When it comes to skills based learning there are so many fun activities that you can do to be really building up and practicing these skills. There are many activities for problem solving that are hands on, fun and engaging. This is one reason why I am enamored with skills based learning. It is a great thing, not only for my girls but all other children as well.
What is problem solving and why is it important to teach it? Under the 4Cs, problem solving is part of critical thinking. I believe it is vitally important to teach critical thinking and problem solving to children. Solving problems means making choices. When children tackle problems on their own, or in a group, they learn to look at challenges from a fresh perspective.
Problem solving is:
- Defining a problem
- Working out the cause of the problem
- Identifying a solution
- Working out alternatives for a solution
- Implementing a solution
HOW TO TEACH PROBLEM SOLVING
We cannot always be around our children when they face problems. It is also not good for them to always have their parents solve all their problems. Our job is to teach our children how to solve problems for themselves. This is something that I started early with my girls – with some early mixed responses (think, chipped tooth, bruises, broken cups). This is a great resource on how to teach problem solving to children.
ACTIVITIES FOR PROBLEM SOLVING
Here are 7 activities for teaching and practicing problem solving. These are just a few, and by no means exhaustive, but a great place to start.
To Do Scavenger Hunt
This is a variation on a scavenger hunt where you try to find things. This is where you present a list of things to do and they have to work out what to do and how, in order to complete the list. It could be household tasks, like chores, or could be fun activities to do, like sing a song, paint a picture, write a poem. You can have a time limit, or none. You can do this individually or as a team (why not practice collaboration at the same time?)
I personally am not a fan of doing jigsaw puzzles, only because the more pieces there are the longer it takes – and I want to do it fast! But they really are an excellent way to teach problem solving. To solve jigsaw puzzles you take different approaches to try to solve the picture (a problem), since it is trial and error as you put pieces together. You also learn the value of formulating theories, testing hypotheses, and changing your viewpoint when something doesn’t go as planned.
Start your children off with easy jigsaws and move into more pieces as they advance, without too much frustration.
Move An Object
This is where you have to move an object, like a balloon or a toy, from one side of the room to the other – but with restrictions! Can you do it without your hands? Or by using your head? Can you get the object to the other side without touching the floor? The restrictions make the problem to be solved. It is fun to watch the different ways in which they can come up with ways to move the object.
The Floor is Lava
My girls LOVE this game. They like to watch the Netflix original show and they also love the song by Kiboomers (check it out here). Can you move around the house without touching the floor? Can you get from one side of the room to the other? Are there any other challenges you can place to make it harder?
The Alphabet Game
The premise of this game is simple. You pick a topic and try to complete the alphabet with something from the theme. We like to play this when eating out. My girls’ favorite topic is food. So we try to complete the alphabet, and challenge ourselves to think of new foods each time (not always easy).
Here is an example: FOOD – apple, banana, cucumber, donuts, eggplant, frangipane tart, goji berries, hamburger, ice cream, jackfruit……
Make Your Own Board Game
Did you ever have to do this at school? I always thought it was fun to create my own board game. There are so many components to it – the theme, is there a problem, do you use dice or other ways to move about the board, how do you win?
Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is a fun game. You have to be strategic (which is great for problem solving) and also work together as a team. Another variation on this is Steal the Jewel (NOT that we promote stealing). Can you get through the obstacle to get the jewel without getting caught?
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving are vital to teach to our children. Providing opportunities for practice and improving their problem solving will set them up for the future.