This article explains the rationale for, the design of, and the implementation of business simulation episodes for eliciting a developmental shift from knowing to thinking in introductory accounting courses. Using business simulations this way responds to a long‐standing need for learning experiences that create opportunities for students to work on developing the higher‐order thinking skills required for success in business and the accounting profession. The needed capability can be characterized as critical thinking: the ability to solve problems that cannot be described with a high degree of completeness, cannot be resolved with a high degree of certainty, or elicit disagreement from experts about the best solution. This use of business simulation, illustrated with an episode from the Safe Night Out (SNO) simulation, immerses students in the life of an evolving business for which they develop a continuing stream of business advice based on the application of accounting principles. Emphasizing communication skills, alternative viewpoints, and the effect of assumptions on decisions, the simulation episodes demonstrate the usefulness and importance of accounting to business decision makers. The intent of shifting from well‐structured end‐of‐the‐chapter problems to more authentic work, like that in business simulations, is to develop higher‐order thinking skills while generating interest in the accounting major and increasing the usefulness of accounting in the minds of nonmajors.