As they progress through school, children need to acquire far more than the factual knowledge generally prescribed by school curricula. They need to be able to think about the knowledge they acquire to critically question what they read and hear and to assess evidence carefully.
In the long term, they will need to be equipped to face the challenges of a changing and unpredictable world. To do this they will need a range of thinking skills to enable them to solve problems and make intelligent decisions. These skills will help children to face new and unpredictable problems and to find the best ways of tackling them.
In The Thinking Train series, students will often invent dialogues, act them out, mime actions and use drama and role play to practise new language. In a playful way, the stories will focus on the following thinking areas:
- comparing and contrasting things
- categorising and sorting
- spatial awareness
- cause and effect and problem solving
- decision making
- creative thinking
With good reason, thinking is considered to be the fifth skill all language learners should practise.
Thinking about and discussing issues gives learners an authentic reason to use language, whether it is to solve a problem, to select something, or to sort things into categories. Children are also encouraged to think together where possible, creating a community of enquiry in the classroom.
Stories, in addition to being an excellent vehicle for promoting thinking and providing a real context for developing language, are a greatly motivating resource for any classroom.
Picture books, such as the Thinking Train stories, are particularly important as the illustrations provide real visual support to the language presented and help create a situation that the reader immediately feels part of. In today’s increasingly visual world, developing visual literacy through picture books is crucial.
Go to the Young Learners category on our blog for all the latest theory, plus lesson plans and interviews with the authors and illustrators.