5 Problem-Solving Activities for the Classroom

All areas of life require problem-solving skills. Classroom problem solving activities are a great way for students to be prepared to solve real problems in real situations. The ability to analyze and map out a problem in order to find a solution is one of life’s most important skills.

Classroom problem solving can help you teach your students problem solving skills as early as elementary school. These activities encourage social and cognitive development and equip students with the skills they need to solve problems all their lives. These are five classroom problem solving activities that your students will enjoy and benefit from.

1. Brainstorm bonanza

It can be very helpful for students to create lists that are related to the topic they are currently studying. This will help them gain a deeper understanding and teach them how to problem solve. If you’re studying historical, current, or fictional events that didn’t go as planned, ask your students to brainstorm possible outcomes. You can have them brainstorm individually on paper or together on a whiteboard or chalkboard in front of the class.

2. Group problem-solving

Your students should decorate a medium-sized cardboard box with a slot at the top. The “Problem-Solving box” is a name you can give to your students. They will be asked to anonymously list any problems or issues they are having at school or home. Each week, have one student draw one of the items and then read it aloud. Next, have the class come up with a solution and brainstorm together.

3. Clue me in

This game promotes problem solving, critical thinking, and cognitive development. You will need to collect items that are related to a particular profession, social trend or place, historical event, animal or other topic. Collect actual items or photos of items that are often associated with the answer. You should have at least five to ten clues. Next, have the student reach into the bag to pull out one clue at a time. You can limit the number of clues that they have to draw before they make their first guess. The student should then venture one guess for each clue until they get it right. You will be amazed at how fast the student can solve the riddle.

4. Survivor scenarios

Students can create a fake scenario that forces them to think creatively in order to survive. One example would be being stranded on an isolated island and knowing that no help will arrive for the next three days. The group must provide shelter and food for the people who are left without water or food. Encourage children to work together and listen to all ideas about how they can make it through the three-day period safely and comfortably.

5. Moral dilemma

Write down a list of moral dilemmas that your students may face in their lives. Then, place each item in a bag or bowl. You might have items such as, “I saw my good friend shoplifting.” What should I do? What should I do? Have students draw one item from each bag, read it aloud and then give their answers to the class.

Problem solving in the classroom does not have to be boring or repetitive. Your students should find problem solving fun and engaging. Each child will remember the lessons they have learned and will carry the experience into their daily lives.