: A disciplined process of observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, and communication, as a guide to belief and action. Critical thinking requires creativity. 

A Better World

Youth work to identify community problems and respond to community needs. They are guided through exercises (many in this Tool Kit) in imagining a stronger

Read More »

Action Research

Ask youth to conduct research on various conflicts by visiting peace education websites or multiple media sources. After researching the dimensions and various perspectives of

Read More »

Active Learning

Vary instructional strategies to develop the whole brain. Provide youth multiple sources of input including books, videos, lectures, discussions, visuals, stories and songs. Allow youth

Read More »

All about Activists

Youth brainstorm a list of activists, leaders, philosophers, philanthropists, and others who have made a difference in their communities and/or the world. They identify the

Read More »

Ants on a Log

A fun and physical activity that encourages teamwork and collaboration. You will need an even number of youth to participate, ideally close to 10. Find

Read More »

Autobiographical Story

To create an autobiographical story, start with the problem, tension, conflict or personal realization that will serve as the heart of the story. Then work

Read More »

Be Positive, Not Negative

An activity for “peace within and between” that focuses on negative self-talk, negative thoughts and statements about others, and complaining. A good idea is to

Read More »

Blind Teamwork

This is a fun game that emphasizes clear communication, listening skills, and teamwork. Choose a large indoor or outdoor area and divide youth into two

Read More »

Bucket Toss

Create laminated pictures or drawings of various needs and wants, or have the items on hand. Have youth toss the items in a “want” bucket

Read More »

Build a Shelter

A collaborative outdoor activity in which youth are challenged to build a shelter with a limited number and type of materials (ie. no more than

Read More »

Canoe Travel

Identify a problem-solving journey (personal, local, national or global) that you would like to undertake. Imagine you are in a problem-solving canoe, heading toward successful

Read More »

Change the Ending

Revisit an event that ended with a less than desirable outcome. Encourage youth to create their own alternative endings. Why did they make the choices

Read More »

Character Lenses

While doing creative writing, have youth investigate the people involved in their storyboards. What types of people were involved? What do you think they were

Read More »

Community Care

Establish age appropriate shared jobs that rotate throughout the year and that will help build the classroom or home environment. Create a classroom or family

Read More »

Compass Points

An interactive activity that increases awareness of our own and others’ preferences and opens doors to empathy. Create four signs on large chart paper –

Read More »

Create Shared Values

Create a list or use pictures to chart individuals’ values, rules or expectations. Wherever there is a common value or expectation, you’ll find the foundation

Read More »

Don’t to Do

Instead of “Don’t hit,” try “Touch nicely” and demonstrate. Reinforce by asking, “How do you touch nicely?” Instead of “Don’t touch the lamp,” say, “You

Read More »

Drama and Dance

Use drama and dance to build community, foster active learning, and support youth growth. Use both to aid classroom management, address multiple intelligences, and to

Read More »

Engaging Nature

Getting people outside can do wonders for building capacities for problem solving. Through engaging nature, youth become calm, learn to listen carefully, develop their empathic

Read More »

Exercise in Empathy

Have youth adopt the perspective of those in history who are poorly represented or not represented in history books. With each news story, piece of

Read More »

Family Cultural Sharing

Identify cultural treasures from the families in your classroom. Have families come in and share their cultural traditions. Highlight ways of celebrating community through dance,

Read More »

Fight or Flight

When people are upset, they access the fight/flight part of their brain. Do not try to solve problems if you or the youth are angry

Read More »

Fist of 5

A way of measuring how everyone is feeling about a process. A useful tool to use as a check-in throughout a process. People show fingers

Read More »

Gender Critique

Critically reflect on the role gender played in a particular situation. Gender critiques should be visited when reading history, current literature, looking at current events,

Read More »

Gratitude Journal

Keep a journal with writings and/or artwork to record and express what you are most thankful for in your life. There are many small things

Read More »

Group Conflict Challenge

Research and examine the different contemporary and indigenous systems for resolving conflicts. Form teams of problem-solvers representing the various systems. Each team is given a

Read More »

History Jigsaw Puzzle

Each participant explores the same time or event in history from the perspective of a different person or group. Individuals then come together and share

Read More »

How does it feel?

After analyzing the information surrounding a problem or challenge, what is your reaction? Were the systems fair? Why or why not? Identify one or two

Read More »

Ho‘oponopono

Learn about Ho‘oponopono, the Hawaiian system for ‘setting it right,’ and restoring individual and community harmony and balance. It promotes acts of healing interpersonal conflicts

Read More »

Huaka‘i

Design a huaka‘i or fieldtrip for youth to help them better understand the history, culture, and land systems (ahupua‘a) of Hawai‘i. Your huaka‘i might focus

Read More »

Identity Activities

Provide opportunities through art, music or writing for youth to express their own identities, history, affiliations, values, intentions, and needs, etc. Explore different facets of

Read More »

If/Then Game

A basic tool to think through consequences, “If this happens, then what do you think will happen next?” or “If we decided to do this,

Read More »

In Their Shoes

To help youth better understand those who are disabled, it could be helpful to have them explore what it’s like to be “in their shoes”.

Read More »

Kupuna Sharing

Bring in a knowledgeable kupuna (elder) to share their life story. Discuss how roles, rights, and responsibilities look similar or different in Hawai‘i (or elsewhere)

Read More »

Land Management Systems

Mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean) management. In teams, draw an ahupua‘a (Hawaiian term for a large traditional socio-economic/geologic/climatic subdivision of land that was cooperatively managed).

Read More »

Lenses

Have youth find at least two photographs from a movement—past or present—against what are perceived as unjust laws. The goal is to find photographs that

Read More »

Let It Settle

A great visual tool to show the imbalance of a brain that is experiencing anger or rage, and how it is possible for the anger

Read More »

Literature Circle

Use a literature circle to discuss major elements of a story that is developmentally appropriate to the audience. Include its characters and events. Are the

Read More »

Logical Consequences

Use discipline to develop character and not to punish. Discipline means “to teach” and should not be punitive but should help a child to grow

Read More »

Media Comparisons

Take on a particular current or historical event. Find disparate sources of reporting and media on the event to compare. Who wrote the articles? Ask

Read More »

Mirroring

Repeating the meaning of a person’s words in a warm and caring tone assures the speaker that you seek to understand instead of judging or

Read More »

Mistakes & Learning

Establish a culture in your classroom or home where mistakes are welcomed and used as learning opportunities. Normalize mistakes by discussing them at mealtime or

Read More »

Movement Healing

Use movement as a way to increase blood flow for effective thinking and problem solving. Build in yoga, dance, stretching, and physical exercise on a

Read More »

My Community

Focusing on wants and needs, have youth each draw their own classroom, school and/or family. How would they meet their needs? They will most likely

Read More »

Name it to Tame It

Help youth to get more specific and expand their emotional vocabulary, replacing basic feeling words with more sophisticated terms. They graduate from using words like

Read More »

Once and Future Rulers

Examine what leadership skills made certain leaders effective (for example, Queen Lili`uokalani or President Lincoln). In addition to warfare and weaponry, did leaders use diplomatic

Read More »

Peace Relevant Literature

Multiple peace education and character education books exist (go to www.ceedsofpeace.org for many book titles). Use throughout all lessons and have readily available in the

Read More »

Peace Table

Providing a space for problem solving is important. A peace table designates expectations for where and how youth will engage with each other. Peacebuilding literature,

Read More »

Peeling the Onion

Pull apart the layers of a problem in your classroom, school or community. Look at the history of the problem, the needs and interests of

Read More »

Play It Out

Create an end of the semester or end of the year skit or play on a particular historical event. Each child/student has a role. Play

Read More »

Process Writing

Break up a writing task into the following components: Pre-Write; First Draft; Mini Lesson; Peer Share; Revise; Edit; Publish. To Pre-Write, youth research, brainstorm, and

Read More »

Puzzles

Puzzles are a good way to encourage critical thinking with all ages of youth. In order to successfully complete a puzzle, they must work with

Read More »

Reflect and Reenter

When an incident occurs, youth can spend time in reflection by writing and identifying: a) what happened; b) what was my role in the problem?;

Read More »

Revision Toolbox

Teach youth that the writing process isn’t finished after the first draft. A good Revision Toolbox has tools that work with word choice, writing structures,

Read More »

Role Play

A way of seeing situations play out and encouraging individuals to think critically about how to intervene, and in the process build compassion for alternate

Read More »

Shared Story Media

Find current events that may be similar to situations occurring in school or the home. For example, if youth discrimination, violence or mistreatment is an

Read More »

Silk Road

The Silk Road carried trade from cultures embracing numerous religions and worldviews. Stretching from Italy to Japan, the Silk Road runs through Buddhist, Confucian, Christian,

Read More »

Six Thinking Hats

A simple, effective parallel thinking technique developed by E. de Bono that helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved. It forces people to

Read More »

Socratic Seminar

Titled after the Greek philosopher, Socratic dialogue transforms a student’s learning experience by allowing youth to generate and express their own ideas via the teacher

Read More »

Story Board

Make a storyboard of a particular event in history that involves a social injustice (slavery, women’s rights, settlers coming to America, Hawaiian history). Have youth

Read More »

Talking Stick

Use a tangible object like a stick, a flower, a ball, or something important to the group to facilitate civil discussions and collaborative activities. Three

Read More »

The World Peace Game

TWPG is an elaborative hands-on, youth-driven game/exercise. Founded in 2010, TWPG Foundation is dedicated to sharing the global mission of peace, developing self-awareness, and the

Read More »

Think Pair Listen Share

Have youth think individually and record their views about a particular issue. Then have them share their ideas with one another. Teachers/parents can foster careful

Read More »

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe boards give youth the opportunity to participate in multiple tasks that allow them to practice skills they’ve learned or to demonstrate and

Read More »

Treasure Hunts

Take youth on team treasure hunts. Ask critical questions along the way to solve a problem. With each treasure is a clue to solving the

Read More »

Try It On

n exploring conflict, commit to trying on different perspectives in the conflict. Draw out of a bowl a particular role with an attached explanation. Play

Read More »

Wagonload of Compassion

Share individual stories of people in need. Identify what everyone can contribute. Where could we find the needed materials? Together as a group, deliver the

Read More »

What Should We Do?

Show pictures and/or video of certain situations at school and in the surrounding neighborhood. Examples include: seeing garbage on the floor, an elderly person dropping

Read More »

Where in the World?

Show youth a variety of pictures of celebrations involving young people from around the world. Place cut-outs of known children/students into the celebration picture (make

Read More »

Where Were Women and Girls?

Explore what role females played in various events in providing leadership for problem-solving, collaboration and working together. How is that different or similar from today?

Read More »

Whole Child

Design lessons that focus on the whole child, including: health, nutrition, home life, community life, culture, emotions, and safety. Reflect on all that a child

Read More »
Close Menu