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Witty Problem Solving Activities

Rujuta Borkar
There is life, so there will be problems. And then there is the need to solve them. We bring you some problem solving activities that you can use to get rid of the problems that you encounter.
Who does not have problems in this world? Everyone does. Granted, problems are relative and what is life-threatening for some, might not even evoke a raised eyebrow from others, but problems will be there. And when there are problems, it's a given that there need to be solutions provided for smooth functioning.
Now the deal with problems is that you cannot always depend on people to solve your problems for you. You need to develop skills by which you can approach those problems head on and find a solution for yourself. Here are some problem solving activities for a wide range of age groups that will train your mind to develop the skills required to solve problems.

Activities for Preschoolers

Preschool is the perfect time to start honing problem-solving skills in your kids. At this age, kids have a deep thirst to learn new things. How do you equip them with an ability of learning and adapting to new skills? By providing activities that revolve around problem solving!
Here are some problem-solving tasks that you can try out.
  • Place a toy under a couch and ask the kid to retrieve it. Keep a close watch on the way he/she does it. (Make sure that the couch has no nails hanging out)
  • Puzzles and crossword activities are a great way to hone their skills of problem solving.
Give them beads of varied colors and a plastic needle and thread. Then ask them to make necklaces, bracelets etc for dolls. The colorful beads and the different shapes and sizes will intrigue them. Plus learning about the different sizes-small beads for bracelets and the bigger beads for necklaces will help them learn more.
Art and crafts is a great way to help children learn new things as well. Provide lots of colored paper (different sizes) glue and an activity paper.
They need to stick different shaped paper onto a plain sheet to create a unique design. Watch them explore the consistency of the glue, the arrangement of the picture and the like.

Activities for Kids

Kids that fall in the age group of 5-10 years are curious, have developed enough reasoning/analytical powers to approach a problem with its many facets, and can experiment with a number of solutions that can solve the problem at hand. Here are some creative problem solving activities that you can provide for them.
Stacking cards to make a pyramid against a wall is a great way to learn concentration and patience. Card games and board games teach kids the way to think and derive solutions.
One of these games includes a bunch of plastic sticks of different colors which are thrown in a bunch onto the ground. The aim of the game is to retrieve a particular colored stick without touching the other sticks. It teaches one to concentrate and develop precision.
Mix iron fillets, sawdust and salt in a bowl. Then ask the child to separate them. Provide a magnet, a bowl of water, a strainer and a cloth. They'll experiment with different techniques. If they can't solve it, provide them with the solution.
Here's the solution - spread the contents of the bowl onto the cloth. Use the magnet to attract all the iron fillets and separate them. Next mix the contents into a bowl of water and the salt will dissolve, leaving the sawdust floating. Strain the sawdust and spread it on the cloth. Finally all the contents are seperated.

Activities for Adults

When the question of adults comes in, it usually helps when there is a group. Of course, individual activities also work.
Individual games (or those that do not require a huge group) - Solving puzzles, crosswords, board games and other brain power games is a great way to develop brain power.
Group activities like management games - 'spider web' (people need to get out of a spider web-esque layout which is made from ropes, without touching the ropes), 'acid river' (Cross a measured distance by using numbered bricks, without touching the ground) and the like are great ways to build strategic planning and make for excellent brain exercises.
Using building blocks, duplicate a model provided for after studying it for 30 seconds or less.
Problem solving activities ensure that your mind always remains alert and your ability to solve problems never diminishes. That is why a special effort to include these games should always be made. Plus, you'll have to agree that these games are real fun to play as well. Win-win.