Inspiring Questions to Extend Thinking with Magna-Tiles®

If you’re assessing children’s knowledge, it’s easy to ask questions that prompt a yes or no answer. There’s nothing wrong with these questions, as they help determine where help is needed and when mastery is achieved. If you’re not asking plenty of open-ended questions as well, however, you’re missing out on important opportunities for higher-level thinking and the development of communication and reasoning skills. Here, we take a closer look at the value of thought-provoking questions and a few you can ask the next time kids play and learn with Magna-Tiles® magnetic building blocks.

What Are Open-Ended Questions?

Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a single word, and they typically have no right or wrong answer. Instead, kids will need to observe, analyze, and reason. Using these questions matters for several reasons. They encourage critical thinking while challenging children to think independently or collaborate with peers. Similarly, they push education beyond rote learning and promote more active engagement.

Open-ended questions can also help reduce anxiety about “wrong” answers. With many ways to solve a problem, multiple answers are equally valid. Finally, open-ended questions let kids know you’re interested. When adults ask a lot of questions, it helps children feel more confident in their abilities and improves communication skills.

10 Open-Ended Questions for Higher-Level Thinking

Not sure where to start? Any question that encourages children to explain their ideas and formulate solutions is a great choice. For more ways to keep that conversation going, try some of these open-ended questions with your young learners:

  1. What are you building?

This may seem obvious, but kids love talking about their ideas. Let them tell you what they’re creating and why they’re building it.

  1. How does it work?

You don’t always need to tell children what a build does. Instead, give basic instructions and ask them to explain it to you. It’s an easy way to test their understanding and foster independence.

  1. How else could you achieve the same result?

Allowing children to think about different outcomes helps them see expanded possibilities and identify successful solutions.

  1. What do you think went wrong?

When a learning activity doesn’t turn out the way you expected, asking questions like this helps kids see mishaps as learning opportunities.

  1. What did you learn from this activity?

There’s more behind every activity than a single lesson, and you might be surprised at the concepts kids tease out from even the simplest sessions and free play.

  1. What have we learned from past activities that could help?

Encourage kids to see the connections between lessons. It’s a good way to stack critical concepts and prompt them to devise solutions based on earlier experiences.

  1. How did you work together?

Letting children narrate their collaborative process helps them understand the value of teamwork and learning from peers.

  1. What would you rather have done?

Not every activity works for every child. By asking what kids want to learn, you can help them take a more active role in education.

  1. What would happen if we tried this?

Ask kids to imagine how changing a single variable might alter the outcome of a project and what other adjustments might be needed to make it work.

  1. How can I help?

Knowing how and when to ask for help is just as important as figuring it out independently. When kids know you’re there to pitch in, they feel more confident.

Explore Open-Ended Learning with Magna-Tiles®

Open-ended toys, like Magna-Tiles® magnetic building blocks, make it easy for parents and teachers to engage children with open-ended questions that spark critical thinking. With no screens, lights, sounds, or other flashy features, our magnetic shapes are the perfect way to spark imagination through creative play and hands-on learning. To learn more, explore our magnetic construction sets, check out our activity downloads, or contact Magna-Tiles® today.