Kids these days have it tough. They’re surrounded and bombarded with information (and misinformation) through various types of media every day. They have unlimited choices and sources to trust. Along with the information overload, our expectations for what kids do with all that information are higher. They are expected to consume lots of information and think critically about it at an early age. I’m pretty sure I didn’t really learn to think critically until waaaaay later in life. High School? College? Nowadays, kids can’t just spout off random opinions and partial thoughts if they want to be taken seriously. (Or at least if they want their school work to meet the standards.) They have to make solid statements and back them up. They have to be able to sift through the junk, evaluate it, and find real supporting evidence. It’s hard work, and they need lots of practice.
Next time you have a few extra minutes, try this simple and fun way to practice the skill of gathering evidence…
Play Prove It! Prove It is a fast-paced research game. You and your kiddos take turns making statements and quickly finding quality evidence to prove or disprove your statement. For example, I say, “The Seahawks are the greatest team in the NFL.” My kids have five minutes to find three facts that prove or disprove my statement. They cannot present facts that they’ve imagined, or thought of off the top of their head, or that they think they remember hearing one time. They can Google it, look it up in a book or, my kids’ personal favorite, ask Siri.
Since there’s a time limit, the search questions that they ask need to be specific and well-crafted. Kids learn quickly that if they ask vague or silly questions, it will take longer to find the specific information they’re looking for.
They need to decide if each source seems reputable. This is a great time to chat about how a blog post on Dave’s Totally Awesome Bronco Page may not be as accurate or unbiased as official stats from NFL.com.
The point is to get kids in the habit of thinking about how they can most efficiently find support to back up their general statements.
Depending on the ages and mood of your kids, you can have them race against each other or just work together against the grown up.