15 Problem Solving Activities for Kids that Promote Critical Thinking

Problem Solving Activities for Kids: As your little one grows, every day becomes a new adventure. They have so much to learn and see. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are not inherited or natural to children, but luckily, they can be taught inside and outside the classroom.

Problem Solving Activities for Kids that Promote Critical Thinking

Critical thinking refers to registering the information, understanding and analyze it to make a reasonable judgment. As children tend to ask many questions, critical thinking will filter useful and relevant information. Also, it requires self-control and focuses on solving problems. This will prepare the child to deal with the real world.

Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in Children

  • Learn to handle bigger challenges as they grow up to develop these skills in early childhood.
  • Learn to identify the problem, find different solutions and apply the solution and analyze the results.
  • The building of resilience to cope up with challenges as they come.
  • Boosts confidence.
  • Develops grit that helps children academically.

Problem Solving Activities for Kids that Promote Critical Thinking

Thinking critically enhances knowledge, helps one make independent decisions, and improve creativity. To develop this core skill, you can inculcate some problem-solving activities in their daily routine that they will enjoy doing.

1. Memory game

The simplest game yet an effective game in developing your child’s problem-solving ability as well as focus. You can start by lining objects that are similar to your child, let your child see the objects, and make them close their eyes and count till 10. Hide one of the objects from the line and let your child guess which one of them is missing. They will try to look here and there for the object, and that is completely fine. Allow them to do so as this will build their confidence.

2. Include creativity

Critical thinking also includes giving life to your kid’s thoughts. Let them draw a picture explaining their thoughts. Make use of words like “imagine” and “suppose.” Ask them to come up with their own ideas and solutions. Tell them to be creative. You can make use of different colorful pictures, objects, and images. They will observe, ask questions, enhance their imagination and will be a part of the discussion.

3. Puzzles

Completing a puzzle is essential in achieving a set goal. For achieving this goal, children use their imagination and strategies. By assembling all the mixed and jumbled pieces independently, kids will have a chance to learn problem-solving skills. You can guide your children in completing the puzzles by helping them in creating strategies. Teach your kid to identify the edge pieces and the middle pieces. Also, teach your kid to categorize the pieces based on color and shape. It will enhance their critical thinking and facilitate their decision-making ability. Children will make strategies to complete a big task by dividing it into smaller ones.

4. Pretend play

Pretend games are fun, imaginative, and an important part of a child’s development. Pretend play is important in enhancing the child’s creativity. By being a part of an imaginary scenario, the children get an opportunity to use their imagination. It also puts many problems in front of the child to solve and many questions for the child to answer like choosing the game, assigning the roles, deciding and playing by the rules, and making strategies for any forthcoming problems. According to some researchers, pretend play helps in brain development that regulates behavior.

5. Block play

Block play offers a creative and valuable learning experience. It will increase their attention and concentration, and the kids will spend long hours on this activity. Block play enhances the ability of problem-solving as your child will think of a solution while constructing anything. They will think of a plan they need to have before starting. They will face many problems during this process, which will allow them to use their brain for solutions. Kids will find the best possible ways to construct new designs and modify their plans if something goes wrong.

6. Reading books

Reading books to kids will encourage them to think and understand. They try to understand what is being read to them, remember parts from the story, and create imaginary scenarios in their heads. When you read books to children, try to provide them with information about their world and fill their brains with information and background knowledge. This helps them to make sense of what is being read to them. Reading books enhance their imagination and creativity. It even ignites curiosity in kids and predicts what will happen at the end of the story.

7. Scavenger hunt

A scavenger hunt is a fun and easy way to interact with your child. When you set up a scavenger hunt, you prepare your child to identify different colors and shapes and make them count. It boosts memory and problem-solving abilities.

8. Playing charades

Charades is also one of the most creative and fun games. It is an acting and guessing game that involves playing in two teams: one team acts and the other guesses. As there is no verbal communication involved in this game, kids will have to use their creativity to act. You can give them movies, books, objects, words, animals, or anything to act. They will try to find creative ways by using their brain to enact the words. They will also learn to think out of the box.

9. I spy books

I spy is yet another fun and creative way. Using I spy books will improve your child’s memory. They will search for different objects and images. It will also help the kid to differentiate between different shapes and letters. You can even play I spy with objects available in your household that your kid is familiar with. You can hide an object and ask your kid to find it. Alternatively, check out this Valentine’s Day I spy printable.

10. Ask ‘How’ and ‘Why’ more

After adding the word ‘what’ in the question, you can add the word HOW and WHY. This will allow the kids to think out of the box. They will try to find creative answers to the question and also will come up with different ideas. For example, if your child likes mangoes, instead of asking, “what is your favorite fruit?” You can ask, “why do you like mangoes?” Or “why do you prefer mangoes over bananas?”

11. Ask them to solve a problem

How would they solve a problem? Giving them a situation and asking them to come up with solutions will encourage them to think. It will even boost up their confidence. They will try to analyze the problem, understand it, and come up with a solution. This will improve their problem-solving abilities.

12. Obstacle course

An obstacle course for kids can be an excellent activity for problem-solving. This also helps them enhance their strength and balance. They need focus and strategies to overcome the obstacles, which will involve critical thinking. This will teach them how to move over, under and through the obstacle. It will also help them to find the fastest way to get through the obstacle course.

13. Maze

Solving a maze can be an amazing problem-solving game for kids. Solving a maze requires patience and focus that can help your kid to plan and brainstorm different strategies. It helps them stay in the line while receiving the creative stimulation they need.

14. Shape sudoku

Instead of playing sudoku with numbers, you can make your kids play it with basic shapes. Sudoku requires focus and patience and will improve your child’s memory. It will enhance their critical thinking abilities as it requires an understanding to recognize specific patterns and make decisions according to them. If they fail to solve it, you can assist your kids and encourage them. It will also improve their decision-making ability as they can make changes whenever required.

15. Teach them different points of view

Last but not least, it is one of the most important problem-solving activities for kids. Sometimes children think that there is only one right answer to a question, but you need to teach them that there can be different answers to one question. Helping them understand others’ points of view will help them think critically and teach them to accept other kids’ opinions.

How to teach problem-solving skills to children?

Problem-solving skills are key for kids to manage their lives. Also, researchers have found that teaching problem-solving skills can improve mental health. As parents, you cannot always be there to solve your child’s problems, but you can teach them how to solve them.

  • Let your kid identify the problem and state it out loud: Teach your child that it’s okay to face challenges and, at the same time, allow them to make mistakes. Tell them if one solution does not work, the other will!
  • Let them come up with their solutions: Ask your kid to come up with various solutions to a single problem. This will encourage them to think of various creative solutions. Let them come up with all the right and wrong ideas.
  • Involve them in your decisions: ask for advice from your kids in case of a problem. This will encourage them to face a challenge and boost their self-esteem.
  • Don’t provide the correct answers: as parents, don’t provide your kid with the correct solution to the problem immediately. Failing is a part of learning. Teach them it’s okay to be wrong and they can learn from their experience. Help them with identifying the pros and cons of their solutions that they have come up with.
  • Allow them to make decisions: by allowing them to make decisions, kids will feel confident, which will improve their decision-making skills. Once you have taught your children the rights and the wrongs, your child will be in the position of picking one solution.
  • Let them analyze the results: allow your child to judge and analyze their results because of their own decisions. If the first solution doesn’t work out for the problem, teach them to use the other solutions. They will feel positive and this will allow them to learn from their mistakes.

Over to you…

As parents, you need to make sure you do not force your thinking pattern on them. Children are natural thinkers and curious. They have creative and out of the box ideas and solutions. You need to develop problem solving skills and critical thinking by listening to their thoughts and ideas. These interactive activities for kids can help nurture this skill in them a little better.

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