École Meridian Heights
School (K–9)

Critical Thinking

Building with a Variety of Materials -

Grade 3 Exercise

Students and teacher developed criteria to guide them in the construction of their container. These were the four criteria agreed upon and then followed by students to help them design and evaluate their container.

My container must:

  • Be a pencil holder
  • Be able to hold at least 10 pencils
  • Be stable
  • Be an appropriate size for my desk (not too large)

First criterion
As this was the first building assignment in this unit, the students were very excited to get their hands into the materials and start constructing. This is why we decided upon the first criterion “My container must be a pencil holder”. This criterion helped students remain focussed on the task at hand, rather than begin building a car, house or another object of interest.

Second and third criterion
The second and third criteria were established as a way of testing the container. When the students felt that they had completed their project, they could go to the testing area and test their container by putting in pencils until they reached 10 and then seeing if their container remained upright. Many students found that their container was able to hold more than 10. They also blew on it to see if it was stable. They enjoyed this part as we likened it to the Big Bad Wolf trying to blow down the Little Pigs’ houses.

Fourth criterion
The fourth criterion was actually added during our work session. It was not one we had thought of until someone said they were finished. Their project did meet the three criteria that we had agreed upon, but it was very large. That’s when we realized that we needed to add one more criterion to our list.

The students were very engaged during this activity and it was wonderful to see them referring to the criteria throughout the session. Students who “begin with the end in mind” (which happens when criteria are created prior to beginning an activity) are more focussed, engaged and more successful.


Build a Good Castle Using 3D Objects

Kindergarten Exercise


Kindergarten students from Mme Lisanne’s class used Critical thinking to help them construct a good castle. They were working on the following curriculum outcomes:

  • I can build a 3D object and describe it using words such as big, little, round like a can, in French.
  • I appreciate the contributions of all members in a group.

The critical challenge: Build a good castle using 3D objects.
As a whole group, they established criteria before breaking out into smaller groups to complete the challenge. Mme Lisanne recorded the criteria (in the students’ words) on the board.

The criteria for a good castle:

  • Looks like a nice place for a king or queen to live
  • Not falling down
  • Looks real

The students referred to the criteria throughout the process to see how well their castle was meeting the criteria. Comments such as “We have to change this (tower). Remember? It can’t be falling down.” were heard during the building session. Fantastic! 

Door Decorating Exercise

All Grades/Classes

All classes were invited to transform École Meridian Heights School into a Winter Wonderland with our French week theme of Winter Magic – La Magie de l’Hiver.

Each class decorated their classroom doors based on the following criteria.

The decorated door will:

  • Be teacher directed & student created
  • Reflect the theme
  • Contain only French “winter” words
  • Contain some recycled materials

The Leader in Me connection:

  • Begin with the End in Mind – students were invited to discuss the project and discuss what you want to do before beginning 
  • Synergize – all students working as a team using their strengths