Third Grade Critical Thinking Activities For Elementary

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Welcome to Education World's Work Sheet Library. In this section of our library, we present more than 100 ready-to-print student work sheets organized by grade level. Click on a grade level folder below to find a library of work sheets that you can use with your students to build a wide variety of critical thinking skills. All the work sheets in this library were provided to Education World by our partners at Click on the small banner advertisement above for a complete catalog of teacher-ready activities.)


Visit Education World's Work Sheet Library for a wide variety of free printables for use across the curriculum and across the grades.

Solve the math problems to get the letters to a quote. (Grades 3-5)

Solve the math problems to get the letters to a joke. (Grades 3-5)

The Old House
Use math to figure out how to fix the old house. (Grades 3-5)

Balance Algebra
Use Algebra to balance the scales. (Grades 3-5)

Balance Benders
Given some facts, which objects weight will even off the scales? (Grades 3-5)

Paper Folding
Draw how a folded sheet of paper with holes punched in it will look when unfolded. (Grades 3-5)

Analogies With Shapes
Which shape completes the analogy? (Grades 3-5)

Color the thermometer to show the freezing point, then complete the picture of the pengin. (Grades 3-5)

Name That City
Read the story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Von Bayers Girlfriend
Read the true story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Whale of a Good Time
Read the story. Then make an inference based on the evidence in the story. (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#2)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#3)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#4)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#5)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Rhyme and Reason (#6)
Can you figure out the subjects of these simple rhymes? (Grades 3-5)

Find 8 errors in this brief article about Antarctica. (Grades 3-5)

The Mystery of the Loch Ness Monster
Find 7 errors in this brief article about the Loch Ness monster. (Grades 3-5)

Big Sky Country
A friendly letter about Montana helps reinforce letter-writing skills. (Grades 3-5)

Common Nouns
Find and write six common nouns found in each picture. (Grades 3-5)

Math Analogies
Can you correctly complete each of these math analogies? (Grades 3-5)

Math Analogies (#2)
Can you correctly complete each of these math analogies? (Grades 3-5)

The Best Pancake Recipe
Find the math answers in this story about Olgas sleepover party. (Grades 3-5)

The Color Spinner
Who is most likely to win the Color Spinner game? (Grades 3-5)

Leafy Lengths
Complete the graph to show the length of the leaves that Luis and Amy found. (Grades 3-5)

Allowance Graph
Answer questions about a graph that show how much allowance five kids get. (Grades 3-5)

Line of Symmetry
Which of the six shapes shown on this page are symmetrical? (Grades 3-5)

Find the Nickname
These clues will help you figure out each kids nickname. (Grades 3-5)

Order of Age
Use the clues to order three kids ages from youngest to oldest. (Grades 3-5)

Lots of Rocks
Use the clues to figure out the locations of three rocks. (Grades 3-5)

Theyre in the Band
Use the clues to figure out which instrument each kid plays. (Grades 3-5)

Novel Thinking
Read the definition. Write the vocabulary word and its part of speech. (Grades 3-5)

Maniac Magee
Answer questions with evidence in this excerpt from Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. (Grades 3-5)

The Moon by Night
Answer questions with evidence in this excerpt from The Moon by Night by Madeleine LEngle. (Grades 3-5)

Sideways Stories from Wayside School
Answer questions about this excerpt from Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar. (Grades 3-5)

Pass the Salt
Use evidence from this story to answer the questions about it. (Grades 3-5)

Science Detective: Cells
Read the article. Then answer the True/False questions about it. (Grades 4-8)

Science Detective: Change of Phase
Use evidence from this article about friction and states of matter to answer the questions. (Grades 4-7)

Scratch Your Brain
Use addition and subtraction to figure out solutions to these brain benders. (Grades 3-5)

From One Word to the Next
Change a letter in the previous word to make the word that completes each phrase. (Grades 3-5)

Root Words
Complete this activity about words that have /capt/ or /tact/ as a root. (Grades 3-5)

Spelling Challenge
Circle the word in each group that is correctly spelled. Yes, you can use your dictionary. (Grades 5-8)

Prefixes and Roots
Complete this activity about words that have /phone/ as their root. (Grades 3-5)

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Worksheets: we all have to give them, we all hate doing it. Here are 5 no prep ways you can turn just about any lower level thinking or rote practice worksheet (like a multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank quiz, or math drill workbook page) into an activity that’s collaborative and includes higher level thinking skills.

The strategies work for grades 3-12 (and can be modified for students who aren’t yet reading/writing independently). The best part? The activities are engaging for kids and FUN.

These 5 active learning strategies and games have absolutely saved me and my third graders when I was required to give yet ANOTHER test prep activity:

1) Cut Apart

Group students into teams of five and pass out one copy of the same worksheet to each group. Have the group cut apart the worksheet so each question is on a separate strip or “card.” Students then place the stack face down and choose roles (to be Person 1,2,3,4, or 5.) Explain how the activity is played and write the following team roles on the board for class reference: Person 1 on each team chooses a card and reads the question or problem aloud to the team. Person 2 paraphrases the question and/or offers clues to the answer. Person 3 says the answer and explains his or her thinking. Person 4 explains why he or she agrees or disagrees. Person 5 places the question card in one of two piles, Agree or Disagree, and then takes on the role of Person 1 for a new “round” of play and reads the next question. (Person 1 now becomes Person 2, and so on. Because there are an odd number of people on each team, the roles–1,2,3,4 and 5–will shift for each question so that everyone gets a turn to play each role.)

Also try:

  • simplifying the concept by having 4 people on a team (eliminating Person 5’s role) and having each person retain the same role for 2-4 minutes, switching to a new role when you give a signal
  • providing time at the end for each group to go back through their “disagree” pile of questions and come to a consensus, either within the group or by reading the question aloud to the class and having other teams share their thoughts

2) Everybody Knows

Divide students up into teams of 4, and number them off so each person plays the role of Team Member 1,2,3, or 4. Ask a question from the worksheet and provide 30-60 seconds for each group to agree upon an answer. They should ensure every person on the team understands the reasoning, as they won’t know which team member will be responsible for answering the question. Then, randomly call out a number between 1 and 4. The person on each team whose number was called writes his or her answer on an individual dry erase board (or sheet of paper). Team members can NOT help in any way, or they will lose a point. On your signal, the designated student holds up his or her board/paper to show the answer, and you (or a student volunteer) can award and record points on the board. When time is up, the team with the most points wins.

Also try:

  • setting a goal for each team to earn at least X amount of points (perhaps 5 or 10, depending on how long you plan to play the game), and continue playing until every team has met their goal and the whole class has experienced success

3) Lines of Communication

Have students stand in two rows facing each other. Choose a question or problem from a worksheet and read it aloud to the class. Give students 30-60 seconds to discuss their responses and reasoning with the person across from them. Give a signal for each student to then move one position to the right (the student without a partner at the end simply walks to the other end to find his or her new partner.) Continue playing until students have discussed all the questions.

Also try:

  • giving students an answer, and have them work with their partner to brainstorm possible questions/problems for that answer

4) My Mistake

Challenge students to complete the worksheet and make an intentional error (an incorrect math calculation, out-of-order sequencing, grammatical or factual mistake in a written response, etc.) Then have students switch papers, mark the mistake, and discuss it.

Also try:

  • having students make a larger designated number of errors in their work, such as 5, and challenging their partner to find all the mistakes
  • displaying particularly challenging mistakes (or mistakes that demonstrate common student misconceptions) under a document camera, and having the whole class look for the error(s) so you can re-teach and extend student learning

5) Pair Rotation

Group students into pairs, and have them place their desks together in a way that forms a large circle in the classroom (or clearly-defined rows.) Pass out the assignment you want students to complete and have each person in the pair choose to be Partner 1 or Partner 2. Set a timer for an appropriate amount of time for each pair to complete the first question or problem in the assignment, then sound a signal to let all the Partner 2’s know to move one seat down the row or clockwise while the Partner 1s stay in place. The new partnerships then work together to solve the next problem. Halfway through the assignment, announce that students should switch roles, and now the Partner 1s will rotate while the Partner 2s stay in place.

Also try:

  • forming trios, and have Partner 2s rotate clockwise and Partner 3s rotate counter-clockwise

Want more engaging, no prep activities?

If lesson planning is taking you HOURS and yet you feel like all you do is giving boring test prep materials, check out The Teacher’s Box of Tricks. This is a resource I first created for members of The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club to help them save time with lesson planning, and I’ve just made it available in my TpT store.

The 5 strategies in this post are part of The Teacher’s Box of Tricks. Why waste time reinventing the wheel and creating all your own activities from scratch?

It takes YEARS for the average classroom teacher to develop a workable set of learning strategies that can be implemented on the spot and adapted intuitively for students’ needs.

The Teacher’s Box of Tricks: a set of go-to active learning strategies that can be implemented (and adapted) on the spot.

Like other experienced teachers, I’ve taught the same concepts and skills to students so many times that I’ve developed a huge repertoire of activities that I can build into my instructional time. I have activities that provide more scaffolding if the kids didn’t really seem to understand the lesson, and activities that will extend student learning if what I taught was too easy. I have activities that will take a long time if my lesson ends early, and activities that can be done quickly if my lesson takes too long.

I call this mental list my teaching “box of tricks,” and I’ve refined it with hundreds of students over the course of the last 15 years. And now for the first time, I’ve written everything down in short, easy-to-follow directions so you can expand YOUR box of tricks immediately!

10 of the ideas will help you turn worksheets into engaging collaborative activities (like the examples in this post).

Another 25 activities are worksheet-free and simply provide an easy way for kids to practice the skills you’ve just taught them (so you can ditch the worksheets and traditional pencil-and-paper activities altogether.)

The ideas in The Teacher’s Box of Tricks:

✓ Are adaptable for ANY subject area

✓ Are adaptable for ANY grade level 3rd and up (modifiable for students who aren’t yet reading/writing independently)

✓ Are totally no-prep: you can choose any activity and be ready to teach it immediately

✓ Require no special materials: you’ll need only basic classroom supplies, like scratch paper and pencils

✓ Allow you to make worksheets more meaningful OR replace them completely with active learning strategies

The box of tricks comes in a list formatAND sized to fit a 3×5 index card file box to create a literal box of tricks. Write your own ideas down on index cards and keep adding to your box of tricks over the years!

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