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13 problem solving activities for children

Children in a nursery engaged in problem solving activities with toys

Problem solving is a skill we use every day as adults. From navigating workplace challenges to managing a busy household, finding solutions to problems is all in a day’s work. Nurturing this skill from an early age can help your child face challenges and devise solutions in a rapidly changing world. Let’s dive deeper into the importance of this skill and explore some engaging problem solving activities for kids. 

Why is problem solving such a beneficial skill?

From sharing toys or expressing their feelings to taking turns or encountering unfamiliar foods, children face a myriad of challenges during the early years. 

Helping your child to master problem solving skills teaches resilience, patience and flexibility. Children who learn this skill early on find it easier to tackle everyday situations. While this skill will evolve naturally as your child faces different challenges, there are many problem solving activities you can introduce to hone these abilities further. 

How to solve a problem

Empowering your child to solve problems independently nurtures their confidence and sets them up for success. Here are just some of the ways you can help your child tackle problems and challenges calmly, logically and confidently:

  • Verbalising the problem: As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Encourage your child to talk about what’s troubling them. 
  • Encouraging deep breathing: A moment focused on the breath can help to clear the mind and help your child find a fresh perspective when solving a problem. 
  • Brainstorming potential solutions: Two heads are always better than one, especially when it comes to finding solutions. Brainstorming is one of the most effective ways to fix a problem and can help to encourage critical thinking and teamwork.

13 try-at-home problem solving activities

Let’s explore some wonderful problem solving activities that will stimulate your child’s curiosity and creative thinking skills:

Making junk models

Do you remember making junk models as a child? Perhaps you waited patiently for the washing-up bottle to be empty so you could make a rocket ship. Your child will love being given the freedom to design and build their own model and decide which objects work best together. 

Shape puzzles

Shape puzzles challenge cognitive abilities and help your child to recognise different shapes quickly. A shape sorter, for example, helps children to decide whether a shape is the right fit for a space. 

Making symmetry

Symmetry is everywhere, from nature to the shapes on your child’s bedroom wallpaper. Activities that involve symmetrical shapes and patterns help children to develop an eye for balance. As they grow older, this skill could help them to understand maths problems and excel in art. 

Cardboard puzzles

If you have any spare cardboard around the home, put it to good use by creating fascinating and engaging cardboard puzzles. This is a great hands-on activity that teaches problem solving and helps your child to understand structure and form. 

The toy grab game

Your child will love trying to work out how to get to their toys with this toy grab game. It’s easy to set up and will help your child develop fine motor and critical thinking skills. 

Unpack the boxes

This activity will encourage your child to think outside (and inside) the box. They will enjoy working out how to open the box and get to what is waiting inside. For an extra challenge, why not wrap the box in a few sheets of wrapping paper?

Obstacle course

Give your child a set of physical and mental challenges with an obstacle course at home. Encourage your child to find the fastest and safest way through the obstacles you set up for them. Want to make it even more challenging? Put a blindfold on your child and let them feel their way to the end. 

Free items from the whisk

Ignite your child’s curiosity with this game of hide and seek. This is an activity where precision and patience pay off. They will feel a sense of accomplishment every time they work out how to free an object from the whisk. 

Sorting in the muffin tin

When you’re not using your muffin tin to bake delicious and nutritious treats, use it to nurture your child’s mathematical thinking skills and vocabulary. They will love exploring how different shapes and objects fit into the holes in the tin. 

Fun with fridge magnets

The development of fine motor and creative problem solving skills is the order of the day with this magnetic activity. From picking up objects to exploring their magnetic and non-magnetic properties, this is a great lesson in cause and effect. 

Build a den

Empower your child’s architectural skills by letting them build their own den. Not only does den building give your child somewhere fun and cosy to relax and play but it also promotes physical development, teamwork and cooperation. 

What is in the bottle?

Enhance hand-eye coordination and sensory perception with this fun explorative activity. Your child will have fun guessing what’s in the bottle, putting objects into the bottle and seeing it through the plastic or glass. 

Measuring with shoes

Who said maths can’t be fun? Using shoes as units of measurement, teach your child size and scale. Stepping into this fun activity will help your child understand mathematical language associated with measuring and length. 

Enjoy the learning journey together

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to learning. Every child is unique, and so is their approach to problem solving. With these problem solving activities for kids, you can enjoy learning and growing together.