For kids who like to design and play games, Kodu from Microsoft is a high-interest way to help develop critical thinking skills.
Kodu, a free visual programming language, allows students to build, play and optionally share their own video games with other users online. Since the software is downloaded to each computer (the only negative for our school district friends), there are no accounts or passwords to remember. Students simply create and explore a world, then program their character or rover. Students can edit and save changes to make their worlds better over time too.
Not sure where to start? Microsoft provides five one-hour lessons and even provides support videos on YouTube to help students become familiar with the interface and hit the ground running with their critical thinking skills. Then, let the coding begin!