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Depth and Complexity for Kids

Change the way your students think with depth and complexity!

Read the blog post here.

PDF, ZIP, Printables

57 Pages

Grade Level: K, 1, 2, 3


Description & Reviews


The depth and complexity icons are tools to be used as visual cues to get ready to think in a variety of ways.

A professor named Dr. Sandra Kaplan noticed there was a difference in the knowledge experts had on a topic had vs. people who only knew a little about a topic. Experts think in deep and complex ways!

It’s time to push ALL of your students and change the way they think.

This line of questioning is perfect for gifted learners and will also benefit non-gifted students as well.

When we see the depth icons, we know we are going to be thinking about more than just facts and basic information.

When we see the complexity icons, we are going to be thinking about how information is connected.

As you use these Depth and Complexity icons, question stems, and thinking mats, it’s important to remember that you need to be asking the right questions. Be very careful not to ask a question that is surface-level, but with an icon added to it. Also, keep in mind you can combine icons and questions!

Your questions, tasks, and lessons should push to students beyond just recalling facts, listing information, or defining vocabulary words. They should be investigating, defending, comparing, analyzing, questioning, and so much more!

Ask yourself, “How am I pushing my students to think in a deeper or more complex way?”

Use these Thinking & Planning Mats for small groups, centers, or whole group time. Use them across subject areas. Students can work on them in groups or independently.

Your download includes:

  • An eBook to help you introduce the why of depth and complexity as well as each icon to your students.
  • 11 Depth and Complexity Posters
  • 11 Sample question cards for each icon
  • An example of questions for each icon for the Three Little Pigs
  • 12 Depth and Complexity Thinking and Planning Mats for students


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