Strategies for Developing Higher Level Thinking

Excerpted from Pam Schiller’s
Creating Readers: Over 1000 Games, Activities, Tongue Twisters, Songs and Stories to Get Children Excited About Reading

Using questions is only one way to increase higher level thinking skills. Literature is a great springboard for expanding children’s thinking. The following is a list of skills and concepts that help children develop their higher-level thinking. With each skill or concept is an activity suggestion you can use to expand and extend thinking. Expanded thinking enhances comprehension.

Making Inferences

Inferring what hasn’t been said is a difficult task for young children, but it adds greatly to comprehension and provides practice for noticing details.

  1. Read Who is the Beast? by Keith Baker. Ask children if they determine the beast’s feelings by looking at his face and body. [This book is also available in Spanish]
  2. Read Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins. Ask children if they can determine what is going to happen next by looking at the pictures.

Patterning / Sequencing

  1. Read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. Ask children to identify the pattern in the story. [This book is also available in Spanish.]
  2. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Ask children to identify the sequence of the story. Is there more than one? [This book is also available in Spanish.]

Drawing Conclusions

  1. Read The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. Ask the children their opinion about who was telling the truth. [This book is also available in Spanish.]
  2. Read Who’s in the Shed? by Brenda Parks. Can children guess who’s in the shed by watching for clues while you read the story?

Comparing and Contrasting

  1. Read two versions of The Mitten, one by Jan Brett and one by Alvin Tresselt. Invite children to compare the stories.
  2. Read two stories with similar characters like The Princess and the Pea (traditional) Harriet Ziefert and The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Encourage children to compare the personalities of the two princesses.


  1. Read Look Book by Tana Hoban. Invite children to guess the whole by looking at the parts.

Establishing Cause and Effect

  1. Read Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema. Ask children to identify the chain of events, telling how each caused the next. [This book is also available in Spanish.]
  2. Read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff. Encourage children to identify the cause and effect relationships. [This book is also available in Spanish.]


  1. Read Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen. Stop along the way in the story and ask children to predict what might happen next.
  2. Read David’s Father by Robert Munsch. Ask children to describe their image of David’s grandmother based on what they know about David’s father and the limited view they get of his grandmother. [This book is also available in Spanish.]


  1. Read The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Let children think of a way to solve the problem each time before you turn the page and determine how the characters solve the problem. [This book is also available in Spanish.]
  2. Read Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch. See if the children can brainstorm a list of possible solutions that could have been used in the story.


  1. Read It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw. Take children outside to lookat the clouds. What images do they see? Encourage them to rewrite or retell the story with their images.


  1. Show the children Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola. Invite children to dictate words to accompany the pictures.
  2. Read Imogene’s Antlers by David Small. Challenge children to finish the story.


  1. Read or tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (traditional). Ask children their opinion as to whether is was okay or not okay for Goldilocks to go into the house when no one was home. [This story is also available in Spanish
  2. Read The Little Red Hen (traditional). Ask children how they feel about the Little Red Hen not sharing her bread. Was it okay?
Brain Connections

We do not teach children to think. From birth they have all the necessary neural (brain) organization to begin thinking. We can, however, help children organize the content of their thinking to facilitate more complex reasoning.

According to David Sousa, Bloom’s Taxonomy offers a structure of organization that is compatible with the way the brain processes complex information. This section of the book utilizes Bloom’s Taxonomy to support comprehension.

This activity (excerpt) is taken from: Creating Readers: Over 1000 Games, Activities, Tongue Twisters, Songs, and Stories to Get Children Excited About Reading
by Pam Schiller. Page 54-56. ISBN: 0876592582 © 2001 Gryphon House, Inc.