17 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids
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As a child, I would spend hours putting together puzzles… whether it was 3-D puzzles or figuring out a crossword. I also loved it when teachers would give the class an open-ended question and we had to work in groups to figure out the answer in our own way.
Even something as simple as playing checkers with my brothers gave me the chance to use strategy as a way to win the game. I honestly believe that it’s so important for kids to solve problems at a young age, as it helps them think critically and outside the box.
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So, Why Is It Important To Teach Kids Problem Solving?
I think these kinds of activities are so important for kids to do because it helps them learn how to think analytically and solve problems on their own. It's a great way to get kids to use their imaginations and be creative.
Rote memorization simply does not have the same effect. This type of learning is great for learning facts like historical dates, but it’s not going to help kids figure out how events in history happened and the results.
We take these problem-solving skills into college, the workforce, and travel . My ability to problem solve since childhood has certainly got me through many sticky situations while in a new city or country.
Additionally, problem-solving helps children learn how to find creative solutions to challenges they may face both in and out of the classroom . These activities can also be fun and used in cohesion with school or playtime.
17 Fun Problem-Solving Activities for Kids
1. marble mazes.
This activity was selected because it requires them to think spatially. Spatial learning will benefit kids when they start driving, riding a bike, playing sports,etc.
To do this activity in its simplest form, you will need a piece of paper, a pencil, and some marbles. First, draw a maze on a piece of paper using a pencil.
Make sure to create a start and finish point. Then, place the marbles at the start of the maze. The goal is to get the marbles from the start to the finish by tilting the paper and using gravity to guide the marbles through the maze.
Another example of a marble maze can involve using toilet paper rolls taped together to create a three-dimensional maze. The larger the maze, the harder you can make it.
Check Price on Amazon!
If you are not into the DIY method, you can always buy a toy maze on Amazon. A good 48 piece puzzle is the Melissa & Doug Underwater Ocean Floor puzzle.
2. The Tower Challenge
Building a tower gives kids the chance to think about gravity, structure, and balance.
To do this activity, you will need some building materials like legos, blocks, or even toilet paper rolls. The challenge is to see how high they can stack the materials without the tower toppling over.
This can be done individually or in teams. An activity like this is good for younger kids and is the building block to learning about harder topics like engineering.
3. The Egg Drop Challenge
The egg drop challenge helps kids learn how to engineer a solution that prevents something from breaking. It requires them to think critically about which materials will best protect something fragile like an egg when dropped from a height.
To do this activity, you will need some eggs and various materials such as straws, cotton balls, bubble wrap, etc. The goal is to construct a device that will protect an egg from breaking upon impact.
This can be done individually or in teams . Teams can even have a competition for the best egg drop device.
As children begin handling, shopping for, and cooking their own food, activities like this will help them understand how to handle breakable items like bottles, eggs, delicate fruit,.etc. Ideally, this is best for age groups 8 and up.
4. The Penny Drop Challenge
This activity was selected because it requires kids to think about physics and how different materials affect sound.
To do this activity, you will need a penny ( or another coin), a cup, and various materials such as paper towels, cotton balls, etc.
The goal is to drop the penny into the cup without making any noise. Begin by placing different materials into the cup and then drop the penny into it. The children should also drop the penny from different heights into the same material to see if/how the impact from a higher drop affects sound.
Group kids into teams or let them try it on their own.
Kids should make note of what type of sounds are made when the penny hits different materials. This is a great activity for kids who are interested in science and physics.
5. The Balloon Race Challenge
This activity was selected because it helps kids learn about aerodynamics and Bernoulli’s principle . It also requires them to think creatively about how to design a balloon-powered vehicle.
To do this activity, you will need balloons, straws, masking tape, and markers. The goal is to design a balloon-powered vehicle that can travel a distance of at least 10 feet. Kids can begin this activity by sketching out their designs on paper.
After they have a basic design, they can begin building their vehicle from various materials. Then kids can explain why they think the balloon traveled or did not travel as far as it did.
6. The Marshmallow Challenge
Marshmallows are not only delicious, but they are also soft and malleable. So kids can have fun using it for some construction projects.
This activity was selected because it requires kids to think creatively about how to build a structure using limited materials. It also helps them learn about engineering and work as a team.
To do this activity, you will need marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. The goal is to build the tallest free-standing structure possible using only marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. If you don't have spaghetti noodles, use something similar like pretzel sticks.
You may even want to establish certain rules like each team can only use a certain number of marshmallows or noodles. A time limit can also make it more fun and challenging.
For more fun activities, check out our post on problem solving exercises for team building .
7. The Balloon Pop Challenge
If you remember your childhood, you probably remember popping balloons for fun at times. But this activity is different because it requires kids to use strategy and critical thinking.
This activity was selected because it helps kids learn about patterns and problem-solving. It is also a lot of fun for kids who like popping balloons. The goal is to create a device that will allow them to pop a balloon without using their hands.
To do this activity, you will need balloons and various materials such as straws, string, paper clips, etc.
8. Picture Pieces Puzzle Game
As mentioned earlier, puzzles are a great pastime – especially in childhood. Kids must think critically about how to put the pieces together to create a certain picture. It also helps them learn about shapes, colors, and other concepts.
You can take a medium to large picture and cut it into pieces. If you have younger kids, you may want to make the pieces larger. However, if you have kids closer to the 8-11 age range, you should be able to provide a challenge and make the pieces smaller.
9. Copy the Block Model
For this challenge, you can build a model out of blocks for the kids to copy. Put kids into groups and make sure each group has the same number of blocks you used for your model.
Make your model block as simple or complex as needed for your child's age group.
Set a time limit and make sure each group starts at the same time.
10. Team Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is great for kids because they have to search for items and use investigative skills. It is also a lot of fun and can be done both indoors and outdoors .
To do this activity, you will need to create a list of items for the kids to find. The items can be anything from common household items to things you would find outside.
These types of activities can also revolve around a theme like a holiday, movie, or book. For example, if the kids are fans of “Harry Potter” you can make a list of items to find that are related to the movie.
11. Obstacle Course
This activity requires kids to think creatively about how to get from one point to another while maneuvering around obstacles. If you have outdoor space, this can be done with common objects such as hula hoops, cones, etc.
If you don't have access to an outdoor space, you can use common household items to create an indoor obstacle course. For example, you can use chairs, blankets, pillows, etc.
Begin by setting up the course and then timing each child as they complete it. You can also have them race against each other to make it more fun.
Obstacle courses are also great because kids get to be physically active while they are thinking critically.
12. Reading Storybooks
There are many great benefits for kids that read storybooks. One of the excellent benefits is the ability to problem-solve. When they read the stories in the books, they see scenarios that cause them to be attached to the various characters they read about.
So, when they encounter a real-life problem, it is often productive to ask a child how their favorite character would solve that problem. Your kids can also be encouraged to come up with various options and possible outcomes for some of the situations they may encounter.
This not only helps kids solve various problems but become more independent as well.
13. Ask Them Open-Ended Questions
A good way to improve a child's ability to think critically and creatively and improve their ability to solve problems is by asking open-ended questions. It also helps them to develop healthy personalities .
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. In addition, the solution requires more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Furthermore, it allows kids to put some extra thought into their responses.
Here are some examples of open-ended questions you may want to ask.
- What did this experience teach you?
- Was this easy? What was easy about it?
- What this difficult? What is complicated about it?
- What may happen next in this situation?
- How did you come to this solution?
- What, if anything, would you do differently next time?
- What can we do to make things more fun next time?
14. Build Various Structures with Toys
Whether wooden blocks, LEGO blocks, or engineering blocks… giving your kid blocks to build whatever their minds can dream up is fun. In addition, it requires them to think about how they will make a structure, put the pieces together, and creatively ensure the building's function and design.
You may also want to challenge them to build something more complicated and watch them use their brain power to make it happen.
15. Acting Out Skits
Impromptu activities like acting out skits help kids identify problems, develop solutions, and execute them. This process works with multiple kids being divided into teams.
First, you will want to write down different situations, such as resolving a disagreement between siblings or dealing with bullying on the playground on a piece of paper. Second, you will fold the paper and place it in a hat or bowl.
Third, each team will pick a scenario out of the hat. Finally, you can give the kids a few minutes to discuss their solution and act out.
16. Solving Moral Dilemmas
In this simple game, you will help your kids solve simple dilemmas they may find themselves in. You could write down a situation your child may find themselves in and help them learn the moral way to solve the problem.
For instance, “The cashier gave them an additional $5 change back on my purchase. What should they do?” Another scenario could be, “I saw my friend cheating on a test. Should I tell on them or let it go?” A third one could be, “I caught my friends stealing some gum from the store. What should I do?”
After writing down the dilemmas and placing them in a bowl, get each child to select one and read it aloud. Finally, you will help them devise morally correct solutions to the moral dilemma.
17. Animal Pairing Game
This is a fun and creative game to help your kids with focus, critical thinking, and team building skills . In addition, this activity requires an even number of players to participate (4, 6, 8, etc.)
Before starting the game, you will want to write the names of different animals twice, each on a separate slip of paper. Then pass out the slips of paper to each individual or team member, instructing them not to share with anyone the name of the animal they received.
Then the children will perform activities the animals might do without talking or making sounds. Some of these activities might include:
- The way the animal cleans or grooms itself
- The way the animal sleeps
- The way the animal fights
- The way the animal eats or drinks
- The way the animal walks or runs
The goal is for each child to successfully pair up with the other child who has selected the same animal.
How Problem Solving in Childhood Helps in Adulthood
Children are not born with problem-solving skills. It is something that needs to be learned and developed over time .
From babies who learn how to communicate their needs to toddlers who figure out how to get what they want, to children who are starting to understand the consequences of their actions – problem-solving is a process that begins in childhood and continues into adulthood.
Some of the benefits of teaching problem-solving skills to children include:
- Improved critical thinking skills
- Better decision-making skills
- Enhanced creativity
- Improved communication and collaboration skills
- Increased confidence
There are many ways to teach problem-solving skills to children. The activities mentioned above are just a few examples. It is important to find activities that are appropriate for the age and abilities of the child.
With practice, children will develop these skills and be better prepared to face challenges in both childhood and adulthood.
Final Thoughts About Fun Problem Solving Activities For Kids
These are just a few ideas to get you started on teaching your child crucial problem solving skills. Perhaps they’ve inspired to come with some of your own, or seek out others? The important thing is to make sure the activity is age-appropriate and challenging enough to engage the kids.
Problem-solving skills are important for kids to learn because they can be applied to various situations in life. These skills also promote critical thinking, which is an important life skill.
There are many other problem-solving activities for kids out there. In time, you’ll find the ones that work best for your child. And be sure not to forget about your own needs and self-improvement, both of which will make you a better parent and mentor. Here are some useful activities for adults to get your started.
Finally, if you want to level up your parenting skills, then check out this resource that will show you how to get your kids to listen WITHOUT yelling, nagging, or losing control .
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Problem-solving skills are necessary in all areas of life, and classroom problem solving activities can be a great way to get students prepped and ready to solve real problems in real life scenarios. Whether in school, work or in their social relationships, the ability to critically analyze a problem, map out all its elements and then prepare a workable solution is one of the most valuable skills one can acquire in life.
Educating your students about problem solving skills from an early age in school can be facilitated through classroom problem solving activities. Such endeavors encourage cognitive as well as social development, and can equip students with the tools they’ll need to address and solve problems throughout the rest of their lives. Here are five classroom problem solving activities your students are sure to benefit from as well as enjoy doing:
1. Brainstorm bonanza
Having your students create lists related to whatever you are currently studying can be a great way to help them to enrich their understanding of a topic while learning to problem-solve. For example, if you are studying a historical, current or fictional event that did not turn out favorably, have your students brainstorm ways that the protagonist or participants could have created a different, more positive outcome. They can brainstorm on paper individually or on a chalkboard or white board in front of the class.
2. Problem-solving as a group
Have your students create and decorate a medium-sized box with a slot in the top. Label the box “The Problem-Solving Box.” Invite students to anonymously write down and submit any problem or issue they might be having at school or at home, ones that they can’t seem to figure out on their own. Once or twice a week, have a student draw one of the items from the box and read it aloud. Then have the class as a group figure out the ideal way the student can address the issue and hopefully solve it.
3. Clue me in
This fun detective game encourages problem-solving, critical thinking and cognitive development. Collect a number of items that are associated with a specific profession, social trend, place, public figure, historical event, animal, etc. Assemble actual items (or pictures of items) that are commonly associated with the target answer. Place them all in a bag (five-10 clues should be sufficient.) Then have a student reach into the bag and one by one pull out clues. Choose a minimum number of clues they must draw out before making their first guess (two- three). After this, the student must venture a guess after each clue pulled until they guess correctly. See how quickly the student is able to solve the riddle.
4. Survivor scenarios
Create a pretend scenario for students that requires them to think creatively to make it through. An example might be getting stranded on an island, knowing that help will not arrive for three days. The group has a limited amount of food and water and must create shelter from items around the island. Encourage working together as a group and hearing out every child that has an idea about how to make it through the three days as safely and comfortably as possible.
5. Moral dilemma
Create a number of possible moral dilemmas your students might encounter in life, write them down, and place each item folded up in a bowl or bag. Some of the items might include things like, “I saw a good friend of mine shoplifting. What should I do?” or “The cashier gave me an extra $1.50 in change after I bought candy at the store. What should I do?” Have each student draw an item from the bag one by one, read it aloud, then tell the class their answer on the spot as to how they would handle the situation.
Classroom problem solving activities need not be dull and routine. Ideally, the problem solving activities you give your students will engage their senses and be genuinely fun to do. The activities and lessons learned will leave an impression on each child, increasing the likelihood that they will take the lesson forward into their everyday lives.
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25 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids
Problem-solving activities for kids : Explore 24 fun problem-solving games and activities, and learn effective tips and strategies to teach kids problem-solving skills. If you want to explore problem-solving strategies more in-depth, you can also grab our workbook “ Problem-Solving for Kids ” (printable resource).
Problem-solving is the cognitive process of finding solutions to challenges or complex situations.
A systematic approach to problem-solving tends to include defining the problem, gathering information and data, generating potential solutions, evaluating the pros and cons of each solution, making a decision, and implementing the chosen solution.
Effective problem-solving often requires critical thinking, a good dose of creativity, and the ability to consider multiple perspectives. It may also involve identifying patterns, breaking down a problem into manageable chunks, and applying our logic to develop solutions.
Problem-solving is present in everyday situations and across all fields: business, science, personal life, and education. There is not one single aspect in our lives where we don’t need to apply our problem-solving skills.
Table of Contents
- Problem-solving steps
- Development of problem-solving in childhood
- Benefits of developing problem-solving skills
- 10 Tips to teach kids problem-solving skills
- 10 Examples of problem-solving strategies
- 25 Problem-solving activities and games for kids
Some key components of problem-solving include:
- Identifying the problem Recognizing and defining the issue or challenge that needs to be addressed.
- Analyzing the problem Investigating and understanding the underlying causes, factors, and relationships related to the problem.
- Generating solutions Generating potential solutions or strategies to address the problem.
- Evaluating all possible solutions (Pros and Cons Analysis) Assessing the feasibility, effectiveness, and potential consequences of each solution. Considering the positive and negative aspects of each solution.
- Decision-making Selecting the best solution based on our analysis and judgment.
- Implementing the best solution Actioning our chosen solution
- Monitoring progress and results
- Reflecting on the outcomes Reviewing and evaluating the outcomes of the implemented solution, learning from the experience, and making adjustments if necessary.
Development of Problem-Solving Skills in Childhood
Children begin to develop problem-solving skills from a very early age, and these skills continue to develop and refine throughout childhood and adolescence.
Babies soon learn about action and reaction. And, as early as eight months, they begin to acquire an understanding of cause and effect (they shake a rattle, it makes a sound; they push a toy, it falls)
Between 13 and 24 months, they start solving simple problems through trial and error and engage in symbolic play using their imagination.
As children progress into middle childhood (ages 7-11), they develop more advanced problem-solving skills. They become capable of understanding multiple perspectives and can consider multiple factors when solving problems. They start using logic and reasoning to solve increasingly complex problems.
During adolescence (ages 12 and up), problem-solving skills continue to develop. Teenagers can generate and test hypotheses and use deductive and inductive reasoning to arrive at solutions.
Each child will develop their problem-solving skills at their own pace. Some children may show advanced problem-solving abilities at an earlier age. Others may require more time and experience to develop these skills fully.
Benefits of Developing Problem-Solving Skills in Children
Problem-solving skills in children are crucial for children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. It equips them to approach challenges, think critically, make informed decisions, and find creative solutions.
The benefits of good problem-solving skills in children include:
- Positive impact on self-esteem and confidence Identifying, analyzing, and solving their problems contributes to our kids’ sense of competence .
- Fosters Independence and Autonomy When our kids are able to problem-solve on their own, they take one more step toward independence
- Academic Success Problem-solving skills contribute to academic achievement, as they help students analyze and solve complex problems across various subjects.
- Cognitive Development Problem-solving fosters cognitive skills such as logical reasoning, analytical thinking, and abstract reasoning.
- Critical Thinking Problem-solving enhances critical thinking abilities, enabling children to evaluate information, identify biases, and make informed judgments.
- Creativity Problem-solving promotes creativity by encouraging children to think outside the box, generate innovative ideas, and explore multiple solutions.
- Emotional Resilience Problem-solving skills enhance emotional resilience by enabling children to manage and cope with challenges effectively, reducing stress and promoting well-being.
- Improved Social Interactions/Relationships Problem-solving abilities contribute to better social interactions, conflict resolution , and peer collaboration, promoting healthy relationships.
- Future career success Problem-solving skills are highly valued in the workplace and can positively influence future career success.
10+ Helpful Tips to Teach Kids Problem-Solving Skills
Teaching problem-solving skills to kids is an important part of their cognitive development. It helps them develop critical thinking, creativity, and resilience.
But how can we help our kids and students to develop this essential skill?
We can help our kids and students develop and improve their problem-solving skills in many ways. These are some helpful tips that you could consider:
- Model problem-solving behavior When you see yourself in a problem-solving situation, verbalize your thought process: “I wonder how I should address this issue. I guess my alternatives could be… They all have positives and negatives….”
- Let them participate in the problem-solving situation “Could you help me solve this puzzle?”
- Provide real-life problem-solving situations Real-life scenarios make problem-solving more meaningful for kids. For example, discuss how to resolve a conflict with a sibling or how to make the morning routine smoother.
- Teach them how to break down problems Show them how to break down complex problems into manageable sub-problems.
- Practice brainstorming Create brainstorming situations where all the family (or the classroom) can contribute to solving a problem
- Teach the value of perseverance Sometimes, we must stick to a situation and persevere before finding a solution. Encourage kids to persevere through challenges and setbacks, emphasizing that mistakes and failures are opportunities for learning.
- Encourage critical thinking Encourage kids to analyze situations, consider different perspectives, and evaluate possible outcomes.
- How could we make your school lunch healthier but still yummy?
- How could we reuse/recycle all this paper?
- What could we do to help you remember all the steps in your night routine?
- Encourage reflection When they can find a solution for a problem, don’t jump to solve it for them. Encourage them to reflect on the problem and find and evaluate alternatives. And after a problem is solved, think about the whole process and the learnings. “How did this work?” “What did you learn” “Do you need to change anything?”
- Foster creativity Provide them with opportunities for imaginative play, creative projects, and brainstorming sessions.
- Teach the value of teamwork Teach kids the importance of working together to solve problems. Engage them in group activities or projects that require teamwork and collaboration. This helps kids learn the value of different perspectives and work together towards an objective while they practice their communication skills.
- Teach decision-making skills Teach kids how to approach problems systematically by going through the steps we have mentioned in our first section.
- Encourage both structured and free play. Structured play can help you create good problem-solving situations, while free play will foster creativity.
Developing problem-solving skills is an ongoing process that will also continue in adulthood. Provide your kids with guidance and support, and celebrate their efforts and achievements along the way.
10 Examples of Problem-Solving Strategies
There are different strategies that can help us solve a wide range of problems. Here are some commonly recognized problem-solving strategies:
1 . Trial and Error : This is the first problem strategy that we ever learn. We start using trial and error strategies in infancy, and it continues serving its purpose in many situations. This strategy involves trying different solutions or approaches and learning from the errors or failures until a successful solution is found.
2. Algorithm: An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure or a set of rules that guarantees a solution to a specific problem. It is a systematic approach to problem-solving that follows a predetermined set of instructions.
3. Heuristics: Heuristics are mental shortcuts or rules of thumb that help simplify problem-solving by providing quick and efficient strategies. While heuristics can be effective in many situations, they may also lead to biases and errors.
4. Divide and Conquer: This strategy involves breaking down a complex problem into smaller, more manageable chunks or steps that make the overall problem easier to tackle.
5. Working Backwards: This strategy involves starting from the desired outcome and working backward to determine the steps or actions needed to reach that outcome. We often use this problem-solving strategy when we set goals.
6. Analogical Reasoning: Analogical reasoning involves drawing parallels between the current problem and a similar problem that has been solved in the past. By applying the solution from the previous problem to the current one, individuals can find a solution more efficiently.
7. Brainstorming: Brainstorming gets lots of brains working on the same problem. It is a great collaborative problem-solving strategy that can bring different perspectives and experiences to the table and may result in lots of creative ideas and solutions.
8. Decision Matrix: A decision matrix is a systematic approach to evaluating and comparing different options or solutions. It involves creating a matrix that lists alternatives and the criteria for evaluation. It assigns weights or scores to each criterion to come up with the optimal alternative.
9. Root Cause Analysis: Sometimes, we need to understand what is causing a problem before we can attempt to solve it, as different causes may require different approaches (for example, when you are sick, your doctor may need to understand what is causing the problem before prescribing a medicine)
10. Simulation and Modeling: Simulation involves creating a simplified representation or model of a problem situation to gain insights and test different scenarios.
Our choice of strategy will depend on the problem, available resources, and our own personal preferences and circumstances. We may also need to combine strategies or apply different ones to different aspects of a complex problem.
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Best Problem-Solving Activities for Kids
Play-based activities are centered around play and are designed to engage children in active learning and exploration. And fun problem-solving activities are a great way to develop children’s critical thinking, creativity, and decision-making skills.
In this section, we will review some problem-solving games and activities that will engage your kids’ critical-thinking skills and creativity.
1. Puzzle Games Puzzles are a fun activity for children of all ages. Young children will enjoy simple puzzles, while older children (and adults!) can have fun with more complex ones. Encourage them to use logical thinking and problem-solving strategies to complete the puzzles.
2. Crosswords A crossword is another fun type of puzzle and a good source of mental stimulation.
3. Sudoku Sudoku is a popular logic-based puzzle that involves filling a grid with numbers.
It can be extremely easy or very challenging, adaptable even for young learners.
Let’s go now for a couple of building challenges!
4. Build the Tallest Tower Give the child a set of materials (Legos, building blocks, wooden blocks, or other construction materials) and ask them to build the tallest tower they can. This simple game will encourage them to problem-solve as they build and figure out how to make the tower stable.
5. Build Towers with Different Materials Ask your child to build three different towers with different materials. Then assess how stable they are and how much weight they can hold. Analyze the pros and cons of using each type of material.
6. Treasure Hunt Set up a treasure hunt with clues leading to hidden objects or rewards. Children will have to follow the clues and solve puzzles to find the ultimate prize. This activity encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork.
7. Scavenger Hunt Playing Scavenger Hunt can be a fun way for our kids to put their creative problem-solving skills to good use. Provide them with clues and puzzles that they must solve in order to find the next clue.
8. Mystery Bag Fill a bag with random objects and ask children to come up with creative uses for each item. Encourage them to think outside the box and find innovative solutions.
9. Memory Game While memory games primarily focus on memory retention and recall, they can indirectly contribute to problem-solving skills by developing cognitive abilities such as attention, information processing, and adjusting their strategies.
10. Role-Playing Scenarios Create role-playing scenarios where children have to solve a problem or make decisions. For example, pretend to be stranded on a desert island and ask them to decide what items they will take and how they will survive.
11. Role-Play Social Situations Work in developing social skills with social problem-solving situations.
12. Brainstorming Sessions Choose a topic or problem and hold brainstorming sessions where children can generate as many ideas as possible. Encourage them not to limit themselves (even if alternatives feel unfeasible!)
13. Team Building Activities and Games Engage children in team-building games like building a balloon tower. Each team member will need to collaborate, communicate, and problem-solve together to complete the project.
14. Escape Rooms An escape room is a super fun team problem-solving activity.
In an escape room, participants are locked inside a themed room and must work together to solve puzzles, find clues, and accomplish tasks within a given time limit in order to “escape” from the room.
15. Science Experiments Conduct simple science experiments that involve problem-solving. For example, in the classic “sink or float” experiment, children predict and test which objects will sink or float in water.
Problem-Solving Board Games
There are many board games that will test our kids problems solving activities. These are just a few examples:
16. Cluedo Players must solve a murder mystery by deducing the murderer, the weapon used, and the location of the crime. Players collect and examine clues to eliminate possibilities and make logical deductions.
17. Codenames Another classic game where players are split into two teams and must guess words based on clues from their teammates.
There are many codenames games available, including themes like Disney or Harry Potter.
18. Mastermind Game In this strategy game players take turns setting and solving secret codes
19. Scrabble Scrabble is a classic word game where players form words on a game board using letter tiles.
Kids must use their problem-solving skills to analyze the available letters, consider the best word combination and strategically place those words to score the highest points.
Learning Problem-Solving with Card Games
Card games provide opportunities for kids to develop problem-solving skills such as strategy, memory, pattern recognition, decision-making, and observation.
Just a couple of examples:
20. Uno Uno is a classic card game where kids match cards based on color or number. They need to assess their cards, strategize and make decisions about which cards to play to get rid of their cards while also considering the cards in their opponents’ hands.
21. Go Fish Go Fish is a classic card game where players try to collect sets of cards by asking other players if they have specific cards. Players need to remember which cards they have and make decisions about who to ask and what sets to pursue.
22. Coding Challenges Introduce children to coding activities using platforms like Scratch (or ScratchJr for younger kids), Code.org, or Tynker. Coding involves problem-solving and logical thinking, and children can create interactive stories, games, or animations.
23. Outdoor Problem Solving Take children outside and present them with challenges that require problem-solving, such as building a shelter using natural materials or finding their way through an obstacle course.
24. Problem-Solving Worksheets Help your child follow a systematic approach to problem-solving with these helpful worksheets
25. Goal-Setting Activities for Kids Learning to set goals and make plans to achieve them is also a problem-solving activity. I have several resources to teach kids about goal-setting that I will list below:
- Goal-Setting Activities for Kids
- SMART Goals for Kids
- Goal Tracker Thermometer
Remember to provide guidance and support during these activities while encouraging children to think independently and come up with their own solutions.
Looking for kid-friendly examples of problem-solving strategies ?
This workbook explores the following problem-solving strategies (with child-friendly examples and activities):
- Trial and Error
- Heuristics (Clever shortcuts)
- Divide and Conquer
- Working Backwards
- Decision Matrix
- Root Cause Analysis
- Systematic problem-solving
I always look forward to your articles with active interventions. Thank you!
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20 Problem-Solving Activities for Middle School Students
June 28, 2022 // by Lesa M.K. Bullins, EdS
Problem-solving skills are important to the building of critical thinking, which in turn strengthens student executive function. Good problem solvers can build stronger cognitive flexibility, a critical component of executive functioning.
The teenage years are a crucial time for neuroplasticity, so it is a prime time for learning and developing important cognitive skills along with critical information. Bring problem-solving to life in your middle school classroom with these 20 activities.
1. Feelings Expression Scenarios
A huge part of problem-solving is properly expressing your own feelings. Students often struggle to state how they feel without combative, aggressive, or accusatory language; therefore opportunities to practice with realistic situations is a key problem-solving component. You can create scenario task cards to support students in realistic applications for relatable situations, or use pre-made cards.
Learn More: Pinterest
2. Empathy Empowered Discussions
In addition to being able to calmly and kindly express one's feelings, empathy is a key problem-solving component. Teens can often struggle to express empathy as they have difficulty recognizing and interpreting due to the teenage brain functioning.
Teenage brains are still developing, so different areas of the brain are controlling different functions than we see in adult brains; furthermore, since teens are still figuring out what they think and feel about a variety of things, it can be difficult for them to recognize and consider the feelings and thoughts of others. You can instigate empathy discussions through relatable content like this short video.
Learn More: Austin Wideman
3. Model, Model, Model...and then Model Some More!
Students learn more from what they see you do than what they hear you say! This means you have to be an active and purposeful model of what you expect. So make sure you are aware of your actions and words in front of your students!
Learn More: Education World
4. Get Out of the Way
We need to allow students the time and space to solve problems. We cannot intervene every time they struggle to find the answer right away. Constant intervention hinders critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Make sure to leave some room for students to figure out solutions. Keep safe proximity so students have the comfort to know you are there if they cannot find a solution, but resist the urge to jump in as soon as you see them struggling.
Learn More: Brookings
5. Plan a Road Trip
Engage problem-solving skills within context while reinforcing math, research, geography, and communication skills, too! Students can plan a road trip from start to finish in small groups. As an added bonus, you can let students travel virtually to the places they planned for their trip using Google Earth.
If time allows, they can even take screenshots and stage selfies for a presentation to share their trip with the class! This is a really great cross-curricular activity for the digital classroom, too!
6. Escape the Room
Escape rooms were made for problem-solving, so what better way to build these skills for students in an exciting way! Create different challenge activities surrounding a variety of subjects and skills to reinforce while lettings students put problem-solving to use finding practical solutions to escape the room!
Divide kids into teams and get on this engaging problem-solving activity!
7. Teach Explicit Strategies for Reflection
Students can build analytical skills by reflecting on their problem-solving process. Teach explicit skills to help students recognize and reflect on how they solve problems to reinforce future use and strengthen overall critical thinking abilities. Check out how Ellie from Cognitive Cardio made it work even in the time constraints of middle school schedules!
Learn More: Cognitive Cardio With MSMM
8. Daily Practice
Give students short, interesting, and challenging problems to solve during the morning and afternoon transition times. Daily practice solving challenges is important for cognitive development and reinforces academic skills! You can find tons of daily challenges online or create your own.
9. Build Something
Let students work together in teams to build something from simple building materials. Increase the challenge by limiting resources or requiring students to pick their own resources for building blocks from a variety of random items. You can check out the marshmallow toothpick tower-building activity!
Learn more: Wow Sci
10. Blind Drawing Partners
Students can work in partner pairs or small groups to develop a vast array of abilities through this problem-solving activity. Blind team-building activities are excellent, low-prep ways to engage students' critical thinking and communication!
There are different ways you can implement this, but check out this video for an example of one application of the blind drawing game.
Learn more: Philip Barry
11. Laser Maze
Create a laser maze for students to get active in problem-solving. Create and implement different time durations to increase the challenge. Do not have lasers? No budget for lasers? Don't worry, red painter's tape will do the job!
Learn More: That Phillips Family
12. Shared Story Puzzles
Creating story puzzles that force students to work in groups together to put together, add on, and create a cohesive story that is meaningful is another challenging task to engage in collaborative problem-solving.
Learn More: Secondary English Coffee Shop
13. Yarn Webs
This social-skill-building collaborative problem-solving activity is fun for any age. Organize students into teams then let them choose a color of yarn, build a team web, and see who can navigate. There are so many ways this activity can be adapted, but you can watch a video of one interpretation here .
Learn More: KEYSAmeriCorps
14. Scavenger Hunt
Create a series of clues that students must solve to progress through the game. Working in groups can help build conflict resolution and social skills as well. Check out how to create scavenger hunts for the classroom in this video by Learning Life.
Learn more: Learning Life
15. Boom! Math!
An excellent way to build advanced problem-solving skills, as well as mathematical analysis, is to create math Boom Cards with word problems like these from Math in the Middle. Boom cards are a great activity for students to practice and build skills!
Learn more: Boom Learning
16. Wheel of Solutions
Give students practice in exercising a number of different kinds of problem-solving skills by spinning and communicating a solution using the skills on which they land. You can make one in the classroom with a posterboard or create a digital wheel. Such a fun interactive resource! Use this great pre-made digital activity from Resource Haven on Boom Learning or create your own!
Learn More: Boom Learning
17. Collaborative Math
Another activity for team building that supports mathematical concept reinforcement is students working together to collaboratively solve math problems. Check out how Runde's Room made sure everyone is engaged in working on solving parts of the problem through the sticky-note collaborative math activity.
18. Get Mysterious
Math Mysteries are a fun activity that builds out-of-the-box thinking and creates an inquisitive environment. Problem-solving develops through the process of inquisition! You can create your own or use Lee and Miller's 40 Fabulous Math Mysteries Kid's Can't Resist Scholastic book found here.
19. Logic Puzzles and Games
In addition to logic-building games like Chess, you can provide logic puzzles for morning and afternoon transitions, during downtime, or for early finishers. Logic puzzles help students think critically. You can make your own or get some prefabricated resources like the ones found in this book by Chris King .
Learn More: Brainzilla
20. Lead Number Talks
Number talks are important to building problem-solving. Number talks allow students to build on one another in a collaborative way, discuss how they have solved problems before, consider how those solutions may be applicable to new skills they are about to learn, and build depth in math concepts.
So instead of getting quiet, get them talking!
Learn More: North Dakota Teaching Kayla Durkin
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15 Best Problem Solving Activities for Kids to Encourage Critical Thinking
1. Rolling Dice
2. build a tower, 3. tic tac toe, 4. scavenger hunt, 6. activity books, 7. board games, 9. human knot, 10. open-ended questions.
Problem solving activities for kids are a great way to teach them how to think critically and creatively, and how to develop a growth mindset . We’re sure you must have also played many educational games as a kid that helped you develop critical thinking or problem-solving- skills you’re using even today. These activities can be tailored to be fun and engaging, and they help kids understand that challenges and difficulties are opportunities to learn and grow instead of things to be feared.
By providing kids with problem-solving activities, we can give them the tools to develop their problem-solving skills and build the confidence to tackle difficult challenges, which will be valuable to them throughout their life. It will also help them understand that their abilities can be developed with practice and hard work, encouraging them to persevere through difficult tasks and not give up easily when faced with obstacles. If you’re looking for some fun and engaging problem solving activities for children to develop a growth mindset, we have curated a list of activities for you.
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15 Best Problem Solving Activities for Kids
Things you’ll need: A die or dice, some flashcards and a pen
How to do: You can play tons of different games with dice. Playing with two dice encourages kids to quickly add up numbers and learn math in a fun way . One fun game you can play with a single die involves flashcards. For this game, you can assign a category to each number on the die and when the kid rolls the die, they have to name any 3 examples from the category assigned to the number rolled. For example, if number 4 is assigned to animals and it is rolled, they will have to name any 3 animals.
Things you’ll need: Building blocks, lego, toilet rolls or anything that can be stacked
How to do: If you’re looking for problem solving activities for 5 year olds, this is for you. To play this game, just give the kids anything that can be stacked on top of the other. This can be building blocks, lego, Jenga blocks, toilet rolls, etc. The challenge is to stack one on top of the other and see how high a tower they can build. This game can be played in teams or individually as well.
Things you’ll need: A tic tac tow board or pen and paper
How to do: This is one of the most exciting problem solving fun activities for students. You can either play this game on a tic tac toe board or on paper. If you’re playing it on paper, draw a table so that you have 9 boxes. Now each player must choose X or O and try to make a continuous row of their chosen symbol. Whoever succeeds wins.
Things you’ll need: Small toys, stationery items, or anything you want to include in a scavenger hunt
How to do: Assign the teams or individual players specific items they have to find in a defined area. This can be an indoor or outdoor activity for kids . Give them a list of the things they need to find, and you can also give them hints on where to find these things. Whoever or whichever team finds all the things first wins.
Things you’ll need: A puzzle game
How to do: Get a puzzle set. This can be a regular cardboard puzzle or a wooden puzzle and ask the players or teams to arrange it. You can make this a timed challenge or just let the kids solve the puzzle in their own time and have fun.
Things you’ll need: Activity books and pencils
How to do: This is one of the best problem solving activities for kids. Activity books are great for children’s problem-solving skills to develop. Buy them activity books containing games like find the element, what’s wrong with the pictures, or hidden picture books.
Things you’ll need: Board games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly Junior, and Go Fish
How to do: Give them board games like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly Junior, Go Fish, etc. These board games help kids to develop logic, think deeper, plan ahead and solve problems.
Things you’ll need: A chalk
How to do: Build a maze with chalk on the sidewalk. Make sure you add a few dead-end ways to make it more challenging for the kids. Once the kid is able to walk through and come out of the maze, take the game to the next level by adding even more dead-end ways and see how they overcome the challenge.
Things you’ll need: Just a playground or garden
How to do: This is a great group activity for kids that’ll also teach them lots of skills. Ask the kids to form a circle and raise their right arm up. Now ask them to reach out to someone standing opposite to them in the circle and hold their left hand with their left hand. Now ask them to raise their left hands up and repeat the process with their right hands. The objective is to entangle them completely and then ask them to detangle themselves without letting go of anyone’s hands.
Things you’ll need: Pen and paper
How to do: Once you’re done with an activity, ask kids open-ended questions. These are questions that have no right or wrong answers. Some examples of such questions are- “Did you find this activity easy?”, “What did you enjoy the most about this activity?”, “How would you make this activity more fun?”, etc.
11. Wool Web
Things you’ll need: Balls of yarn
How to do: This is one of the most exciting group problem solving classroom activities for kids . Divide the players into equal teams and ask them to form a circle. Hand them over one ball of yarn each and ask them to make a web of it amongst the teams. Set a time limit for this step, and once it is done, switch the webs so that none of the teams has their own webs. Now the teams will decide on one player from each team to be blindfolded. This blindfolded player will have to untangle to web assigned to their team with the help of verbal instructions from their teams. The team that untangles the web first wins.
12. Fingertip Hula Hoop
Things you’ll need: Hula hoops
How to do: Divide the kids into teams of 6-8 for this game. Each team will stand in a circle and then be asked to raise their hands up. Now, place a hula hoop on top of their fingertips and ask them to bring it down slowly and make it touch the ground without it falling down or leaving the fingertips. The team to finish the task first wins.
13. Obstacle Course
Things you’ll need: Pillows, blankets, mattresses, cones, balls, chairs, etc.
How to do: Build an obstacle course indoors or outdoors with whatever you can find. This makes for one of the most engaging problem solving games for kids. Ask your kids to cross the obstacle course as fast as they can. To make it a bit more challenging, you can also ask them to race against each other to cross the obstacle course.
14. Memory Games
Things you’ll need: Playing cards
How to do: For this fun cards game, place all the cards face down and take turns to turn 2-4 cards. If you are able to open two similar cards (in number), you get to keep the pair. The player with the highest number of cards with them in the end wins.
15. Impromptu Plays
Things you’ll need: A stage
How to do: This is one of the best problem-solving exercises for kids to play in groups. If you have a large group, divide the kids into teams of 6-8. If the group is smaller, just make the kids stand individually. Now make a few chits on a theme that has questions that form a difficult situation or a challenge. For example, you can put in chits with questions like “You just found your friend cheating in an exam. What do you tell them?” or “Your younger sibling just broke your favorite toy. How do you react?”. Each team must enact a scene that includes the situation their chit has. If the group isn’t that big, each kid must speak about the same chit but have different perspectives.
Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important for Kids?
Developing problem solving skills is extremely important for kids as it helps them to navigate easily around difficulties later on in life. As adults, we’re faced with challenging situations every day, and without our basic problem-solving skills, we wouldn’t be able to survive.
Problem solving skills also help kids to make effective decisions. It helps them resolve problems all at once without reducing them to smaller problems. Once kids develop problem solving skills, it is easier for them to develop other skills as well like critical thinking, cooperation and collaboration with others.
Having problem solving skills helps kids to become more creative and think differently than others and enables them to become independent. These skills also help kids develop decision-making skills and build their confidence along the way as they take the right decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the 5 problem solving skills.
The five problem solving skills are identifying the problem, producing possible results that might work, picking one solution from these, applying the chosen solution and evaluating the results.
What are some examples of problem-solving skills in kids?
Some of the problem solving skills in kids are research, creativity, team-building, communication, active listening, decision-making, and analysis. If you find some of these skills in a kid, chances are they’re great at problem solving.
What is problem solving learning?
According to cornell.edu, Problem solving learning is an approach wherein students are asked open-ended questions about a certain topic, and they must resolve and answer the same in groups.
At what age do children begin problem-solving?
According to a study by Shaffer , kids can start developing basic problem solving skills from the age of three. This further continues to develop as they grow.
What are three problem-solving techniques
According to deakin.edu , the three most basic problem solving techniques are defining the problem, listing out all the possible solutions, and evaluating the options.
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Top 50 problem solving activities, games & puzzles for remote teams
Blockchain and Crypto / March 6, 2022 by admin
Here is a list of the top 50 problem solving activities, games & puzzles best suited for remote teams. Read on!
What are problem solving activities?
The success of a company or organization depends heavily on the managers’ ability to help workers develop their problem solving skills. Problem solving activities that address areas such as teamwork and cooperation, adaptability or reinforcement of decision-making strategies help.
All processes of problem solving begin with the identification of the problem. The team will then evaluate the possible course of action and select the best way to tackle it. This needs a profound understanding of your team and its core strengths.
Not only among corporates, but problem solving activities find their use in educational settings as well. Students who are good at solving problems will become much more successful than those who are not. Remote work and education are on the rise.
Enabling smooth interpersonal communication to solve problems can become a task in these situations. However, engaging all the people concerned in problem solving activities before shifting to the remote space can ease the process.
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Key skills evaluated in problem solving activities
Problem solving skills refer to the necessary thinking skills that an individual or group uses when met with a challenge. Many issues require the use of several skills; others are easy and may require only one or two skills. These are some skills that help to solve problems,
- Communication skills
- Decision-making skills
- Analytical thinking
- Negotiation skills
- Logical reasoning
- Lateral thinking
Problem solving skill examples
Several problems occur at the workplace. Problem solving skills can be technical problems that occur on websites or apps or addressing client concerns. Problems could be simple or complex. Business managers spend time and resources to solve problems.
They encourage their team to improve their analytical and logical abilities. Common issues in companies can be exploding data or changing technology, or financial management.
Did you know? Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in problem solving!
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Problem solving scenarios
Many problem solving scenarios occur at work. The basis to solve any problem is to evaluate and arrive at a solution. Analytical skill or problem solving ability is a skill many employers evaluate while hiring candidates.
Strong problem solving skills can be an asset to any organization. Organizations organize problem and solution activities to improve the problem solving abilities in the workplace.
1. Decision making games
Businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to stimulate their staff. Decision making games help employees to learn new skills and work effectively as a team. Decision making activities help to improve the creative problem solving and decision-making skills of the team. Here are some best Decision-making games,
1. Dumb Idea first – This game gives a hypothetical problem that could occur in your company. Ask each manager to think of the dumbest solution to the problem. After compiling the list of the ideas, the team reviews them.
You have a brainstorming session to make the “dumb ideas” feasible. This problem solving exercise underlines the importance of out-of-box thinking.
Benefits: Decision-making skill
Time duration: 10 to 15 minutes
Team size: 2 to more team managers
Material: Paper and pencil
2. Egg Drop Idea – The objective of the game is to build a container to protect the egg when dropped from a specified height using the material provided. Each team nominates a presenter who explains why the egg will survive the fall.
Once they have presented the idea, the team drops the egg to check if the idea has worked. Egg drop pyramid activities like the marshmallow challenge help teams to think on their feet.
Benefit: Decision-making skill and is a top problem solving skill example
Time duration: 15 – 30 minutes
Team size: 6 or more
Material: A cartoon of eggs, aprons to protect clothes, material for packing (cardboard, tape, elastics, plastic straws, etc.), material to clean up.
- Every team gets an egg and should choose from the building materials.
- Grant everyone 20-30 minutes to build an egg carrier and guard against breaking.
- Remove each egg carrier from a ledge (that is, over a balcony) to see which carrier prevents it from cracking.
- If several eggs survive, continue to heighten until only one egg remains.
3. Dog, Rice, and Chicken – The dog, rice, and chicken game can be fun decision-making activities for adults. In this game, one team member plays the farmer, and the other team members are villagers who advise him. The farmer has to take three items chicken, dog, and rice across the river by boat.
There are the following constraints:- only one item can be carried on the boat. He cannot leave the chicken and dog alone because the dog will eat the chicken. He cannot leave the chicken alone with the rice because the chicken will eat the rice grains.
Benefit: creative problem solving examples that are applicable at work.
Time duration: 10-15 minutes.
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2. Teambuilding puzzle
Team building exercises are fun and creative ways to get your team to work together and improve problem solving skills.
1. Lost at Sea – In this game, you and your friends have chattered a yacht to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Since you do not have any navigation experience, you hire a captain and a two-person crew. Unfortunately, the crew and captain die when a fire breaks out on the yacht.
The yacht is severally damaged and is sinking. You and your friends have managed to save 15 items and a lifeboat. Your task is to rank the 15 items while you are waiting to be rescued. The activity lost at sea team building underlines the importance of problem solving skills in the workplace.
Benefits: Team building exercise and interaction
Time duration: 30 to 40 minutes
Team size: 4 to 6
Material: Lost in sea ranking for interaction chart for each member
2. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower – The marshmallow team-building activities have the goal of building the tallest tower as quickly as possible. To make the task more challenging the marshmallow is placed at the top of the tower. This is a fun puzzle activity for team building.
Benefit: Teambuilding puzzle
Time duration: 30 minutes
Material required: 20 sticks on raw uncooked spaghetti, a marshmallow, masking thread, and yarn of thread.
3. Go for Gold – This is an example of a marshmallow challenge similar to activities. The objective of this exercise is to create a structure using pipes, rubber tubing, and cardboard to carry a marble from point A to point B using gravity.
Benefit: team building problem solving scenario examples
Team size: Minimum 6 persons
Material required: Each member has different material
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3. Work Problem Solving
Work problem solving activities help to use the skills you used in problem solving activities in your workplace.
1. Create your own – this game aims to create a brand new problem solving activity for the organization. The team can brainstorm for 1 hour. After one hour each team has to give a presentation about their activity outlining the key benefits.
Benefit: Understanding the problem solving process. Build creativity, improve negotiation, and Decision-making skills
- When the participants arrive, you declare that they will create an original problem solving activity on their own, rather than spending an hour on an existing problem solving team-building exercise.
- Divide members into teams and encourage them to develop a new problem solving team-building exercise that will fit well with the organization. The activity should not be one they have engaged in or heard of before.
- Every team has to show their new activity to everyone else after an hour and outline the main benefits.
2. Shrinking Vessel – make a shape on the floor using a rope where all the team members can fit. Reduce the size every 10 -15 minutes. The real challenge for the team is figuring out how to work together and keep everyone together.
Benefits: Adaptability and cognitive diversity
Material: Rope and large room
- Place on the floor a big circle of rope. Position your whole team inside the circle.
- Lessen the circle size steadily. When it gets smaller, advise the team to keep the entire team inside the circle. Nobody must move out of the loop. See how small you can make the area until it cannot remain inside.
3. Legoman – the team is divided into groups of two or more people. Select an impartial individual who will make a structure in 10 minutes. Each team will compete to recreate it in fifteen minutes. Only one person is allowed to see the structure. They need to communicate vital parameters like color, shape, and size.
4. What Would X Do – This problem solving activity stimulates teams to think of new ideas.
- Benefits: Instant problem solving
- Time Duration: 10-15 minutes
- Materials Required: N/A
- Let every team pretend to be someone famous.
- Every team needs to address the issue as if they were a famous person. Which are the choices they would consider? How will they do this?
- It helps all to consider options they may not have initially thought of.
Tip: Before you decide, a problem is worth solving, weigh the risks of solving it versus not solving it.
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4. Team building riddles
Team building riddles are a great way to show the team group problem solving is usually more effective.
1. Barter puzzle – the team is broken into groups. Give each team a different jigsaw puzzle to solve. The groups have to complete the puzzle at the same time. The twist in the game is that some pieces of their puzzle belong to other puzzles.
The goal is to complete the puzzle before the other teams. Each group has to come with their method to convince other teams to handover the pieces they need, either by bartering pieces or donating time to the other teams. This puzzle piece team-building activity helps teams to collaborate.
Benefit: Team building and negotiating.
Material: Jigsaw puzzle for each team
Time: 30 minutes
2. Scavenger Hunt – in this game, each team has a list of the article to locate and bring back. The goal of the game is to finish the assigned list first. In the scavenger hunt, the team has a time limit to make the game more challenging. You have the flexibility of having the hunt outside or within the premises. The team-building puzzle game helps the team to look for creative solutions.
3. Escape – the goal is to solve clues and find the key to unlock the door in a limited time. Hide the key and a list of clues around the room. The team has 30 to 60 minutes to figure out the clues and unlock the door.
Benefit: Team building exercise
Material: Rope, key, lockable room, 5 to 10 puzzles
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5. Work together problems
Work together on problems helps to underline the need to collaborate while solving issues at work. Group challenge activities help the team work well together.
1. Bonding belt – each group is divided into 5 to 6 participants, who are bound together with rope or tape so that their movements are limited. The team has to reach from point A to point B, and the time is recorded. The teams collaborate to beat their previous score.
Benefits: Helps the team to collaborate and skills for problem solving scenario/
Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Material: Cling film, belt, or rope
2. Scramble puzzle – the team members with blindfolds sit in a circle with the puzzle. The teammate without the blindfold sits outside the circle, with their back to the group. The blindfolded group tries to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. The outsider who has the same puzzle gives the team instructions to solve it.
Benefits: trust, leadership, and communication
Material: Preschool-level puzzles and blindfolds.
3. Flip it over – this is a classic work-together problem. In this game, 6 to 8 participants stand together on a blanket/towel/tarp. The challenge is to flip over the blanket or reverse it. The rule is that none of the participants can leave the blanket.
Benefit: Work together exercise
Duration: 30 minutes
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6. Team building survival games
Team building survival games helps to fine-tune problem solving scenarios that may occur at work. The activities encourage creative problem solving and decision making.
1. Stranded – Stranded helps in building effective communication. In this setting, the team is stranded in an office. The rooms will be locked, and doors and windows cannot be broken down. The team is asked to make a list of 10 items that they need to survive.
They need to rank items in the order of their importance. The team has to agree on the items and the order. Stranded is one of several popular survival team-building exercises.
Benefit: Team building and Decision-making exercises
- Your team is stuck inside the building. Doors are closed, so there is no option to kick down the doors or smash the windows.
- Grant the team 30 minutes to determine what ten things they need to thrive in the office and list them in order of importance.
- The goal of the game is to get everyone to agree in 30 minutes about the ten things and their ranking.
2. Minefield – you randomly place items around the room or hallway and there is no clear path from one end of the room to another. The team is divided into pairs. One team member is blindfolded, and the other team member is the guide.
The guide navigates the blindfolded person across the minefield. The two partners cannot touch. This survival team-building activity underlines the need for clear communication.
Benefits: Communication and collaborative problem solving
Duration: 10-15 minutes
Material: Blindfold, empty room or hallway, and collection of random items.
3. Frostbite – in this survival scenario team-building exercise the team is trapped in Siberia. Each team has to elect a team captain. The team has to build a storm shelter with the material provided.
The twist in the game is the team captains cannot help physically since they have frostbite. Other team members are suffering snow blindness and are blindfolded. The electric fan will be turned on in 30 minutes to see if the shelter built will survive the storm.
Benefit: Leadership, skills action plan, and team building survival games
Team size: 4 to 5 members
Material: An electric fan, blindfold, simple building materials like cardboard paper, rubber bands, toothpicks, masking tape, straws, sticky notes, etc.
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7. Group decision making games
Group decision making games help encourage creative problem solving and decision making at work. Here is a bunch of group decision making games
1. Reverse Pyramid – the team members stand in a pyramid shape. The next step is to flip the base and apex of the pyramid. The limiting factor in only three persons can move.
Benefits: Group Decision-making and collaboration
2. Tower of Hanoi – in this game, there are three towers/posts/rods with 5 or more discs arranged conical shape with the smallest shape at the top. The objective of the game is to move the entire stack to another location retaining the shape. Some conditions of the games are only one disc can be moved at a time. Only the top disc can be moved. Another rule of the game is larger disc cannot be put on a smaller disc.
Benefits: This team-building exercise helps problem solving within the participants.
3. Human Knot – the team stands in a circle every person holds hands with a person not standing next to them. When everyone is cross-connected, the aim is to untangle the structure without letting go of anybody’s hand.
Benefit: group problem solving
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8. Funny problem solving games
We need to solve problems for personal and professional lives. Funny problem solving exercises are a light way. Funny problem solving can help reduce stress levels.
1. Pencil drop – in the pencil drop challenge, one end of the pencil is tied to a pencil and the other is tied around the waist of a team member. The other team member puts the pencil into the bottle placed below. The participants are not allowed to use their hands.
Benefit: Team bonding
Team size: 2 members each
Material: Some pencil and bottle
2. Blind drawing – this game requires two players to sit back to back. One participant describes an image in front of them without giving stating anything obvious. The other participant needs to draw it using the description. The outcome can be fun.
3. Be the character – in this activity, you pretend to be an imaginary character while trying to solve a problem. This game gives a unique perspective on your solution and whether the solution is feasible for other members.
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9. Group problem solving activities for adults
Group problem solving activities are very efficient, especially for adults. These can be used in any setting to enhance problem solving skills.
1. Human Knots
- Benefits: Communication skills, collaboration
- Time Duration: 10 – 15 minutes.
This is one of the most straightforward group problem solving activities that can be done with any group. It facilitates communication and critical thinking in the face of a challenging and complex question. Various group members will possibly suggest a variety of solutions, and each will need to be reviewed and adopted by the organization as a whole.
- Have the group stand in a small circle (make several circles when you are a larger group). Every person in the loop will hold the hands of 2 other people who are not directly next to them. That would make a messy crossed arms knot.
- Ask the group to disentangle themselves without moving their hands at any point in time. They may be unable to disentangle completely to form a circle again. Still, they would have begun to work together to solve the problem by the end of the activity.
- Benefits: Leadership, decision-making, trust, adaptability
- Time Duration: 30 minutes.
- Materials Required: An electric fan, blindfold, simple building materials like cardboard paper, rubber bands, toothpicks, masking tape, straws, sticky notes, etc.
Your group is trapped in the barren deserts of Siberia, and a sudden winter storm is approaching. You have to create a shelter with only the materials in hand that can survive the storm’s harsh winds. The leader of your expedition was afflicted with frostbite in both hands, sadly, and all the others experience severe snow blindness.
- Divide the group into clusters of 4-5. Every group will have to elect a chief.
- Group leaders are not allowed to use their hands to support the group in any way, and group members should be blindfolded during the exercise.
- The groups have 30 minutes to build a small tent structure that can withstand the wind from the fan’s highest location.
3. Dumbest Idea First
- Benefits: Critical thinking, creative problem solving, quick problem solving
- Time Duration: 15 – 20 minutes
- Materials Required: Pen or pencil, a piece of paper.
Dumbest Idea First is one of the most creative problem solving activities for groups. This can encourage your creativity by thinking out of the box and lead you to ideas that would typically sound too insane to work. You can broaden the possibilities by looking at these crazy solutions first, and find potential alternatives that might not be as obvious.
- Present your team with a question. It could be a real-world dilemma facing the group, or it could be a created scenario. For example, your company attempts to beat a rival to win a high-paying customer contract, but the customer bends to your competitors. You have a short period before they make the final decision to change their mind.
- With the given question, advise your group to come up with the dumbest ideas to tackle the issue. Anything can be written down.
- After each person has put forward a few ideas, go through the list, and analyze each plan to see which are the most feasible. List them from the highest level of feasibility to the lowest level.
4. Wool Web
- Benefits: Leadership, communication
- Time Duration: 30 minutes
- Materials Required: Some balls of yarn.
As hard as replicating the magnitude of the real-world problems is, that is no excuse not to try! Wool web creates a dilemma that appears complicated at first, but groups will learn to break down complicated challenges into solvable problems one move at a time.
This happens by using the right strategy and working together. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most stimulating problem solving activities for adults.
- Split the group into similarly large teams. Every time, it receives a yarn ball.
- Tell each team to turn the yarn ball into a vast web. Give them around 5-10 minutes to do this. When done, rotate all the teams so that every team is on a yarn web they have not set up.
- Every group must choose one person to untangle the web. That individual would be blindfolded and be guided by the rest of the team on how to unwind the web using only verbal instructions. The first team to achieve it wins the game.
5. Tallest Tower
- Benefits: Creative thinking, collaboration
- Materials Required: 1 bag of marshmallows, one packet of uncooked spaghetti.
Simple building projects can help group members create strategies to overcome box issues. Tallest Tower is another one of the most creative problem solving activities. Groups will compete with only two materials to make the tallest tower in a fixed period.
- Divide the group into two, which have an equal number of players. Provide 20 – 30 uncooked spaghetti noodles and 3-4 marshmallows to every team.
- Groups must compete in the provided period to build the tallest tower using only the materials supplied. A marshmallow has to be set at the top of the tower.
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10. Problem solving activities for students
Below is a bunch of problem solving activities for students and kids,
1. Brainstorm Bonanza – Brainstorm Bonanza is one of the best problem solving activities for students. As a teacher, making your students create lists relevant to something you are teaching at the moment can be a fantastic way to help them expand their knowledge of a subject when learning to solve problems.
- Benefits: Problem solving
- Materials Required: Pen and paper
1. If you are discussing a real, current, or fictional occurrence that did not work out well, let your students imagine ways that the protagonist or participants might have produced a better, more favorable result.
2. They can brainstorm independently or in groups.
2. Clue Me In – this is one of the most enjoyable problem solving games. It facilitates logical thinking and cognitive development.
- Benefits: Cognitive development, logical thinking
- Time Duration: 20 minutes
- Materials Required: A bag, clues, items as necessary
- Select a collection of things relating to a specific occupation, social phenomenon, historical incident, object, etc.
- Assemble individual objects (or pictures of things) commonly linked to the target response.
- Place all of them in a bag (five-10 clues ought to be enough).
- Then, have a student reach into the bag and take out clues one by one.
- Select a minimum number of clues to draw before they make their first guess (two-three).
- After that, the student should guess, pulling each clue until they think it is right.
- See how quickly the student can solve the riddle.
3. Survivor Scenario – Create a hypothetical situation that allows students to think creatively to make it through. One example may be being stuck on an island, realizing that three days of help would not come.
The community has a small amount of food and water and has to establish shelter from the island’s objects. This would undoubtedly be one of the fascinating problem solving activities for students.
- Benefits: Logical thinking, collaboration
- Encourage working together as a group.
- Listen to each student who has an idea about making it safe and secure across the three days.
4. Moral Dilemmas – Create several potential moral dilemmas that your students can face in life, write down, and place each object in a bowl or container. These things may include items like, “I’ve seen a good friend of mine shoplifting. What is it that I would do?” or “The cashier gave me an additional $1.50 in change after I purchased candy from the shop. What is it that I would do?”
- Benefits: Logical thinking
- Time Duration: 5 minutes per student
- Materials Required: Container, bits of paper with moral dilemmas written
- Ask every student to draw an item from the bag one after the other and read it aloud.
- They must then tell the class the response on the spot as to how they would handle the situation.
5. Problem solving box – this is an activity that will help on both cognitive and emotional levels for students.
- Benefits: Logical thinking, decision making
- Materials Required: Box, paper, pen
- Have your students design and decorate a medium-sized box with a top slot. Name it as the “Problem Solving Box.”
- Invite students to write down anonymously and apply any concerns or problems they may have at school or at home, which they do not appear to be able to work out on their own.
- Let a student draw one of the things from the box once or twice a week, and read it aloud.
- Finally, as a group, let the class work out the best way students can approach the problem and eventually solve it.
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11. Problem solving activities for kids
Below is a bunch of problem solving activities for kids,
1. Puzzle-solving – Solving puzzles is one of the best problem solving activities for kids out there. Essentially, every puzzle is a big collection of muddled-up items to figure out and bring back together again.
Kids must be introduced to puzzles with regularity. These are useful for improving skills in reasoning. The best kinds to choose from are wooden puzzles with a wooden frame. They last long, and the structure serves as the foundation to direct children during construction.
- Benefits: Reasoning skills
- Time Duration: Varies
- Materials Required: Puzzles according to the age level
- Show the kids a demo of how a particular puzzle can be solved.
- Then, let them choose a puzzle of their liking from the available choices.
- Ask them to solve their chosen puzzles.
2. Memory Games – Memory games will improve memory and attention to detail for your child.
- Benefits: Attention to detail
- Materials Required: Matching pairs of images
- Using matching pairs of images and turn them all face down, shuffled, on a table.
- Take turns to pick any two cards, and face them on the table.
- You hold the cards if you turn over a similar pair, and if the pair does not match, turn the cards over before it is your turn to try again.
- A teacher/parent must encourage the kids to concentrate on where the pictures are, and seek to find a matching pair on each turn.
3. Building games – Construction toys like building blocks, wooden blocks, or legos should be a staple in a kid’s home every day. Playing with them is one of the most fun problem solving activities for kids. Anything that your child builds is a challenge as it involves thinking about what to create and how to put together the parts to get a workable and usable design.
- Benefits: Decision making
- Materials Required: Construction toys.
1. Let your child build a challenge openly and often, and ask him/her to build a particular structure, with conditions. For instance:
- Create two towers with a bridge that connects them.
- Create a creature that stands alone and has three arms.
2. Observe how your child uses trial-and-error before finding a way to bring the idea into motion.
4. Tic-Tac-Toe – this is an excellent game for teaching decision-making skills. It encourages kids to think before they act and weigh the potential consequences.
- Materials Required: Pencil, paper
- Draw a simple tic-tac-toe table on paper or chalkboard.
- Take turns to add a nought or a cross to the table to see who is the first to make a line of three.
- Your kid will likely catch on in no time before placing their symbol and start thinking carefully.
- Coloured counters or different items can be used to play this game as well.
5. Building a Maze – This activity is fun and fits for any age. It will also be a lot more enjoyable than doing a maze in an activity book, particularly for younger kids.
- Materials Required: Chalk
- Draw a big maze with jumbo chalk on the paving. Make passages, including one or two, which end in an impasse. Teach your kid how to get out of it.
- Make the maze more complicated and add more dead-end passages as your child gets better at figuring out a path and finding the way out.
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What is a problem solving process?
When a team or person faces an issue or obstacle, it can be tempting to quickly track a potential solution and set up a fast fix. This could happen without understanding the complexity of the problem and pursuing a systematic approach to seeking a solution.
The attempts to address issues or obstacles may become unstructured and frustrating without a consistent method. End-to-end processes for problem solving offer a mechanism for a community to tackle any size or nature, and see results. Problem solving activities for adults, kids, and students can help make the problem solving process very useful.
Army problem solving process
There are 7 steps to problem solving army model,
- Recognize and define the problem – The first step army problem solving process is defining the problem precisely and determining the root cause.
- Gather facts and make assumptions – You need to gather all information you have at your disposal. Common resources for information may be documentation and policies. Assumptions are unsubstantiated facts. Use facts rather than assumptions when you need to analyze the scope of the problem.
- Generate alternatives – One of the key steps in military problem solving is finding ways to solve the problem. Ideally, it best to have multiple approaches to solve the problem. Take input from peers and subordinates if possible.
- Analyze possible solutions – Analyze each possible solution with advantages and disadvantages. You evaluate each solution according to screening and feasibility criteria. Reject the solution when it fails in the screening process.
- Compare Alternatives – Another crucial step in the army problem solving model is to evaluate alternatives for cost and benefits. You need to consider your experience and immediate future. Tabulating each solution with the pros and cons will help clear the picture.
- Make an executive your decision – Make a decision and prepare an action plan, and put it in motion.
- Assess the result – You need to monitor the implementation of the plan and modify it if required. Establishing critical steps and milestones will help to ensure success.
Army problem solving games
- Capture the flag – the game helps in team building and army problem solving. Two teams compete against one another to retrieve a flag or object from the opposing team camp base and get into their camp base. This game is flexible, and ground rules need to be set before the game starts.
- Paintball – Paintball is a fun military problem solving activity. You can have many modifications and variations of the paintball game. The aim is to fire paint pellets at the opposing team. Laser tag is another variation of the game.
- Firing blind – Firing blind is a game where each team has a large number of water balloons. At the other end of the field has to hit the target is protected by a tarp from direct firing. The team has to hit the target that is covered. One team member acts as the observer and directs the team to hit the target with the water balloons.
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Obstacles to problem solving
Problem solving can take time and patience, one of the best ways to solve any problem is pausing and evaluating the problem. Obstacles to problem solving are,
- Misdiagnosis – Misdiagnosis is a common problem can occur due to preconceived idea, biases or judgments. Defining and having a concrete understanding of the problem is the first step in the problem solving activity. This can be difficult. If you are not careful, you may spend your time and resources solving the wrong problem and finding the wrong solution.
- Communication bias – Communication barriers are caused when we are unable to explain the problem to the team, or presuming we know more than everyone else. Everyone on the team must be on the same page. You may need to acknowledge you have a limited understanding of the problem.
- Solution bias – A common obstacle in problem solving is thinking there may be a universal solution or thinking the same solution can solve multiple problems. You need to evaluate a problem independently than try to force-fit a solution that worked previously.
- Cognitive bias – One of the barriers to finding an effective solution is cognitive bias, or the tendency to jump to conclusions. To find solutions fast firms often end up with an irrelevant solution. This may cause more problems down the line.
- Lack of empathy – Every problem is associated with human emotions or abilities. It is important to identify and recognize people affected by the problem or it will be difficult to find a solution that will solve help.
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Famous virtual problem solving software
Traditionally watercoolers chat is a great way to bring people together and help team members interact with one another. A virtual water cooler has a similar concept where people interact in a similar virtual setting or a dedicated virtual room. It allows remote teams to bond. Software that offers virtual water coolers services,
- unremot.com – provides users with a unique water cooler experience. The app provides unique solutions to remote teams.
- Microsoft Teams
- Informal Whatsapp group
- Donut over slack channels
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How Students Can Rethink Problem Solving
Finding, shaping, and solving problems puts high school students in charge of their learning and bolsters critical-thinking skills.
As an educator for over 20 years, I’ve heard a lot about critical thinking , problem-solving , and inquiry and how they foster student engagement. However, I’ve also seen students draw a blank when they’re given a problem to solve. This happens when the problem is too vast for them to develop a solution or they don’t think the situation is problematic.
As I’ve tried, failed, and tried again to engage my students in critical thinking, problem-solving, and inquiry, I’ve experienced greater engagement when I allow them to problem-find, problem-shape, and problem-solve. This shift in perspective has helped my students take direct ownership over their learning.
Encourage Students to Find the Problem
When students ask a question that prompts their curiosity, it motivates them to seek out an answer. This answer often highlights a problem.
For example, I gave my grade 11 students a list of topics to explore, and they signed up for a topic that they were interested in. From that, they had to develop a research question. This allowed them to narrow the topic down to what they were specifically curious about.
Developing a research question initiated the research process. Students launched into reading information from reliable sources including Britannica , Newsela , and EBSCOhost . Through the reading process, they were able to access information so that they could attempt to find an answer to their question.
The nature of a good question is that there isn’t an “answer.” Instead, there are a variety of answers. This allowed students to feel safe in sharing their answers because they couldn’t be “wrong.” If they had reliable, peer-reviewed academic research to support their answer, they were “right.”
Shaping a Problem Makes Overcoming It More Feasible
When students identify a problem, they’re compelled to do something about it; however, if the problem is too large, it can be overwhelming for them. When they’re overwhelmed, they might shut down and stop learning. For that reason, it’s important for them to shape the problem by taking on a piece they can handle.
To help guide students, provide a list of topics and allow them to choose one. In my experience, choosing their own topic prompts students’ curiosity—which drives them to persevere through a challenging task. Additionally, I have students maintain their scope at a school, regional, or national level. Keeping the focus away from an international scope allows them to filter down the number of results when they begin researching. Shaping the problem this way allowed students to address it in a manageable way.
Students Can Problem-Solve with Purpose
Once students identified a slice of a larger problem that they could manage, they started to read and think about it, collaborate together, and figure out how to solve it. To further support them in taking on a manageable piece of the problem, the parameters of the solution were that it had to be something they could implement immediately. For example, raising $3 million to build a shelter for those experiencing homelessness in the community isn’t something that students can do tomorrow. Focusing on a solution that could be implemented immediately made it easier for them to come up with viable options.
With the problem shaped down to a manageable piece, students were better able to come up with a solution that would have a big impact. This problem-solving process also invites ingenuity and innovation because it allows teens to critically look at their day-to-day lives and experiences to consider what actions they could take to make a difference in the world. It prompts them to look at their world through a different lens.
When the conditions for inquiry are created by allowing students to problem-find, problem-shape and problem-solve, it allows students to do the following:
- Critically examine their world to identify problems that exist
- Feel empowered because they realize that they can be part of a solution
- Innovate by developing new solutions to old problems
Put it All Together to Promote Change
Here are two examples of what my grade 11 students came up with when tasked with examining the national news to problem-find, problem-shape, and problem-solve.
Topic: Indigenous Issues in Canada
Question: How are Indigenous peoples impacted by racism?
Problem-find: The continued racism against Indigenous peoples has led to the families of murdered women not attaining justice, Indigenous peoples not being able to gain employment, and Indigenous communities not being able to access basic necessities like healthcare and clean water.
Problem-shape: A lot of the issues that Indigenous peoples face require government intervention. What can high school teens do to combat these issues?
Problem-solve: Teens need to stop supporting professional sports teams that tokenize Indigenous peoples, and if they see a peer wearing something from such a sports team, we need to educate them about how the team’s logo perpetuates racism.
Topic: People With Disabilities in Canada
Question: What leads students with a hearing impairment to feel excluded?
Problem-find: Students with a hearing impairment struggle to engage with course texts like films and videos.
Problem-shape: A lot of the issues that students with a hearing impairment face in schools require teachers to take action. What can high school teens do to help their hearing-impaired peers feel included?
Problem-solve: When teens share a video on social media, they should turn the closed-captioning on, so that all students can consume the media being shared.
Once my students came up with solutions, they wanted to do something about it and use their voices to engage in global citizenship. This led them to create TikTok and Snapchat videos and Instagram posts that they shared and re-shared among their peer group.
The learning that students engaged in led to their wanting to teach others—which allowed a greater number of students to learn. This whole process engendered conversations about our world and helped them realize that they aren’t powerless; they can do things to initiate change in areas that they’re interested in and passionate about. It allowed them to use their voices to educate others and promote change.
24 Interesting Problem Solving Games
Problem-solving skills are important for everyone be it the kids or adults! The following problem solving games and activities teach participants to come up with efficient solutions quicker and use their unique talents in a productive manner. The benefits of these activities are –
- Improves team work;
- Put participants face to face with complex situations so they become better equipped to deal with them;
- Helps develop different thinking styles;
- Improves creativity;
- Helps improve decision making skills;
- Increases a sense of collaboration and hones the skills required for negotiation and cooperation.
Problem solving games work for all age groups. The article has activities to help team building , activities for adults, and activities for kids. Use them to get better at defining the problem, generating solutions, evaluating the solutions, and implementing the best one. The activities allow honing your skills while having fun. Get solving!
Team Building Problem Solving Games
Shrinking vessel, scavenger hunt, tower building, personalised crossword, picture pieces puzzle, problem solving games for adults, line up blind, card mix up, blind formations, dumbest idea first, balloon tower, problem solving activities for kids, walk the plank, group drawing, alphabet game.
Working in teams is an essential part of anyone’s professional and personal life. The following activities help better communication and adaptability which will help people navigate teamwork situations.
All you need to conduct this activity is a long piece of rope. Make a big circle with the rope and get all participants inside the circle. As time passes on, decrease the size of the circle. Participants must find a way to stay inside the circle. This will require participants to work together and adapt to the situation.
Develop a scavenger hunt where players must perform activities and tasks that allow them to work as a team. Divide the group into teams. Each team is given a list of activities that they must complete. Following are a few examples of tasks that can be given –
- Write a short story on the given theme.
- Drink a whole bottle of water.
- Solve a crossword.
- Make a jingle about your team.
Write down situations that participants would face in their life. For example, if the group is working in customer service, the slip can have a situation where they are dealing with a grumpy customer on call. Write down many such slips. Fold them and keep them in a fishbowl .
Gather the participants and divide them into teams of equal members. Each group must pick up a slip. The team must come together and develop a skit depicting the problem at hand and how they would deal with it.
Teams are given half an hour to come up with a skit. They must present their skit to the other teams. This activity allows teams to come up with creative yet viable solutions to problems they frequently face.
Seeing each other’s approach will give the participants a broader range of ways to get around a problem.
The activity is best conducted outdoors as it can get messy. Arrange for basic construction materials like tape, straws, newspapers, plastic wraps, rubber bands, etc.
Divide the group into teams. Each team is handed an egg. The team must build a carrier for the egg that will protect the egg. Teams can use any construction material provided to make the carrier. At the end of twenty minutes, the carrier is put to test.
The eggs are put in the carrier and dropped from a height. The egg that survives the drop has a stable carrier. The team that made the carrier wins. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height of the drop till only one egg survives.
This activity helps tune decision-making and collaborative skills.
Communication skills are extremely important to convey ideas efficiently. This activity helps hones those skills.
Divide the group into teams. Each team is given a scenario that they are stranded in an office building. The door is locked and players cannot kick down doors or break windows. The group is given thirty minutes to decide what office supplies are most important for their survival or escape.
They must choose only ten items from the supplies. The goal of the task is to get everyone in the group to agree to the ten items.
Arrange for a sufficient amount of spaghetti and marshmallows before the activity starts. Divide the group into teams of equal members. Give all teams an equal amount of spaghetti and marshmallows. Instruct the teams to build the tallest stable tower they can with the given materials.
Set a timer of ten minutes. The team that builds the tallest tower that doesn’t fall down wins the activity. The aim of the activity is to strengthen communication and instill the spirit of teamwork.
You will need a lot of Legos to conduct this activity. Divide the groups into pairs. Select an overseer from the group. The overseer is given ten minutes to make a structure with the Legos. Post this, the pairs are given fifteen minutes to replicate the structure.
However, in the pair, only one person can see the structure. This member must verbally explain to their pair the structure. The person who can see the structure is not allowed to build the structure. The pair that accurately recreates the structure in the given time wins. The activity helps hone communication skills.
This activity will help team members grow closer and understand how to work with each other. Divide the group into teams. Each team must have eight to ten members each. Get players to list out their first and last names. These will serve as the answers to the puzzle. The clues for the answers must be something that is unique to the person.
For example, if Sharon has red hair, the clue to her name could be ‘a ginger’ and so on. Give each team half an hour to come up with the crossword. Get the teams to exchange the crosswords and solve the puzzle.
More Fun Games: 15 Conversation Games For A Fun Time
To undertake this activity, you will need to start with an empty space with a door that can be locked. Hide the key to the lock inside the room. Scatter clues around the space.
Depending on the time set for the activity, the number of clues to get to the key can vary. Get the team into the room. Give them the first clue. They must follow the trail of clues to find the key and escape the room. Depending on the number of clues hidden, set a timer.
This activity helps develop the skill of collaboration and teamwork.
For this activity, you will have to make some arrangements beforehand. Print out a picture of a famous cartoon with lots of detail. Cut the printout into pieces. Make as many pieces as there are participants.
Arrange for stationery like pencils, colored markers, rulers, colored paper, plain paper, etc. When the participants arrive, give each participant a piece of the picture. Instruct them to recreate the picture on their piece of paper.
The recreation must be five times larger than the picture that they have been given. They must try to recreate as accurately as possible. Give all participants a set amount of time to carry out the activity.
Adults come across various situations in their life where they need to make quick and efficient decisions. The following activities will help them hone their skills.
Arrange for a sufficient amount of ordinary supplies like toothpicks, rubber bands, sticky notes, etc. Divide the group into teams of four to five members. Give them the following scenario.
The group is stranded in the Arctic. They must build a shelter to spend the night. One member of the group is chosen as the leader. However, the leader has frostbite on both their hands and cannot help their team members in building the shelter. They can only give instructions. Team members are required to follow the leader’s instructions and build the shelter.
After time runs out, switch on the fan to check how strong the shelter is. The activity helps improve adaptability and communication skills.
The players are divided into two teams of equal members. Use chalk or spray paint to draw boxes on the floor of the space. Make two rows of squares equivalent to the players on each team. Ensure that there is space for another box in between the two drawn boxes.
The two teams stand in the rows facing each other. The goal is for players facing each other to swap places. Put down restrictions. You can change the restriction every round. Some examples of restrictions are as follows:
- Only one person can move at a time.
- One step is permitted per person. They cannot take another step until all players from the team have taken a step.
- Moving backwards is not allowed.
- Players cannot move in a direction facing someone else.
- Only one player per team can move at once.
Before the game begins, arrange for a sufficient amount of office supplies of different types. Blindfolds will also be required in this game. The game is best played in an empty space. Place the office supplies randomly around the space. Ensure that there is no clear path dictated by the supplies.
Divide the group into pairs. One member in the pair is blindfolded. The goal of the game is to cross the room without knocking over any office supplies. The player who isn’t blindfolded must give verbal instructions to their pair to get them across the minefield of office supplies.
They are not allowed to touch the blindfolded person. If the blindfolded person touches the mine, the pair must start from the beginning.
To make the activity harder, make all the teams go together. The blindfolded players will have to pay more attention to hear their partner’s voice over the rest. The activity helps build communication skills.
All players are blindfolded as soon as the game starts. The players are numbered secretly. Their number is whispered into their ears. Players are not allowed to share their numbers with each other or talk to each other for any other reason.
The goal of the game is that players must line up in accordance with their numbers. How they choose to communicate is up to them. However, they cannot talk to each other. Height, birthday, hair color, etc. can be used as the criteria to line up as well.
Divide the players into teams. Each team must have 6-8 participants. Give each team two decks of cards that have been mixed up. Teams must sort out the cards without talking to each other. Set a stipulated time.
How the teams sort the cards is up to the team. They can sort it by number or by suit. Midway through the task, ask the players to change up how they were sorting the cards.
Teams that have successfully sorted out the cards even after the midway interruption win the activity. Have the team share tactics and communication routes they used.
More Fun Games: Easy & Simple Card Games for Kids
You will not need any equipment to carry out this activity. Gather the group and make them stand in a circle. Instruct the group to hold hands with people that are not standing next to them. This will get them all tangled up.
Now the activity starts. Ask them to untangle themselves without leaving each other’s hands. They must come back to standing in a circle. Their position in the circle may be different than their starting position. Use a timer to check how long the group took.
Have a conversation about communication strategies the group used and their experience and learnings from the activity.
Get your group of players and blindfold them. Arrange for a rope. Tie both ends of the rope together and set it down. The players must form a circle outside the rope. When the round starts, players must pick up the rope and follow the instructions given.
Instruct players to make different shapes like pentagon, hexagon, square, star, etc. Players can communicate verbally and feel around.
However, they are not allowed to remove their blindfolds at any point. This activity will help foster more efficient communication and build team spirit.
This activity is to understand that problems can have a great array of solutions. Ideas that seem dumb on the surface may actually work out for the better.
Once the group has gathered, present them with a problem. Give everyone fifteen minutes to come up with a viable solution to the problem at hand. Ask them to put forth the dumbest ideas they can think of. Put all the solutions together and explore if the dumb idea could solve the problem and how efficient the solution is.
The activity helps people to get creative with their ideas and break free from traditional solutions.
Before starting the activity, make sure to blow a sufficient number of balloons and arrange for masking tape.
Keep spares ready since balloons burst easily. Gather the players and divide them into teams of three. Give each team ten balloons and 3 foot long strips of masking tape. Teams must work together to build a freestanding tower.
Keep a time limit within which teams must complete the task. The recommended time limit is 10 minutes. Teams can use the materials in any way they wish. However, they are not given access to any other materials. The tower must be built either from the floor or a table.
To increase the difficulty level of the game, additional rules can be added. For example, all team members can use only one hand. The team that builds the longest tower in the stipulated time wins the activity.
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Problem-solving activities help kids to think about problems in a creative and unique manner. This will help kids develop quick thinking, creativity, and keeps them engaged. These skills will help kids in the long run.
This activity is ideal for older kids and teenagers. Arrange four boards before the game commences. The board must be an average size of 2*6. Gather all the kids and divide them into two teams. Both teams must have an equal number of players.
The boards are kept on the floor. Two of them are kept end to end. The other two are kept end to end three feet away. The kids must try to move one board forward while standing in a single file on the other. If a player steps off the board while executing the activity, the team must start over.
The team that reaches the predetermined finish line first wins the activity. It helps build teamwork, understanding, and communication skills.
A ball of yarn or string will be perfect to use for this game. Use the wool or the string to create a web across the room. Players must get through the web without touching the string or wool.
Inform the players that the strings are make-do laser. If they come in physical contact with the strings, they are zapped by the laser. Give players chances to try again.
To increase the excitement of the game, dim the light and give players dark goggles. This game allows players to use their problem-solving skills to come up with more efficient solutions quicker.
Gather the group of kids and divide them into teams of three. Each member of the team has a different responsibility.
They can be one of the three designations – drawer, talker, and viewer. The goal of the drawer is to recreate a design that they cannot see. They must stand with their back to their teammates and are not permitted to talk. The goal of the talker is to explain the design to the drawer.
The talker is unable to see the design as well. The talker must ask questions to the viewer without using any gestures.
The viewer is the only player from the team who can see the design. They are not allowed to talk and must only communicate through gestures. They cannot draw the design in the air or make exact shapes of the designs with their gestures.
This activity helps build teamwork and efficient communication systems among the players. The activity ends when the viewer is satisfied with the drawing made by the drawer.
Get the kids to sit in a circle. Choose a category before starting the round. Animals, food, clothing, furniture, flowers, etc. are examples of categories that will work well for this game. Players must call out names of items belonging to the chosen category.
The names must be called out in alphabetic order. If a player takes more than five seconds on their turn, they are eliminated from the game.
Change the category every round to keep the kids engaged and interested in the game. The last player remaining is the winner of the game.
Before starting the game, prepare slips of paper with the names of animals. Ensure that each animal has a pair. Fold up the slips and keep them in a bowl.
When the game begins, the children must pick a slip of paper from the bowl. The goal of the game is to find your animal pair. Children must enact the characteristics of the animal in their slips as well as pay attention to what the other kids are doing.
Set a stipulated time. The kids must find their pair before the time ends. To encourage the kids to explore more and make finding their pair easier, make a suggestion to enact the following activities that their animal carries out –
- Cleaning and grooming;
- Eating and drinking;
- Walking and running.
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Encourage participants to discuss how they approached the activity and went about it. Post-activity discussion can help participants remember the skills they learned well and help implement them in real life as well. Discuss other possible ideas and solutions during the discussion. The activities work well with all age groups. Use the activities to solve problems and have fun doing so.
Naomi is an educator with 2 decades of experience working with children of all ages. She is a keen observer of the magic and importance of Maths in our daily lives. Follow me on Linkedin
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43 Awesome Team-Building Activities for Kids
Build trust and community in your classroom.
Looking for great ways to help students learn to work together, listen carefully, communicate clearly, and think creatively? Try some of these awesome team-building activities for kids. They’re a super way to give your students the chance to get to know one another, build trust as a community, and, best of all, have fun!
1. Seeing Spots
The Teacher Dish: Brain Break Dots via theteacherdish.blogspot.com
For this activity, you’ll place a colored sticker dot (blue, red, green, or yellow) on each student’s forehead without them knowing what color it is. When the game begins, each “team” of students (with the same color) must find each other— without speaking. This is a wonderful team-building activity because it encourages non-verbal communication and cooperation.
2. Elbow Pass
Looking for team-building activities for kindergarten kids? This silly activity helps them make new friends and learn to work together. Not only do they get to work on hand-eye coordination, they are looking each other in the eye and having a laugh together.
3. Common Thread
Fun 365/Team-Building Banner via fun365.orientaltrading.com
Divide students into groups of four and have them sit together in these small groups. Give each group five minutes to chat among themselves and find something they all have in common. It could be that they all play soccer, or pizza is their favorite dinner, or they each have a kitten. Whatever the common thread, the conversation will help them get to know one another better. Check in with the groups after five minutes to see if they need more time. After each group has come up with their common element, have them work together to create a flag that represents it.
4. Fingertip Hula-Hoop
There are quite a few team-building activities for kids that use Hula-Hoops. In this game, your students stand in a circle and raise their arms with only their index fingers extended. Place a Hula-Hoop so that it rests on the tips of the children’s fingers. Tell the students they must maintain a fingertip on the Hula-Hoop at all times, but they are not allowed to hook their finger around it or otherwise hold the hoop; the hoop must simply rest on the tips of their fingers. The challenge is for the children to lower the hoop to the ground without dropping it. To make this more challenging, you can place communication constraints on the children—no talking or limited talking, for example. Watch the video for a demonstration.
5. Four-Way Tug-of-War
This classic outdoor activity is double the fun of the traditional tug-of-war. Tie two long jump ropes together at their center points, creating an X shape. Tie a bandanna around the center point. Next, use cones to form a circle that fits around the X. Form four equal teams, and have each team stand at one of the four ends of the ropes. At your signal, each team begins pulling. The objective is to be the first team to pull the others in their direction far enough for the bandanna to cross to the outside of the circle of cones. Students who feel nervous about participating can serve as referees who make sure everyone is safe.
6. Hot Seat
This fun game is a lot like the game show Password . Split your class into two teams and have them sit together in teams facing the whiteboard or chalkboard. Then take an empty chair—one for each team—and put it at the front of the class, facing the team members. These chairs are the “hot seats.” Choose one representative from each team to come up and sit in the “hot seat,” facing their teammates with their back to the board.
Flash images one at a time on the screen behind the people in the hot seat. Taking turns, each team will offer one clue to their representative. If they guess the image correctly, their team gets one point. If not, it’s the other team’s turn to help their representative. Continue until one of the representatives gets the image correct. Then switch out students in the hot seat and continue.
Inspiration Laboratories/Classification Practice via inspirationlaboratories.com
For this activity, prepare a tray with 20 unrelated items—for instance, a spool of thread, an eraser, a juice box, etc. Alternatively, create a document with 20 images of items to put up on the screen. Divide your class into even groups. Set a timer and have each group divide the 20 items into four categories that make sense to them. For example, they may put an earring, a glove, a headset, a sock, and a smile into the category “things you wear.” Have groups work quietly so that their ideas are kept secret. When each group is finished, give each one time to present their categories and their rationale behind each category.
8. Yes, No, Stand Up
The version of the game above is designed specifically to help English-language learners, but it can also be used as a good “get to know you” game for younger kids. Prepare a list of yes or no questions to ask your students. For example, do you like chocolate? Is your favorite color blue? If their answer is yes, the student stands up. If their answer is no, they sit down. Pause between questions to give students time to look around and find students they have answers in common with.
9. Balloon Battle
Happy Mom Hacks/Balloon Games via happymomhacks.com
This fun game teams students up as they try to bat a balloon over each other’s goal line. Divide students into two teams. Each team will have five players on the field at one time. Periodically blow a whistle to have students substitute in so that everyone gets a chance to play. The first team to score 10 points wins. For more fun balloon games check out Happy Mom Hacks .
10. Move On, Look Back
This hopping game will crack your students up. Start with students in a circle with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. When you say “Move on,” students will take one hop forward together. When you say “Look back,” students will take one hop backward together. And when you say “Forever alone” (or any other phrase you’d like, such as “180” or “Turn around”), students will turn 180 degrees and place their hands on the shoulder of the person who was behind them.
11. Birthday Line-Up
Did you know there are team-building activities for kids that can help teach students how to line up? It may take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the age of your students, so plan accordingly. The objective is to have students line up in order of their birthdays—January 1 through December 31. To do this, they will need to know the order in which the months fall as well as their own birthday. They will also need to talk with one another in order to figure out who goes in front of whom. To make it super challenging, tell them they must do it without speaking at all, only using hand signals. Other ways to line up include by height, alphabetically, or by foot size.
12. The Perfect Square
This activity requires strong verbal communication and cooperation. All you need is a long rope with the ends tied together and something to serve as blindfolds for students, such as bandannas or fabric strips. Have students stand in a circle holding the rope in front of them. Signal them to put their blindfolds on and set the rope on the ground in front of them. Ask students to turn and walk a short distance away from the circle. Assign a partner to any students who may need help. Finally, have everyone come back to the rope and try to form a perfect square with their blindfolds on. Set a time limit to make it more challenging.
13. Rock, Paper, Scissors Tag
If you have a large space for kids to do team-building activities, try this one. Divide students into two teams. Before you begin, stake out the boundaries and position a home base at either end for each team. For each round, each team must confer and decide whether they will be rock, paper, or scissors. Have the two teams line up facing each other, and on your signal, have all players flash Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot! The kids on the losing team must run back to their base before they are tagged by one of the kids on the winning team.
14. Flip-the-Tarp Challenge
Looking for creative-thinking team-building games and activities for kids? Divide students into two teams. One team will do the challenge first while the other team watches, then they will switch places. Have all members of the team stand on a flat bedsheet, tarp, or blanket (kids should fill up all but about a quarter of the space). Challenge the team to flip over the sheet/tarp so that they are standing on the other side of the sheet/tarp without stepping off or touching the ground.
15. “Get To Know You” Balloons
Beth Smith/ABC Scavenger Hunt via darlingtonschool.org
Give each student an empty balloon and a slip of paper. Ask them to write a get-to-know-you question on their paper, such as How many brothers and sisters do you have? Do you have any pets? What’s one fun thing you did this summer? Next, have them put their question inside the balloon, blow it up, and tie the end.
When everyone is ready, have them gather on the rug and, on your signal, toss their balloon up in the air. Give them a couple of minutes to bat the balloons around, then call stop . Have each student grab one balloon and come sit in a circle. Go around the circle and, one at a time, have students pop their balloon, read the question inside, and answer the question. This is one of those team-building activities for kids that they will always remember.
And to help your students remember each others’ names, try these 30 Fun Name Games To Try With Your New Class .
16. Hot and Cold
Form groups of three to five students. One person from each group (the finder) steps out of the classroom. The rest of the group picks an object (for instance, the pencil sharpener) in the classroom for the finder to find. When the finder comes back in, they begin walking around the classroom in search of the object. The others guide the finder by saying “hot” or “cold” to lead them in the right direction. If the finder is far away from the object, the group will say “cold.” When the finder gets close, the group will say “hot” until the finder picks the correct object. Variation: Instead of saying “hot” and “cold,” have students applaud softly for cold and applaud vigorously for hot.
17. Marshmallow-and-Toothpick Challenge
Divide students into groups of equal numbers. Pass out an equal number of marshmallows and wooden toothpicks to each group. Challenge the groups to create the tallest, largest, or most creative structure in a set amount of time, each member taking turns doing the actual building. Afterward, have each group describe what they made.
18. Art Reproduction Puzzle
The Teaching Distillery/Puzzles via theteachingdistillery.com
Divide students into groups of six or eight (or larger if you want to make the task more difficult). Provide each team with an image and blank pieces of white card stock, one per team member. First, each team must cut up the image into the same number of pieces as there are group members. Then, each player will take one of the pieces of the image and reproduce it onto their blank piece of card stock with pencils, colored pencils, or markers. (If the team cuts the image into irregularly shaped pieces, each team member must then cut their blank paper into the same shape.) When every team has created the pieces of their puzzle, they will switch pieces with another team. The team will work together to solve the puzzle.
19. Hula-Hoop Pass
This activity helps kids work on listening, coordinating, and strategizing skills. It works best with smaller students. Have your students stand in a big circle. Place a Hula-Hoop on one student’s arm and have them join hands with the student next to them. Ask all the other students to join hands to close up the circle. The objective of the game is to pass the Hula-Hoop all the way around the circle without unclasping hands. Students will have to figure out how to maneuver their bodies all the way through the hoop to pass it on.
Playworks/Bumpity Bump Bump via playworks.org
This is a fun name game that requires quick thinking! Students stand in a large circle. One student comes to the middle. That student walks around the inside of the circle, stops in front of one person, and gives them a direction. There are four choices: Left = say the name of the person to the left; right = say the name of the person on the right; it = say the name of the person who is it; or self = say one’s own name. After you give the student the direction, the designated person says “bumpity-ump-bump-bump!” out loud. The student who was given the direction races to say the name of the correct person before the student finishes the phrase. If they can’t, they’re the next person on the inside of the circle.
In this challenging trust-building activity, blindfolded students line up with their hands on each others’ shoulders. A person without a blindfold takes the end position. The object of the activity is for the sighted person to guide the non-sighted students without verbal communication to collect various soft objects scattered on the floor. Once the lead person finds an object, they must deposit it in a bucket. Extra challenge: Students must keep their hands on each others’ shoulders at all times.
22. No-Hands Cup-Stacking Challenge
Nick Cornwell/Stacking Cup Challenge via nickcornwell.weebly.com
If you’re looking for hands-on team-building games and activities that work for groups of kids, try this challenge. It’s an exercise in patience and perseverance, not to mention a total blast! Decide how many students you want in each group and tie that number of strings to a single rubber band, making one for each group. Each person in the group holds on to one of the strings attached to the rubber band, and, as a group, they use this device to pick up the cups (by expanding and contracting the rubber band) and place them on top of each other in order to build a pyramid. See detailed instructions here .
23. Mini Cup-Stacking Challenge
And for younger students, this simplified version of the game allows kids to partner up one-on-one. Using just a few pipe cleaners and a rubber band, each student can take a hold and work together to create a stack.
24. Body Parts
Karl Bastian/Head, Shoulders, Knees, Cup via kidologist.com
Students face off head-to-head in a squat position with a plastic cup on the ground between them. The leader calls out body parts and the players have to move their hands to that spot—head, knees, toes, eyes, nose, etc. But when they say “Cup!” the pair each tries to grab the cup. If they grab it, they remain in the game. The other player is “out” for the rest of the round.
Also, if a student touches the cup when “Cup!” was not called, they are immediately out! So they need to listen carefully as the leader attempts to trick them into lunging toward to the cup.
25. Human Alphabet
Nadine Silverthornes/Alphabet Game via todaysparent.com
If you have a large open space for your team-building games and activities, try this idea. Have students spread out and guide them through a few rounds of forming letters with their bodies. For instance, “Use your body to make a T. … Now make an O!”
Next, call out a simple short word, such as “so” or “dog.” Students will have to team up to form the word, with each student using their body to form one of the letters. Start with two-letter words, then three, then four. If students want more of a challenge, come up with a phrase that will take the whole class to complete.
Divide students into groups of four. Lay out four Hula-Hoops per group and have one student stand in the center of each one to form teams of “caterpillars.” Line all of the teams up at the end of a field or large open space. Set out four or five objects in front of the lines, such as cones, foam blocks, or balls.
The goal of the game is to collect as many objects as possible by moving the caterpillar forward. To move forward, the last player in line steps into the hoop with the player in front of them, picks up their empty hoop, and passes it overhead to the front of the line. The front player then places the hoop on the ground in front of them and steps into it. Every player then shifts forward, moving the caterpillar. Only the front player may pick up objects, but it is the team’s job to carry the collected objects throughout the game. The game ends when there are no more objects on the ground.
27. Shrinking Vessel
For this activity, you will need a few jump ropes. Divide students into groups of six or eight. Have each group make a circle with their jump rope (their “lifeboat”) on the ground so that the ends are touching. Now have all the members of each group get into their lifeboat. This should be easy the first time. Then have all players get out and reduce the size of their circle by one foot. Again, all players need to get into the boat. Repeat this process, making the lifeboat smaller and smaller while you watch your students come up with creative solutions for making sure that everyone fits safely inside their boat.
28. Pretzel, Unpretzel
Susan Box Mann/The Human Knot Game via icebreakerideas.com
This is one of the all-time favorite team-building activities for kids. Divide your class in half and have each group choose one pretzel maker and two unpretzelers. Direct the unpretzelers to turn their backs. Have the rest of the students in each group form a circle and hold hands. Now, have the pretzel maker direct the students (with words only) to twist around, step over, and duck under each others’ arms to form a human pretzel. Once they are sufficiently twisted, call the unpretzelers over and have them try to direct the students (with words only) in order to untangle them. Students cannot drop their hands at any time. The first team that successfully unpretzels their group wins.
29. Zip, Zap, Boing!
This super-lively circle game involves three actions—zip, zap, and boing. Zip directs play in one direction around the circle. Boing reverses the direction of play. And zap passes play to the opposite side of the circle. See the video above for a full demonstration. A couple of rules: Boing cannot be performed when someone passes the signal using zap. And zap cannot be passed to the person standing right next to you.
Heather Lynne/Would You Rather Web at raisingmemories.com
This team-building game will teach your students that even though they may be different in many ways, they are still connected to one another. Gather in a circle, standing or sitting. The game begins when the first person, holding a large ball of twine, tells the group a funny or embarrassing story about themselves.
Once they finish, they hold on to the end of the twine and throw the ball to someone else in the circle. Play continues until the twine has been passed to each person. The end result will produce a “spiderweb” out of the twine, connecting each student to all of the others.
31. Team Tic-Tac-Toe
This fun and active version of the old-fashioned game gets kids revved up about working as a team. Hula-Hoops are placed in the shape of a tic-tac-toe frame. Then students divide into teams and the race begins! One student from each team runs to the frame and drops a bean bag in a spot. They return and tag the next runner, who does the same thing. Play continues until one team achieves a tic-tac-toe!
32. Newspaper Fashion Show
Andrea and Rachel/Newspaper Fashion via mommylessons101.com
This is a great way to incorporate upcycling into your team-building games and activities. Divide students into groups of five or six, then give them a stack of newspapers, tape, and scissors. Set a timer and ask them to create the most fashionable outfit using only the supplies given. When time is up, have each group designate a model for the outfit, and have the group share information about the outfit. Once everyone shares, put on some rocking music and have a mini fashion show.
33. Back-to-Back Drawing
Need team-building games and activities that build communication skills? Ask students to pair up and sit back-to-back with their partner. Give one student a blank piece of paper and a pen or a marker. Give the other student a piece of paper with a simple drawing on it. The kid who receives the illustration will verbally describe the drawing to their partner. The other kid must draw the illustration by listening to the verbal instructions alone.
34. Changing Tableau
Ask for five or six volunteers to come up to the front of the class. Divide the rest of the students into two teams and have them sit together. Have the students up front arrange themselves into a tableau. Give the two teams a short time to observe the tableau, trying to memorize their physical arrangement.
After a couple of minutes, ask every person on both teams to face away from the team up front. The tableau team will decide on one thing to change about the tableau. When they are rearranged, the teams can turn around and try to figure out what changed. The first team to spot the difference gets a point. Continue play until one team receives 10 points.
35. Straw Challenge
Georgia Teen Institute/Straw Challenge via https://guidegti.wordpress.com
If you’re looking for team-building games and activities for kids that require coordination and cooperation, try this one. Have your students form a large circle and give each one a plastic straw. The objective of the challenge is to balance each straw between one person’s right pointer finger with the left pointer finger of the person next to them. Try making some movements such as rotating the circle to the left or right, raising one foot, etc. The challenge is to keep the connection of straws intact.
36. Group Juggle
Have students circle up and make sure you have a supply of small plastic balls at the ready. Start by tossing one ball from person to person in the circle. After a minute, add in another ball. Instruct students to mindfully toss the ball, avoiding a collision. After another minute, add in another ball. Continue adding balls each minute to see how many balls your students can successfully juggle.
37. Hula-Hoop Ring Toss
Team members take turns tossing a Hula-Hoop over colored cones. Each color has a different point value. This game also incorporates math practice when adding your team’s score.
38. Great Chain Race
Jennifer/Paper Chain STEM Challenge via themathchick.net
For this team-building activity, students split up into groups of three or four. Each group gets one sheet of paper (a different color for each group), one pair of scissors, and one glue stick. The teams then cut their paper to make a paper chain that’s as long as possible—they might choose to make many skinny rings or cut up small rings to get as many rings from their paper as possible. In the end, lay out the paper chains the kids created and see whose is the longest.
39. Team Pen
Working together, students try to create a drawing. Attach strings to a marker, however many you’d like. Have students each take one end and gather around a table. Together, they will need to communicate in order to manipulate the pen and draw the required image.
40. Knee Relay
This raucous activity will have your students rolling on the floor with laughter. Using only their knees, players must take turns picking up oranges one at a time from the ground and transfer them to a hoop across the room. The team to transfer the most oranges in 60 seconds wins. Plus, you’ll have a juicy snack for everyone when you’re done.
41. Human Caterpillar Activity
Students will work together to move a circle made of newspapers across the room. Before you begin, use strong tape to connect the sections of newspaper into a loop. To begin, students will step inside and move their feet and hands to help move the loop in the direction of the finish line, as shown in the video. The challenge is keeping pace with the students in front of them. The first team that is able to navigate their caterpillar to the finish line first is the winner.
42. Blind Minefield
Looking for obstacle course team-building activities for kids? This fun and challenging activity requires communication, listening skills, and trust. Students will navigate through an obstacle course while blindfolded with the help of a partner who will call out directions. If the blindfolded student touches any of the objects in the minefield, their turn is over and another pair gives it a try. The team with the most players to make it through without touching any hazards wins.
43. Paper Tower
Using creative problem-solving skills, each team of students must build the tallest tower possible with 20 sheets of plain computer paper. The tower must be stable enough to be measured. This activity is not only a great team-building activity, it’s a lot of fun!
Do you have favorite go-to team-building activities for kids? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook !
For more great ideas, check out 45 of the best cooperative games to promote camaraderie and healthy competition ..
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15 Problem-Solving Activities for Kids & Teens: Critical Thinking
What is one of the most important skills all students must learn? Is it math or coding? Reading? Writing? While all these skills are indeed vital to success, the one skill that underlines all disciplines is problem solving. All lines of work need great problem solvers to find tomorrow’s solutions, and students of any age can be honing their problem-solving skills. Check out some of these fun problem-solving activities for kids and teens below!
Problem-solving activities for elementary school kids (ages 5-10)
From traditional paper-and-pencil activities to online tools, below are some great activities for kids ages 5-10.
1. Coding Courses for Kids
It’s never too early to start learning the foundational concepts of computer programming! There are a number of courses appropriate for young students to start building their problem solving skills, including the award-winning Scratch Ninja course . For the uninitiated, Scratch is a user-friendly colorful drag-and-drop coding tool developed by MIT for making awesome games and animations while learning important coding logic. Or, for students who are visual learners, try a Minecraft Redstone Engineering course to find out how to build awesome inventions! There are many free coding classes to start with, to find your child's interests.
2. Tower Building
Turns out that kindergartners might be better engineers than grownups (at least according to this experiment)! The challenge was as follows: given 20 pieces of spaghetti, a yard of tape, and a yard of string, build the tallest possible tower that can support 1 marshmallow on top. After various groups of people tried it from Stanford and other universities, kindergartners ended up beating them for creating the tallest tower. Challenge your student to see how tall they can make their tower too!
Whether taken out of the newspaper or off of the web, crosswords are a useful logic puzzle for kids to work on. Crosswords encourage students to use context clues, as well as their reasoning skills by eliminating possible options as they progress. Plus, it’s easy to vary the difficulty of the puzzles, as well as find fun, themed crosswords for different holidays! There's even a Thanksgiving crossword for your student to try.
4. Jigsaw Puzzles
There’s nothing like a good, ole’ fashioned puzzle to challenge the mind. Each person takes a different approach to puzzle solving, whether they organize their pieces first, find all the corners, or do something totally different. Exploring different strategies for solving puzzles is an effective introduction to independently creating strategies for problem solving. This is a solid choice for students who are visual learners.
An age-old classic, LEGOs are a fantastic way to combine creative skills with problem solving. Students need to follow sequential steps and visualize to create their LEGO designs. It’s even better when students go beyond the kit instructions to create their own LEGO build, as students will have to learn to utilize limited resources while coming up with a structured plan for designing their idea. LEGO Mindstorms is a popular starting point.
Problem-solving activities for middle school tweens (ages 11-13)
Middle schoolers (ages 11-13) will want to be challenged more with their activities, and these are some effective activities for encouraging growth.
6. Middle School Coding Courses
By the time they reach middle school, students will be ready to take on more advanced coding concepts, regardless of their prior coding experience. For those who have no prior coding experience, the Accelerated Scratch course is an excellent option, as it will introduce students to basic coding concepts while allowing them to make their games and animations. Students with some prior coding experience may want to try the Minecraft Code to Mod course, builds upon basic coding concepts like loops, conditionals, and more while building students' creativity and critical thinking.
7. Birthday Ordering
An activity commonly done at summer camps, the silent birthday lineup is an excellent problem-solving activity for groups. The goal is for students to line up in chronological order based on their birthdays, without talking at all. Working in total science requires students to think outside the box to accomplish their goal, and to prioritize teamwork. Try timing the students to see how quickly they can get it done, then let them reflect on the activity afterwards to see what strategies worked and what didn’t.
8. Event Planning
Have students plan their own event, like a fundraiser, a social, or a competition for their coding club . This will require students to collaborate by delegating tasks, coordinating supplies, budgeting, and more. Even planning something as simple as a pizza party still requires some logistical planning, and students will benefit from struggling through the process. Plus, they can get to enjoy the results of their work when the event finally arrives!
Arduino circuit boards are an excellent choice for children interested in engineering. Because Arduino is widely-popular, there are countless tutorials demonstrating its capabilities, such as creating a controller, custom RGB lighting, robotics, or more. Once students learn the basics, they can use Arduino boards to come up with creative solutions to their own problems. This is an excellent idea for highly-motivated kids who like to work by themselves.
Sudoku is an excellent number puzzle and a great problem-solving exercise. It requires students to evaluate multiple possible options as they try to fill in the puzzles, so students need to be able to create an organized approach to be successful. There are various difficulty levels for sudoku, so students can start easy, then advance as they become proficient at solving the puzzles.
Problem-solving activities for high school teens (ages 14+)
High school (14+) is a good time to incorporate group work into the activities, as students will need to learn to work collaboratively for their future in college and beyond.
11. Coding for Teens
Once reaching high school age, students are ready to tackle the complexities of text-based coding. This is where students can focus on their interests, whether it be web design , AI, app design , and more. Create & Learn’s Python for AI course is a good option, as Python is one of the most widely-used programming languages in the world. Students interested in game design might try the Roblox Studio course , which teaches students how to program their own Roblox games (or try the Beginner Roblox Game Coding course if they have limited previous coding experience.)
12. Robotics Club
Many different school programs offer robotics teams and robotics competitions , using tools such as VEX robotics . Robotics is a great way to combine computer science, mechanical engineering, and problem-solving skills. If there is no robotics team at your student’s school, consider trying a robotics kit such as the Makeblock mBot Ranger .
13. Egg Drop
This classic experiment is a lot of fun for students, and makes for a good competition as well. Students must build some sort of structure that will prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from a certain height (like the top of a staircase). It works best when students are restricted with the resources they can use; for instance, define a “ budget ” for parts that they can’t exceed, or give everyone the same materials to work with .
14. Debate Club
Whether deciding public policy or the best ice cream place in town, having the ability to engage in meaningful debate is critical. Debate forces students to self-analyze, listen, and think critically before making decisions. These skills benefit students’ futures by making them strong, independent thinkers. Check out these speech and debate competitions . And here are some tips for starting a debate club .
15. Science Fair
Science fairs pose an excellent opportunity for exploring the scientific method, both through creating personal projects and checking out other students’ presentations. By encouraging students to come up with their own projects, they must identify some question or problem and find a way to solve it. This can be the most challenging kind of problem-solving, as it requires the student to take initiative in finding their own ideas, but also can be the most rewarding. Try the Google Science Fair Competition .
Enjoy problem-solving activities for kids
And there you have it: problem-solving activities for students from elementary through high school age. Of course, there are many more ways to build critical-thinking abilities like problem-solving. For more ideas, check this list of awesome after-school enrichment activities !
Written by Create & Learn instructor Dominic Occhietti. Dominic is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he studied music performance and computer science. He thoroughly enjoys teaching, whether that be coding classes, French horn lessons, or even downhill skiing lessons!
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Algebra has a reputation for being difficult, but Math Games makes struggling with it a thing of the past. Kids can use our free, exciting games to play and compete with their friends as they progress in this subject!
Algebra concepts that pupils can work on here include:
- Solving and writing variable equations to find answers to real-world problems
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17 Fun Team Building Activities for Kids in Your Classroom
Reviewed by Joshua Prieur, Ed.D.
- Teacher Activities
- Benefits of team building activities for kids
Icebreaker team building activities
Indoor team building activities, outdoor activities for team building, strategic team building games.
Teamwork and cooperation are essential for learning. Administration works with teachers. Teachers work together with other teachers and their students. And students work together with one another.
Not only does more learning happen when everyone works together, but it also creates more fun . Classmates working together are more likely to succeed. Teamwork helps students build communication skills as they collaborate and strategize. And, as student groups work together to conquer problems, student confidence grows.
Of course, these skills don’t just apply to the classroom. They’ll continue to serve your students in their everyday lives — from playing sports to building friendships, and even into their adult years.
Ready to incorporate more teamwork into your classroom? Team building activities are a great place to start! Here are our favorite team building activities, including icebreakers, indoor games, and outdoor fun.
What are the benefits of team building activities for kids?
Team building activities are beneficial for students from elementary school all the way to high school and beyond. They can be used as fun first day of school activities or as everyday boredom busters. Either way, these moments of teamwork are building essential skills.
- Problem-solving skills — Problem-solving and strategizing are built into team activities. Since students can’t complete these exercises on their own, they have to work as a group to reach a solution.
- Creative thinking — Team building activities are a great way to help students think outside of their box. By grouping students of different backgrounds and experiences, everyone is exposed to new thoughts and ideas.
- Verbal communication skills — Communication doesn’t just mean knowing what to say. It’s also important to develop listening skills in order to effectively work together.
- Resilience — Many team-building activities aren’t completed on the first try. Having to try and try again to solve a problem builds a student’s resilience.
17 team building activities for every setting
Whether you’re looking for an activity to fill those last five minutes of class or go specifically with your lesson, we’ve got you covered!
The first day of anything can be scary. Who will I sit by? Who will I talk to? What will we talk about? Ease student anxiety with fun icebreaker activities.
1. Birthday lineup
This game can be done in two ways. In the first, instruct your students to line up in order of their birthday, starting with January 1 and ending with December 31. Everyone will have to chat to find their place in line.
Or add an extra challenge by asking your students to line up in order of their birthdays, but with no talking. With some guessing and gestures, they’ll have to find their spot. There are sure to be lots of giggles — the mark of a great icebreaker!
2. Catapillar race
All you need for a caterpillar race is a starting line and a finish line. Split your classrooms into teams that have four to ten students. Each team will form a straight line. Then, everyone places their hands on the shoulders of the student in front of them. On the count of three, everyone crouches down like a caterpillar, being careful not to let go of their friend’s shoulders. Then, go!
Make your own bingo cards that include different characteristics your students may share. For example, “I have a sister” or “I like pizza”. Every card should have the same boxes to check off.
Ask students to read through the boxes and find one that’s true for them. Have them walk around the room, comparing their box with the other students. Once they find a friend who has chosen the same box, they both mark that box and return their seat. Repeat the process until someone has a Bingo.
This activity can be done with the whole class or small groups. Together they’re going to tell a story. Provide a theme, or let them have free reign.
The first person will start the story by saying just four words. Then the next person will add on four words of their own. Keep it going until everyone is giggling about the turtle who went to the supermarket and then jumped in the pool!
Sitting in a circle or line can make it easier to tell who’s turn is next, but it isn’t necessary. Happy storytelling!
5. Common denominator
Common denominator, also called Thread, is a simple activity to build your students’ communication skills. Assign students to small groups and set a timer for five minutes. Ask your students to find one thing that they all have in common. It may be a type of pet or favorite food. Once a group finds a common thread, they can chat about it until the time is up.
You can end the activity there or rearrange the groups and do it again. Or add arts and crafts and have your students draw a picture or flag to represent their group’s common denominator.
Of course, icebreaker activities don’t have to be for just the first day of school. They can be great tools to start a small group conversation or to help reintroduce students when the seating chart is rearranged.
If you’re looking for even more ideas for icebreaker questions, check out our article 50+ Unique Icebreaker Questions for Kids Your Class Will Love .
Most of the time, you need activities that can happen right inside your classroom. Even though most classrooms don’t have a lot of extra space, these fun team-building activities will do the job.
6. Human knot
This activity requires no set-up or special materials. All you need is your students!
To start a human knot, have small groups of 5 to 10 students stand closely together in a circle. Instruct them to reach their hands into the middle of the circle and randomly grab another student’s hand. Once every hand is grabbed, have students untangle themselves without letting go. Giggles will ensue as the group works together to bob, weave and climb their way back out.
7. Cup stacking
This quick-paced activity requires loads of teamwork and communication! You’ll need a rubber band, some string, and a few cups.
Split your class into teams — groups of four to eight work best. Each team needs one rubber brand and as many strings as there are teammates. Each player ties their string to the rubber band. Then, everyone steps back and works together to place the rubber band around the cup, expanding and contracting as needed to place it just so.
8. Hula hoop fingers
This simple activity only requires a hula hoop and a group of up to eight students. Arrange the students in a circle and have them all hold out their hands, palms up. Place the hula hoop in the center of the circle, resting it on their fingertips. Their goal is to set the hula hoop on the ground without dropping it or hooking their fingers around it. And there’s absolutely no grabbing! For added difficulty, ask students to use only one hand or just their index fingers
9. Marshmallow and toothpick challenge
Divide your classroom into two equal teams. Give each team a set number of marshmallows and toothpicks. Then give them their challenge — make the largest, tallest, or most creative structure!
You can give the students a few minutes to strategize or just jump right in. Teammates should take turns adding one toothpick and one marshmallow at a time to their structure.
Your students will quickly learn that faster doesn’t always mean better. Their structures will need to have a good foundation and be well-built to stay steady as they get taller. It’s sneaky physics learning that’s a ton of fun.
If it’s a pretty day, take your students outside and enjoy some team-building activities in the sunshine.
10. Chuck the chicken
Chuck the chicken is an awesome team-building game for burning some energy! It’s a crazy striking and fielding game with three different variations. Check out this video for all the details and get your students moving.
Tug-of-war is a classic team game. Split your class into two teams and grab a sturdy rope. Try your best to make sure the teams are equally matched so it’s fun for everybody. And before starting, survey the environment to make sure that there are no obstacles that can injure the players. Then have each team pull as hard as they can in order to bring the other team across the line or off their feet.
12. Hula hoop pass
Teaching a large group? Hula hoop pass is a perfect choice!
Have your entire class form a circle and hold hands. Grab a hula hoop and place it on a student’s arm at one point in the circle. The goal is to get the hula hoop all the way around the circle without releasing their hands. Then enjoy the laughter as everyone wiggles the hula hoop around themselves. Need an extra challenge? Have your students race against the clock to see how fast they can get the hula hoop all the way around the circle, or divide the class into groups of two for more competition.
13. Group jump rope
Group jump rope can be lots of fun if you have multiple adults or teenagers to help out. You'll need an extra-long jump rope and plenty of space. Start swinging and have your students jump the rope in groups of two or three. They’ll have to work together to not get in each other’s way while jumping together.
14. Obstacle course
An obstacle course can be used in several different ways to build teamwork. One option is to split your students into pairs. One student is blindfolded while the other only uses their words to guide them through the course. Good communication is key!
Another option is to complete the course as a relay. Students can cheer each other on as they encourage each team member to complete the course the fastest.
Build problem-solving and critical thinking skills with these strategy-based team building games.
15. Scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great option for larger groups. Students can search for a single hidden prize or a list of objects. Another variation is to have students find one object for each color of the rainbow or letter of the alphabet.
Students can work in pairs or small groups. If they’re looking for many objects, they’ll learn it’s fastest to strategize and divvy out the objects each person is responsible for finding.
16. Build as a team
This activity is a fun way to get those creative juices flowing! Give each team the same building materials and a set time for creating a structure. The building materials can range from books to duct tape to boxes to string. Whatever you have available works.
Decide if your student teams should all build the same thing, like the best bridge, or leave it open-ended and see where their imaginations take them.
17. Hidden structures
Hidden structures is an awesome team-building activity. To start, you’ll need to make a structure out of legos or building blocks. Then hide it from view, under a tarp or a bedsheet.
Split your students into small groups, and instruct them to designate one person as the leader. The leader on each team comes to your desk and has ten seconds to look at and memorize your structure. Then they get 25 seconds to describe to their teammates how to build it.
Finally, the teammates will get one minute (or longer if it’s complicated) to replicate your structure. Once the time is up, unveil your structure to the class and decide which team got the closest to the original.
You can repeat this process with a new structure and new leader from each team as often as you’d like.
How to easily empower team building skills in your classroom
Choose one of the activities above and start strengthening your classroom’s bonds. Just remember to always keep the activities fun. If students start to get frustrated, modify the game to make it easier. It’s not as much about sticking to the rules as it is about your students learning teamwork and cooperation.
Not every student will love every activity you try. And not every activity will be a hit. But with our list, we feel confident you can find a new favorite that your students will love.
Looking for more resources to empower teamwork in your classroom? Prodigy offers game-based learning solutions to keep your students entertained and excited about learning with Prodigy Math or Prodigy English . Encourage them to share their gaming wins, tips, and tricks with their fellow students, and build a culture of teamwork over competition in your classroom.
Plus, create your free teacher account to access tools for learning, including assessments, reports and test prep. Getting started is easy, so sign up today!
20 Primary Games For School Classes
Fun classroom games for primary school children.
When looking for engaging games for primary school, it’s important to find activities that entertain young learners while providing educational value . This article outlines quick and easy classroom games to try. In the ideas for games and activities I have tried to link them to learning intentions.
No-Prep Primary Games That Teach Core Skills
Games present a fun way for primary students to build skills in key areas without even realising they’re learning. You can keep these no prep games for primary classes up your sleeve until you need them. Maybe things are getting a bit busy in class and you need to take a short break from planned learning to settle the class:
- Listening Games – “Simon Says” improves listening and response time through verbal commands. A classic game kids love.
- Vocabulary Games – “I Spy” builds observation and descriptive word skills as students identify objects. Requires no materials.
- Literacy Games – Flashcard games with sight words, letters and numbers reinforce early reading and math skills. Easy to make or find printables online.
- Thinking Games – Timed challenges introduce friendly competition to puzzles, math problems etc. Focuses attention and concentration.
- Imaginative Play – Role playing exercises communication, creativity and social skills. Tap into young imaginations.
- Memory Games – Remembering images/objects boosts cognitive development. Many printable or digital memory game options exist.
Keep Games Purposeful Yet Playful
Choose games deliberately tied to curriculum goals across subjects. Blend physical movement, thinking skills and social play. Above all, keep activities fun and engaging! Games provide a wonderful outlet for primary students to learn new skills while staying active and enjoying classroom time.
Planning and Preparation Before Using Games With Your Class.
Thoughtful preparation is important when incorporating games into primary school lessons. Without clear rules and safety protocols established in advance, activities run the risk of becoming chaotic or even potentially dangerous. However, adequate planning can help ensure games are an engaging and productive learning experience for young students.
Developing age-appropriate instructions including visual supports and establishing behavioural expectations before starting a game helps promote self-control and focus. Clearly communicating guidelines reduces disruptions so children stay on task. Proper planning also identifies any potential risks so teachers can take preventative measures and curb incidents. Well-designed rules build structure while still allowing flexibility for creativity.
A short investment in developing organisation sets the stage for a positive classroom environment where kids actively participate while gaining knowledge. Classroom games only achieve their full educational benefit when paired with wise preparation.
10 Active Primary Games
Here are 10 active classroom games for primary school kids. You might also like our finger gym post for developmental activities and cool games for primary and pre-school children:
- Star Jump/Squat Relays
Learning intention: Teamwork, cooperation, physical activity Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: 2 teams of 4-6 players Resources: None How to play: Split the class into teams. On “go”, the first player in each team does 5 star jumps then taps the next player to go. The first team to finish wins.
- Spider’s Web
Learning intention: Coordination, following instructions, physical activity Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: Entire class Resources: Ball of yarn or string How to play: One player holds the end of the yarn/string and tosses it to another player, who catches it. Players gently toss the yarn between each other to create a “web”. Follow instructions like “duck”, “leap” to get in and out of the web.
- Hoop Relays
Learning intention: Motor skills, teamwork, coordination Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: 2 teams Resources: Hula hoops, cones How to play: Mark a starting line with cones. Split into teams, with each player holding a hoop. On “go”, the first player puts the hoop around their waist and runs to the other side and back, tagging the next player. Winning team finishes first.
- Freeze Dance
Learning intention: Following instructions, motor skills, physical activity Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: Entire class Resources: Music player\ How to play: Play music and call out moves like “twist”, “jump”. When music stops, freeze in position. Last one frozen sits down. Repeat until one is standing.
- Follow the Leader
Learning intention: Listening skills, cooperation, creativity Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: Entire class Resources: None How to play: Select a leader who leads the group in movements, actions and motions. Others mimic the leader. New leader is selected when old leader chooses.
- What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
Learning intention: Impulse control, turn taking Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: 6-10 players Resources: Timer or clock How to play: One is Mr. Wolf facing away. Others line up far away. Mr. Wolf calls “What’s the time?” Time is called. Group takes that many steps. First to Mr. Wolf is the next Mr. Wolf.
Learning intention: Imagination, cooperative play, physical activity Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: Entire class Resources: None How to play: Choose a “leader” and follow their instructions through an imaginary forest, e.g. “hop like a bunny”. Locate a “bear” then all pretend to chase it back through the forest and home. New leader is chosen.
- Parachute Play
Learning intention: Teamwork, motor skills, cooperation\ Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: Entire class Resources: Parachute How to play: Students hold the parachute around the edges. Lift up and down together. Experiment with shapes, waves, and tossing toys or balls onto the parachute.
- What’s Missing?
Learning intention: Problem solving, observation skills Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: Groups of 4-6 Resources: Bag of 10-15 small toys/objects How to play: Each group picks 5 toys. One leaves the room. Another takes one toy away. Returnee tries guessing missing toy with clues from others.
- Queen’s Commands
Learning intention: Listening skills, coordination, agility Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: Entire class Resources: Cone for the “Queen” How to play: One is the “Queen” by the cone. Calls out instructions like “jump”, “spin”, “hop”. Class responds quickly and Queen awards points for speed/coordination. New Queen is selected.
5 Problem Solving Primary Games
Here are 5 problem-solving games for quieter classroom activities:
- Code Breakers
Learning intention: Problem-solving, logic, communication Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: Groups of 3-4 Resources: Paper/pens for codes How to play: One student creates a code (e.g. A=1, B=2). Others must crack it to write a simple message.
- Tangram Puzzles
Learning intention: Spatial reasoning, patience, problem-solving Play time: 10-15 minutes Number of players: Individual/pairs Resources: Tangram puzzle pieces How to play: Students arrange puzzle pieces to recreate shapes/images within a time limit.
- Blind Contours
Learning intention: Observation, cooperation, problem-solving Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: Pairs Resources: Paper, pencils How to play: Partners take turns tracing each other’s hidden objects/shapes accurately by touch alone.
- Enigma Codes
Learning intention: Logic, pattern recognition, problem-solving Play time: 15 minutes Number of players: Small groups Resources: Coded messages, cipher wheels How to play: Students use cipher wheels to decode messages within time limits.
Learning intention: Deduction, questioning, problem-solving Play time: 10-15 minutes Number of players: Groups of 4-6 Resources: Clue cards for objects/animals How to play: One student thinks of a card. Others ask yes/no questions to guess the answer.
5 Calming Primary Games and Activities
Here are 5 calming games that could help kids to self-regulate. We have a full post on calming primary classroom activities for those times you just need them to settle.
- Colouring Quest
Learning intention: Focus, relaxation, self-regulation Play time: 10-15 minutes Number of players: Individual\2-3 Resources: Colouring sheets, crayons, markers How to play: Provide simple colouring pages in A3 for small groups with a focus on slow, controlled colouring. Optional mindfulness prompt.
- Breathing Exercises
Learning intention: Deep breathing, relaxation, self-soothing Play time: 5-10 minutes Number of players: Whole class Resources: None How to play: Lead students in deep breathing exercises (e.g. belly breathing, 4-7-8 rhythm) while seated or laying down.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Learning intention: Tension release, self-awareness, calm Play time: 10 minutes Number of players: Whole class Resources: None How to play: Guide students to sequentially tense and relax different muscle groups from head to toe.
- Visualisation Journey
Learning intention: Imagery, relaxation, oneness Play time: 5-10 minutes Number of players: Whole class Resources: Verbal prompts How to play: Use verbal cues or a calming youtube video (end of section) to visually guide students through a calming imaginary experience. You could link this to a topic. I have included a video that is drifting down the Nile to go with our Egypt Sensory Story
5. Group Chalk Drawing Task
Learning intention: Imagery, use of materials, creativity Play time: 10-20 minutes Number of players: 6-7 Resources: Chalk Prompt Sheet How to play: Use verbal cues or a calming youtube video (end of section) to visually guide students through creating a group chalk drawing on a topic or theme. A great and versatile simple primary school game
Primary Games and Activity Ideas
There are a huge number of primary games and activities you can create for your pupils with limited resources.
- Playing with Ice – 22 Engaging Ice Play Activities
- Painting with balls – Painting with Balls: 5 Sensory Art Activities
- Imagination play using cardboard boxes – 100 Ways Cardboard Boxes Can Be Used For Play
- Splatter painting – The Ultimate Guide To Splatter Painting
- Playing with marbles – Playing a Marbles Game
- Playing with dough – Playing with Dough for Special Needs and Primary School Children
- Thanksgiving activities – 20+ Great Thanksgiving Activities for Kindergarten
- Elf on the shelf educational activities – 140+ Elf on the Shelf Ideas For Your Classroom
Further Reading on Games For Primary Children
You may like the following books about primary games and activities. I also recommend 100 ways to learn through play which we did a full review on here .
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10 Best Problem-Solving Therapy Worksheets & Activities
Cognitive science tells us that we regularly face not only well-defined problems but, importantly, many that are ill defined (Eysenck & Keane, 2015).
Sometimes, we find ourselves unable to overcome our daily problems or the inevitable (though hopefully infrequent) life traumas we face.
Problem-Solving Therapy aims to reduce the incidence and impact of mental health disorders and improve wellbeing by helping clients face life’s difficulties (Dobson, 2011).
This article introduces Problem-Solving Therapy and offers techniques, activities, and worksheets that mental health professionals can use with clients.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
What is problem-solving therapy, 14 steps for problem-solving therapy, 3 best interventions and techniques, 7 activities and worksheets for your session, fascinating books on the topic, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.
Problem-Solving Therapy assumes that mental disorders arise in response to ineffective or maladaptive coping. By adopting a more realistic and optimistic view of coping, individuals can understand the role of emotions and develop actions to reduce distress and maintain mental wellbeing (Nezu & Nezu, 2009).
“Problem-solving therapy (PST) is a psychosocial intervention, generally considered to be under a cognitive-behavioral umbrella” (Nezu, Nezu, & D’Zurilla, 2013, p. ix). It aims to encourage the client to cope better with day-to-day problems and traumatic events and reduce their impact on mental and physical wellbeing.
Clinical research, counseling, and health psychology have shown PST to be highly effective in clients of all ages, ranging from children to the elderly, across multiple clinical settings, including schizophrenia, stress, and anxiety disorders (Dobson, 2011).
Can it help with depression?
PST appears particularly helpful in treating clients with depression. A recent analysis of 30 studies found that PST was an effective treatment with a similar degree of success as other successful therapies targeting depression (Cuijpers, Wit, Kleiboer, Karyotaki, & Ebert, 2020).
Other studies confirm the value of PST and its effectiveness at treating depression in multiple age groups and its capacity to combine with other therapies, including drug treatments (Dobson, 2011).
The major concepts
Effective coping varies depending on the situation, and treatment typically focuses on improving the environment and reducing emotional distress (Dobson, 2011).
PST is based on two overlapping models:
Social problem-solving model
This model focuses on solving the problem “as it occurs in the natural social environment,” combined with a general coping strategy and a method of self-control (Dobson, 2011, p. 198).
The model includes three central concepts:
- Social problem-solving
- The problem
- The solution
The model is a “self-directed cognitive-behavioral process by which an individual, couple, or group attempts to identify or discover effective solutions for specific problems encountered in everyday living” (Dobson, 2011, p. 199).
Relational problem-solving model
The theory of PST is underpinned by a relational problem-solving model, whereby stress is viewed in terms of the relationships between three factors:
- Stressful life events
- Emotional distress and wellbeing
- Problem-solving coping
Therefore, when a significant adverse life event occurs, it may require “sweeping readjustments in a person’s life” (Dobson, 2011, p. 202).
- Enhance positive problem orientation
- Decrease negative orientation
- Foster ability to apply rational problem-solving skills
- Reduce the tendency to avoid problem-solving
- Minimize the tendency to be careless and impulsive
D’Zurilla’s and Nezu’s model includes (modified from Dobson, 2011):
- Initial structuring Establish a positive therapeutic relationship that encourages optimism and explains the PST approach.
- Assessment Formally and informally assess areas of stress in the client’s life and their problem-solving strengths and weaknesses.
- Obstacles to effective problem-solving Explore typically human challenges to problem-solving, such as multitasking and the negative impact of stress. Introduce tools that can help, such as making lists, visualization, and breaking complex problems down.
- Problem orientation – fostering self-efficacy Introduce the importance of a positive problem orientation, adopting tools, such as visualization, to promote self-efficacy.
- Problem orientation – recognizing problems Help clients recognize issues as they occur and use problem checklists to ‘normalize’ the experience.
- Problem orientation – seeing problems as challenges Encourage clients to break free of harmful and restricted ways of thinking while learning how to argue from another point of view.
- Problem orientation – use and control emotions Help clients understand the role of emotions in problem-solving, including using feelings to inform the process and managing disruptive emotions (such as cognitive reframing and relaxation exercises).
- Problem orientation – stop and think Teach clients how to reduce impulsive and avoidance tendencies (visualizing a stop sign or traffic light).
- Problem definition and formulation Encourage an understanding of the nature of problems and set realistic goals and objectives.
- Generation of alternatives Work with clients to help them recognize the wide range of potential solutions to each problem (for example, brainstorming).
- Decision-making Encourage better decision-making through an improved understanding of the consequences of decisions and the value and likelihood of different outcomes.
- Solution implementation and verification Foster the client’s ability to carry out a solution plan, monitor its outcome, evaluate its effectiveness, and use self-reinforcement to increase the chance of success.
- Guided practice Encourage the application of problem-solving skills across multiple domains and future stressful problems.
- Rapid problem-solving Teach clients how to apply problem-solving questions and guidelines quickly in any given situation.
Success in PST depends on the effectiveness of its implementation; using the right approach is crucial (Dobson, 2011).
Problem-solving therapy – Baycrest
The following interventions and techniques are helpful when implementing more effective problem-solving approaches in client’s lives.
First, it is essential to consider if PST is the best approach for the client, based on the problems they present.
Is PPT appropriate?
It is vital to consider whether PST is appropriate for the client’s situation. Therapists new to the approach may require additional guidance (Nezu et al., 2013).
Therapists should consider the following questions before beginning PST with a client (modified from Nezu et al., 2013):
- Has PST proven effective in the past for the problem? For example, research has shown success with depression, generalized anxiety, back pain, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and supporting caregivers (Nezu et al., 2013).
- Is PST acceptable to the client?
- Is the individual experiencing a significant mental or physical health problem?
All affirmative answers suggest that PST would be a helpful technique to apply in this instance.
Five problem-solving steps
The following five steps are valuable when working with clients to help them cope with and manage their environment (modified from Dobson, 2011).
Ask the client to consider the following points (forming the acronym ADAPT) when confronted by a problem:
- Attitude Aim to adopt a positive, optimistic attitude to the problem and problem-solving process.
- Define Obtain all required facts and details of potential obstacles to define the problem.
- Alternatives Identify various alternative solutions and actions to overcome the obstacle and achieve the problem-solving goal.
- Predict Predict each alternative’s positive and negative outcomes and choose the one most likely to achieve the goal and maximize the benefits.
- Try out Once selected, try out the solution and monitor its effectiveness while engaging in self-reinforcement.
If the client is not satisfied with their solution, they can return to step ‘A’ and find a more appropriate solution.
When dealing with clients facing negative self-beliefs, it can be helpful for them to use positive self-statements.
Use the following (or add new) self-statements to replace harmful, negative thinking (modified from Dobson, 2011):
- I can solve this problem; I’ve tackled similar ones before.
- I can cope with this.
- I just need to take a breath and relax.
- Once I start, it will be easier.
- It’s okay to look out for myself.
- I can get help if needed.
- Other people feel the same way I do.
- I’ll take one piece of the problem at a time.
- I can keep my fears in check.
- I don’t need to please everyone.
5 Worksheets and workbooks
Problem-solving self-monitoring form.
Answering the questions in the Problem-Solving Self-Monitoring Form provides the therapist with necessary information regarding the client’s overall and specific problem-solving approaches and reactions (Dobson, 2011).
Ask the client to complete the following:
- Describe the problem you are facing.
- What is your goal?
- What have you tried so far to solve the problem?
- What was the outcome?
Reactions to Stress
It can be helpful for the client to recognize their own experiences of stress. Do they react angrily, withdraw, or give up (Dobson, 2011)?
The Reactions to Stress worksheet can be given to the client as homework to capture stressful events and their reactions. By recording how they felt, behaved, and thought, they can recognize repeating patterns.
What Are Your Unique Triggers?
Helping clients capture triggers for their stressful reactions can encourage emotional regulation.
When clients can identify triggers that may lead to a negative response, they can stop the experience or slow down their emotional reaction (Dobson, 2011).
The What Are Your Unique Triggers ? worksheet helps the client identify their triggers (e.g., conflict, relationships, physical environment, etc.).
Imagining an existing or potential problem and working through how to resolve it can be a powerful exercise for the client.
Use the Problem-Solving worksheet to state a problem and goal and consider the obstacles in the way. Then explore options for achieving the goal, along with their pros and cons, to assess the best action plan.
Getting the Facts
Clients can become better equipped to tackle problems and choose the right course of action by recognizing facts versus assumptions and gathering all the necessary information (Dobson, 2011).
Use the Getting the Facts worksheet to answer the following questions clearly and unambiguously:
- Who is involved?
- What did or did not happen, and how did it bother you?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it happen?
- Why did it happen?
- How did you respond?
2 Helpful Group Activities
While therapists can use the worksheets above in group situations, the following two interventions work particularly well with more than one person.
Generating Alternative Solutions and Better Decision-Making
A group setting can provide an ideal opportunity to share a problem and identify potential solutions arising from multiple perspectives.
Use the Generating Alternative Solutions and Better Decision-Making worksheet and ask the client to explain the situation or problem to the group and the obstacles in the way.
Once the approaches are captured and reviewed, the individual can share their decision-making process with the group if they want further feedback.
Visualization can be performed with individuals or in a group setting to help clients solve problems in multiple ways, including (Dobson, 2011):
- Clarifying the problem by looking at it from multiple perspectives
- Rehearsing a solution in the mind to improve and get more practice
- Visualizing a ‘safe place’ for relaxation, slowing down, and stress management
Guided imagery is particularly valuable for encouraging the group to take a ‘mental vacation’ and let go of stress.
Ask the group to begin with slow, deep breathing that fills the entire diaphragm. Then ask them to visualize a favorite scene (real or imagined) that makes them feel relaxed, perhaps beside a gently flowing river, a summer meadow, or at the beach.
The more the senses are engaged, the more real the experience. Ask the group to think about what they can hear, see, touch, smell, and even taste.
Encourage them to experience the situation as fully as possible, immersing themselves and enjoying their place of safety.
Such feelings of relaxation may be able to help clients fall asleep, relieve stress, and become more ready to solve problems.
We have included three of our favorite books on the subject of Problem-Solving Therapy below.
1. Problem-Solving Therapy: A Treatment Manual – Arthur Nezu, Christine Maguth Nezu, and Thomas D’Zurilla
This is an incredibly valuable book for anyone wishing to understand the principles and practice behind PST.
Written by the co-developers of PST, the manual provides powerful toolkits to overcome cognitive overload, emotional dysregulation, and the barriers to practical problem-solving.
Find the book on Amazon .
2. Emotion-Centered Problem-Solving Therapy: Treatment Guidelines – Arthur Nezu and Christine Maguth Nezu
Another, more recent, book from the creators of PST, this text includes important advances in neuroscience underpinning the role of emotion in behavioral treatment.
Along with clinical examples, the book also includes crucial toolkits that form part of a stepped model for the application of PST.
3. Handbook of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies – Keith Dobson and David Dozois
This is the fourth edition of a hugely popular guide to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies and includes a valuable and insightful section on Problem-Solving Therapy.
This is an important book for students and more experienced therapists wishing to form a high-level and in-depth understanding of the tools and techniques available to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists.
For even more tools to help strengthen your clients’ problem-solving skills, check out the following free worksheets from our blog.
- Case Formulation Worksheet This worksheet presents a four-step framework to help therapists and their clients come to a shared understanding of the client’s presenting problem.
- Understanding Your Default Problem-Solving Approach This worksheet poses a series of questions helping clients reflect on their typical cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses to problems.
- Social Problem Solving: Step by Step This worksheet presents a streamlined template to help clients define a problem, generate possible courses of action, and evaluate the effectiveness of an implemented solution.
- 17 Positive Psychology Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners . Use them to help others flourish and thrive.
While we are born problem-solvers, facing an incredibly diverse set of challenges daily, we sometimes need support.
Problem-Solving Therapy aims to reduce stress and associated mental health disorders and improve wellbeing by improving our ability to cope. PST is valuable in diverse clinical settings, ranging from depression to schizophrenia, with research suggesting it as a highly effective treatment for teaching coping strategies and reducing emotional distress.
Many PST techniques are available to help improve clients’ positive outlook on obstacles while reducing avoidance of problem situations and the tendency to be careless and impulsive.
The PST model typically assesses the client’s strengths, weaknesses, and coping strategies when facing problems before encouraging a healthy experience of and relationship with problem-solving.
Why not use this article to explore the theory behind PST and try out some of our powerful tools and interventions with your clients to help them with their decision-making, coping, and problem-solving?
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .
- Cuijpers, P., Wit, L., Kleiboer, A., Karyotaki, E., & Ebert, D. (2020). Problem-solving therapy for adult depression: An updated meta-analysis. European P sychiatry , 48 (1), 27–37.
- Dobson, K. S. (2011). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (3rd ed.). Guilford Press.
- Dobson, K. S., & Dozois, D. J. A. (2021). Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (4th ed.). Guilford Press.
- Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2015). Cognitive psychology: A student’s handbook . Psychology Press.
- Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2009). Problem-solving therapy DVD . Retrieved September 13, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310852
- Nezu, A. M., & Nezu, C. M. (2018). Emotion-centered problem-solving therapy: Treatment guidelines. Springer.
- Nezu, A. M., Nezu, C. M., & D’Zurilla, T. J. (2013). Problem-solving therapy: A treatment manual . Springer.
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Problem Solving Games, Activities & Exercises for Adults
Here is our list of the best problem solving games, activities and exercises for adults.
Problem solving games are activities that require players to use critical thinking skills to solve puzzles. Example activities include escape rooms, Sudoku, and murder mysteries. The purpose of these exercises is to sharpen reasoning and decision-making skills in group settings and to do team building with employees.
These activities are a subset of remote team games , found in problem solving books , and are similar to team puzzles , team building brain teasers and team riddles .
This article contains:
- team building problem solving activities for employees
- free problem solving games for adults
- virtual problem solving activities for students
- group problem solving activities
- problem solving team builders
Here we go!
List of problem solving games & activities
From word and number puzzles to role-playing games, here is a list of inexpensive and free problem solving team builders that help groups practice the art of critical thinking and compromise.
1. Espionage! (Team Favorite)
For an exciting game of social deduction, check out Espionage! This thrilling experience will put your team’s wits and instincts to the test.
Espionage! offers the following:
- a 90-minute session led by an experienced host
- undercover teams of agents and spies
- challenging puzzles, tasks, and maneuvers
- team conversations to help uncover secret identities
The best part is we will bring all the necessary game materials to your preferred location. If you are interested in boosting communication and critical-thinking skills within your team, then consider Espionage!
Learn more about Espionage!
2. Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh (Hosted)
You can turn your team into skilled detectives with Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh! In this captivating mystery, participants will locate the stolen artwork, The Bedroom .
Key features of this experience include:
- a 90-minute adventure led by a world-class host
- detailed puzzles, clues, and mysteries to unravel
- trails of evidence and hidden secrets
- group discussions to find the art
Additionally, you can include a cocktail kit to spice up your event. Through Art Heist, you will enhance your team’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills!
Learn more about Art Heist: The Vanishing of Van Gogh .
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3. War of the Wizards (Popular)
With War of the Wizards, teams roleplay as minions of powerful wizards to vanquish forces of evil. Participants will play thrilling games and go on a quest to restore harmony to the realm!
War of the Wizards offers the following:
- a 90-minute journey guided by a distinguished host
- immersive storytelling that transports players into a magical realm
- engaging activities like world-building, role-playing games, and storytelling
- opportunities for forming alliances, facing challenges, and going on quests
Through the power of imagination and teamwork, your team can overcome tasks and participate in an epic fantasy battle. To improve communication and bonds, include War of the Wizards in your agenda!
Learn more about War of the Wizards .
Sudoku is one of the most popular free problem solving games for adults. The objective of this game is to fill each box of a 9×9 grid so that every row, column, and letter contains each number from one to nine. The puzzle makes a great team challenge. To play Sudoku on Zoom, screen share the game board. Then, turn on the annotation features. Using the add text functions, participants can fill in the numbers on the grid.
We made a starter puzzle you can use in your next meeting or virtual team bonding session:
Here are more online Sudoku puzzles .
5. Crossword puzzles
Crossword puzzles are word games that ask players to fill in words based on clues. Words interconnect, and players must think critically about the surrounding words to select the right phrase for the space.
You can use an online crossword puzzle maker to create a custom puzzle. Here are a few themes you may want to consider:
- teammates’ tastes and interests
- company knowledge and history
- industry terms and trends
Or, create a miscellaneous puzzle just for fun.
We made a sample puzzle you can use for your game:
To complete puzzles during online meetings, you can use the share screen function and add text through annotations.
Or, subscribers can play the New York Times’ daily crossword puzzle virtually . Dictionary.com also offers a free daily online crossword puzzle .
Check out more vocabulary games .
6. Online Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are timed games that get groups working together to solve puzzles. Traditionally, players enter a locked room and must complete all puzzles in an hour or two to unlock the door. However, groups can also play escape rooms online.
Digital escape rooms typically come in one of two forms: in a Zoom room and led by a host, or in a choose-your-own adventure format via Google Forms or websites. To play escape rooms virtually, enter a video meeting and follow the prompts, or screen share the Google Form and work out the puzzles together.
Check out our full list of online escape rooms .
7. Murder Mysteries
Murder Mysteries are story-based games that ask players to take on the roles of suspects or detectives while trying to identify a killer. These games often involve reading lines from a script, searching for clues, and occasionally solving puzzles to get hints.
These games make participants pay attention to conversations, analyze other characters’ behavior, and search for hidden meaning in the script. Players must use their powers of observation and logic to unravel the mystery.
Check out our list of Zoom murder mystery games .
8. Treasure Hunts
Treasure hunts are scavenger hunts with intention. While virtual scavenger hunts often ask players to collect random items, treasure hunts require participants to locate clues that lead to other prompts and hints. The game typically ends with players finding a treasure or solving a mystery, sometimes both.
The treasure hunt can have a specific theme such as secret agent missions or a hunt for pirate treasure, or you can run a more general hunt. Teammates can either compete simultaneously via Zoom call, or can play the hunt on an app individually and compete to beat each other’s scores.
Check out our list of treasure hunt apps .
9. Poem or story challenge
Most team building problem solving activities for employees revolve around science, math, and logic. Poem/story challenges rely on writing skills and are sure to appeal to the language lovers on your team.
Each player receives a limited word bank to use to create a story or poem. Then, players have a few minutes to craft their pieces. Afterward, everyone reads out or screen shares their creations.
Here are a few word challenge activities you can do remotely:
- Found poems or stories : Participants make poems or stories out of words they find by visiting websites, searching emails, glancing out the window, or taking a walk or drive around the neighborhood.
- Random word generators : Teammates use a random word generator to populate a word bank, and must use each word in the poem or story.
- Poetry magnets : Group members make poems using poetry magnets. You can send poetry magnet sets to employees and assemble the verses on a cookie pan during a Zoom call. Or, teammates can play with poetry magnets online .
- Page poems: Participants receive one page of a book or magazine, and must make a poem or story by blocking out other words so only the chosen text remains visible. This activity is part storytelling, part art, since story crafters can illustrate the pages as part of the design.
- Ransom note stories or poems : Players cut out letters from magazines and must form new words to make poems and stories. Or, players can receive a mix of random letters, form words, and run the text through a ransom note generator .
These activities are suitable for teams and individual players.
10. Moral challenge
Some problems are ethical rather than factual. Moral judgment plays just as important a role in the decision-making process as technical prowess. Players can flex their moral problem-solving skills by tackling ethical dilemmas or social puzzles.
Here are some social problem solving games online:
- Moral machine
- Scruples – the game of moral dilemmas
- Morality play
To play these games, either download the apps, or pull up the website and then screen share the prompts. These games are best played when discussed as a group, because the more belief systems and opinions, the harder an issue is to resolve. These exercises provide practice for real-life conflict resolution.
You can find similar challenges on our list of online personality tests .
Frostbite is a group game that hones team leaders’ communication skills while sharpening teammates’ listening and cooperation skills. The premise behind the game is that a group of explorers gets caught in a snowstorm and must build a shelter. Frostbite has paralyzed the leaders’ hands and snow-blinded the rest of the team. The leader must give the team instructions to build a tent that can resist arctic winds.
To play Frostbite, each teammate wears a blindfold. Then, the leader gives directions. Once the structures are complete, players turn on a fan to test whether tents can withstand the wind.
Frostbite is usually an in-person game, however you can also play virtually. In the remote version of the game, teammates construct tents out of cards and tape, while the leader surveys the scene on screen.
This exercise demonstrates the challenges of leading remotely, as teams need to operate with minimal oversight or supervisor observation. Therefore, instructions need to be clear and direct to be effective.
Check out more team building games .
12. Virtual Hackathons
Hackathons are events where participants have a set amount of time to design and pitch a new product or solution. This type of event originated in the programming world and is often used to create new apps, however you can apply the game to any industry or school subject.
Virtual hackathons are online versions of the event. Teams enter the competition, then work with each other via virtual meeting software or remote work communication platforms to design the solution. At the end of the competition, teams pitch ideas to a panel of judges and a winner is decided.
To run a virtual hackathon, first announce the theme of the event and collect sign-ups. So that no teams work ahead, hint at the general idea of the issue, and only explain the precise problem when the event begins. Then, give teams anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete the project.
Discover more virtual hackathon ideas .
13. Improv games
Improv games are excellent problem solving activities. These exercises force participants to think and respond quickly to keep scenes moving in a logical and entertaining way.
Here are some good problem solving improv games:
Banned words : Performers cannot say certain words. Scene partners will conceive of situations that encourage the actors to use those words, and the actors must find alternatives, such as using synonyms or taking the scene in a new direction.
Scenes from a chat : Audience gives a suggestion for a scene, and players act the scene out. Though it’s a fictional and often ridiculous scenario, actors must react to the situation and solve the problem in order for the scene to end.
Miracle cure : Miracle cure is a quick-moving exercise that follows a simple format. One player declares, “I have a problem.” Another player responds, “I have a….[random object.]” The first player then replies, “great! I can use the [random object] to….” and describes how they will solve the problem.
Check out more problem-solving improv games .
14. Spaghetti Tower
The spaghetti tower is a classic team building game. Participants gather uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows, and must construct the tallest freestanding tower.
During the in-person version, players must construct one tall freestanding tower. However, for the virtual version of the game, players construct individual towers. You can send groups to breakout rooms for the build, then reconvene in the main room for judging. Teams are judged on three main factors: number of towers, height, and uniformity.
This version of the game not only tests the structural integrity of the tower, but also consistency and quality control. This exercise teaches teams to align and collaborate remotely, and produce a consistent product even when far apart.
15. What Would You Do?
What Would You Do? is a simple situational game that challenges participants to react to different circumstances. To play this game, read prompts one by one, and then ask participants to respond with gameplans. You can use the polling or raise hand feature to vote for the best option.
Here are some problem solving scenarios for adults or kids to use in the game:
- Zombies attack and you have to find a place to hide.
- You are at the zoo and the animals escape. Which one do you try to corral back into the pen first?
- After waiting in line for hours, someone cuts in front of you last minute. The person appears to be visually and hearing impaired, and doesn’t notice your protests. An official announces that due to diminishing supply, this individual will be the last in line to be served.
- You are eating a meal with important clients and/or your partner’s parents, and you want to impress. The individuals make you a dish that does not fit within your dietary restrictions, but you do not speak the same language and cannot explain why you do not want to eat.
- An imposter has infiltrated the organization, who looks, speaks, and behaves exactly like you. How do you convince your peers that you are the original?
For similar dilemmas, check out this list of Would You Rather? questions.
16. Desert Island Survival
Desert Island Survival is a game that challenges players to prioritize. The premise is that players have been stranded on an island, and must decide what order to perform survival steps.
Here are the possible actions:
- Set up shelter
- Explore the island
- Try to signal for help
- Make weapons for self-defense
- Build a raft to escape the island
- Start a fire
- Choose a group leader
- Search for other survivors
All group members must agree on the order of the steps. Players should explain the reasoning for the order of each step while ranking the actions.
Another version of the game involves players receiving a list of 15 to 20 items, and selecting five or so to bring to the island. You can also vary the location of the game, substituting remote islands for destinations like outer space or the distant past.
17. Choose Your Own Adventure
Choose Your Own Adventure stories enable readers to determine the outcome of the story by making decisions. Each action has a consequence that takes the tale in a different direction. Participants can try to guess how the story may unfold by talking through the different choices. When completing the activity in a group setting, the majority of the team must agree on an action before moving forward in the story.
There are a few ways to facilitate these activities online:
- Play an online role playing video game
- Watch an interactive movie like Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
- Read from a Choose Your Own Adventure book on Zoom
- Click through a Choose Your Own Adventure platform
- Create your own story using a Google Form
Whichever way you choose to do the exercise, you can use the screen share feature in your virtual meeting software so that listeners can more easily follow along.
MacGyver is a show where the hero escapes sticky situations by improvising tools out of unlikely materials. For example, in one episode the hero makes a telescope out of a newspaper, magnifying lens, and a watch crystal.
To play MacGyver, you can either list three to five objects participants can use, or challenge players to use items that are within arms reach.
Simply state a desired end result, such as “a way to open a locked door,” or “a getaway vehicle,” and then ask teams to explain what they will build and how they will build it. To make the activity more collaborative, you can give teams five or ten minutes in breakout rooms to strategize and design a prototype.
19. Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be magical figures and creatures. One player serves as the dungeon master, who guides the game, while the other players pick characters and make decisions to move the story forward. Upon choosing a course of action, players roll a twenty-sided die to determine whether or not the plan succeeds. The game is story-based, the possibilities are nearly limitless, and truly creative problem solving options arise. Also, since gameplay is mostly verbal, Dungeons & Dragons is an easy activity to do over Zoom.
Here are the basic rules for Dungeons & Dragons .
Pandemic is a game that pits players against the forces of nature in a race to contain and control disease outbreaks. At the beginning of the game, each player receives a role such as containment specialist or operations expert. Participants must carry out the duties of their roles by choosing appropriate actions. Pandemic is a great game for groups because each team member has a clear part to play, and players must collaborate and work together instead of competing against each other.
To play the game online, you can use a Pandemic game app , or talk through the exercise while one attendee moves and displays pieces on the board.
Note: The subject of this game might hit too close to home for some players, considering recent history. You can find games with similar mechanics that deal with different subject matter, such as Forbidden Island.
Check out more team building board games .
21. Model UN
Model UN is one of the best virtual problem solving activities for students. This exercise casts participants in the role of international diplomats who must negotiate to solve realistic problems. Each player assumes the role of a country ambassador and must form alliances and propose solutions to solve crises.
Here are some sample Model UN scenarios:
- Human rights violation by powerful country
- Food shortage
- Disease epidemic
- Technology privacy violations
- Civil war branching into surrounding countries
- Natural disasters
Depending on the size of the group, participants either take on the part of an entire government of a country, or play a certain role within the government. To carry out the activity on Zoom, players can take turns giving speeches, message other countries privately via the chat, meet in breakout rooms to form alliances or have more intimate discussions, and use the polling feature to vote on propositions.
If politics does not resonate with your group, then you can alter the exercise by applying the same activity structure to a different theme, such as the Justice League, movie characters, business board members, or reality TV stars.
The main purpose of the exercise is to research, talk through problems, and compromise. As long as these elements are present, then the specifics of the setup do not matter.
There are many types of problem solving activities for adults. You can do online problem solving games, which require a different skill set than in-person problem solving. For instance, communication must be much clearer and more abundant when group members are far apart and unable to demonstrate or pick up physical cues.
Though many problem solving games include props and in-person elements, there are many games you can play together online. These exercises work well as educational tools as well as team bonding accelerators. Upon completion, participants are likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence. These games are also great practice for real life conflict resolution, creative thinking and team building.
Next check out this list of connection games , and this post with conflict resolution games .
We also have a list of the best decision making books and a list of team building problems for work .
FAQ: Problem solving activities
Here are common answers to questions about group problem solving activities.
What are problem solving games?
Problem solving games are challenges that ask players to think critically and use logic to overcome issues or answer riddles. Examples include sudoku, murder mysteries, and spaghetti towers. These games are also known as “problem solving exercises”, “problem and solution games” and “group problem solving activities.”
What are the best problem solving games for groups?
The best problem solving games for groups include online escape rooms, moral challenges, and improv games.
What are some good problem solving team building activities for students?
Some good problem solving activities for students include crossword puzzles, choose your own adventure stories, and model UN.
How do you play problem solving games online?
The best way to play problem solving games online is to join a video call meeting to talk through the issue. Using the screen sharing and digital whiteboard features helps participants visualize the problem more clearly. Breakout rooms give teams the chance to discuss the issue more intimately.
Author: Angela Robinson
Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com. Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.
20 Problem Solving Activities for Preschool
Problem-solving activities can help children build resilience, think critically, and develop confidence in their ability to tackle challenges.
But it can be challenging to find engaging and age-appropriate activities that promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers.
In this blog post, we will share 20 Problem Solving Activities for Preschool at home or in the classroom.
From simple puzzles to complex challenges, these activities will help your child develop problem-solving skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Shape Sorters :
Shape sorters are one of the best problem-solving activities for preschoolers. They are simple yet effective tools that help children develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Shape sorters come in different shapes and sizes, and they are designed to help children sort and match different shapes and colors.
Playing with shape sorters helps children develop their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and cognitive abilities. As they fit the different shapes into the corresponding holes, they learn about shape recognition, spatial awareness, and cause-and-effect relationships.
Related: Free Printable Math Worksheets for Preschoolers
Building Towers with Blocks:
Building towers with blocks is a classic activity that encourages children to problem-solve as they work to create a stable structure. Children must figure out how to balance and stack the blocks to create a tower that won’t topple over. This activity helps children develop their spatial reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills as they adjust their approach to create a more stable structure.
Related: 20 Best Pre-Writing Activities for Preschoolers
Treasure hunts are an exciting way to encourage children to solve problems and work collaboratively. Parents or caregivers can create a series of clues and riddles that lead children to a hidden “treasure.” Children must use their problem-solving skills to decipher the clues and find the treasure. This activity promotes critical thinking, spatial awareness, and teamwork.
Memory games are a great way to challenge children’s cognitive abilities and improve their problem-solving skills. These games involve laying out a set of cards face down and having children flip over two cards at a time to try and match pairs. This activity helps children develop their memory, focus, and attention to detail.
Related: 20 Winter Math Activities for Preschoolers
Puzzles are a fantastic way to promote problem-solving skills in young children. These activities require children to use their critical thinking and spatial reasoning skills to fit puzzle pieces together. Puzzles can range in difficulty from simple shapes to more complex scenes, and they can be adjusted to fit the child’s developmental level.
Obstacle courses are a fun and engaging way to encourage children to solve problems and work on their motor skills. Parents or caregivers can create a series of obstacles that children must navigate to reach a specific goal. This activity promotes critical thinking, spatial awareness, and coordination. Obstacle courses can be adjusted to fit the child’s age and developmental level, making them a versatile and effective tool for promoting problem-solving skills in young children.
Storytelling is an excellent way to promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers. By listening to stories, children are exposed to different scenarios and situations that require problem-solving skills. Parents or caregivers can encourage children to think about how the story’s characters solve their problems and ask them to come up with solutions to hypothetical problems.
Cooking is a fun and interactive way to promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers. Children must follow recipes, measure ingredients, and work collaboratively with others to create a finished dish. This activity helps children develop their critical thinking, math skills, and ability to follow instructions.
Role-playing is an excellent way to encourage problem-solving skills in young children. Children can pretend to be doctors, firefighters, or police officers and work together to solve problems and complete tasks. This activity promotes critical thinking, teamwork, and imagination.
Guessing games, such as “I Spy” or “20 Questions,” is an excellent way to encourage problem-solving skills in young children. These games require children to use their critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills to guess the answer correctly. This activity promotes memory, concentration, and attention to detail.
Science experiments are an engaging way to encourage problem-solving skills in young children. These activities require children to observe, hypothesize, and test their theories. Parents or caregivers can conduct simple science experiments, such as mixing baking soda and vinegar, to teach children about cause and effect. This activity promotes critical thinking, experimentation, and curiosity.
Sensory play is an excellent way to promote problem-solving skills in young children. By playing with different textures and materials, children can explore cause-and-effect relationships and develop their critical thinking skills. Parents or caregivers can set up sensory bins with materials such as rice, sand, or water to encourage children to explore and problem-solve.
Board games are a great way to promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers. These games require children to use their critical thinking and strategic planning skills to win the game. Games like Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and Connect Four are excellent choices for young children.
Scavenger hunts are a fun and interactive way to encourage problem-solving skills in young children. Parents or caregivers can create a list of items for children to find and encourage them to work collaboratively to solve clues and find the items. This activity promotes critical thinking, teamwork, and spatial awareness.
Creative building activities, such as using play dough, clay, or craft materials, are an excellent way to promote problem-solving skills in young children. Children can use their imagination and creativity to problem-solve and create their structures and designs. This activity promotes critical thinking, spatial awareness, and creativity.
Sensory bins are a fun and interactive way to promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers. Parents or caregivers can set up a bin filled with different materials, such as sand, rice, or beans, and hide different objects or toys within them. Children have to use their problem-solving skills to find and identify the objects hidden within the bin. Sensory bins also promote fine motor skills, sensory exploration, and creativity.
Art projects are a great way to promote problem-solving skills in young children. By encouraging children to create their art projects, parents or caregivers can help them develop their problem-solving skills by encouraging them to think creatively and find solutions to design challenges. This activity promotes critical thinking, creativity, and fine motor skills.
Cooking and Baking:
Cooking and baking are great activities to promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers. Children can measure ingredients, follow directions, and problem-solve how to mix ingredients together properly. This activity promotes critical thinking, math skills, and following directions.
Outdoor exploration is an excellent way to promote problem-solving skills in young children. Parents or caregivers can take children on nature walks or hikes and encourage them to explore and problem-solve by finding different types of plants, animals, and natural landmarks. This activity promotes critical thinking, creativity, and nature appreciation.
Science kits are a fun and interactive way to promote problem-solving skills in preschoolers. There are many science kits available that are age-appropriate and designed specifically for preschoolers. These kits provide children with hands-on opportunities to experiment and explore scientific concepts, which promotes curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Some science kits may include materials for making slime, growing crystals, or exploring the properties of magnets.
Dramatic play activities provide opportunities for preschoolers to use their imaginations and problem-solving skills.
Related: Examples of Dramatic Play for Preschoolers
Parents or caregivers can set up a pretend play area with costumes, props, and toys that encourage children to use their problem-solving skills to navigate different scenarios and situations.
For example, children can play doctor and use problem-solving skills to diagnose and treat a patient, or they can play chef and use problem-solving skills to plan and prepare a meal. Dramatic play promotes creativity, social-emotional development, and problem-solving skills.
- Teeth Brushing Activities for Preschoolers
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Sohaib Hasan Shah
Sohaib's journey includes 10+ years of teaching and counseling experience at BCSS School in elementary and middle schools, coupled with a BBA (Hons) with a minor in Educational Psychology from Curtin University (Australia) . In his free time, he cherishes quality moments with his family, reveling in the joys and challenges of parenthood. His three daughters have not only enriched his personal life but also deepened his understanding of the importance of effective education and communication, spurring him to make a meaningful impact in the world of education.
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The Remarkable Journey of a Laguna Blanca Senior
Jake gidney’s passion for coding and problem-solving began with video games, by schools of thought staff | story courtesy of laguna blanca school november 16, 2023.
Read all of the stories in our “Schools of Thought 2023” cover here.
Laguna senior Jake Gidney, who has a passion for STEM, coding, and innovation, has achieved remarkable feats at a young age. His journey began with a childhood fascination with video games, sparking his love for critical thinking and problem-solving. Recognizing his potential, his parents gently encouraged him to explore other interests, particularly reading.
At Laguna Blanca School — where he has attended since 2nd grade — exceptional teachers, including Mr. Ary, played a pivotal role in Jake’s journey. They introduced him to robotics, coding, and engineering through clubs like the Internet of Things (IoT) and the VEX robotics competition. These experiences empowered him to tackle complex coding challenges.
His passion for coding led him to cold-email renowned quantum computist Dr. Daniel Lidar. Despite Dr. Lidar’s initial reservations about Jake’s mathematical knowledge, he invited Jake to work on a volunteer project to improve Google Scholar’s user experience. Jake took the initiative to learn web programming through a 60-hour online boot camp and successfully implemented the project. He continues to make improvements and is co-authoring a paper with Dr. Lidar.
Jake’s journey also includes a paid internship at Flowcode , a New York–based tech startup that provides QR code solutions. He began at Flowcode in the 10th grade and serves as a full-stack engineer and R&D specialist. He has pioneered nine prototypes, led business-to-business interactions, and contributed to pending patents. His innovative communication tool, Flowconnect , enhances customer service by scanning QR codes to initiate communication with customer service teams.
Jake’s love for the humanities is equally strong. He has served as a teaching assistant for his English teacher, joined the Arts Club, and pursued advanced courses. His well-rounded education nurtured his creativity and problem-solving skills. Apart from his school activities, Jake has taken extra courses in math. Since he has finished the math classes offered at Laguna Blanca and Santa Barbara City College, he is about to embrace proof-based math through a dual-enrollment program at Southern New Hampshire University. His dedication to continuous learning and exploration is a testament to his passion for personal growth and improvement.
In recognition of his achievements, Jake has received numerous awards inside and outside of school and was even invited to company retreats at Flowcode, where he was affectionately nicknamed “High School Jake.” He attributes his success to the guidance of his parents and the mentorship of his Laguna teachers.
At Laguna Blanca, it is impossible to ﬂybeneath the radar. Here, deeper relationships, heightened learning, and greater achievement are the norm. The all-encompassing support of teachers, counselors, and coaches ensures Laguna feels like a second home. Our teachers are innovators and provide more than a strong academic foundation. They guide students in the process of self-discovery to ensure success in ﬁnding happiness, health, and balance. Intercampus bus and tuition assistance available. For more information, please contact (805) 687-2461 or visit lagunablanca.org .
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Hackett and the Jets’ offense are still trying…
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Ct man allegedly assaulted with pipe; suspect in custody following emergency alert, hackett and the jets’ offense are still trying to solve the issues causing their struggles.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Nathaniel Hackett has spent the past several weeks trying to solve the New York Jets’ biggest problem.
The search for an answer continues.
The Jets still can’t get into the end zone — a touchdown drought that spans 36 offensive possessions and 11 quarters and an overtime period. And it’s costing New York potential victories.
“I think that you have to identify all the different things that you want to correct and you have to kind of prioritize and then you just got to attack each one individually,” said Hackett, the Jets’ embattled offensive coordinator. “There are moments that we really like, but it’s just not good enough, it’s not up to our standard overall and we just have to keep grinding.”
Part of that problem-solving process included a players-only meeting by the offense. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson and quarterback Zach Wilson both said it was a chance for the players to kick around ideas, vent and try to figure things out.
“I love it,” Hackett said. “I mean, the whole idea is for those guys to come together. When they cross those lines, the coaches aren’t out there anymore. We work the entire week to try to get them prepared as we possibly can. We can talk and talk and detail up and detail up, but if they don’t absorb it and they don’t feel it together as one group, then it doesn’t matter what you call, it doesn’t matter what you do.
“So, I think that for them to bond to come together and understand that if we get these things fixed that we will have an opportunity to move the ball and score some more points.”
That has been mostly a futile task this season.
New York enters its game Sunday against AFC East-rival Buffalo having scored just eight touchdowns on offense in nine games. The last came on a short pass from Zach Wilson to running back Breece Hall, who turned it into a 50-yard score.
Wilson almost had one last Sunday in New York’s 16-12 loss at Las Vegas when he reached over the goal line, but stepped out out bounds at the 3. Hall appeared to run it in on the next play, but it was negated by a holding penalty. The Jets, as they have so often this season, settled for a field goal.
“I haven’t had it like this before, when it has been this low amount,” Hackett said. “But yes, there has been some droughts at times and I think it’s about staying consistent for us as coaches and making sure we have a foundation and we believe in that foundation.”
The Jets rank 30th in the NFL while averaging 16 points a game, with only New England (14.1) and the Giants (11.8) worse.
“I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m tired of this,” Garrett Wilson said after the loss in Las Vegas. “I want to play better, the offense wants to play better. … We talk about that every week, trying to come out every week and make it happen.
A glut of penalties has been one culprit, negating big plays or causing New York’s offense to start drives in first- and second-and-long situations. That has contributed to the Jets’ failures on third down, where they rank last in the NFL in conversion percentage. Same for the red zone, where they just can’t punch the ball into the end zone — or, as Hackett has referred to it, the “gold zone.”
Outside the facility, there’s plenty of finger pointing, with Hackett, Zach Wilson and coach Robert Saleh shouldering much of the blame. There have been calls by frustrated fans and critical media insisting the Jets need to make a change at quarterback — even if Wilson isn’t the sole reason for the struggles.
The problem, those fans and media say, is that Wilson also isn’t doing enough to change the fortunes of the offense.
“It’s not one person,” Hackett said. “We have talked about that for quite a while. I mean, Zach had some amazing plays last game, keeping us alive. I think he had two 20-yard runs on third down, thought it was a touchdown at one point. We were this close to that not being a touchdown.
“It has been a lot of guys. I wish it was just one thing, then you feel like that is easily correctable. But I think for us as a group, it’s about staying together and pushing through this together.”
NOTES: OL Billy Turner (finger) and LBs Chazz Surratt (ankle) and LB Sam Eguavoen (hip) sat out a second straight day. … Garrett Wilson (elbow), LT Mekhi Becton (knee) and DL Will McDonald (ankle) were limited again.
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wordplay, the crossword column
Just for Kicks
Hemant Mehta’s puzzle is a challenging start to the solving weekend.
By Deb Amlen
Jump to: Tricky Clues
FRIDAY PUZZLE — When you tell people that the best way to get better at something is to practice, you may get the same disappointed reaction that I get: “Are you kidding me? I don’t have time for that!” Very often, this is not spoken aloud, but if you look carefully, you can see the fear in their eyes.
Just for giggles, let’s say we’re talking about, oh, I don’t know, crossword puzzle solving.
Suggesting that people practice by starting with the easier Mondays and slowly, slowly working their ways toward the tough, themeless puzzles on Fridays and Saturdays understandably feels like forever. It feels insurmountable to me, and I’ve been solving for a long time. Then again, I am now able to solve every day of the week in a reasonable amount of time because I practiced. Also because I would get fired if I couldn’t.
And yet, experience is the best teacher.
Even if you’re not sure whether you can handle a Friday puzzle — yet — give Hemant Mehta’s puzzle a try. He offers some lively debuts, which he lists in his notes below.
And don’t forget that on Fridays, Christina Iverson, a puzzle editor and the writer of the “Easy-Mode” newsletter, will show up in your mailbox (provided it’s large enough — Ms. Iverson is about 5’4”) with a list of more accessible clues if you sign up here .
I needed all of my skills to solve Mr. Mehta’s puzzle. The bottom third was the hardest for me, but with a fair bit of stick-to-it-iveness, I had enormous fun and — eventually — finished his crossword. Because I practiced.
But enough about me. How did you handle it?
17A. Some people believe that the “Focus of a get-rich-quick scheme” is the financial windfall, but it’s not. It’s those mesmerizing LOTTO BALLS that you stare at when they go ’round and ’round.
32A. I had to look this one up, but I learned something: There is a fitness test called the PACER or “beep” test , which gauges a person’s VO2 maximum while running.
33A. You can “Sit in a cellar, perhaps” or you can sit anywhere you like, and you will still AGE. Just kidding. Mr. Mehta is talking about wine.
43A. The clue “Make the grade?” means that someone or something is of a certain quality, but in this puzzle, it’s about rock climbing. I see two meanings to this clue/answer pair. “Grade” can either be a measure of steepness, in which a person might make the grade by walking up a hill. It can also be the grade given to a climb by the people ASCENDing the cliff.
49A. Talk about misdirection. “Things gotten just for kicks?” — behold that wordplay. The answer is FIELD GOALS, which is what you get when you kick the ball into the net, as in soccer, also known as football. (My overseas friends tell me that what they play is football, and the game that is played in the U.S. is called “not football.”)
55A. It took me a long time to figure out “Canvas finish?” My brain was filled with artists’ canvases, as well as canvassing for informational or political purposes. Not even close, Deb. The answer is T.K.O.: If you hit the boxing canvas, you’ve essentially finished your match.
2D. EMASCULATE is such an odd — and somewhat outdated — word. Here it’s used to describe the word “Neuter,” but the technical term for neutering is “orchiectomy.” If someone thinks that neutering an animal emasculates it, they should talk to my friend’s Rottweiler. That is one virile dog.
3D. Come on, how can you not love writing RED SOLO CUP into a puzzle? It made me reminisce about the parties that I’ve had. It’s a fun entry, as well as a “Common receptacle in beer pong.” So I’m told.
6D. The “Pot growers?” in this puzzle are BETS, because they increase the value of the pot.
22D. If you are going to put the word LASED in a puzzle (it’s a bit awkward, but helped tremendously with the fill in that area), you should definitely write a great clue for it. The clue (“Performed light surgery on?”) fits the bill with it’s pun about light.
26D. To BLAMESTORM is to meet with colleagues in order to argue about “who’s responsible for a failure.” It’s just as much fun as it sounds.
42D. You don’t have to be Icarus to love this clue. In “Head for the sun?” the word “head” refers to a prefix meaning sun. The answer is the Greek root word HELIO .
Happy Weintraub Friday to all who celebrate! I hope this themeless does it justice. I was excited to debut several entries in this puzzle, including CHEETO DUST and BLAMESTORM. I also liked the mathematical mix of MÖBIUS STRIPS, BISECT, SINE, LOTTO BALLS for the statistically minded, and (I suppose) DON’T REMIND ME for anyone who isn’t a fan of the subject.
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Work your way through our guide, “ How to Solve the New York Times Crossword ,” for an explanation of most of the types of clues you will see in the puzzles, and then test your skills with some fun mini crosswords.
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The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and you can submit your puzzles online . For tips on how to get started, read our series “ How to Make a Crossword Puzzle .”
The Tipping Point
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Deb Amlen , the crossword columnist and senior staff editor of Wordplay , believes that everyone can learn to solve the Times crossword. She is the author of the humor book, “It's Not P.M.S., It's You.” More about Deb Amlen
It’s Game Time!
Take your puzzling skills in new directions..
WordleBot , our daily Wordle companion that tells you how skillful or lucky you are, is getting an upgrade. Here’s what’s new .
The editor of Connections , our new game about finding common threads between words, talks about how she makes this daily puzzle feel fun .
We asked some of the best Sudoku solvers in the world for their tips and tricks. Try them to tackle even the most challenging puzzles.
Read today’s Wordle Review , and get insights on the game from our columnists.
We asked Times readers how they play Spelling Bee. The hive mind weighed in with their favorite tips and tricks .
Ready to play? Try Wordle , Spelling Bee or The Crossword .