Activity Introduction

Quick summary: 

Critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity. In this lesson, students learn to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems, utilising critical thinking.

In this activity, students will work together as a team and engage their critical thinking and empathy skills by forming an argument for either, inviting a select amount of people to a birthday party (primary) or to be included in a nuclear fallout shelter (secondary).

They must assess each applicant, with each bringing some positive characteristics, coupled with some troubling behaviours, therein challenging students to critically evaluate their merits and argue logically for their inclusion.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will employ critical thinking skills to evaluate a situation
  • Students will use evidence to make judgements
  • Students will work collaboratively 

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCritical ThinkingEmpathyLeadershipProblem FindingProblem SolvingSocial SkillsTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work How to Think Critically.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teacher explains the task to students, challenges students on their critical thinking and arguments and facilitates class discussion.

Resources required:

  • Student Worksheet – one copy per group.

Related Professional Development: This activity forms a part of the How to Teach Critical Thinking professional development course. If this is a skill you’d like to develop further, consider signing up for the course.

Keywords: critical thinking, empathy, birthday, teamwork, nuclear

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... employ critical thinking skills to evaluate a situation
  • ... will use evidence to make judgements
  • ... will work collaboratively.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... see problems from many perspectives
  • ... double-check their own logic
  • ... ask challenging questions
  • ... think effectively
  • ... communicate effectively and respectfully.

Teacher content information:

A wonderful tool for critical thinking is empathy. That may be surprising, because empathy is more to do with feelings and emotions. Consider, though, the value in putting yourself in another’s shoes. Would corporations be as likely to ignore the effects of climate change if they truly empathised with the people it hurt? Would we ridicule others for their beliefs if we took a moment to step back and think about exactly why they hold them?

While this activity is designed to work anytime, it would be especially beneficial if you notice an inst

- or - to view worksheets

Student Worksheet

How will you decide who is included? - Birthday Party (Primary)

You are responsible for planning a birthday party at a trampoline centre. There are twelve friends who would like to attend. Unfortunately, the centre will only let you invite seven.

As a group, decide which seven people will be invited, and which five will be left out.

The friends are:

  1. Terrell - Your best friend in the whole world. Is in a wheelchair.
  2. Amy - A girl you have a crush on. Will only come if Gerald comes.
  3. Rhonda - A friend from another school. Won’t know anybody else.
  4. Bruce - Used to bully you. Has been a lot nicer to you lately.
  5. Erica - Is kind of annoying. Doesn’t have any other friends.
  6. Diego - Your shy cousin. Can do magic tricks.
  7. Wang - Has been very sad about something lately. Might make other people feel sad.
  8. Gerald - Coolest kid in school. Picks on you sometimes, but will make you more popular if he comes.
  9. James - Your funniest friend. Will probably go a bit crazy at a trampoline
- or - to view worksheets

Leave your Feedback

We appreciate your feedback. Let us know what you like or don't like about this activity:

Sorry. You must be logged in to view this form.