5 Problem Solving Activities for Elementary Classrooms

Problem solving activities are great for learners to make decisions and to build confidence. These advanced skillsets are preparation for adulthood. And are imperative for success in this dynamic information age.

As teachers, we often acknowledge the importance of these activities. But many times we fall short of ideas that can help us to foster these new-age skillsets in our learners.

If you also wish to inculcate critical thinking and problem solving in students. Read this article to know some fun ways of making this possible in your classroom.

Here are 5 simple yet effective problem solving activities For STUDENTS that you can introduce In Your Classroom:

1. ‘What is it?’/Think Differently

This one is both beneficial and fun!

Introduce the kids with an object such as a pen, scarf, cloth hanger, and a cap. Let them think about any other use of the object other than the regular use known to all. Try to add a fun dimension by asking kids to demonstrate this innovative use to all their classmates.

And it’s even better if you ask the kids to add a punchline/jingle or introductory statement (if they can). It can be a full-fledged activity for students who are in grades 4 and 5. And you even can ask them to create a fun advertisement with the novel idea and present it to the class. Let the kids think out-of-the-box and allow enough time to come up with these ideas. And do not forget to appreciate the best ideas with applause or even a simple star at the end of this activity. This activity is ideal to foster out-of-box thinking. Because it includes both planning, analysis, and projection of the given product/prop. Try to make use of this one and encourage new ways of seeing the world in your classroom.

2. Multiple Solution Activities

This one can be used to introduce real-life problems to the kids.

Introduce a problem to the students. And give them time to process and come up with different solutions (more than two) for the same. The problem can be given by keeping the grade in mind. And you can try more complicated ones with the ones that are about to enter the middle school stage. You can also make use of the collaborative approach. And perform this activity in small groups.

For online school students or the ones that are familiar with online researching, this can be an excellent home assignment. Because it will give them, an opportunity to come up with different facts and information pieces related to this particular problem. For students who are in the final stages of elementary school years, you can take any rampant issue such as the pandemic surge, environmental threats like global warming, deforestation, or even the decreasing levels of groundwater in urban areas. All these can be excellent choices. And the kids can find multiple practical solutions for these real-life challenges.

Try to give the students some hints like finding alternatives and suggesting changes in lifestyle for the citizens. And let them come up with multiple innovative solutions and present them to the class. Channelize their improvisation by encouraging more visual images of the situation. And let them preempt the repercussions of the suggested changes/actions basis these mental pictures. Encourage multiple solutions. And ensure that there is enough participation from each group/student during the activity.

For elementary school kids, this ability to create mental images might take some time. But try to introduce it to the kids as it certainly promotes critical thinking in young learners.

3. Brainstorming

Another way to promote problem solving in elementary school kids is to introduce brainstorming activities in the class. Try to use the elements of brainstorming activities such as those conducted in virtual classes of online schooling platforms.

For this, you can again make use of a collaborative approach, as this works well with these age groups. And let the students suggest ways of resolving conflicts (site examples from the history) or even a new ending for a particular event. Let them explain their points as per their understanding. And also guide them to look for better ways of doing things in those given situations.

Let the students analyze situations and circumstances in the light of facts to make their own creative versions. And encourage innovative ideas in a positive learning environment. You can also jot down the best ideas on the board. And again try to connect all this learning to the real-life challenges of the present times.

4. Impromptu Problem Solving

Elementary school stages are perfect to instill morality in kids. Try to work on the character building and morality of the kids by introducing impromptu activities in the classroom.

You can simply keep a basket or a bowl in the class and let each student write a problem (preferably from real-life) and place it in the box. Each student can then come turn wise and pick up a problem along with an impromptu answer for it. Let this be the ideal way of handling the situation as per his/her understanding. Because this is the right way of instilling a sense of right and wrong in them. These problems can be very simple and basic such as hitting a pet in the absence of the parents, lending money to others without telling the parents, or anything that they experience in real life. Let other kids also propose solutions after the child who picked up has completed his/her solution. And culminate the activity with the list of the learning with the right behavior as per the acceptable norms.

5. Pick the Solution Finder

Last on this list is another activity wherein you can ask one child to pick three students from the class to resolve a problem. This can be performed multiple times. And students can be covered turn wise. Try this once again with a common prop with chits. And write the best answer on the board.

If the kids are already habitual with more critical thinking ways, you can also implement this one with open-ended questions. Otherwise, stick to regular definite answers keeping in mind the age group of students.

Final words:

Problem solving activities in the classrooms will help in developing the cognition of young learners. And prepare them for the upcoming stages of formal education. Do try out these in your class and see how the young stars amaze you with their innovative and brilliant ideas!