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Super Minds offers a large number of activities
that help develop children's cognitive capabilities,
from basic to so-called higher-order thinking skills.
Basic thinking skills are important because
they help the child to make sense of the world
and they are required for the development of critical thinking
and high order thinking skills
such as problem solving
and decision making.
Let's look at two examples from the Starter book of Super Minds.
The first example it's about learning to name shapes in English.
The children begin by learning the new words:
circle and rectangle.
listen to instructions from a CD:
"Colour the triangle blue"
and colour these shapes in the book.
The children are then asked
to look around in the classroom
and find out
where they can see these shapes.
So they are applying what they've just learnt.
As in the example where the child's pointing at the clock
the students will think and notice various shapes around them,
point at them
and name them and the teacher will praise the child
and scaffold the language appropriately for example,
by saying "yes, that's right, it's a circle -
the clock is a circle"
and so on.
On the next page the students are asked to look at the picture
and count the various shapes
they can see.
This requires the focusing of attention
and basic counting skills and of course will lead to a questions and answers
session in the class
where students can answer questions such as
"look at the plane,
what shapes can you see?
How many triangles are there?"
These are very meaningful question
as they don't imply what we call asking about the obvious,
which is what we get if the teacher holds up three pencils
and asks how many pencils can you see?
the task here is meaningful
as students have to think and activate a number of basic cognitive skills in
order to answer the questions:
and communicating their observations.
The second example is about noticing details in the picture and describing
pictorial information precisely.
We start by presenting
a lexical set.
point and then say the various words for the
pieces of furniture that they can see
in the image here.
They then listen to a chant
and colour of the teddy bears in the follow-up activity.
This aims at revising the lexical set
then students learn prepositions in, on,
They listen and point
and finally they answer the teacher's questions about the pictures.
This requires memory skills as the children have to remember sentences such as
"the kite's in the cupboard"
but it doesn't require any more thinking at this point
and this is done on purpose as students need to practice the new language
but once students are at ease with the language
they get a bit of time
and they are asked to look at the house here.
A task that's not that easy for, say, five-year olds.
They need to think and look carefully
and describe precisely what they found,
"the plane's on the table".
And the development of thinking skills
After listening to and singing a song
but the language gets recycled
the students take out some stickers
depicting a range of toys from the appendix
and they stick them into the picture
wherever they want.
So what the students of the leading is exploring the space that's available
the picture of the room
and then making decisions as they have to put in the stickers
to their own choice.
And this finally leads to a pair-work activity
where student A describes to B
without B seeing A's picture
the picture he or she has created.
uses another set of stickers
and tries to create a picture
that's identical to the one A is describing to them.
The students compare the pictures and then change roles.
B describes their picture to A
and A puts in stickers accordingly.
This activity shows how the development
of very basic thinking skills
can help focus students attention
developed their cognitive capabilities
and trained their listening and speaking skills in a very meaningful way.