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22 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.

We will share 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 :

20 Problem Solving Activities for Preschool

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games 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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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

problem solving games 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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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.

problem solving games for preschoolers

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.

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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:

problem solving games for preschoolers

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.

Recommended:

  • 25 Pattern Block Activities for Preschool
  • 25 Excellent Outdoor Games for 4 – 5 Year Olds
  • 23 Matching 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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Title Teaching Kids Problem Solving Skills and an illustration of a kid with a magnifying glass

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

Problem-Solving Steps

Some key components of problem-solving include:

problem solving games for preschoolers

  • 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.

Examples of worksheet for kids on problem-solving strategies

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.

Workbook for kids on Problem solving strategies

(Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. You can also read our Disclosure & Disclaimer policy  here )

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.

Problem-Solving Worksheets

Problem Solving Strategies_Workbook for Kids

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
  • Brainstorming
  • Decision Matrix
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • Systematic problem-solving

Kid in a bubble that represents personal space and title "Personal Space Activities for Kids"

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I always look forward to your articles with active interventions. Thank you!

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Problem Solving Activities for Preschoolers

  • by Colleen Beck
  • October 22, 2021

Amazon affiliate links may be included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

It can be frustrating when children act without thinking of the consequences. In this blog post, you’ll learn about the development of problem solving in specific parts of our brain, discover important aspects of executive functioning that impact problem solving abilities, how to teach problem solving to preschoolers, and problem solving activities for preschoolers and young children so they can use words instead of the preschooler’s behaviors  or tantrums.

Best of all, many of our favorite fine motor activities for preschoolers support problem solving skills in early childhood.

Problem solving skills in preschool

Problem Solving Activities for Preschoolers

Before we get into the problem solving activities for preschoolers, and specific strategies to use in early childhood, it’s important to understand the development of the problem-solving process in kids. Supporting small children by giving them the skills to be problem solvers takes time and practice. We’ll get to those specific strategies below.

But first, does this scenario sound familiar at all…

I just don’t understand why Johnny keeps throwing the ball in the house. Doesn’t he realized that he could break the window? Johnny is three and he loves to play with his tennis ball in the house. Even though I have told him over and over again that we don’t throw them in the house, I still catch him sneaking them indoors at least once a week. 

Before we can address problem solving by helping kids look at the big picture and coming up with creative solutions for problem solving issues, we need to understand what is happening developmentally. Self-reflection is a challenging cognitive skill, and for young learners! 

Let’s take a better look at the development of problem solving skills…

Development of problem solving skills in preschoolers

Development of Problem Solving Skills

It’s through play, observation of others, and practice that young learners are developing problem solving skills in early childhood .

Problem solving, rational thinking and reasoning are all skills that are controlled by a part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex. Our brains grow exponentially over the first five years of life, but not the part of our brain that helps us with critical thinking and problem solving skills. This part of our brain, called the prefrontal cortex, isn’t fully developed until we turn 25 years old! 

As babies, we are exposed every day to new experiences, but at this age we don’t comprehend how these experiences affect us and those around us. If only children could think through their problems. This resource on executive functioning skills offers more information.

Have you noticed that it can be a bit scary when teenagers get their drivers licenses? They don’t always think of “what might happen.” This is due to their prefrontal cortex not being fully developed. 

But what about our three and four year olds? We know they can count, ask questions and get the cookie off the counter in a very sneaky way when we aren’t looking. In the Early Years study of 2011 called Making decisions, Taking action , they describe the prefrontal cortex entering a rapid period of development, making critical interconnections with our limbic system. (link: )

This study states “The prefrontal cortex pathways that underlie these capacities are unique to human brains and take a long time to mature. Early connections begin in infancy. Between age 3 and 5 years, the prefrontal cortex circuits enter a rapid period of development and make critical interconnections with the limbic system. During adolescence and early adulthood, the neural pathways are refined and become more efficient.”

What is so great about this part of the brain anyway? 

As the prefrontal cortex (that is located behind out eyes) develops over the years, we are able to engage with situations differently, assessing our surroundings in a new way. As we develop these new executive functioning skills, we are able to keep ourselves safe, build friendships and become successful in our careers.

Related, these friendship activities for preschoolers offers ideas and strategies to support social emotional development.

This peer reviewed report competed by Merve Cikili Utyun, called Development Period of Prefrontal Cortex, discusses how amazing this part of our brain is, and how each of the three sections control different aspects of our functioning. It states that: 

“ PFC includes the following Broadman Areas (BA): 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 44, 45, 46, 47. “The dorsolateral frontal cortex (BA) 9/46 has been functioned in many cognitive process, including processing spatial information, monitoring and manipulation of working memory, the implementation of strategies to facilitate memory, response selection, the organization of material before encoding, and the verification and evaluation of representations that have been retrieved from long-term memory. 

The mid-ventrolateral frontal cortex (BA 47) has implicated cognitive functions, including the selection, comparison, and judgment of stimuli held in short-term and long-term memory, processing non-spatial information, task switching, reversal learning, stimulus selection, the specification of retrieval cues, and the ‘elaboration encoding’ of information into episodic memory.

BA 10, the most anterior aspect of the PFC, is a region of association cortex known to be involved in higher cognitive functions, such as planning future actions and decision-making. BAs 44 and 45, include part of the inferior frontal and these regions’ functions are language production, linguistic motor control, sequencing, planning, syntax, and phonological processing.

Finally, the orbitofrontal cortex mostly (BA 47, 10, 11, 13) in the orbitofrontal cortex has been implicated in processes that involve the motivational or emotional value of incoming information, including the representation of primary (unlearned) reinforcers such as taste, smell, and touch, the representation of learnt relationships between arbitrary neutral stimuli and rewards or punishments, and the integration of this information to guide response selection, suppression, and decision making.” 

Wow! No wonder it takes so long for this part of our brain to fully develop. Problem solving skills in preschoolers take time to develop!

When Johnny is throwing the ball inside the house, he is thinking about what is happening now, in the present. Not what has happened in the past (when he broke the window at grandmas house a year ago) or that breaking a window might happen in the future. 

What are some problem solving techniques?

Solving problems is a skill that all preschoolers need support with. This critical skill doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and practice to become second nature.

It’s hard for us, as adults, to remember that children ages 3-5 (preschool-aged) don’t yet have the brain capacity to problem solve on their own, or remember what they learned from a situation a week ago. 

Just like when Andrew was painting at the easel and his paintbrush got stuck in the container. Instead of asking for help or trying to “unstick” the brush, he screamed.  Or when Sally and Samantha ran outside to grab the red bouncy ball, Samantha screamed when Sally grabs it first. She didn’t see the other red bouncy ball in the bucket next to the bikes. 

Try some of these problem solving activities for  kids :

Observation- Children need problem solving strategies that they can observe, and then practice in their everyday lives. Let kids see you talk through problems as you “figure out” a solution. This gives children a chance to see a problem-solving approach in real life situations. They get to see problem solving scenarios in action.

Repetition- Repetition supports brain growth in every area of development including problem solving, executive functioning, motor development, language skills and social development.

Multisensory Activities- Children learn best with multi-sensory cues, learning new skills through seeing, touching, hearing and experiencing the skills they are learning. In 2013, the US National Library of Medicine published an article titled  Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat.  stating “The prefrontal cortex acquires information from all of the senses and orchestrates thoughts and actions in order to achieve specific goals.” (link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621648/)

Creative Activities- Solving problems is a skill that all preschoolers need support with. It’s hard for us, as adults, to remember they don’t yet have the brain capacity to problem solve on their own. The best way to teach children how to problem solve, it to create activities that support these new skills in a positive way, that their developing brain understands. This letter to future self is one activity to work on goal achievement even at a young age. Preschoolers can draw a picture of what they would like to do or be as an older child or as a teenager or adult.

Problem Solving Activities for Preschool

Here are 3 Simple Ways to Teach Preschoolers to Solve Problems

1.Teaching executive functioning and problem solving skills in everyday situations will support the growth of a child’s prefrontal cortex. For example, these activities that teach executive functioning at the beach show how much thought and preparation goes into building a simple sand castles.

  • Children have to think about how much sand to use, how to keep it standing, how to prevent sand from getting into their eyes and how to create another one if the one they are building falls down.
  • They must create, plan ahead, problem solve when things get tough and communicate to adults and peers for help.

What other activities does your child do on a regular basis that requires all areas of the prefrontal cortex to activate?

2.When children become upset, their emotions become so overwhelming that they can’t think. In order to calm down and problem solve, they need to access a multi sensory way to help them remember how to do that.

Soothing Sammy gives children tactile and visual cues that remind them how to calm down and problem solve in a developmentally appropriate way. They can be reminded of this positive reinforcement with two words “Sammy Time!”

By reading the book about the sweet golden retriever, who understands that everyone feels upset sometimes, children are encouraged to use all of the sensory strategies to calm down. They can talk to Sammy about what is happening and think through their problem to create a solution.

Ashlie’s four year old daughter did just this. She reports: “When Molly was having some big emotions about coloring a picture and needed to calm down, she visited Sammy and returned with a solution to the problem she came up with all on her own (well with Sammy’s help).”

Click here for more information on the Soothing Sammy resources .

3.Problem solving requires us to remember what just happened, what is happening now and what do we want to happen next. A preschoolers brain tends to blend all three of these situations together, not able to communicate any of them until prompted by an adult. And as an adult, we are left “guessing” what our children are thinking about. Visual cues are a wonderful sensory communication tool to support both children and adults in the realm of solving problems.

Using tools like “First/Then” cards to support routine and common situations like transitions and completing tasks. Using visuals clearly communicates what needs to be done, especially if using pictures of real children doing these tasks.

A Final note about problem solving skills in preschool

Solving problems are hard for young children, even teenagers, as their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed yet. Using multisensory teaching tools to support brain development, practicing tasks that teach executive functioning skills and using developmentally appropriate tools to help children calm down, will help even the most frustrating moments become a bit less stressful for children and adults. 

As we learn to be more patient with children, understanding that the part of their brain needed to solve problems is just beginning to develop, repeating the same directions over and over again may not be so frustrating. Our children are doing the best they can. It’s up to us to provide them with experiences to help their brains grow and develop. 

problem solving games for preschoolers

Jeana Kinne is a veteran preschool teacher and director. She has over 20 years of experience in the Early Childhood Education field. Her Bachelors Degree is in Child Development and her Masters Degree is in Early Childhood Education. She has spent over 10 years as a coach, working with Parents and Preschool Teachers, and another 10 years working with infants and toddlers with special needs. She is also the author of the “Sammy the Golden Dog” series, teaching children important skills through play.

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10 Simple Activities to Teach Your Preschooler Problem Solving

By: Author Tanja McIlroy

Posted on Last updated: 14 November 2023

Categories Cognitive Development

problem solving games for preschoolers

During the first years of a child’s life, an important set of cognitive skills known as problem-solving abilities are developed. These skills are used throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Find out what problem solving is, why it’s important and how you can develop these skills with 10 problem-solving games and activities.

What is Problem Solving in Early Childhood?

So, what exactly is problem solving? Quite simply, it refers to the process of finding a solution to a problem .

A person uses their own knowledge and experience, as well as the information at hand to try and reach a solution. Problem solving is therefore about the thought processes involved in finding a solution.

This could be as complex as an adult working out how to get out of a financial crisis or as simple as a child working out how two blocks fit together.

Problem Solving Skills for Kids

Problem-solving skills refer to the specific thinking skills a person uses when faced with a challenge. Some problems require the use of many skills, while others are simple and may only require one or two skills.

These are some examples of problem-solving skills for preschoolers , as listed by kent.ac.uk .

  • Lateral thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Decision-making skills
  • Logical reasoning
  • Persistence
  • Communication skills
  • Negotiation skills

The Importance of Developing Problem-Solving Skills in Early Childhood

Problem solving is a skill that would be difficult to suddenly develop as an adult. While you can still improve a skill at any age, the majority of learning occurs during the early years.

Boy thinking about a problem

Preschool is the best time for a child to learn to problem solve in a fun way. The benefits of learning early will last a lifetime and the beauty of learning anything at a young age is that it is effortless .

It is like learning to play an instrument or picking up a new language – it’s just much easier and more natural at an early age.

Of all the many things preschoolers need to learn , what makes problem solving so important?

There aren’t many situations in life, at work or at school that don’t require some level of problem resolution.

Child’s play itself is filled with opportunity upon opportunity to solve all kinds of tricky situations and come up with solutions to challenges.

Problem Solving in Preschool

During the foundational years, children are constantly solving problems as they play .

Here are just a few examples of problem solving in early childhood :

  • Resolving a fight over the same toy
  • Reaching a ball that’s stuck in the tree
  • Forming a circle while holding hands
  • Making a bridge to connect two block towers
  • Tying or untying a shoe
  • Making up rules for a new game
  • Trying to get the consistency of a mud cake right so it stops falling over

The more creative play opportunities and challenges children are given, the more they get to exercise their problem-solving muscles.

During free play , there are non-stop experiences for this, and parents and teachers can also encourage specific problem-solving skills through guided activities .

Problem Solving for Older Children

During the grades, children experience problems in many forms, some of which may be related to their academic, social and emotional well-being at school. Problems may come in the form of dealing with life issues, such as:

  • Problems with friendships
  • Struggling to understand something during a lesson
  • Learning to balance the demands of sport and homework
  • Finding the best way to study for a test
  • Asking a teacher for help when needed

Problems will also form a large part of academic life as teachers will be actively developing this skill through various activities, for example:

  • Solving a riddle or understanding a work of literature
  • Working on projects with a friend
  • Finding solutions during science experiments
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Solving hypothetical problems during lessons
  • Answering questions and completing exam papers

Children who have had practice during preschool will be a lot more capable when facing these challenges.

Solving Problems in Mathematics

Mathematics needs to be mentioned separately as although it is part of schooling, it is such a huge part and it depends heavily on a child’s ability to solve problems.

The entire subject of mathematics is based on solving problems. Whether you are adding 2 and 3, working out how many eggs will fit into each basket, or solving an algebraic expression, there is a problem in every question.

Mathematics is just a series of problems that need to be solved.

What we refer to as problem solving in Maths is usually answering word problems .

The reason many children find these so difficult to answer is that the question is presented as a problem through a story, rather than just numbers with symbols telling you what operation to use (addition, division, etc.)

This means a child is forced to think carefully, understand the problem and determine the best way to solve it.

These problems can involve various units (e.g. mass, capacity or currency) as well as fractions, decimals, equations and angles, to name a few. Problems tend to become more and more complex over the years.

My experience in the classroom has shown that many, many children struggle with solving word problems, from the early grades right into the senior years.

They struggle to analyze the question, understand it, determine what information they’ve been given, and what exactly they are required to solve.

The good news is that exposing a child to regular problem-solving activities and games in preschool can greatly help him to solve word problems later on in school.

If you need one good reason to do these kinds of activities, let it be for a smoother experience in mathematics – a subject so many children unnecessarily fear.

Problem Solving in the Workplace

Lady at work doing problem solving

Adults in the workplace seldom thrive without problem-solving skills. They are required to regularly solve problems .

As adults, employees are expected to independently deal with the frequent challenges, setbacks and problems that are a big part of every working environment.

Those who can face and solve their own problems will go further and cope better than those who seek constant help from others or cannot show initiative.

Some  career websites even refer to problem solving as a universal job skill. They also mention that many employees are not good at it. 

Again, although it may seem far removed, learning this skill at a young age will help a child cope right into adulthood and in the working world.

Pinterest image - 10 simple activities to teach problem solving.

How to Teach Children Problem-Solving Skills

If early childhood is the best time to grow these skills in your young children, then how does one go about teaching them to toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners?

Mom and child constructing

Problem solving can be taught in such a way that you expose your child to various opportunities where they will be faced with challenges.

You would not necessarily sit your 3-year-old down and tell or “teach” him all about fixing problems. Instead, you want to create opportunities for your child to grow this skill .

Using the brain to think and find solutions is a bit like working a muscle over time. Eventually, your muscle gets stronger and can handle more “ weight. ” Your child will learn to problem solve in two ways:

  • Incidentally – through free play
  • Through guided opportunities provided by a parent or teacher

If you make a point of encouraging thinking through games and activities, your child will develop stronger skills than if you let it all happen incidentally.

Problem-Solving Strategies and Steps

If we take a look at the steps involved in solving a problem, we can see that there are many layers involved and different types of skills. Here are the problem-solving steps according to the University of Ken. 

Step 1: Identify the problem

Step 2: Define the problem

Step 3: Examine the options

Step 4: Act on a plan

Step 5: Look at the consequences

Therefore, activities at a preschool level need not present complicated high-level problems.

  • A simple activity such as identifying differences in a picture can work on the first skill needed – identifying a problem.
  • Playing with construction toys can develop a child’s ability to try various solutions and examine the options when faced with a problem such as trying to find the best way to build something.
  • Playing Tic-Tac-Toe would make a child predict the consequences of placing their mark in a particular square.

The most basic of activities can work on all these skills and make children competent solution finders.

How to Teach Problem Solving with Questions

The language you use around your child and your questioning technique will also greatly affect their understanding of a problem or challenge as merely something waiting for a solution to be found .

While your child is playing or when she comes to you with a problem, ask open-ended questions that will guide her in finding a potential answer independently. Use the steps listed above to formulate your questions.

Here are some examples of questions:

  • What do you think made the tower of blocks fall down?
  • If we build it again, how can we change the structure so that it won’t fall down next time?
  • Is there a better way we can do it? If you think of a different way, we can both try it and see which works better.
  • Did that work? The tower fell again so let’s try another solution.

Resist the temptation to fix every one of your child’s problems, including conflict with friends or siblings. These are important opportunities for children to learn how to resolve things by negotiating, thinking and reasoning.

With time, your child will get used to seeing a problem, understanding it, weighing up the options, taking action and evaluating the consequences.

Problems will be seen as challenges to be faced logically and not “problems.”

This post contains affiliate links for educational products that I personally recommend. If you purchase through one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read the terms and conditions for more details.

10 Problem-Solving Activities for Preschoolers

Here are 10 simple, easy games and problem solving activities for kids at home or at school. Many of them are the kinds of activities children should have daily exposure to.

Puzzles are one of the best thinking activities out there. Each puzzle is basically one big set of muddled-up things to be sorted out and put back together again. Find out why puzzles are important for development .

Children should have regular exposure to puzzles. They are great for developing thinking skills.

problem solving games for preschoolers

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2. Memory games

Memory games will develop your child’s memory and attention to detail.

Get your own memory game cards by downloading the FREE set of printables at the end of the post.

Use pairs of matching pictures and turn them all face down, shuffled, on a table. Take turns choosing any two cards and turning them face up on the table. If you turn over a matching pair you keep the cards and if the pair doesn’t match, turn the cards back over until it is your turn to try again.

Encourage your child to concentrate and pay attention to where the pictures are and try to find a matching pair on each turn. 

3. Building with Construction Toys

Construction toys such as engineering blocks, a proper set of wooden blocks or Legos (shown below) should be a daily staple in your home.

Everything your child builds is a challenge because it requires thinking about what to build and how to put the pieces together to get a design that works and is functional.

Leave your child to construct freely and occasionally set a challenge and ask him to build a specific structure, with conditions. For example:

  • Make two towers with a bridge joining them together
  • Build a creature that stands on its own and has 3 arms.

Then watch your child wracking his brain until he finds a way to make his structure work.

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4.  Activity Books

These activity books are really fun and develop a child’s ability to identify problems and search for information.

problem solving games for preschoolers

  • Pomaska, Anna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

problem solving games for preschoolers

  • Handford, Martin (Author)

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  • Books, Webber (Author)

5. Following Patterns

This simple activity can be played with a set of coloured blocks, shapes or counters.

Simply make a pattern with the blocks and ask your child to continue it. Vary the pattern by changing the colours, shapes or sizes.

This activity will train your child to analyse the given information, make sense of it, recognise the pattern and re-create it.

6. Story Time Questions

Get into the habit of asking questions during your daily story time that develop higher-order thinking skills . Instead of just reading and your child passively listening, ask questions throughout, concentrating on solving problems.

Here are some examples:

  • Why do you think the bear did that?
  • Do you think his friend will be happy? Why?
  • What would you do if you were the monkey?
  • How do you think Peter can make things better with his friend?
  • If the crocodile had decided not to eat the rabbit, how could the story have ended?

7. Board Games

Board games are an excellent way to develop problem-solving skills.

Start off with simple games like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders to teach the skill of following rules and moving in a logical sequence.

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problem solving games for preschoolers

Card games like Go Fish are also great for teaching young children to think ahead and solve problems.

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8.  Tic-Tac-Toe

This is a perfect game to teach decision-making skills , thinking before acting and weighing up the possible consequences.

Tic-tac-toe game

Use a Tic Tac Toe Board or d raw a simple table like the one above on paper or a chalkboard.

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Take turns to add a nought or a cross to the table and see who can make a row of three first.

Your child will probably catch on in no time and start thinking carefully before placing their symbol. This game can also be played with coloured counters or different objects.

9. Classifying and Grouping Activities

This activity can be done with a tin of buttons or beads or even by unpacking the dishwasher. The idea is to teach the skill of classifying and categorizing information by learning with physical objects. Here are some other ideas for categorizing:

  • Separate the washing – mom’s clothes, dad’s clothes, etc; or socks, tops, shorts, etc.
  • Empty out the cutlery drawer for cleaning, mix all the utensils up and then sort into knives, tablespoons, teaspoons, etc.
  • Classify and sort out the toys in your child’s bedroom together – all books, construction toys, soft toys, etc.
  • Play category games .

Here are more button activities for kids .

10. Building a Maze

This activity is lots of fun and suitable for any age. It is also going to be way more fun than doing a maze in an activity book, especially for younger children.

Draw a big maze on the paving with sidewalk chalk . Make passages, including one or two that end in a dead-end. Teach your child to find her way out .

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As your child gets better at figuring out a route and finding the way out, make the maze more complex and add more dead-end passages.

Get FREE access to Printable Puzzles, Stories, Activity Packs and more!

Sign up and you’ll receive a downloadable set of printable puzzles, games and short stories , as well as the Learning Through Play Activity Pack which includes an entire year of activities for 3 to 6-year-olds. Access is free forever.

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Friday 3rd of June 2022

hi maam , This Is Uma from India,Can i get this in pdf format or a book. Thank You

Tanja Mcilroy

Monday 6th of June 2022

Hi Uma, thanks for your message. These articles are not available in PDF, but you are welcome to copy and paste them from the website, as long as you add the reference: https://empoweredparents.co/problem-solving-activities-preschoolers/ Thanks for reading!

Wednesday 20th of May 2020

Very very useful content. Good work. Thank you.

Friday 22nd of May 2020

Thanks Ann.

Tuesday 19th of May 2020

Would like to download the free activity pack please.

Hi Kelly, Please download the activity pack on this page: www.empoweredparents.co

Develop Good Habits

17 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids

There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission of anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please do your own research before making any online purchase.

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.

Table of Contents

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.

problem solving games for preschoolers

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.

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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. 

fun activities for kids | kids creative activities at home | fun activities for kids near me

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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8 problem solving games to play with your preschooler.

problem solving games for preschoolers

Want to Improve Your Child's Problem Solving Skills?

Enroll your child for the Atlas Mission – the ultimate learning companion for kids.

As a toddler, my daughter once got stuck in an opened cardboard box. She climbed in all by herself, but once inside she couldn’t figure how to maneuver her way out.

Like any good mom, I helped by handing her a crayon and allowing her to spend the next 15 minutes inside the box scribbling her little heart out so I could power clean the living room until she remembered she was stuck.

It’s true, I may have been taking slight advantage of her not-yet-fully-developed problem solving skills, but as a mom of a toddler tornado, you take what you can get 🙂

She’s now a preschooler and her problem solving skills have improved since daily life has provided her with ample opportunities (darn those jacket zippers!).

That said, I also believe that presenting her with social problem solving games and activities to utilize her thinking cap has been an important part of her pre-operational development.

I’ve compiled this list of 8 creative activities to assist in developing those skills that are needed when she hits those frustrating preschooler obstacles.

I believe in keeping things fun for the child and easy for mom, so these problem solving activities for preschoolers are simple to set up and many require only your child’s own creativity!

1. Make it Move

For this activity, you’ll need some masking tape and a crumpled ball of paper.

The challenge comes when you place the ball of paper in between two lines of masking tape and ask your preschooler to move it outside the lines — without touching it.

Some preschoolers can’t get enough of this experiment and figure out several ways to move the paper.  Others can get frustrated easily and want to give up.

Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so don’t let your child get discouraged.  Hints are fully ok; just try to wait until they are absolutely needed.

We want them to stretch their problem solving muscles, but not feel defeated.

2. Fit the Top

This is one of my favorites because it’s a delicious learning mix of fine motor, spatial awareness, problem solving and pantry clean-out skills!

For Fit the Top you will need to dig out your entire mess of a Tupperware collection from that forgotten kitchen cupboard.

Or, if your Tupperware is unusually orderly (round of applause from us!), grab a large collection of different sized plastic water bottles and their lids.

Water bottles are probably more fun, but using Tupperware does double duty of getting you organized, so maybe a combo of both is best.

Lay out all Tupperware and water bottles in one pile and put lids in another.  Ask your preschooler to help you organize by finding the right lids to go with the right container.

Popping and screwing the lids on their correct containers exercises those fine motor muscles.

Ensuring the right size/shape lid goes with the right container helps practice both spatial awareness and problem solving skills.

Pro Tip: Help Your Child Become Better at Problem Solving

Enroll your child for the Atlas Mission and let your child play with this award-winning educational program. Your child will become better at problem solving without even realizing it!

3. I’m Being Silly

I’m Being Silly is an on-the-fly story telling game.  The parent starts off with a simple story and the preschooler has to stop them when they’ve said something silly.  Here’s an example:

Johnny was a four-year-old boy on his way to school. As he left, he grabbed his car keys and buckled himself into the driver’s seat.

If they don’t stop you here at the silliness of Johnny driving the car himself to school, just keep going.  Maybe Johnny gets to recess and all the teachers are playing on the slides and swings while Johnny has playground duty.

When he gets home he might first take off his socks and then his shoes.

Customize the difficulty of the hidden sillies to the level of your child’s problem solving skills.  Chances are they will love this game enough to turn the tables and see if you can catch the silliness in their own stories!

4. Pattern Blocks

Pattern blocks or tangrams (the colorful blocks that come in different geometrical shapes) provide fun problem solving activities simply by being played with.

If you want to increase the challenge, a quick google search will pull up hundreds of patterns to print and copy.  Your preschooler will be proud of the intricate designs he can create just by following the cards.

This is a great independent activity when you need some quiet time for yourself or you can build something and ask your child to copy it. Take turns trying to stump each other with your designs.

5. Fort Building and Escaping Lava Alligators

Every child must build a fort in their living room. It’s a rite of passage.

Equally, they must pretend the living room floor is lava filled with alligators and use your couch cushions to create a safe route around them.

Whether you set out materials or just consciously ignore your urge to remind your preschooler that the couch cushions are not trampolines, this creative game is an exercise in solving problems — albeit imaginary ones.

The easiest materials for fort building are sheets and clothespins, but anything your child finds is fine.

To escape Lava Alligators, the appropriate tools are (unfortunately) your favorite couch cushions, but Lava Alligators can also be rehomed to the driveway with hand drawn sidewalk chalk squares working as the safety stones if necessary.

6. Build a Maze

Using blocks, chairs, cardboard boxes, or masking tape you can create a maze for your preschooler to get lost in while working on his critical problem solving skills. It can be small enough for his cars to drive through or big enough for him to walk through.

Be warned, giant cardboard mazes in the backyard have a tendency to attract all the neighborhood kids for a full afternoon of problem-solving fun.

You may end up being forever known as the Coolest Mom on the Block.

We hope you can handle that.

7. Pack my Bag

With Pack my Bag, your preschooler can prepare for a real trip or an imaginary one.  Have him help you prepare for the day’s activities by asking him questions.

What does the weather look like outside? What clothes should we wear? Will we need an umbrella, sunscreen, or a parka?

After we get out of the pool, we will want to get dry, so what will we need? I think we will be gone a while, do you think someone will get hungry?

My example questions might be too direct or just enough depending on your preschooler’s current problem solving skills. The trick is to ask questions that lead him just enough, but still give him some thinking work to do on his own.

8. Preschool Detective

This game can be done with or without the detective hat and magnifying glass.  In this game, Mom gives a clue about an object, then preschooler makes a guess.

Likely she will guess wrong after just one clue, so Mom will provide another one and she can guess again.  This keeps going until the preschooler has guessed correctly. Here’s an example of how this game could go:

Mom: I’m thinking of something big and soft

Preschooler: A bear?

Mom: Nope, it’s something you keep in the house.

Preschooler: The rug?

Mom: Not quite.  It’s something that you use at night and should be in right now, but you’ve left it three times to ask for another glass of water.

Preschooler: My bed?

Mom: That’s right! You win!

As her problem solving skills increase, the clues can be made harder encouraging her to ask more questions.

This is a fun game as is, or can be played with a point system where the preschooler gets a point for each incorrect guess. Each time she plays, she can try to finish with fewer points than the last time.

Usually, no prize is needed for this game, but if this exact scenario arises, a one-way trip back to the above-mentioned bed with one last Mom tuck-in is a fantastic grand prize for guessing.

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Jodi Burnett

About the Author

Jodi Burnett creates educational content for the Atlas Mission . In an earlier life, she used to write the parenting column for a leading regional newspaper, the Tremonton Leader. She now spends her days researching educational methods, playing with microscopes, homeschooling her 4 children, and having a crazy time learning out in the world alongside her kids. She lives near the gorgeous Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City with her husband, 4 children, and a chubby snorting pug.

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Discovery Play with Littles

Discovery Play with Littles

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15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

I looked over to her table and she’s crying. Again. While everyone else is happily working away, she sat there, unable to move, just crying. 

Not asking for help.

Not trying to solve her problem.

Just crying.

I took a deep breath before heading over. We’ve already been at this for several months…isn’t it about time the problem-solving has kicked in yet?

One glance and I could tell what her problem was. She didn’t have her pencil.

Know how I knew?

It laid on the floor beside her. In plain sight.

As a kindergarten teacher, I don’t jump right in and solve problems for kids. It’s good for them to try to solve the problem themselves. This is something she struggled with. 

I reminded myself of the need for patience and empathy as I walked up to her. “What’s wrong, Amanda?” 

“I…can’t…find…my…pencil….” she sputtered out between sobs. 

“Ok, that’s a problem we can solve. What have you tried?” 

“I don’t know.” 

After a long time trying to first, calm her down, and second, come up with some strategies she could try, she finally found her pencil. At that point, everyone else had finished the project. 

Toddlers playing with wooden blocks

What is Problem Solving?

Problem-solving is the process of finding a solution to your problem . This can be quite tricky for some young children, especially those with little experience in finding more than one way to solve a problem.

Why is Problem Solving Important? 

Problem-solving skills are used throughout childhood into adulthood. As adults, we solve problems on a daily basis. Some problems we solve without thinking much- I wanted to make tacos for dinner but forgot to buy the ground beef. What are we going to have for dinner now?

Other problems are significantly more complicated. 

Problems for kiddos can be problems with friendships, the inability to find something that’s needed, or even what to do when things don’t go your way. 

Kids who lack problem-solving skills struggle to maintain friendships or even begin to attempt to solve their own problems. 

Children who lack problem-solving skills are at a higher risk for depression as well.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are:

  • Breaking Down a Problem into Smaller Parts
  • Communication
  • Decision-making
  • Logical Reasoning
  • Perseverance

That’s a big list to teach toddlers and preschoolers. Where do you begin?

The Problem-Solving Steps

Sometimes kids are so overwhelmed with frustration that it affects their ability to solve problems.

Kids feel safe in routines, and routines help them learn and grow. After a few times of repeating this routine, you’ll find your kiddo starts to do this on their own. 

It’s important not to skip straight to solving the problem , because your kiddo needs to be in a calm state of mind to solve the problem, and also they need to know their feelings are valid. 

  • The first thing to do when your kiddo is struggling with problem-solving is to validate their emotions.

In doing this, they will feel more understood and learn that their emotions are okay. There are no bad feelings, and we must learn how to manage our emotions. 

This might sound something like “Oh, I can see you are really frustrated that the block won’t fit on there right. Let’s take some deep breaths to help us calm down before we think about what to do next.”

  • Next, work through your calm-down process . This may be taking some deep breaths together, hugging a stuffie, or giving your kiddo some quiet time to calm down their heart and mind.
  • Identify the problem . This sounds like something you may have already done (before the meltdown) but it’s important to be very clear on the problem you’re solving. Have the child tell you their problem out loud.
  • Move on to solution-finding . When your kiddo is ready, talk about what the problem is and three possible solutions. When possible, let your kiddo do all of the talking. This allows him to practice his problem-solving skills. It’s important to remind him that the first thing he tries may not work, and that’s ok. There’s always another way to solve the problem. If he’s prepared for this, solutions that don’t work won’t be such a frustrating experience. 
  • After you’ve done that, test your solutions one by one. See what works. If you haven’t found a solution yet, go back and think of different ways you might be able to solve your problem and try again.

problem solving games for preschoolers

Are you tired of hearing “It’s TOO HARD!” followed by a meltdown?

Using this one simple phrase you’ll get in this powerful lesson, you’ll not only be able to help your kiddo not give up but you’ll:

>Activate their superpower of perseverance so that they can turn around a meltdown and keep trying

>Inspire them to use perseverance …even when it’s hard

>Teach them to recognize the warning signs of giving up , and how to turn it around by taking control of their choices.

Grab your powerful FREE video lesson to teach your kiddo one of the most powerful keys to perseverance.

Powerful Activities that Teach Problem-Solving Skills to Toddlers & Preschoolers

These activities below may look simple, but don’t let that deter you from trying them. A lot happens in little developing brains and these powerful activities help toddlers and preschoolers make connections and develop {many} essential skills-more than just problem-solving.

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Puzzles are fun and a great way to encourage cognitive development in children. They are great for spacial reasoning and strengthening problem-solving skills. They also develop memory skills, critical thinking, and the ability to plan and execute the plan. Toddlers will enjoy the simple puzzles, and preschoolers will do great with floor puzzles with larger puzzle pieces.

problem solving games for preschoolers

Doing Simple Chores

Doing simple chores is a great way to teach children problem-solving skills, and it strengthens responsibility and perseverance as well. 

During the toddler years , you may start with just picking up their toys, or helping you put their dirty clothes in the hamper. 

Preschoolers can take their dirty dishes to the sink (or load them in the dishwasher), collect the trash, dust, wipe baseboards, and do their own personal care items like making their bed, taking care of their dirty clothes, and putting clean clothes away.

Stacking Rings

When watching a toddler play with stacking rings it doesn’t look like much is happening, but playing with these toys is full of ways to encourage development. It helps with visual and spacial perception and planning ahead, but it also with balance control, crossing the midline, creative play, and gross motor skills. Not to mention it’s a great opportunity to practice problem-solving. 

problem solving games for preschoolers

Playing Hide-and-Seek

Hide and seek has many surprising benefits for kids. Playing hide and seek is like a treasure hunt that helps develop gross motor skills and encourages physical development, as well as problem-solving skills. It also helps young children develop visual tracking, working memory, and social-emotional skills.

Preschooler playing construction worker

Imaginative Play

Imaginative play (also called role-play) builds important skills. Through pretending to be in different situations, kids develop social skills, emotional skills, better communication, and problem-solving skills. Imaginative play is a great idea for young toddlers all the way to older children.

Free Play 

Many young children don’t have {enough} time for free play. Free play is important for healthy brain development , not only developing imagination, cooperation, physical skills, and independence but also providing a great opportunity to strengthen problem-solving skills. 

Playing with Wooden Blocks

Building blocks are a fun way for children to develop creative thinking, imagination, problem-solving, fine motor skills, and if working with others, cooperation, communication, and friendship.

problem solving games for preschoolers

Playing Memory

Memory games improve attention, focus, visual recognition, and concentration. It helps children recognize details and of course, strengthens problem-solving skills. 

problem solving games for preschoolers

Ask Questions

When I see my son struggling with something, my first instinct is to give him choices or at least lead him in the right direction. The better thing to do is to ask very open-ended questions that lead his process, not his thoughts.

Questions like “What’s one way to solve your problem?” are much more effective in teaching problem-solving skills than “Well, where did you last see your stuffy?” 

Read Books and Social Stories

Reading books is one of my favorite ways to teach any skill. It’s extremely effective at teaching, and it’s also an amazing bonding time with kids.

When we read stories, our brain reacts as if we’re living in the story. This is why reading books about skills such as problem-solving is so effective. 

Kids of all ages learn from the people they love . (Yes, even those older kids who you don’t think are paying attention.) Often as adults, we’re too busy going through our daily routine to think about talking about the way we solved the problem at work that day.

Talking about how you use skills such as problem-solving, perseverance, and integrity is a great way to set an example, and an expectation that this is how we do things, and it will provide encouragement for your kiddo to do the same.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a great group activity that can strengthen your child’s logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

When Your Kiddo is Ready, Add These Activities

Preschoolers would benefit from all of the fun activities on the list above and when they’re ready, feel free to add in the following activities.   

Mazes are great for problem-solving and perseverance, but your kiddo will need to have decent fine motor skills to do these activities. Mazes are one of our favorite activities. We love to take our activity book of mazes in the car with us for road trips. 

problem solving games for preschoolers

Board Games  

Board games are a good way to strengthen problem-solving, teamwork, planning skills, patience, sportsmanship, and communication skills. They also strengthen family relationships by providing some intentional time of connection .

Any board game can also be turned into an academic game with just a deck of cards for whatever skill you’re working on. If you’re working on the alphabet, put one letter on each card. Before each player’s turn, they draw a letter card and say the letter’s name. (You may accidentally forget the name of a letter every now and then to see if your kiddo is really paying attention!) 

Allow Opportunities for Hands-On Investigations

Kids are tactile. They love to touch and explore things with their hands. This is a good activity for toddlers also, as long as they are out of the putting everything in their mouth stage. Hands-on exploration is great for language development, sensory exploration, and problem-solving.

Allowing kids to investigate with their hands allows them to see how the world works up close. It also gives them time and space to try to make things work…and problem-solve when it doesn’t go as they think it should.

The Most Difficult Way (and Most Important Way) To Strengthen Problem-Solving Skills

Watching our kids struggle is hard ! We don’t want to see them having a hard time…and most of the time we don’t want to deal with the impending meltdown. Standing back and giving our kids time and space to work through even simple problems is hard to do. It’s also the most important way to strengthen problem-solving skills. 

As parents, we’re like frogs in boiling water. When our kids are infants, they need us to recognize their needs and solve them immediately. As they get older, they can point to what they want, but we still have a lot of interpreting and problem-solving to do on our own. If we aren’t careful, we stay in this stage and don’t teach our kiddos the steps to problem-solving for themselves. 

The next most difficult thing? Allowing natural consequences to happen. (As long as your child is safe of course.) If your child saves their money for a long time to buy a new toy, but walks down the toy aisle and picks up something you know they’ll be disappointed with, let it happen. It will teach a valuable lesson that will last for years to come.

Another Essential Part of Problem-Solving

Perseverance is a big part of problem-solving. We are rarely able to solve problems the first time, and it’s essential that kids can find more than one solution to a problem. Studies have found that perseverance is actually the biggest predictor of success, even more than aptitude or raw talent. 

An entire module is dedicated to perseverance in our course for kids, Super Kid Adventures . Your kiddo will get 25 teacher-led lessons on character traits (perseverance, empathy, friendship, responsibility, and wellness) and activities that take their learning further. 

Super Kid Adventures

Want a free preview? Grab a FREE Perseverance video lesson that teaches your kiddo one of the most important secrets that help them use perseverance.

Want More? 

If you like this, you’ll love: 

The Ultimate List of Books that Teach Perseverance

7 Simple Ways to Encourage Independence in Young Children

How to Help Your Child Develop Self-Help Skills

Your Turn 

What are your favorite ways to teach problem-solving skills?

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About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a mama of two boys, a former teacher, and the founder of Discovery Play with Littles. Her mission is to make raising kids with character simple and fun. Join us for our best learning through play ideas, character growth activities, and family connection ideas so you can watch your child thrive.

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As a SLP trying to guide parents as I work with their child. I would like to know what toys to recommend to my parents as I assist in guiding their child’s development in cognition and expressive language.

Free Perseverance Lesson

Perseverance is the biggest predictor of success, even more than raw talent or aptitude.

Grab a FREE lesson to teach your kiddo one of the keys to perseverance...which is how we talk to our brains.

They'll learn what to say when they encounter something difficult, and why it's so important.

PLAY is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood. -Mr. Rogers

Teaching Problem Solving Skills for Kids the Ultimate Guide

Hey there, little problem-solvers! Imagine your brain as a superhero headquarters where problems are challenges waiting to be conquered.

Today, we’re going to dive into the world of problem-solving skills – the secret powers that make you a superhero in the game of life!

Why are Problem-Solving Skills Important in Early Childhood?

Picture this: you’re the captain of your ship, and problem-solving skills are your navigation tools.

These skills help you sail through the sea of challenges, making you independent, super smart, and ready for anything that comes your way.

They’re not just skills; they’re your superhero gear for life’s adventures! See below list for more details.

Helps to Think Critically

Developing problem-solving skills in early childhood is essential for children to develop the ability to think critically and logically.

Problem-solving skills help children find solutions to everyday issues, such as how to solve a complicated math equation or fix a practical problem.

Helps with life lessons

Problem-solving skills also provide children valuable life lessons on better managing difficult situations as they mature into adulthood.

They learn that it’s ok to experiment with different approaches when faced with a challenge and eventually come up with the best possible solution.

Allows to use creativity and imagination

Solid problem-solving abilities allow children to use creativity and imagination when faced with challenging tasks rather than relying solely on instructions presented by adults to guide them.

This teaches them to make decisions based on their judgment and reasoning rather than succumbing to peer pressure or unthinkingly following orders.

Helps to think outside the box

By developing early childhood problem-solving skills, children can think outside the box, which helps them build self-confidence, an essential part of development as they grow older.

When allowed independent thought without fear of failure or criticism from other people, they are more likely to take risks and ultimately reach their full potential throughout life.

Lays the foundation for success

Investing in developing problem-solving skills in early childhood will lay the foundation for success for children later in life since good problem-solving skills are essential in many college courses and professional careers in all industries.

Like, medical research, engineering, and computer science up through management jobs or CEO roles where decision making is critical.

Role of Problem-Solving Skills in Holistic Development

Let’s connect the dots between problem-solving skills and your superhero team – cognitive development .

Just like superheroes need strong teamwork, your brain’s problem-solving skills work with cognitive development to make you a master thinker and decision-maker. It’s like having a dynamic duo inside your head!

Ultimately it will boost your child’s Holistic Development !

Key Aspects of Problem-Solving Skills Development

Identification of problems.

Think of this as your superhero radar. Teaching you to identify problems is like giving you the power to spot challenges from a mile away.

Activities like treasure hunts or detective games can help you become a problem-finding expert. Why? Because superheroes need to know what they’re up against!

Generation of Solutions

Now, it’s time to put on your inventor’s hat! Guiding you to generate solutions is like giving you a toolbox full of ideas.

Brainstorming sessions, role-play scenarios, or solving riddles are like workouts for your creative muscles. The more solutions you think of, the stronger and more creative you become!

Decision Making

Welcome to the superhero control center! Decision-making is choosing the best tool from your toolbox.

Weighing pros and cons, using decision-making charts, or even flipping a coin (yes, superheroes can be a bit whimsical!) are ways to make sure you pick the perfect solution. Decision-making makes you the captain of your ship!

Evaluation and Learning

After every adventure, superheroes gather to share their stories. Evaluating outcomes and learning from experiences is like your superhero debriefing session.

Reflective discussions help you understand what worked and what didn’t, making you wiser for the next challenge. Learning from experiences is how superheroes become legends!

Strategies to Teach Problem Solving Skills

Now, let’s talk about the superhero training camp!

Teaching problem-solving strategies is a critical component of early childhood problem-solving. Strategizing will help a child break down a complicated issue into smaller and more manageable steps, making finding solutions much more accessible.

Strategies like brainstorming, breaking tasks into small steps, or trying different approaches can promote creative thinking and teach children how to persevere when faced with a challenge.

Provide Guided Support

When teaching problem-solving skills to young children, it is essential to provide guided support throughout the process.

Although it might be tempting to jump in and provide solutions, offering guidance instead can help foster a feeling of autonomy for your little ones.

Ask them questions about their ideas and encourage them to come up with solutions on their own.

Encourage Open Communication

Open communication between yourself and your child is another critical component to successful problem-solving in early childhood.

You want your little one to be comfortable bringing any questions or concerns directly to you instead of bottling it up or feeling too intimidated or embarrassed to speak up.

Encourage them to talk openly about anything troubling them — whether figuring out how many pieces are left after you cut a cake into eight slices or thinking through their feelings when someone makes fun of them at school.

Talk About Feelings

It’s also important that young kids learn how each emotion manifests differently as soon as possible — this will enable them to act appropriately regardless of their environment or circumstance.

Talk about negative emotions (ex: anger) if something has upset them and positive feelings (ex: excitement) if they have accomplished something great like mastering a new skill or puzzle!

This exercise will encourage verbalization and increase understanding of self-regulation techniques, which will prove helpful far beyond primary school age.

Ways to Teach Problem-Solving Skills To Preschoolers

Learning how to solve problems is one of the essential skills your child will ever develop. After all, problem-solving and critical thinking are vital components of successful learning in any subject ranging from mathematics to social studies.

To help your child build those skills and gain a better understanding of problem-solving, here are seven tips that you should consider:

1. Break down complex tasks and concepts: 

Complex tasks and concepts such as counting or sorting objects can be tricky for preschoolers to understand.

It is essential to break these tasks into smaller and more manageable pieces that preschoolers can easily understand.

2. Create games: 

Games are a great way to encourage problem-solving skills in preschoolers. Incorporating puzzles, drawing activities, or letter identification games can be fun for kids while also helping them practice their problem-solving skills.

Puzzles are excellent tools for teaching young minds about problem-solving strategies. For example, you could attempt jigsaw puzzles or logic games like Sudoku or Chess.

3. Ask open-ended questions: 

Asking open-ended questions encourages preschoolers to think creatively and come up with answers independently without being given all the correct answers upfront.

Questions such as “What do you think will happen if you move this block?” allow kids to explore and experiment before they figure out the answer themselves.

4. Utilize trial and error: 

Preschoolers learn best through trial and error-based problem-solving approaches; instead of immediately answering, let them try different solutions to see the result themselves!

5. Encourage collaboration over the competition: 

Collaborative problem-solving is vital for promoting problem-solving skills in preschoolers; it helps children establish cooperative relationships by encouraging teamwork over competition!

6. Make use of props :  

Props such as Legos, dolls, or even stuffed animals are valuable tools for teaching problem-solving strategies; these items allow children to build upon what they’ve learned visually!

Furthermore, using props also gives kids something tangible they can refer back to while playing or completing tasks with others who may not have seen what was built previously!

7. Celebrate each success : 

Problem-solving is a process of trial and error – don’t get discouraged if preschoolers make mistakes along the way; instead, celebrate every small success they have to keep motivation high!

8.   Teach Them to Break Problems Down into Smaller Parts

Sometimes a complex problem can seem overwhelming for children. Teaching them how to break down a significant issue into smaller pieces makes it easier to understand and focus on one task at a time.

Encourage them to divide each problem into steps that can be completed individually – this can give them the confidence they need to tackle the challenge head-on.

Simple Activities To Teach Problem-Solving To Your Preschooler

As you plan activities for your preschooler to help them become creative and efficient problem solvers, it’s essential to remember that this process never stops.

Therefore, it’s crucial to maximize their early development. Here are some simple activities you can use to teach your preschooler problem-solving skills.

Drawing Links Between Ideas: 

This activity gets kids used to figuring out how different ideas are connected and relies on creativity rather than knowledge of many specific facts.

Get a whiteboard or paper and divide it into four equal quadrants. In each of the four corners, have the child draw a picture related to other images on the board (e.g., a bird in one corner and a nest in another).

Ask the child how all objects relate by drawing lines from one thing to another where appropriate (e.g., from the nest to the bird).

Word Puzzles: 

Word puzzles encourage kids to figure out patterns between words as well as help them learn new sight words, and reinforce spelling when they write down their answers. Print off simple word puzzles for your child, such as crossword puzzles, Mad Libs stories, or Scattergories lists with prompts or objects your preschooler might know, like animals, colors, and shapes.

After they finish writing down their answers depending on the puzzle, either set up the rules where applicable (Scattergories) or read their story aloud (Mad Libs).

Pairing Relatable Subjects: 

Have your child select two categories they enjoy – favorite animal names and superhero names are usually easy picks – then create pairs made up of items within those categories by positioning one thing right above or beside its counterpart (e.g., Black Panther with Panther).

Next, allow them to check if these relational pairs hold throughout these categories by creating charts using Post-it notes while also letting them elaborate why they think specific pairings might not be proper at times –such as wondering why The Flash doesn’t have a Pet Flash.

Loose Parts Play Space: 

Loose parts play is an ideal way for preschoolers to learn about problem-solving, motivate experimentation and build self-regulation skills through unstructured play that promotes discovery and exploration instead of enforcing completion goals; all projects here are successful regardless of the result!

Get some loose parts –think art supplies like tape, feathers, sequins, etc., building blocks are great, too– from around the house, such as empty boxes/bottles/cans with lids/paper towel rolls, etc. Now give them an open invitation, “Build me something!” so they can explore their ideas!

Examples Of Problem-Solving In Early Childhood

1. working out how to put together a toy or game that siblings have taken apart:  .

Toddlers will often have to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how all the pieces of their toys go back together, as they’ve likely been taken apart or mixed up by older siblings.

2. Making decisions between two similar activities they both want to do: 

Young children often try to determine which action is better when presented with two toys or activities they want to engage in.

This could include picking between two colors for a building block set or deciding which book should be read first in storytime.

3. Determining how far away an object is: 

Toddlers need to learn about spatial relations, and determining how far away something is from them can be tricky but essential for their development; this includes things like being able to gauge when someone is too close or too far away from them.

As well recognizing when an object is within arms reach of them vs. needing help getting it down from a higher shelf.

4. Creating solutions to move on from complex emotional states: 

Even in early childhood, problem-solving can extend beyond physical objects and come into play making decisions about their own feelings and emotional states.

Finding ways to manage strong emotions during temper tantrums, peaceful resolution strategies during quarrels with other children, and coming up with creative solutions to work through boredom or loneliness while at daycare/preschool.

Obstacles in Problem-Solving Skills Development and Solutions

Sometimes, young minds face obstacles on their problem-solving journey. Overcoming fear of failure, lack of independent thinking opportunities, or excessive guidance from adults is key.

Promoting a growth mindset, providing open-ended tasks, and allowing children to make mistakes and learn from them are strategies that transform obstacles into stepping stones for success.

Problem-Solving Skills and School Readiness

As kids embark on their school journey, problem-solving skills become their trusty companions. These skills influence academic performance by fostering critical thinking, logical reasoning, and adaptability.

The ability to handle school-related challenges is heightened, setting the stage for a successful and fulfilling educational adventure.

So, little problem-solvers, the world is your puzzle, and you’ve got the pieces. With each challenge, you’re not just finding solutions – you’re discovering the superhero within.

Keep exploring, keep solving, and get ready for a future filled with exciting adventures and triumphant victories!

I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for creating engaging and educational activities for children. I strongly understand child development and know how to create activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.

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problem solving games for preschoolers

Games to Foster Problem-solving Skills in Preschoolers. Have You Tried Them Out?

Problem-Solving Games and Activities for 3-5 Years Old

1. sorting tub :.

problem solving games for preschoolers

2. Skyscraper :

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3. Tangrams :

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4. The listening game :

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5. Simon says :

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6. Obstacle race :

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10 Problem Solving Games for Kids

Playing board games is one of the best ways to spend time with your children. Why? Board games offer ample ways for kids to build their brains. Not only does playing games with your children improve family relationships and give opportunities for caring adults to help nurture good sportsmanship but the best games build kids' critical thinking and problem solving skills.

black and white checkers board

Note: this post contains affiliate links that may earn commission.

We've composed a list of problem solving games for kids that help develop the following critical skills:

  • Advance planning - what steps do you need to make in order to reach your goal?
  • Decision making - evaluating the benefits of multiple choices
  • Drawing conclusions and inference - how will your opponent respond to your choice?
  • Reevaluation - how you respond when the result is unexpected

Games work on all these skills while also being fun. What could be better? Here are our favorite 10 problem solving games for kids and families!

A note regarding age recommendations. I've included the manufacturer's recommendation, but most games can be played with younger kids, provided an adult is at the ready to assist.

Battle sheep game tiles

BATTLE SHEEP

Every time you play Battle Sheep the playing space is different! That's because players start with 4 pasture boards that they take turns placing down to create the playing field. Kids are using advance planning and reevaluation right off the bat! Each player begins with 16 sheep and aims towards occupying as many pastures as they can. Players must chose between placing sheep or strategically blocking their opponents. We love this game that engages players' abstract thinking, strategic, and visual perception skills. Ages 7 and up. 2-4 players.

Find it: Amazon

Tsuro game of the path board, box and pieces

The board changes every time you play, keeping players on their toes and constantly reassessing their strategy. Players use tiles to create paths along which they move their tokens. The objective is to create paths in such a way that keep you moving but force your opponents off the board. Players must anticipate other's moves and problem solve in order accomplish both goals. Tsuro is also surprisingly easy to learn! Ages 8 and up. 2-8 players.

MORE : Our favorite tile-based games

Labyrinth board game box with game boards and pieces

Players make their way through an ever-shifting maze in pursuit of treasure. Each player begins with a set number of treasure cards and the player who collects all their treasure first, wins. The board consists of moving panels and on their turn, a player shifts the panels in an effort to further their own progress or hinder that of others. Ages 7 and up. 2-4 players

Kingdomino tiles and game pieces

Kingdomino is a tile placing game in which players must make choices regarding how to build their kingdom. The objective of the game is to score as many points as possible by matching tiles based on terrain. But some terrains score more than others. Players must decide if they want to build a lot of low scoring terrains, or fewer high-scoring terrains. Your tile choice also affects the order of play for the next round so it's important to be thoughtful. We've throughly enjoyed this game. An expansion pack is available. Ages 8 and up. 2-4 players

Find it: Kingdomino | Expansion pack | Queendomino

Photosynthesis game board with tree tokens laid out

PHOTOSYNTHESIS

Photosynthesis from Blue Orange Games has an environmental theme. Players focus on growing trees through their life cycle from seed to maturity. Players strategize to "plant" their seeds where they will receive the most light, without being blocked in the future by other, maturing, trees. Successful game play requires planning and analysis. The artwork is beautiful and adds to the unique game play. We have enjoyed playing this game! Ages 8 and up. 2-4 players.

Azul game board and tiles

Azul's stunningly colorful game design was inspired by azulejos , a type of decorated ceramic tile introduced to Spain by the Moors and made popular in Portugal by King Manuel I. Players transform into tile laying artists, and must strategize over three phases of game play: choosing tiles, laying them and prepping for the next round. The object is to collect the most points by creating lines of 5 consecutive tiles. Each line of tiles must contain only one of each type of tile. The game ends when one player has completed a row, but that player is not necessarily the winner. Strategic problem solving and planning are required because players can lose points in the wall-tiling phase for any remaining, unused tiles. Ages 8 and up. 2-4 players.

Gobblet game board and wooden pieces

Gobblet looks like Tic Tac Toe but players have large, medium and small pieces that nestle inside each other like Russian dolls. Players attempt to get four in a row by "gobbling" up smaller pieces. The game relies on advance planning, anticipating your opponent's moves and memory skills since you have to remember which Gobblets have been gobbled without peeking! Ages 7 and up. 2 players. A version for ages 5 and up is available as Gobblet Gobblers.

Find it: Gobblet | Gobblet Gobblers

Cat Crimes single player game from ThinkFun

LOGIC GAMES

Logic games are the ultimate problem solving entertainment! We love single player logic games and probably own an unhealthy number of these brain boosting puzzle games.

The following are some of our top favorites:

  • Cat Crimes , ages 8 and up ( pictured above ) - see it as our game of the month feature
  • Code Master , ages 8 and up - see it as our game of the month feature
  • Castle Logix , ages 3 and up - see it as our game of the month feature

wooden Mancala board with marbles

Mancala is a classic game every family should have. The board has two rows of depressions, plus end "home" bowls. The goal is to transfer the most stones from the rows into your home. A set of rules govern how you deposit and capture stones. You must use strategy to capture stones and ensure you do not leave them vulnerable to your opponent's greedy, greedy paws. Playing Mancala improves memory and observation skills. You must engage your strategic thinking skills to make sure you don't inadvertently give your opponent the opportunity to thwart you. Ages 8 and up. 2 players.

Clue game box and game board

There's a reason the classic detective board game, Clue, remains so popular. I loved it when I was a kid and I bet you did, too. Players race to be the first person to solve the mystery of the who, what and where of a murder. Clue requires deductive reasoning and logic skills to narrow down the possibilities. Players must also vigilantly observe the actions of other players to help them make logical decisions. Ages 8 and up, 2-6 players ( much better with 3 or more players ).

  • 6 games that improve visual perception
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  • 12 best family games for all ages and skill levels

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Critical Thinking Activities for Preschoolers

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critical thinking activities preschoolers

K ids are sponges. They soak up information and learn new things every day, whether we realize it or not! One of the best things we can do as parents are to help foster our children’s natural ability to think critically by providing engaging critical thinking activities for preschoolers.

What is Critical Thinking for Preschoolers?

Why teach preschoolers critical thinking, how to teach preschoolers critical thinking, here’s a list of critical thinking activities suitable for preschoolers:, the importance of predictions, the observation phase, discussing results, reading to complement experiments, the takeaway for parents, toy scenarios, relational language, drawing maps, real-world applications, parental involvement, starting simple, adding complexity, story-based patterning, encourage observations, parent tips, fold and cut, mirror images, symmetry in nature, question and understand, what parents should know, picture cards, daily routines, storytime sequencing, cooking together, parent’s role, a skill for life, animal sorting, food categories, color coding, advanced classifying, ask questions, skill building, simple pairings, attribute matching, word pairings, “what doesn’t belong”, ask open-ended questions, why analogies matter, mixed criteria, question and discuss, importance for cognitive development, basic counting with objects, count and compare, counting games, skip counting, the “guess the number” game, subtraction and addition, why counting matters, using everyday scenarios, hands-on activities, beyond just numbers, make it a game, questions to prompt thinking, importance in daily life.

Critical thinking for preschoolers refers to their ability to process information independently, make connections, reason, and make well-thought-out decisions. It involves encouraging curiosity, asking questions, and understanding the “why” behind concepts.

Teaching critical thinking to preschoolers is essential as it fosters independence, boosts problem-solving skills, and prepares them for future academic and life challenges. It also enhances their creativity, adaptability, and ability to navigate complex situations.

To teach preschoolers critical thinking, introduce open-ended questions, provide hands-on experiences, encourage curiosity, engage in storytelling, promote problem-solving activities, and create an environment where they feel safe to express ideas and make mistakes.

  • Sorting and Categorizing : Provide a mix of objects and have them sort them by various attributes (color, size, shape, texture).
  • Story Sequencing : Use picture cards to tell a story and ask them to arrange them in the correct order.
  • What’s Missing? Game : Set up a few items, let the child study them, then remove one when they aren’t looking and ask which one is missing.
  • Pattern Recognition : Use colored blocks or beads to create a pattern and have them continue it.
  • Cause and Effect Experiments : Simple experiments like “What happens when you drop a ball?” or “What happens if you put paper in water?”
  • True or False Questions : A type of assessment where learners decide whether a given statement is accurate, often used to test knowledge on specific facts or concepts quickly.
  • Memory Games : Classic games like ‘Simon says’ or matching card games.
  • Question of the Day: Start the day with an open-ended question like, “Why is the sky blue?” or “How do plants grow?”
  • Role Play : Encourage them to act out different scenarios, which helps in understanding different perspectives.
  • Building Challenges: Using blocks or LEGO, set a challenge like “Can you build a bridge?” or “Make a house with a garage.”
  • Problem Solving Scenarios: Give them hypothetical problems to solve, like “What would you do if your toy broke?” or “How can you share three apples with four friends?”
  • Picture Interpretation: Show them a complex picture and ask open-ended questions about what they see, think, and wonder.
  • Mystery Bag: Put an object in a bag and have them feel it without looking, then guess what it is.
  • Puzzle Time: Regular puzzles are great for problem-solving and spatial recognition.
  • Would you Rather Questions : Fun scenarios like “Would you rather be a fish or a bird?” This encourages reasoning and justification.
  • Exploring Nature: Nature walks where they can observe, question, and learn about the environment.
  • Music Exploration: Play different types of music and discuss how each one makes them feel.
  • Story Creation: Give them a start, like “There’s a dragon in the garden…” and let them continue.
  • Sensory Bins : Bins filled with sand, water beads, rice, or other materials where they can explore, measure, and experiment.
  • Group Discussions: After a story or activity, discuss as a group what happened, why, and what might happen next.
  • Prediction Activities: Activities where they predict what might happen next, whether in a story or a simple experiment.

Integrating these activities into a preschooler’s daily routine will help foster an environment of curiosity, exploration, and deepened understanding.

Science Experiments

Science experiments offer a unique avenue for diving into critical thinking activities for kids. Let’s break down how you can turn simple experiments into a world of exploration and reasoning for your little one.

Before starting any experiment, ask your child to make a prediction. Whether it’s guessing what color will result from mixing two paints or what will happen when you add salt to ice, predictions engage your child’s anticipatory skills.

While performing the experiment and science activity , encourage your child to observe keenly. What do they see, smell, or hear? Encourage them to note these observations down or share them with you. This engages their senses and promotes active learning during preschool .

After the experiment, sit down with your child and discuss what happened. Compare their initial predictions with the actual results. Did something unexpected happen? Great! This is a fantastic moment to introduce the concept of ’cause and effect,’ a cornerstone in critical thinking for preschoolers.

Consider pairing these experiments with related books. Reading material can help cement the scientific concepts you’ve explored, making the learning experience well-rounded.

Your role is crucial. The questions you ask and the encouragement you give can transform a simple science experiment into a treasure trove of critical thinking activities. It’s not just about the ‘doing’; it’s also about the ‘thinking’ that goes along with it.

By taking the time to prepare, observe, and discuss, you’re not just teaching science but instilling critical thinking skills that will last a lifetime.

Spatial Relationships

Understanding spatial relationships is a key aspect of critical thinking preschool activities. Not only does this skill lay the groundwork for geometry and other advanced math concepts, but it also helps your child navigate through the world more effectively. So, how can you turn understanding spatial relationships into a critical thinking exercise for your preschooler?

Start by engaging your child with simple toy scenarios. For example, provide your child with a toy car and present a challenge: Can they position the car “under” the table or “next to” a book? This forces them to think critically about space and how different objects relate.

In these spatial activities , the language you use is crucial. Words like “under,” “over,” “next to,” “behind,” and “in front of” enrich their vocabulary and conceptual understanding. Make a game out of it; ask them to place their toy “beside” the couch, then “beneath” a chair, and so on.

Drawing simple maps can also be a fun way to explore spatial relationships. You and your child can draw a map of a room in your house or even a treasure map. This helps your child think critically about space on a two-dimensional scale.

Use real-world situations to apply these concepts. For example, you could ask your child to help you find the shortest path from the car to the entrance of a store. This engages them in problem-solving and turns an everyday task into a critical thinking game for kids.

Your involvement is essential. The prompts you give and the questions you ask can be geared towards understanding the reasoning behind their choices. Why did they think the car should go “under” the table and not “on top of it”? Their answers can offer insightful glimpses into their thought processes.

Integrating these activities into your child’s routine provides essential tools for their cognitive development. It’s not just about understanding spatial relationships; it’s about setting the foundation for logical reasoning and problem-solving—skills that are vital for future learning.

Patterning is an enjoyable and instructive way to introduce activities to develop critical thinking skills in preschoolers. Recognizing and creating patterns help children understand order and make predictions, essential skills for both math and everyday life. So how can you engage your child in patterning activities?

Begin with straightforward activities. Give your child a set of blocks in different colors or shapes and ask them to arrange them in a simple pattern, like “red-blue-red-blue” or “circle-square-circle-square.

You can introduce more complex ones as they get comfortable with simpler patterns. For example, try a pattern that involves more than two colors or shapes, like “red-blue-green-red-blue-green.”

To make it more engaging, try creating a story around the pattern. Maybe the colored blocks are “cars in a parade” or “fruits in a basket.” Stories make the patterns more relatable and help in creating a rich context around what might otherwise be an abstract concept.

After your child has made a pattern, ask them to describe it to you. What do they see? What comes next? Why? This forces them to articulate their thought process, thereby improving both their language and critical thinking skills.

Your involvement in these patterning activities amplifies their effectiveness. Ask open-ended questions like, “Why did you choose to put the red block there?” or “What do you think comes next?” Your questions can guide them through the reasoning process, making these exercises not just patterning activities but also reasoning activities for preschoolers.

By incorporating patterning into playtime, you’re doing more than teaching colors and shapes; you’re instilling the ability to recognize relationships between objects—a skill that forms the basis of logical reasoning and critical thought.

Symmetry is not just an aesthetic concept; it’s a brilliant way to cultivate critical thinking in preschoolers. When children recognize or create symmetrical objects or arrangements, they’re learning about balance, equality, and relational properties—core elements in critical thinking preschool activities . Here’s how you can engage your child with symmetry.

The easiest way to start is by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting shapes along the folded edge. When you unfold the paper, you’ll have a symmetrical shape. Ask your child what they notice about the two halves. Are they the same or different? Why?

Another activity is to place a small divider between two identical sets of blocks. Build a pattern or shape with one set and ask your child to replicate it as a mirror image using the other set of blocks. This not only teaches symmetry but also enhances their observational skills.

Take a nature walk and ask your child to find examples of symmetry, like leaves, flowers, or even animals. Discuss what makes these objects symmetrical. This offers a more dynamic, interactive approach to understanding symmetry and engages them in critical thinking games for kids.

As always, your involvement and the questions you ask can bring depth to the activity. Why is it easier to find symmetry in some objects than in others? Why do they think symmetry exists in nature? These questions prompt deeper thinking and understanding.

Symmetry activities are more than just a game; they provide a foundation for more complex mathematical concepts like geometry. Furthermore, they encourage your child to think about balance and fairness, abstract concepts that have real-world applications.

Symmetry activities offer a multi-faceted approach to critical thinking for preschoolers, combining math, nature, and everyday observations into a rich tapestry of learning experiences.

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Sequencing is an invaluable exercise that aids in developing a wide range of skills, from language and literacy to logic and problem-solving. This makes it one of the must-try critical thinking activities for preschoolers. Below are some ways you can approach sequencing with your child:

Start simple by using a set of picture cards that tell a story. Scatter them and ask your child to place them in a logical order. This helps them understand the concept of beginnings, middles, and ends, crucial for both storytelling and understanding sequences in daily life.

Use everyday routines as an opportunity for sequencing activities. Whether it’s getting dressed, preparing a simple snack, or cleaning up toys, ask your child to describe the sequence of actions needed to complete these tasks. This not only cements their understanding of everyday activities but also naturally integrates critical thinking into their day.

During storytime, pause to ask your child what they think will happen next or what came before a specific event. Encourage them to explain their reasoning. This turns storytime into an exercise in prediction and recall, both important components of sequencing and critical thinking for preschoolers.

Involve your child in simple cooking or baking activities . Ask them to describe the sequence of steps involved in the recipe. This not only helps in understanding sequencing but also incorporates elements of measurement and timing, adding layers to their critical thinking skills.

Your role is to facilitate and challenge. Ask questions like, “What will happen if we change the order of these steps?” or “Why do you think this comes after that?” By doing so, you’re transforming simple sequencing activities into deeper reasoning activities for preschoolers.

Sequencing isn’t just for stories or games; it’s a skill your child will use in academic settings and everyday life. By incorporating sequencing into various activities, you’re providing your child with a toolbox of skills for organizing information, problem-solving, and critically thinking about the world around them.

Classifying

The ability to classify and categorize is fundamental to human cognition and an excellent entry point for critical thinking preschool activities. Classifying allows children to make sense of the world by grouping items based on shared characteristics or qualities. Here are some ways to involve your preschooler in classifying activities:

One of the most engaging ways to introduce classification is through animals. Provide your child with a set of toy animals and ask them to group them by various criteria: type (mammals, birds, reptiles), habitat (water, land, air), or even by the number of legs. This exercise not only enhances their understanding of biology but also hones their observation and reasoning skills.

Another fun activity involves sorting food items. You could give your child a mix of plastic fruits, vegetables, and junk food items and ask them to separate them into corresponding categories. This also serves as a great opportunity to discuss healthy eating habits .

For younger children, color can be the most straightforward attribute to classify. Offer them an assortment of beads, blocks, or other multi-colored items and ask them to sort these based on color. This is a simple yet effective exercise in classification.

As your child becomes more proficient, you can introduce multiple levels of classification. For example, they could first sort animals by type and then sort those types by size or diet. This adds layers to their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Remember, your involvement is crucial. Asking questions like, “Why did you decide to group these together?” or “What makes these items similar or different?” can deepen their understanding and turn the activity into a rich discussion. This elevates it from a mere exercise into a critical thinking game for kids.

Classification activities offer much more than just an understanding of categories. They help build logical thinking, improve vocabulary, and can even introduce basic scientific concepts. These are all essential stepping stones in developing robust critical thinking skills for your preschooler.

By regularly incorporating classifying exercises into your child’s playtime, you are actively helping them construct a framework for understanding the world in a more organized and logical manner.

Analogies are one of the more advanced yet highly effective critical thinking activities for kids. They challenge children to identify relationships between disparate things by finding a common thread. While it may seem like a complex skill, it can be broken down into simpler components for preschoolers to understand. Here’s how to make analogies an accessible and engaging activity for your little one.

Begin with objects that are obviously related but different, like an apple and an orange. Ask your child to explain how they are similar or different. The goal is to get them thinking about attributes that aren’t immediately obvious, like the fact that both are fruits despite differing in color, taste, and texture.

Provide your child with a collection of assorted items and ask them to match them based on one common attribute. For example, a spoon and a fork could be matched because they’re both utensils, even though one is used for scooping and the other for piercing food.

As your child becomes more comfortable with the concept, move on to word-based analogies. You could start with opposites like hot/cold or day/night. Ask your child what makes these pairs opposites and to think of other examples.

A fun twist on analogies is the “What doesn’t belong?” game. Present your child with a group of three or four items where one item is notably different. Ask them to identify the odd one out and explain why it doesn’t belong. This game turns analogies into critical thinking games for kids that are both educational and engaging.

As always, your participation enhances the activity. Ask open-ended questions like, “Why do you think these two are alike?” or “Can you think of other things that are similar in this way?” These questions encourage a deeper exploration of the concept, making it an excellent activity to develop critical thinking skills.

Analogies help build a variety of skills including vocabulary, reasoning abilities, and problem-solving skills. They encourage children to make connections between different pieces of information, a critical skill not just in academic settings but in everyday decision-making.

By incorporating analogies into your routine, you help your child develop an essential tool for interpreting the world around them, boosting their critical thinking and cognitive abilities.

Sorting and Categorizing

Sorting and categorizing activities are foundational for preschool-aged children and serve as a cornerstone for developing critical thinking skills. They not only help kids recognize patterns but also teach them how to make educated judgments. Here’s how you can make sorting and categorizing a fun and enlightening experience for your little one.

Sorting by shape is one of the simplest ways to begin. Provide your child with an array of different shapes like circles, squares, and triangles. You can use household items like buttons, blocks, or even cut-out paper shapes. Ask your child to separate these items into different piles based on their shapes.

Colors offer another straightforward criterion for sorting. You can use colored balls, beads, or toys and ask your child to group them based on their color. This is a simple but effective way to get children to focus on characteristics, thereby introducing them to the basics of categorization.

Sorting by size provides a slightly more advanced challenge and introduces the concept of relativity. Give your child a mix of big and small objects, and ask them to sort them into ‘big’ and ‘small’ groups. As they get better at this, you can introduce medium-sized items for a greater challenge.

As your child becomes more proficient, you can make the activity more complex by mixing criteria. For instance, they can sort by both color and size, creating groups of small red items, large red items, small blue items, and so on. This type of multi-criteria sorting is a great way to sharpen their critical thinking abilities.

Make sure to ask questions during these activities. Queries like, “Why did you put this here?” or “What makes these two items the same?” promote reasoning and dialogue. You can thereby elevate sorting and categorizing from a simple task to one of the essential critical thinking activities for preschoolers.

Sorting and categorizing lay the groundwork for mathematical concepts and logical reasoning. These activities train the mind to identify, compare, and analyze objects based on specific characteristics, making them powerful tools in shaping a child’s cognitive abilities.

Sorting and categorizing can be as simple or as complex as you make them, but their benefits for critical thinking and overall cognitive development are immense. By incorporating these activities into your child’s routine, you’re setting the stage for more complex intellectual feats as they grow.

Counting may appear to be a simple skill, but it’s much more than just reciting numbers. It’s a fundamental aspect of early education that sets the stage for more advanced math and critical thinking skills. Here’s how to make counting a multifaceted learning experience for your preschooler.

Start with the basics by using everyday objects like toys, fruits, or even items in a room. Ask your child to count them and tell you how many there are in total. This not only teaches them to associate numbers with quantities but also introduces them to the concept of ‘totality’—an important foundational idea for future math skills.

Once your child can count confidently, introduce them to the concept of comparing quantities. Place two groups of objects in front of them and ask questions like, “Which group has more?” or “How many more cars are there than trucks?” This introduces them to the skill of evaluating quantities, an essential part of critical thinking.

Turn counting into critical thinking games for kids. Whether it’s counting the number of steps in a staircase as they climb or counting the number of red cars they see while on a drive, games make the counting process engaging and fun.

As your child becomes more proficient, you can introduce the concept of skip counting—counting by twos, fives, or tens. This helps them understand multiplication at an early age and strengthens their number sense, paving the way for more complex math skills.

For a fun twist, you can play the “Guess the Number” game where you think of a number within a range they can understand, and they have to guess it. This helps them understand the concepts of ‘greater than’ and ‘less than,’ valuable tools for reasoning activities for preschoolers.

Simple addition and subtraction can also be introduced through counting. For example, you can start with five apples, take two away, and then ask how many are left. Or you could add two more and ask how many there are now. This helps your child understand the principles of arithmetic in a hands-on manner.

Counting isn’t just a math skill; it’s a critical thinking skill. It lays the groundwork for understanding more complex relationships between numbers and fosters logical reasoning skills that will be crucial in later stages of education.

By incorporating these various counting activities into your child’s routine, you’ll be helping them develop not just their ability to count but also their critical thinking abilities, making it a quintessential activity for their cognitive development.

Comparing Quantities

The ability to compare and contrast different quantities is not just a math skill; it’s one of the important activities to develop critical thinking skills. This skill helps children understand relationships between different sets, a critical component for problem-solving and logical reasoning. Here are some ways to explore this concept with your preschooler.

Begin with two sets of clearly different quantities. For instance, you could use four apples and two oranges. Ask your child to point out which set has more and which has fewer items. Reinforce the terms “more,” “less,” and “equal” to build their comparative vocabulary.

Use day-to-day experiences to create comparative situations. For example, you could ask, “Are there more people in the living room or the kitchen?” or “Do we have more forks or more spoons?” These questions not only hone their observational skills but also make them critically evaluate their surroundings.

Use toys or building blocks to physically create sets of different quantities. Ask your child to compare them. This hands-on approach can make abstract concepts more concrete for young minds.

Expand the concept of comparison beyond mere numerical quantities. For instance, ask them to compare the heights of different family members , the size of different rooms, or the loudness of different sounds. This broadens the scope of comparison and enhances their critical thinking skills.

Introduce critical thinking games for kids that focus on comparing quantities. For example, play a game where they have to divide a set of toys among siblings or friends, ensuring everyone gets an “equal” number. This not only reinforces the concept of comparison but also introduces the idea of fairness.

Always remember to ask follow-up questions. Inquire, “How did you know this set has more?” or “What makes you think there are fewer blocks here?” This encourages them to articulate their thought process, deepening their understanding and reasoning abilities.

Understanding the skill of comparing quantities is essential in daily decision-making. It aids in evaluating choices and in forming reasoned judgments. Therefore, it is an indispensable skill, relevant not just as a form of critical thinking for preschoolers but as a life skill.

Teaching your child to compare quantities provides them with the tools to make better decisions, solve problems , and navigate the world more effectively. It’s a cornerstone activity in developing their overall cognitive abilities.

Overall, preschoolers can engage in many different critical thinking activities to help develop their cognitive abilities . By providing your child with opportunities to learn, explore, and think critically, you can help them become more confident and capable learners throughout their lives!

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15 Best Problem Solving Activities: Foster Critical Thinking

Kids playing in the park

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

Kids playing in the park

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?

Little girls playing with sand

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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problem solving games for preschoolers

9 Online Educational Games That Teach Problem Solving Skills to Kids

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Parenting is tougher than most people would expect—at least, 54% of parents agree . But you can reduce that burden a notch.

That's why we compiled these nine online games that teach kids problem-solving skills.

Apart from exploring online games that challenge kids to think strategically, we'll cover

  • Escape rooms,
  • Adventure gameplay

We'll also get into subject-specific games that keep kids connected to school lessons, including math and language skills.

Moreover, you might worry that they won’t access the right educational games for their ages. Left on their own, kids will stumble on content that's not age-appropriate.

But we don’t want that to happen.

So, we hand-picked the best online games your kids will love learning from even if they hate figuring things out on their own.

Take a look:

9 Best Online Educational Games To Teach Kids Problem Solving Skills

Fun games you’ll find in this list include:

  • General adventure gameplays to teach kids strategy,
  • Subject-specific games to help kids build math, language, or geography skills,
  • Team-building activities that require them to work in groups, and
  • Puzzles for learning critical thinking.

Let’s get right to it. 

#1 Code Breaker

Age Rating: EC (3 - 8)

This interactive game from Odd Squad will help your kids learn how to count and identify numbers, shapes, and patterns. Players can generate a number or shape following given rules and identify certain features that aren’t explicit in the rules.

Code Breaker is an extension of the PBS show , Odd Squad, which is the perfect mix of action and science fiction. 

Throw in some educational bits and you’ve got an awesome after-school activity for your child. Gamified learning content like this allows your kids to become skilled problem solvers. 

#2 Interactive Math Games

Age Rating: EC (3 -  14)

Most kids (adults too) find math either boring or challenging. It’s easy to zone out while the math teacher drones on about algebras and equations in the classroom.

Thankfully, technology has made math fun. Your child can subtract integers and match equivalent fractions while squashing fruits. 

The sound effects in the game are also fascinating for younger kids. You can find problems from early math to pre-algebra in interactive game forms suitable for children in pre-k to the eighth grade. These games allow kids to develop important age-appropriate math skills. 

#3 Sorting Box

Age Rating: EC (3 - 6)

Sid the Science Kid is another category of interactive games for children by PBS. It educates them on various topics and useful life skills. The game, Sorting Box, teaches your kid to sort items by colors , traits, and features while placing them into different columns. 

The character Sid, also offers useful tips and advice to players who get confused, making it easy for your child to have fun and learn effectively. Encourage your preschoolers’ curiosity about the world and how it works with this fun game. 

Age Rating: E (7+)

Now, this is a game everyone in the family can enjoy. If you have younger children who prefer group activities you could play Sudoku for kids . The rules are the same as traditional Sudoku puzzles except that the grids are easier and may substitute the numbers for letters or shapes. 

Where the game is concerned, more is fun, so be sure to include your kids’ friends. Allow them to improve their decision-making skills and the art of compromise. 

Stay connected with your buddies from school and friends from the neighborhood, solve puzzles as a team, and have loads more excitement with stable internet from GVTC .

#5 Oddstacle Course

Age Rating: EC (4+)

This entry from Odd Squad is an obstacle course game that allows players to cruise around different continents in a van, collecting trophies and points. The game plot involves fixing the oddness around the world caused by villains. Your kids get to defeat giant snowmen, enormous jelly beans, gargantuan babies, and more while building their geography skills.

With the help of the Odd Squad, they travel the world, gather clues to reveal the villain, and solve various problems. Oddstacle course provides both fun and critical thinking for kids. 

#6 Room Recess

Age Rating: E (7 - 12)

The more enjoyable a task is, the more kids engage with it. Reading games are no exception. As a parent, it’s important to get your child to enjoy reading since its success depends on how long they spend on the task. 

That’s where reading games come in handy. Interactive options like Reading Ninja and Sir Readalot teach kids all about conclusions, figurative language, context clues, syllables, fact, and opinion. Elementary students can focus on specific educational standards by learning new skills that challenge their comprehension levels. 

#7 Crossword Puzzles

Puzzles are another fantastic means of occupying your child’s time since they allow them to practice spelling and expand their vocabulary. Kids develop positive self-esteem through the game when they complete a crossword puzzle - especially when they require little to no help from parental figures. You can find puzzles covering various genres , topics, and children’s stories for the family to enjoy.

Pro tip — Create a custom crossword puzzle game for everyone to enjoy at family game nights, or for kids’ sleepovers at Crossword Labs .

#8 Brain Den

Age Rating: E10+

Brain Den features all kinds of puzzles and fun brain teasers from Logic Riddles, Alphametics, to Paradoxes. Test your child’s logic and problem-solving skills with a collection of puzzles of varying difficulty levels. Encourage their creativity by allowing them to come up with new riddles. 

You can pull up puzzles from this category and use them during game nights and other fun family activities.  

#9 Push-Pull Puzzles

Age Rating: EC (4 - 8)

This game was created by PBS to improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) culture in children from underserved communities.

The Push-Pull Puzzles teach kids basic physics concepts by navigating characters through whimsical obstacle courses. The game follows the Scientific Method of breaking levels into two major stages - planning and testing. 

In the first phase, the player observes a problem before them, develops a hypothesis, before testing it by pushing and pulling objects around. Help your kids practice critical thinking skills as they solve fun puzzles and explore science techniques. 

Safe Educational Online Gaming for Your Kids

Now that you know all the educational games that teach kids different logical and problem-solving skills, you can rest easy. Thanks to the entries listed here, your children can continue learning even when school isn’t in session. And now they can enjoy themselves while developing new skills. 

Are you uncomfortable with your kids spending all their free time on social media or playing games with adult ratings? Now’s the time for some educational games. 

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10 Preschool Activities and Games for Kids – Learn with Fun

Preschool years mark a pivotal period in a child’s developmental journey. Engaging kids in a plethora of educational yet enjoyable activities lays the bedrock for their learning expedition. These structured activities and playful games not only captivate young minds but also foster essential skills vital for their overall growth and development.

The significance of fun and interactive activities during early childhood cannot be overstated. These activities serve as fundamental pillars for various developmental facets, including cognitive prowess, social adaptability, emotional intelligence, and physical dexterity.

Table of contents

Structured activities vs. free play, 1: colorful art creations, 2: sensory play sensations, 3: storytime adventures, 4: nature exploration, 5: musical magic, 6: alphabet adventures, 7: number quest, 8: science safari, 9: outdoor playtime, 10: puzzles and problem-solving, benefits of preschool activities, parental involvement, frequently asked questions (faq’s).

Striking a balance between structured activities and free play is crucial in crafting a well-rounded preschool education. While structured activities offer guidance and direction in learning, free play grants children the freedom to explore, create, and imagine independently. 

Both these approaches complement each other splendidly, contributing significantly to a child’s holistic development.

Art for kids activities continue to be a delightful avenue to spark creativity and refine fine motor skills in preschoolers. By employing age-appropriate supplies such as non-toxic paints, crayons, and clay, children can express their imagination through drawing, painting, and sculpting. 

Engaging in art projects not only stimulates creativity but also aids in sensory exploration, allowing them to discover different textures and mediums.

Sensory activities act as a gateway for children to explore their senses and comprehend various textures and stimuli. The incorporation of safe and engaging materials like kinetic sand, water tables, and textured objects offers a playground for sensory discovery. 

These activities play a pivotal role in enhancing sensory perception and promoting cognitive development by fostering connections between sensory experiences and learning .

Introducing children to the enchanting world of books and storytelling nurtures a profound love for reading and language. Reading age-appropriate books and engaging in interactive storytelling sessions not only stimulate imagination but also cultivate language skills and emotional understanding in young minds, fostering empathy and effective communication skills .

Activities intertwined with nature offer children opportunities to connect with the natural world. Encouraging them to explore outdoor environments, identify plants, and observe wildlife not only stimulates curiosity but also instills a sense of wonder and appreciation for the environment and biodiversity.

Musical activities encompassing rhythm, songs, and age-appropriate instruments serve as catalysts for creativity and an understanding and appreciation of music. Participating in musical games and activities aids in auditory development, fosters an understanding of patterns, and enhances coordination skills.

Activities focused on the alphabet play a crucial role in promoting letter recognition and early literacy skills. Engaging preschoolers in creative exercises and games centered around the alphabet not only makes learning enjoyable but also lays a sturdy foundation for future academic success in language and reading comprehension.

problem solving games for preschoolers

Mathematical activities and math games for kids serve as fundamental tools in building numeracy skills and problem-solving abilities. By utilizing age-appropriate math materials and interactive games, preschoolers engage in learning basic math concepts in a playful and enjoyable manner, fostering a positive attitude towards mathematics.

Science-related activities pave the way for children to explore basic scientific concepts through hands-on experiments and exploratory play. Encouraging them to engage in simple experiments ignites curiosity and nurtures a love for learning about the world around them, fostering a spirit of inquiry and discovery.

Outdoor activities contribute significantly to physical development and the enhancement of gross motor skills. Providing age-appropriate outdoor equipment and ensuring safety measures enable children to relish active play and exploration, fostering a deeper connection with the natural world and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

problem solving games for preschoolers

Puzzle and problem-solving activities serve as catalysts in sharpening critical thinking and logical reasoning skills. Offering age-appropriate puzzles and challenges encourages children to think creatively, develop perseverance, and find solutions independently, nurturing resilience and adaptability.

Participating in a wide range of preschool activities offers a multitude of advantages that greatly impact a child’s development across various domains. These activities play a pivotal role in fostering cognitive development, enhancing academic readiness, and nurturing socio-emotional growth. By engaging in a diverse array of activities tailored for their age group, young children experience a holistic approach to learning that integrates fun and educational experiences.

Cognitive development flourishes as children explore and interact with different activities. Activities such as, storytelling sessions, simple counting games stimulate and puzzles for kids their cognitive functions, aiding in the development of problem-solving skills, memory retention and critical thinking for kids . These experiences lay the groundwork for enhanced cognitive abilities, preparing them for the academic challenges they will encounter in later stages of education.

The role of parents in their child’s preschool activities is irreplaceable. Actively participating and engaging with children during these activities not only strengthens the parent-child bond but also enriches the learning experience by providing encouragement, guidance, and support.

Preschool activities and games serve as indispensable tools in shaping a child’s early development. The integration of a wide variety of activities that seamlessly merge fun with learning cultivates a holistic approach to education, ensuring that children are not only prepared for academic challenges but also equipped with essential life skills for future endeavors. 

Through active engagement and a balanced blend of structured activities and play, children embark on a journey of exploration, creativity, and growth during their formative years.

To get your hands on more educational and free resources on coding for kids , robotics for kids, financial education for kids , etc., do check out the BrightCHAMPS Page now!

A1. Parents can ensure activities are age-appropriate by considering their child’s developmental milestones. They should look for activities that match their child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical abilities. Age-appropriate activities engage children without overwhelming or under-stimulating them.

A2. Safety is paramount. Parents should ensure activities use child-safe materials and are supervised to prevent accidents. Sharp objects, small parts, or potential choking hazards should be avoided. Also, activities should take place in a safe environment free from potential risks.

A3. Different activities offer diverse benefits. For instance, puzzles enhance problem-solving skills, arts and crafts promote creativity, while outdoor play fosters gross motor skills and social interaction. Each activity contributes to cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development in unique ways.

A4. Yes, these activities can be integrated into a preschool curriculum. Educators can align activities with learning objectives, adapting them to suit the classroom setting. They should offer a variety of activities to cater to different learning styles and abilities while providing guidance and support as needed.

A5. Balancing structured activities with free playtime is crucial. Structured activities aid skill development, while free play fosters creativity and imagination. Parents and caregivers should create a schedule that incorporates both, allowing the child to learn through guidance and exploration, ensuring a holistic preschool experience.

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Rubik’s Slide, New Advanced 3x3 Cube Classic Color-Matching Problem-Solving Brain Teaser Puzzle Retro Game Fidget Toy, for Adults & Kids Ages 8 and up

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Rubik’s Slide, New Advanced 3x3 Cube Classic Color-Matching Problem-Solving Brain Teaser Puzzle Retro Game Fidget Toy, for Adults & Kids Ages 8 and up

problem solving games for preschoolers

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  • BRAND-NEW SLIDE CUBE: The Rubik’s Slide moves in an entirely different way from the classic Rubik’s Cube. Rather than twisting and turning, slide the cubies around to scramble and solve the puzzle.
  • SLIDE IT, BUMP IT, SOLVE IT: Start with your Rubik’s Slide scrambled, and slide your cubies to match the center colors. Then, bump your cubies into the correct place, but beware, you may bump some cubies out in the process! Once all faces are complete, you have solved it.
  • INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED DIFFICULTY: This fun new Rubik’s Cube is ideal for cubers who have mastered the original Rubik’s Cube and are looking for their next challenge. Turn up the challenge with this new mind-boggling way of solving a Cube!
  • A MUST-HAVE FOR PUZZLE LOVERS: The original Rubik’s Cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 combinations, but only one solution. Do you have what it takes to solve the world’s favorite puzzle… now with a completely different twist.
  • CLASSIC PUZZLE-SOLVING GAMEPLAY: This challenging puzzle is the same retro toy that you remember from your childhood. Brain teaser, fidget toy, or travel puzzle- this brain puzzle is your new go-to.

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The Rubik’s Slide is a new twist on the classic color-matching puzzle that can be enjoyed at home or on the move. This Cube moves in an entirely different way from the classic Rubik’s Cube. Rather than twisting and turning, slide the cubies around to scramble and solve the puzzle. To start, slide your cubies to match the colors. Then, bump your cubies into the correct place. Once all faces are complete, you have solved it. This fun new Rubik’s Cube is made for cubers who are masters of the Rubik’s Cube and are looking for their next challenge. Turn up the challenge with this new mind-boggling way of twisting and turning! The Rubik’s Cube is all about smart play and is guaranteed to improve your muscle memory and hand eye coordination. This puzzle toy is not only about fun but improving your motor and problem-solving skills. Over 40 years of history has led the Rubik’s Cube to become one of the best-selling toys ever. Invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, the color-matching puzzle toy was created to help students understand three-dimensional problems. The prototype Magic Cube did things that the world had not seen before. It turned, it twisted and yet it did not break. Adding 54 colorful stickers to the six sides gave the puzzle its iconic look. Once you have the cube in your hand and scramble it up, you will quickly realize that there is not just an instant fix. Trying to solve it is fun and addictive, and once you’ve mastered it, you can impress all your friends with how you can solve one of life’s great mysteries- how to solve a Rubik’s Cube- now, with a completely different twist.

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Social Benefits of Minecraft for Kids

Posted: February 24, 2023 | Last updated: June 20, 2023

Minecraft is a beloved game for kids of all ages, but it can offer much more than just entertainment. Minecraft creates an environment that naturally encourages collaboration, communication, and cooperation between players. 

With Minecraft skins , there are plenty of ways to customize your avatar and express yourself in the digital world. Minecraft also fosters the skills that are necessary for success in a 21st-century workplace. Social benefits of Minecraft for kids include communication, collaboration, creativity and problem-solving skills. 

Communication 

One of Minecraft’s most important social benefits is its ability to help kids develop their communication skills. Through Minecraft’s multiplayer mode, children can interact with others in the game and learn how to communicate effectively. By talking with other players in the game, your child can develop their communication skills and learn how to work together with others. 

Collaboration 

One of the main advantages of playing Minecraft is the opportunity it provides for making friends and working together. Players can join servers, create teams, and build virtual worlds with their friends in a safe and secure environment. Making friends and working together encourages collaboration between players within the digital world and therefore by playing Minecraft together, kids can learn how to cooperate and work as a team to accomplish a common goal. Through this type of collaboration, children can develop problem-solving skills and learn how to effectively communicate with one another. 

Creativity 

With Minecraft skin unblocked, players have the ability to customize their avatars in an endless number of ways. This allows them to express their creativity and gives them the opportunity to develop a unique virtual persona. Through this creative process, children can learn to think outside the box and develop their creative skills. Additionally, the possibilities are endless when it comes to building structures and creating new projects with friends. 

Problem-Solving 

Playing Minecraft is a great way for kids to practice problem-solving in a fun and engaging environment. With Minecraft’s various game modes, players can work together to solve puzzles and find solutions to complex problems. Through this type of gameplay, children can learn how to think critically and develop their problem-solving skills. 

Ways Kids can Customize their Minecraft Experience

  • Creating Minecraft skin unblocked

This enables kids to have access to a variety of Minecraft skin mod and Minecraft skin websites that allow them to customize their avatars in any way they choose. These skins can be used to create unique characters that represent the player and add an extra layer of visual interest to the game. Fortunately, there are plenty of Minecraft skin websites that provide players with access to a large selection of custom skins without having to worry about any potential restrictions from parental controls. This gives them the ability to express themselves through their avatar, while also learning important skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving.

  • Creating Minecraft Skin Mods 

In addition to custom skins, players can also take advantage of mods. Mods are modifications to the game that add new content, features, and gameplay elements. They are created by developers and can be used to customize a player’s Minecraft experience in any number of ways. Popular mods include texture packs, character skins, custom maps, and mini-games. Players who want to customize their gaming experience further may even create their own mode using Minecraft skin mods thus being transformed into a Minecraft modder.

Learning how to collaborate with others is an important 21st-century skill that can be developed through Minecraft. With the ability to customize their avatars and play together in Minecraft’s digital world, children can learn how to effectively communicate, collaborate, think creatively, and solve problems. 

Additionally, by creating Minecraft skin unblocked, players have access to a variety of Minecraft skin mods and Minecraft skin websites that allow them to express their creativity in any way they choose. All these factors come together to make Minecraft a great platform for developing important 21st-century skills underscoring the varied social benefits of Minecraft for Kids.

Minecraft is a beloved game for kids of all ages, but it can offer much more than just entertainment. Minecraft

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IMAGES

  1. 18 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Preschoolers

    problem solving games for preschoolers

  2. Problem Solving with Little Learners (preschool, pre-k, and

    problem solving games for preschoolers

  3. Problem Solving with Little Learners (preschool, pre-k, and

    problem solving games for preschoolers

  4. Problem Solving Activities

    problem solving games for preschoolers

  5. 12 Problem-Solving Activities For Toddlers And Preschoolers

    problem solving games for preschoolers

  6. 10 Preschool Problem Solving Activities

    problem solving games for preschoolers

VIDEO

  1. Math Activity #games

  2. Basic Math for Kids, Addition and Subtraction, Science games, Preschool Activities

  3. Find The Difference

  4. Brain puzzle #5

  5. Find The Difference

  6. Memory Game

COMMENTS

  1. 22 Problem Solving Activities for Preschool

    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.

  2. 25 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids

    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

  3. Problem Solving Activities for Preschoolers

    Early connections begin in infancy. Between age 3 and 5 years, the prefrontal cortex circuits enter a rapid period of development and make critical interconnections with the limbic system. During adolescence and early adulthood, the neural pathways are refined and become more efficient." What is so great about this part of the brain anyway?

  4. 10 Simple Activities to Teach Your Preschooler Problem Solving

    Creativity Analytical thinking Decision-making skills Initiative Logical reasoning Persistence Communication skills Negotiation skills The Importance of Developing Problem-Solving Skills in Early Childhood Problem solving is a skill that would be difficult to suddenly develop as an adult.

  5. 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.

  6. 8 Problem Solving Games to Play With Your Preschooler

    1. Make it Move For this activity, you'll need some masking tape and a crumpled ball of paper. The challenge comes when you place the ball of paper in between two lines of masking tape and ask your preschooler to move it outside the lines — without touching it.

  7. 15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers - Discovery Play with Littles 2:01 pm · 15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers Toddlers Inside: During the first five years of a child's life, many skills are developed. Some of the most important are problem-solving skills.

  8. Problem Solving Activities for Preschoolers

    October 16, 2022 Games and Activities Here are a bunch of great problem solving activities for preschoolers. Actions like these can help your child learn how to think critically and come up with solutions to problems. Plus, they're lots of fun too! Table of contents show What are problem solving activities?

  9. 15+ Problem Solving Activities To Teach Your Preschooler

    Ways to Teach Problem-Solving Skills To Preschoolers. Learning how to solve problems is one of the essential skills your child will ever develop. After all, problem-solving and critical thinking are vital components of successful learning in any subject ranging from mathematics to social studies. ... Games are a great way to encourage problem ...

  10. 8 pre-K games to teach problem-solving skills

    Puzzles Putting together a puzzle teaches preschoolers how to use trial and error, as well as fine motor skills and visual cues, to create the final picture. You can play a game with puzzles by challenging preschoolers to try to beat their best time to complete one.

  11. Problem Solving Activities and Games for Preschoolers, Best Games to

    1 FEATURED Games to Foster Problem-solving Skills in Preschoolers. Have You Tried Them Out? Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi 6 Mins Read Do your children become overwhelmed by problems, big or small? Do problems make them either rebel or withdraw? The simple process of regularly playing some games can train them to be more resilient Pre-schooler 7.2K 1

  12. Critical Thinking: 11 Problem Solving Activities for Kids

    Should he or she try another strategy? 11 Problem Solving Activities for Kids If you want to help build your child's social, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and anger management skills, these fun and effective problem solving activities are for you!

  13. 10 Problem Solving Games for Kids

    TSURO The board changes every time you play, keeping players on their toes and constantly reassessing their strategy. Players use tiles to create paths along which they move their tokens. The objective is to create paths in such a way that keep you moving but force your opponents off the board.

  14. 44 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Kids

    Who doesn't love a little challenge now and then? Especially if it's for our kiddos! You see, problem-solving isn't just for the puzzles and math sheets. It's the magic stuff that shapes our little ones into big thinkers and doers. Yep, it's pretty important!

  15. 12 Problem-Solving Activities For Toddlers And Preschoolers

    Image: Shutterstock Problem-solving preschool activities are an essential part of learning, leading to the development of the most crucial skills for your child. Your child's journey between realizing a problem and finding a solution involves effort, thinking, and patience.

  16. Critical Thinking Activities for Preschoolers

    Sequencing. Sequencing is an invaluable exercise that aids in developing a wide range of skills, from language and literacy to logic and problem-solving. This makes it one of the must-try critical thinking activities for preschoolers. Below are some ways you can approach sequencing with your child:

  17. 15 Fun Problem-Solving Activities for Growth Mindset

    15 Best Problem Solving Activities for Kids. 1. Rolling Dice. 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.

  18. 9 Online Educational Games That Teach Problem Solving Skills to Kids

    The sound effects in the game are also fascinating for younger kids. You can find problems from early math to pre-algebra in interactive game forms suitable for children in pre-k to the eighth grade. These games allow kids to develop important age-appropriate math skills. #3 Sorting Box. Age Rating: EC (3 - 6) Sid the Science Kid is another ...

  19. Brain Games For Children

    MentalUP - Free Mind Games for Kids helps your child improve their cognitive skills like attention, concentration, focus, and memory. Educators have designed these challenging games for kids to have fun while improving their problem solving skills at the same time! Online Brain Games Candy Match

  20. Critical Thinking Games & Activities for Kids

    2. Play Sorting Games. Critical skills include the reasoning ability to solve real-life problems. And, of course, one of the great ways to support children's reasoning and classification skills is sorting games that also function as strategy games for kids.. This activity will help children see the differences among various groups and enhance their understanding of the objects.

  21. 10 Preschool Activities and Games for Kids

    7: Number Quest. Mathematical activities and math games for kids serve as fundamental tools in building numeracy skills and problem-solving abilities. By utilizing age-appropriate math materials and interactive games, preschoolers engage in learning basic math concepts in a playful and enjoyable manner, fostering a positive attitude towards mathematics.

  22. 15 Fun Activities To Teach Problem Solving To Kids

    12. Group drawing. Another excellent team-building activity for sharpening children's problem-solving and communication skills is group drawing. Divide children into teams of three. Each of the three players in the team has a role to play. One person is the drawer, who takes directions from the instructor to attempt to create a design.

  23. 17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games [for Kids, Adults and Teens]

    Balloon Tower Problem Solving Activities for Kids Walking the Plank "Laser" Web Group Drawing Animals Alphabet Game There are four basic steps in problem solving: define the problem generate possible solutions evaluate and select possible solutions implement solutions Problem solving activities use one of more of these steps.

  24. Rubik's Slide, New Advanced 3x3 Cube Classic Color-Matching Problem

    This puzzle toy is not only about fun but improving your motor and problem-solving skills. Over 40 years of history has led the Rubik's Cube to become one of the best-selling toys ever. Invented in 1974 by Erno Rubik, the color-matching puzzle toy was created to help students understand three-dimensional problems.

  25. Social Benefits of Minecraft for Kids

    Playing Minecraft is a great way for kids to practice problem-solving in a fun and engaging environment. With Minecraft's various game modes, players can work together to solve puzzles and find ...

  26. 17 Christmas Games for Kids

    If your family enjoys candy canes and group activities, you will go wild over these candy cane Olympic ideas. GO TO PLAY PARTY PLAN. 17. Santa Cookie Elf Candy Snowman. This fast-paced game is a spin-off from a favorite called Taco, Cat, Goat Cheese, Pizza—a fun game for multiple ages. GO TO THE CHRISTMAS CARD GAME.