St Peter’s Boys Prep - Thinking Skills Open Morning 20 September 2017

  • October 12, 2017 | Diane Fraser and the Grade Heads

On Wednesday morning, parents were invited to an open morning to see Thinking Skills in action. St Peter’s Prep Schools are one of the only schools who are “Thinking Skills Accredited” and we are known as a Thinking School. We wanted to share how the Thinking Tools are used throughout the grades in every subject. In the Information Age that we live in, critical thinking is a must-have skill for all of us to live happy, meaningful and successful lives.

Parents could wander around to the various grades for the morning and listen in, witness and actually use some of the tools.

Grade 0

Our Unit of Inquiry is the Farm so we based our thinking activities around the Farm theme.

In Grade 0 we used the Thinking Maps and the class was divided into four groups which were swapped around throughout the morning:

Group 1 – Tree map classifying animals into Farm, Sea and Wild

Group 2 – Circle Map sorting actual objects into the correct sound circle and trying to write simple 3 letter words.

Group 3 – Flow Map – sequencing the story of The Little Red Hen

Group 4 – Teacher assisted group discussing parts of a cow using a Brace Map and then building a cow using Lego.


Grade 1

Our aim at the Thinking Skills morning was to give parents a better understanding of the Thinking Hats and how they are utilised.  Our Unit of Inquiry this term is 'Fairytales', so in keeping with the theme we chose to use the classic story of 'Hansel and Gretel' and explore it further with the use of our Thinking Hats.

We started our day with a morning meeting where we revised De Bono's six Thinking Hats.  The boys then walked around with their whiteboard markers adding ideas to  the big Circle Maps located around the classroom, each with a different coloured hat in the centre. For example, for the Red (Emotions) Hat, the boys wrote ideas like: 'Hansel and Gretel's dad felt sad to leave them in the woods' or 'Hansel was scared that the wicked witch would eat him'.

They then used all of this wonderful brainstorming to write a small sentence about each one of the hats that related to the story in their Busy Book.

Grade 2

The boys were introduced to the Space theme with an “I see, I think, I wonder” routine. This involved a great deal of discussion. They then filled in the first part of “I know, I would like to know, I learned” about Space. They also participated in a Thinking Routine called the ‘Jigsaw’:

- Boys were divided into three ‘expert groups’ where they used iPads & QR codes to research chosen topics about the theme Space.

-They worked in partnership and filled in information learned about their topic.

-The day after the Thinking Skills Morning, they  ‘taught’ their topic to boys from the other groups until they have learned about all three topics.

-Once they had completed the jigsaw they filled in the last part of “I learned.”

Grade 3

The boys thoroughly enjoyed showing the parents various Thinking Tools that they have used in their various subjects. Nzuzo Bam and Preston Greene explained to the parents how to use a Double Bubble Map to compare and contrast a desert and cold land animal.  In the second station the parents completed a KWL (I know, I would like to know, I learned) with the help of Adrian Gaunt and Tshosane Moholi about inventions. Parents got to research information on the iPad. Lesego Legoete and Riley Van Schoor completed a Tree Map, while classifying parts of speech. In the final station, James Godwin and Tane Greene did a ‘I See, I Think, I Wonder’ with the parents incorporating a picture from our theme on inventions.

Grade 4

The boys showed the parents various Thinking Tools that they have used in English, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Thinking Skills. In the English component, Owethu Sishuba and Ethan Wilcocks explained to the parents how we use a Tree Map to classify parts of speech. Jack Logan and Tunga Pasipanodya read a passage on the process of becoming a Knight and explained to the parents how to use a Flow Map to sequence the events in order. Matthew Baisley and Michael Meyer clarified the Brace Map by showing the component parts of time and subparts that make up one whole hour.  James Basson and Boitshepo Moerane made careful observations and thoughtful interpretations by exploring ‘I see, I think, I wonder’ by looking at a picture of a Knight on his horse. Parents got involved as they completed these activities with the boys. 

Grade 5

The boys enjoyed the Thinking Skills morning with parents and were tasked with tutoring the parents to complete the following activities:

  • BODMAS Tree Map – the parents used the tree map to understand BODMAS and were then asked to complete a calculation using what they had learnt.
  • Circle Map summarising a video clip on Renewable energy – the parents watched a video clip on renewable energy and while watching used the circle map to summarise.
  • Flow Map to write a Haiku – parents were thrilled with their poems which they wrote with the help of a Flow Map.
  • Compared and contrast two stories of the three little pigs.  There is the story told from the Pig’s point of view and from the Wolf’s point of view, a Double Bubble Map was used to compare and contrast them.

Grade 6

The Grade 6 boys demonstrated various Thinking Tools used in English, Afrikaans, Mathematics, Social Science and IsiZulu to the parents.

Ben Wefelmeier began by using “I see, I think, I wonder” to articulate his thoughts about pictures in English. Mikael Mulaudzi and Kwanda Bam also used the same concept in isiZulu to learn about kitchens.

Nicholas Meyer explained to the parents how he uses a Brace Map to help with understanding “STOMPI” in Afrikaans. William Southworth and Nicholas Raath found using a Bubble Map and a Cause and Effect Map beneficial when making study notes for Maths.

Bradley du Toit went on to describe how he used the Thinking Hats to organise his paragraphs to cover the topic “Democracy” in Social Science. When Michael Rider was taught the different parts of speech, he used a Tree Map to consolidate his learning.

Parents were then invited to use the tools they has just learnt about to complete the activities the boys had planned for them. Much fun was had by both parents and boys.

Grade 7

The boys showed parents various Thinking Tools. In the English component, the boys explained how they used a Flow Map to structure an argumentative essay. They also demonstrated how they used the Yellow and Black Hats to organise their paragraphs into the ‘positives’ and ‘cautions’ of the situation at hand. This was followed by parents being required to use these tools to plan their own argumentative essay. In addition, they asked parents to create their own questions on a poem based on their explanation of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

In Mathematics, the Grade 7 boys showed how they broke down the properties of a circle using a Brace Map and then asked the parents to do the same activity with a square. They also demonstrated how the Tree Map can be used for expanded notation.

The Thinking Routine, CSI – colour, symbol, image, was used in the IsiZulu component of the morning. The boys showed parents how they captured the essence of their holiday through using this routine. Parents were then required to use the Thinking Routine to capture the essence of their own children – with interesting results!

Our budding Scientists used a combination of the Thinking Maps to create an informative brochure on acids and bases. They showed how a Tree Map can be used effectively when classifying acids and bases and challenged parents to do their own classifying.


Overall, the morning was a great success and so much fun. The parents seemed to find value in actually completing their own tasks using the tools, as they gleaned a much better understanding of how they work in practice.