How to help a young child further develop her logic and reasoning skills
January 29, 2013 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Oh I get it!

Any suggestions for interesting and fun ways (activities, games, books, etc.) to help a young child (4-5 years old) develop her logic and reasoning skills?

I'm certainly of the view that cognitive and emotional development happen at their own natural paces for each child, and therefore it's definitely not my intention to push upon my daughter challenges for which she is not yet ready.

However, I want to make sure the opportunities are there for her to be challenged if and when she is ready for them.

She has attended a Montessori school since a very young age, and I read to her a lot as well as play board games, do puzzles, have a lot of conversations, etc., so she's certainly exposed to a lot of mental stimulation and is developing just fine. My question is not asked out of concern about a problem. Rather, I just wish to know whether there are other things I can do to help her develop her logic and reasoning skills.

I've read the answers to this AskMeFi question about developing math skills. I'm interested in things that are specifically related to logic and reasoning. There are materials where children have to pick out which item doesn't match the other items in the set, or what is the next item in the repeated pattern. I'm looking for more things of that general nature but different since we've done those things before. I prefer printed materials but would also of course be open to electronic (Web, iPad, etc.).

Thank you for any interesting and fun ideas you have.
posted by Dansaman to Education (13 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I used to like brain teasers, but I think I was around 7 or so.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2013

My nieces (and I) are pretty fond of the card game Set. We have the paper cards, but there are electronic versions of it now. It can be played solitaire, taking turns, or with the original rules. It's pretty addictive, and learning what makes a valid "set" teaches some critical thinking skills.
posted by lyra4 at 3:27 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

Can she read? I used to really like those Game magazine/LSAT type logic puzzles when I was a few years older than her, you know, where Mary is allergic to seafood but always sits next to Nancy, and Omar always orders either the chicken or the fish. (You can get an LSAT prep book, but I think the ones that are marketed as games are better for little kids, since they come with pre-printed charts that you can fill out instead of having to make your own.)
posted by phoenixy at 3:31 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Does she like sid the science kid at all? The ipad app has several of these types of games.

We also do a lot of making up games. this seems to require a lot of logic and reasoning on the part of the kid - setting rules and turns and goals and making sure it all works out.

We also do a lot of logic in every day talking, although this is almost entirely prompted by her - the other day she asked if bears lay eggs. I said no, they have babies like people do. She asked if they have them at a hospital. I said no, they have them in the woods. She later asked me if that meant mommies have babies in the woods sometimes, too. This happens a lot over the course of the day - connecting one set of things to another in some way. I sort of think this is the most important kind of logic you can do at that age, since it makes every day stuff interesting. Other examples: phases of the moon (look, mom, it's a crescent, yesterday it was a smaller crescent. Yes dear, what do you think it will look like tomorrow?); things that grow; relationships between people (if johnny and susie have the same mom how are they related?); and patterns that you see different places (house numbers; street names; sidewalk lines).

I'm not sure that's really helpful......
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:50 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about KenKen puzzles? Here's a site with some easy (addition-only option) puzzles. Here's a PDF for teachers with some even smaller puzzles.
posted by Wulfhere at 4:23 PM on January 29, 2013

I know this is probably wrong, but I'm helping my 6yr old practice math and money by teaching him the change counting con. We sit in his room every night with a pile of coins and attempt to rip each other off.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:43 PM on January 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

IMO the best activities are open ended, i.e. they don't have a definitive answer. Creative logic. That way the child is the engineer of her logic, and you're not having her jump through hoops. I'll give you an example: Gather together a couple of dozen common items from your desk--pencils, pens, erasers, glue sticks, staplers, Post-it notes, and so on. Then take turns arranging the items in groups based on common traits. So, for example, you can arrange them according to function: you have drawing instruments (pencils, pens, etc.) attaching devices (staplers, glue sticks, etc.) measuring devices (rulers, protractor, etc.) You might end up with five or six groups of items. Now scramble the items and arrange them in order of predominant color--the glue sticks and pencils and highlighters are yellow, the pens and business card blue, and so on. Scramble and arrange in groups of number of colors in each object. Scramble again, and arrange according to the number of materials in each item. The eraser may have only one material. The pencil has wood, graphite, metal, eraser, and paint--that's five materials. You'll end up with another six or seven groups with one, two three, etc., materials in each. Scramble again and arrange according to length. Then get a kitchen scale and arrange them according to weight. It's almost endless, and the child can invent her own categories. Maybe she'll arrange them according to how much she likes them, or how much she uses them. Then go in the kitchen and order a couple of dozen items of food based on country of origin or number of ingredients. Now she's reading labels. Get it?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:06 PM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

My kids like various things from The Critical Thinking Co. They have stuff for all ages.
posted by not that girl at 5:16 PM on January 29, 2013

When I was slightly older, I just adored these Invisible Ink puzzle books (and am just tickled that they're still around.) If I recall correctly, some of them won't really make sense until she is a relatively fluent reader, but a lot of them could be done with some help from a grownup (plus the invisible ink shtick is delightful.) The sample on this page is the sort of logic puzzle that I remember just adoring.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:00 PM on January 29, 2013

My friend's child (5-6 years old) loves the deductive-reasoning game Who Am I?
posted by Ollie at 6:39 PM on January 29, 2013

On the iPad, take a look at Amazing Alex (and other physics puzzlers) and Hero Academy. On Steam, Crazy Machines Elements (like Amazing Alex) Square Logic (numbers puzzle) and Pat & Mat (adventure game style problem solving) are good exemplars of suitable game styles.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:53 PM on January 29, 2013

Note that SquareLogic appears to have vanished from Steam, but is available independently.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:06 PM on January 29, 2013

Another game that kids like is Guess Who:

n this one-on-one guessing game, players have a crowd of faces before them. Faced with the challenge of guessing which person is the other player's “mystery face,” players must ask a series of “yes”or “no” questions to narrow it down. “Is it a boy?” “Does he wear glasses?” “Is he bald?” As the possibilities are eliminated, kids learn to ask the right questions to make the correct guess.

Also, here is a link to an article about the best games for grade school, which is where I found the name of that game based on the description that I remembered.
posted by CathyG at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2013

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