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Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Solving Problems
Ages: 6-12   Grades: 1-7

These activities integrate key problem-solving skills and show students how to approach problems systematically, dynamically, and flexibly. 


  • Improve language-based thinking and problem solving
  • Identify problems
  • Take logical, strategic steps to solve problems
  • Evaluate solutions to problems
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** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

Build basic reasoning skills with step-by-step instruction and activities designed to build on success. 

Students learn to:

  • identify problems
  • brainstorm, rank, and exclude solutions to problems
  • formulate multi-step solutions to problems
  • identify the resources needed to solve problems

The book is written in the proven format of the Spotlight Series with: 

  • activities sequenced by complexity
  • visual cues that are gradually faded
  • skills defined in student-friendly terms
  • a variety of curricular and daily living topics
  • simple sentence structure and vocabulary so students can focus on learning the concepts 
  • minimal writing requirements in the beginning lessons
  • a pretest/posttest

You may purchase Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Solving Problems individually or as part of the 6-book Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving set.  The 6-book set consists of:

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Causes & Effects

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Comparing & Contrasting

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Facts & Opinions

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Making Predictions & Inferences

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Sequencing

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Solving Problems


Copyright © 2007

40 pages, pretest/posttest, answer key
  • Reasoning skills encourage critical thinking and meta-awareness of internal thought processes.  Reasoning skills support students' logical judgments based on conscious reflection and sensitivity to multiple viewpoints (Little, 2002).
  • Reasoning and critical thinking are necessary skills for competence across the curriculum.  They require students to examine, relate, and analyze all aspects of a problem or situation.  Students engaged in critical thinking must make associations that connect problems with their prior knowledge (Pellegrini, 1995).
  • Questioning is the core of critical reflection.  It prompts students to engage in a research process that fosters higher-order thinking skills and social-moral attitudes (Daniel et al., 2005).
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference-making leads to better outcomes in overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking (Borné, Cox, Hartgering, & Pratt, 2005).

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Solving Problems incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Borné, L., Cox, J., Hartgering, M., & Pratt, E. (2005). Making inferences from text [Overview]. Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation.

Daniel, M.F., Lafortune, L., Pallascio, R., Splitter, L., Slade, C., & de la Garza, T. (2005). Modeling the development process of dialogical critical thinking in pupils aged 10 to 12 years. Communication Education, 54(4), 334-354.

Little, C. (2002). Reasoning as a key component of language arts curricula. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 13(2), 52-59.

Pellegrini, J. (1995). Developing thinking and reasoning skills in primary learners using detective fiction. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 1. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from


Paul Johnson, Carolyn LoGiudice


Paul F. Johnson, B.A., and Carolyn LoGiudice, M.S., CCC-SLP, are editors and writers for LinguiSystems.  They have collaborated to develop several publications, including Story Comprehension To Go, No-Glamour Sequencing Cards, and Spotlight on Reading & Listening Comprehension.  Paul and Carolyn share a special interest in boosting students' language, critical thinking, and academic skills.

In their spare time, Paul and Carolyn enjoy their families, music, gourmet cooking, and reading.  Paul, a proud father of three children, also enjoys bicycling, playing music, and spending rare moments alone with his wife, Kenya.  Carolyn is learning to craft greeting cards and spoil grandchildren.


Reasoning and problem solving are not simply life skills, they are quality of life skills.  Throughout our lives, the abilities to reason and solve problems are the difference between succeeding or failing in academic pursuits, making good and bad everyday decisions, and improving or destroying social relationships.

The world assumes we come to it with well-developed reasoning and problem-solving skills, but that is not always the case.  Because of language delays and other factors, many students lack basic skills to achieve positive outcomes in academic and everyday living situations.

The goal of Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving is to build skills, step-by-step, using a focused instructional approach.  The situations students will use for practice in these books are ones many of them have faced or will face throughout their lives.  We support the approach that Richard Paul suggests in his landmark 1990 book, Critical Thinking:

". . . because we can form new ideas, beliefs, and patterns of thought only through the scaffolding of our previously formed thought, it is essential that we learn to think critically in environments in which a variety of competing ideas are taken seriously." (page xv)

Before students can reach and approach the kind of proficiency Paul describes, they must fully understand and master the building blocks of reasoning and problem solving.  Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving presents six crucial areas for developing the language-based thinking skills that, when mastered, provide students with the tools to become better thinkers and problem solvers:

  • Causes & Effects
  • Comparing & Contrasting
  • Facts & Opinions
  • Making Predictions & Inferences
  • Sequencing
  • Solving Problems

Most students will benefit from working through each book from beginning to end.  Even if a student's proficiency is beyond the initial activities presented, the feeling of success he experiences by mastering them will motivate him to approach the more challenging activities that follow with confidence.

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Solving Problems helps your students identify problems and take logical, strategic steps to solve them.

Although all of the activities in this book can be done independently, present as many as possible to groups of students.  Review all possible answers for multiple-choice tasks before your students choose the best answer.  Ask students to explain how they knew the other choices weren't correct.  This type of discussion helps students master identifying salient characteristics to compare and contrast.  Here are some other ways to enrich your students' problem-solving skills:

  • Correctly sequencing steps is a vital problem-solving skill.  Recite the steps for a recipe out of order to your students.  Have them identify and repair the sequencing errors.  Then talk about how the recipe would be different (or impossible) if you followed the steps out of order.
  • Help your students see that problems come in all levels of complexity.  Lead them to brainstorm simple problems they face every day, like selecting what clothes to wear, deciding what to eat for breakfast, and figuring out what to do with their spare time.  Have them talk about what factors they consider when making even the simplest decisions, and help them realize that even if they don't feel like they're thinking about problem solving, they're using simple strategies to solve all of life's little problems.
  • Students who have difficulty solving problems often don't consider using resources (materials and people).  Have each student list five important people in her life on the left-hand side of a sheet of paper.  Then, on the right-hand side of the page, have her write five everyday problems or situations she encounters.  She should write each problem across from the person she could ask for help with that particular situation.  Encourage the student to think about special qualities or talents the individuals in their lives possess that could help in specific problem-solving or advice-giving situations.
  • Evaluating solution outcomes is a deficit area for many language-delayed students.  Because their problem solving is often impulsive and not based on strategies, they don't pay much attention to the success or failure of a solution.  Talk with your students about mistakes you've made in problem solving, or present hypothetical situations in which a solution was unsuccessful.  Lead your students in deconstructing the situation to determine where the error occurred.  Then have them propose alternate solutions that might have resulted in better outcomes.  At first, make the solution errors blatant ("I made some cookies and decided to cook them at double the temperature the recipe said so they would get done faster, but they just got burned on the outside").  As your students become adept at identifying blatant errors, introduce more subtle situations.

We hope you and your students enjoy working through these activities together, and we are certain that with your guidance, your students' reasoning and problem-solving skills will improve with each completed page.

Paul and Carolyn