Why teach problem solving skills to youngsters?

Logic and problem solving skills are critical for a fulfilling life, both in academics and career, but also for general well-being.

Teaching children to be assertive in appropriate ways, negotiate conflict, and how to problem solve can be so much fun as children are often full of creative problem solving ideas, and can often, in fact, teach adults a thing or two about how to creatively problem solve.

Studies have shown that by age four, in fact, children’s brains are twice as active as adults! And finding age-appropriate games to promote these important skills can set into motion a lifelong ability to creatively problem solve.

Problem Solving is usually composed of four steps:

1. Define The Problem
2. Discover Possible Solutions
3. Evaluate and Select Solutions
4. Implement Solutions.

Teaching your children (in simple terms) these four steps can help them both with their personal problem solving skills and to effectively problem solve with others.

DIY Problem Solving and Logic Games

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunts are fun for children of all ages, and can teach your child to critically think to solve a problem or a riddle.

Your scavenger hunt can be intricate or simple, particularly depending on the age of children that will be participating.

For those too young to read, you can read the directions or clues to the next stage to them and assist them along the way.

It’s particularly helpful to create themed scavenger hunts, for example, in the spring, you may decide to have a scavenger hunt that deals particularly with gardening or plants, while winter scavenger hunts may involve special holiday items.

If you have multiple children or would like to make this a group activity, it’s perfectly suited to do so.

You can begin by dividing into teams (if needed) and explaining the items that are on your list (anything from an orange autumn leaf to a yellow flower) as well as the rules of your particular game. It’s important to establish boundaries concerning where your children are able to hunt for the objects on the list, particularly if it is an outdoor hunt.

For younger children, it’s best to keep the list small. You can, in fact, draw pictures of the items that you’d like them to gather as opposed to writing them out.

You can keep the master checklist and tally off as each item is found.

As a fun twist for older kids, you can add a point system to the items, making items that are harder to find more valuable than more easily found items.

Tower Building

There are lots of different ways to execute the Tower Building game, but it’s particularly fun with dried spaghetti and large marshmallows. Younger children are perhaps better inclined to use blocks.

If you are working with multiple children, make sure to ration the same amount of building materials to each group, but you can also play this game one-on-one with your child.

The objective aim is simple: make the tower as high as possible! If you are playing with just your one child, you can build two towers, one after the other, and discuss why one tower worked better than the other.

Feel free to talk to your child or children during the building process. Though it’s important that they learn through their own experiences and failures, sometimes a guiding hand can relieve potential frustration, so pick your moments to assist.

Save The Egg

This game is a blast if you don’t mind making a mess and your child is old enough to understand specific directions (particularly to be careful around the raw egg), then this can be an incredibly fun and exciting problem solving game.

You’ll need a carton of eggs and a surface that you can easily wipe and clean (the easiest way to do this is by placing some cardboard down with a trash bag over it), as well as appropriate cleaning supplies.

You’ll also want to gather a list of materials that you don’t mind throwing out afterwards. Raiding the recycling makes a particularly good option.

The purpose of the game is to choose a height from which to drop the egg, and then it’s the child’s job to create a mechanism to ensure that the egg won’t break. This can be more fun and creative depending on the materials that are available to the child.

Tic Tac Toe or Noughts and Crosses

This simple classic is a great and easy way to teach logic to your young child.

If you don’t remember, just make two horizontal and two vertical lines, creating 9 separate boxes. One person is X’s, one is O’s, and whoever gets three in a row wins the game.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

You can play this game with either real objects or photos/drawings of objects or places.

The objective is to gather 4-5 ‘like’ objects and one that doesn’t fit. For example, you may want to collect some favourite beach objects like a beach ball, umbrella, towel, and beach toys along with a winter hat.

Your child will get to choose which item doesn’t belong and explain why.

The game can become more challenging and complicated so as to be age appropriate depending on the objects or photos that you gather.

Sequence Of Events

Similarly to the above, you can play this game with either real objects or photos.

Take a simple everyday task, such as washing hair, doing the dishes, or making breakfast for smaller children, while more complicated tasks such as going grocery shopping for the older children, and create a set of cards showing each activity.

Mix up the cards, and ask your child to put it in the right sequence. For younger children, you can walk them through the activity and ask them to repeat the sequence.