Using Brainpower
Using Brainpower

Good readers are problem solvers. They use critical thinking skills to process the words they read. They construct meaning while they read by interpreting information, making predictions, and hypothesizing. Good readers bring a sense of curiosity to what they read. They are detectives searching for significance. They reflect on the words they process and draw conclusions based on their own prior knowledge. Good readers think while they read. Problem solving is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice. Problem solving is not just for math anymore!!


1. What If?

Make up an interesting “what if” situation, and invite the child to act out a response. The following are some suggestions:

What if a bird flew in the window and started playing with your toys?

                    What if it started raining in your house?

                    What if you ate a hamburger that tasted like pizza?

Have the child dramatize or explain what actions might be taken if a particular event occurred. How would the child react to each situation?


2. The Same and Different

Name any two items and invite the child to tell one way in which the items are similar and one way in which they are different. Begin with easy comparisons, such as cat and a dog, and increase the difficulty as you go along. Answers for easy comparisons will be more obvious while the more difficult comparisons will require some creative thinking. The child might suggest a dog and cat are similar because they both are animals, but different because one meows and the other barks. For a comparison of a star and a television, the child might suggest they both glow or you can look at both of them, but one is close and the other is far away. Accept all answers that make good connections, and encourage the child to be creative in his or her responses.


3. Revealing Sentences

Choose a word that represents a person, place, or thing. The word should be plural unless it is someone’s name. Invite the child to make a sentence using the letters of the word to determine the first letter of each word in the sentence. The chosen word should be the first word of the sentence. For example, if the word chosen was cars, the sentence could be:

                   C ars A re R eally S uper.

A sentence for cats might be:

                   C ats A re T imid S ometimes.

A sentence for Jim might be:

                   J im I s M essy.


4. Good News, Bad News

Create a good news, bad news story together. Each person takes a turn telling something good that happened followed by something bad. The next person must continue the story by adding the next good thing followed by the next bad thing. For example, the first person might start by saying, “I found a magic stone in the park. That was good. I lost it on the way home. That was bad.” The second person might then continue with, “My friend found my stone. That was good. He wouldn’t give it back. That was bad.”


5. Hinkie- Pinkie

A “hinkie-pinkie” is a riddle in which the answer is a two-word rhyme. If the rhyming words have one syllable, the riddle is a “hink-pink”. If the words have two syllables it is a “hinkie-pinkie”. Begin by telling the child whether the riddle is a hink-pink or a hinkie-pinkie, then present the riddle. Here are two examples:

                   Hink-Pink: What is a chubby pet that meows? (fat cat)

Hinkie-Pinkie: What is a puppy that got all soaking wet in

the rain? (soggy doggy)


6. Peekaboo Pictures

Create peekaboo pictures by cutting a picture from an old magazine and gluing or taping it onto a sheet of paper. Do not let the child see the picture. Next cut a small circle or square in a second piece of paper. This will be the guessing page. Then take the guessing page, and lay it on top if the picture. The small portion of the picture viewed through the peekaboo hole becomes the clue for the child to guess the identity of the bigger picture. Repeat with several pictures.


7. What’s the Story?

Begin by looking at a picture in a book or magazine together, and discuss what you see. Pretend that one picture illustrates an entire story. Invite the child to tell you what he or she thinks the story might be about. Discuss possible details of the story. Then have the child invent a title that would fit the story.