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No-Glamour® Problem-Solving Cards
Ages: 6-11   Grades: 1-6         

These cards teach students to recognize problems, apply past experience, and use goal-directed skills to solve problems successfully.


  • Gather important details and state the problem
  • Identify causes of problems and generate well-thought-out solutions
  • Analyze outcomes
  • Problem solve effectively and independently
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The 200 cards are divided into three levels of difficulty:

Level 1 
Students are introduced to simple problems.  Each card shows a picture depicting an obvious problem.  Students gather clues from each picture to answer questions.  How does the girl feel?  Why is the girl crying?  Why are the broken glasses a problem for the girl?  What should the girl do to solve this problem? 

Level 2
Tasks require more advanced reasoning skills, such as making predictions and inferences, taking others' perspectives, and analyzing outcomes.  Students learn to think metacognitively and flexibly about problems.  What does Caitlin think of the present from her grandmother?  Why might Caitlin not like the necklace?  What should Caitlin tell her grandma?

Level 3
Students listen to a short narrative paired with a picture and then answer questions.  Students integrate verbal and visual information to solve problems.  Common responses are provided for most questions.  Extend the teaching by asking students to explain their answers, discuss similar situations, analyze new problems using prior knowledge, and generate multiple solutions to problems.  What caused Peter's problem?  Why is it unsafe to let the stranger in the house?  What could Peter do to stay safe?  How could Peter prevent this problem the next time he's home? 


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200 4" x 6" double-sided, coated, picture/stimuli cards; 5 instruction cards
  • 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).
  • Using specific, metacognitive vocabulary while questioning and prompting students to solve problems encourages them to examine their thinking skills and strategies (Costa & Kallick, 2008).

No-Glamour Problem-Solving Cards incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Costa, L., & Kallick, B. (Eds.). (2008). Learning and leading with habits of mind: 16 essential characteristics for success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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 May 1, 2009, from




Students are challenged with problems daily, from recognizing and avoiding dangerous situations to skillfully navigating social relationships.  Poor problem solvers don't apply past experience and foresight when approaching problems.  They often don't reflect on their mistakes or relate new learning to future situations.  These students need guided practice to develop goal-directed skills and strategies that will help them solve problems successfully.  Use No-Glamour Problem-Solving Cards to help students achieve these outcomes:

• gather important details
• choose solutions
• state problems
• analyze outcomes
• identify causes of problems
• problem solve
• generate solutions

These 200 cards are divided into three levels of difficulty.  Task progression moves from simple problems at Level 1, to more complex problems at Level 2, through sophisticated problems that require short narratives at Level 3.  The demand for abstract thinking increases as levels advance.