Top 10 Toys that Encourage Creative Thinking and Problem-Solving

Linzy Plush 16' Educational Plush Doll, Adorable Plush Doll Comes with clad,a Removable Outfit Packed with Closures-Perfect for Testing a Little One's Growing Problem Solving and Motor Skills

  • INTERACTIVE: Adorable plush Doll comes with clad, a removable outfit packed with closures-perfect for testing a little one's growing problem solving and motor skills.
  • TODDLER FRIENDLY TODDLER FRIENDLY: Educational Doll comes with buttons, zippers, self stick tabs, buckles and laces; All accessories are embroidered and safely sewn onto doll to ensure safety for children during play time.
  • LEARN INDEPENDENT SKILLS: Your little one will Learn to dress, tie their shoe and attach velcro. This Educational Doll works great with everyone who is looking to relearn motor skills due to age and for new development.
  • FUN TO PLAY & LEARN: Kids will love to play and develop skills with this Educational Doll. It is beautifully designed with bright colors, and patterns that all kids love!
  • ABSOLUTELY SAFE AND EASY TO CARE: Linzy Toys is focused on providing your family with products that will become some of your favorite memorabilia and last for a lifetime. All our plush dolls meet or exceed the ASTM F963 & CPSIA Safety Standards, that come with rigorous quality controls. To care for her, simply spot-clean the desired area, and leave flat to dry.

YHZAN Montessori Sensory Toys Early Learning Basic Life Skills Busy Board Learn to Dress Practice Boards - Zip, Snap, Button, Buckle, Lace & Tie Toys for 2 3 4 Year Old Toddlers

  • Develop the kids basic Skills,Do & un-do buttons, snaps, buckles, shoe lacing, zipper, tieing
  • To teach self-reliance, self-control & coordination of movements,montessori sensory material
  • Tie,button,Snap,Lace,Zip,Buckle,life skills practice busy board
  • For preschool teaching aids,home educational tools,montessori dressing frame
  • Famous Montessori Material-dressing frame

ZippyPaws - SmartyPaws - Puzzler Dog Toy - 3 in 1 Interactive Dog Toy Puzzle, Teaches Problem Solving Skills, Teal

  • 3 In 1 Interactive Puzzle- Features three levels of play to keep your dog entertained - slide, rotate, and flip!
  • Entertains Your Dog- Teach your dog problem solving skills as they work their way through each level of play
  • Treat Motivated Entertainment- Designed with six pockets to fit kibble or treats, your dog will love the challenge
  • Easy To Clean- Our puzzler is dishwasher safe so it’s easy to care for after play time
  • Unique Design - Beautifully-designed, high-quality pet products for the modern dog and dog owner.

Little Chubby One Busy Board Set - 8x10 Inches - Learning Activity Toy - Educational, Helps Develop Motor & Dress Skills - Color, Hand Eye Coordination - Learn to Button, Buckle, Zip, Snap, Lace & Tie

  • Sensory Busy Board Set: Little Chubby One’s Busy Board Set is full of six wonderful, hands-on sensory activities to keep little ones engaged while helping them to develop their fine motor skills.
  • Developmental Toys: When children buckle, tie, zip, snap, button and lace, these Sensory Busy Boards provide tactile and sensory stimulation while helping to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination at the same time.
  • Learning Tools: In addition to fine motor skills, these interactive toys teach lacing and tying skills to improve finger dexterity and strength. Each board is furnished in a vibrant color, promoting cognitive development and encouraging color recognition to boot.
  • Portable Design: Each Sensory Busy Board is lightweight and portable, perfectly sized for little hands to hold and carry so you can keep your child engaged at home, in the car, on a plane, while running errands and when you’re away.
  • Great Gift Idea: Recommended for ages 3 and up, the Busy Board Set makes a perfect gift on birthdays, holidays and special occasions. It also provides a sense of calm, making it a great choice for those with sensory processing disorder, ADHD or autism.

Garden Adventure Toy Speech Therapy Toys Language Development Toys Wooden Montessori Toys Shape Sorting Toys Educational Toys Children 3 4 5 6 Toys Fine Motor Toys Preschool Toys

  • 【Premium Montessori Toys】This garden wooden toy includes 12 fruit blocks, 8 carrots, 1 magnetic bunny, 10 magnetic worms, and a five-sided cart with a variety of shapes. Toddler montessori toys age 3-5.
  • 【Safety Comes First】Your baby’s safety is everything! Every piece is made of quality light weight wood, smooth and rounded edges and non-toxic water-based paint finish. Children are well-protected while playing, satisfying parent’s wish for safety and quality.
  • 【Speech and Language Development Skills】 Parents can target speech and language skills while playing with this toy with their child. Parents can model fruit, vegetable, animal and bug names to target vocabulary. Parents can also target expanding on a child’s sentence structure by modeling longer sentences “I see a yellow banana”, “I got a yellow worm'', “ The bunny is eating the carrot.” Following directions can be targeted with this toy “put the banana in the cart”, “have the bunny pick out the blue worm”, “first put the apple in the cart, then pick out the pink worm.”
  • 【Speech Therapist Recommended】 This toy is used by real speech therapists and recommended by speech therapists to help speech and language development.
  • 【Fun Educational Learning】The cute wooden garden toy can work on language, speech, fruit recognition, shape matching, color recognition, and sorting. A variety of game methods can be used to entertain and teach your child. Educational toys for toddlers.

linzy Toys 16' Educational Doll/Adorable Plush Doll Comes with a Removable Outfit Packed with Closures-Perfect for Testing a Little One's Problem Solving and Motor Skills

  • LEARNING TOY: Foster a love for learning with our mom-approved, child-tested toys, which offer an interactive experience that introduces colors, numbers, counting, & more to your curious child. Help teach children by training their brain power at an early age (toddler, preschooler, pre-kindergarten) when using this toy to build color recognition, & hand-eye coordination.
  • MONTESSORI SENSORY: Our toys are made for learning & development through a safe zipper pocket, numbers & shapes, interactive flaps, new sensory textures, & 6 colorful buckles with different clasps.
  • QUIET TRAVEL TOY: When you take a trip or travel, your boy or girl will love to carry this activities toy around. Simply clip to a stroller, high chair, or car seat to keep curious kids busy.
  • DESIGN: For toddlers & those with special needs, this happy orange plush square made of pillow like material is the best quiet toy that aids in the development of fine motor & problem solving skills.
  • Authentic BUCKLE TOY Products: Discover the world of high-quality educational toys by BUCKLE TOY, a trusted US-based brand. Our unique plush items include Sensory Squares, Busy Boards, Stuffed Animals, Backpacks, and Activity Cubes. Authentic products are exclusively offered on Amazon by BUCKLE TOY.

Toddler Tested Egg Carton Lil’ Yolkers Egg Carton Egg Toys - Educational Toy for 12+ Months - Color & Shape Recognition, Matching - Builds Problem-Solving, Sensory, Motor, Social Skills

  • LIL’ YOLKERS - The Lil’ Yolkers Egg Carton Egg Toys are a fun educational toy that teaches color and shape recognition through play. This game also encourages stimulation and engagement between adults and children.
  • SKILL DEVELOPMENT - Children practice color and shape recognition and matching as they fit the eggs into their bases. Each egg also has a different facial expression, which helps kids develop strong social skills. This activity is a great way to help your toddler improve hand-eye control, fine motor skills, and problem-solving skills all while having fun.
  • FUN & SAFE DESIGN - The eggs in each pack feature vibrant colors of orange, green, purple, yellow, and blue. They are also specially coated with a toddler-friendly material, and the smooth surface and edges make it easy for little hands to grasp.
  • PORTABLE - Pack and play on the go! The eggs come in a fun egg carton container, making clean-up and storage easy.
  • PERFECT GIFT - Lil' Yolkers make a great gift for children and new parents. It’s perfect for Easter baskets, Christmas, birthday parties, or baby showers.

Montessori Toys for 1 2 3 Year Old Boys Girls Toddlers, Wooden Sorting and Stacking Preschool Educational Toys, Color Recognition Stacker Shape Sorter Puzzles

  • 【Montessori Toys for Toddlers】This wooden sorting & stacking toy contains 20 pieces, including 5 geometric shapes-circular, rectangle, triangle, square, and pentagon with 5 colors-red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. It’s the perfect educational toy for 1 2 3 year old children, which helps kids learn shapes and geometry, build color recognition, and exercise space conception. When babies try to match the blocks to the target or make various combinations, they can also get so much pleasure.
  • 【Safe Design for Baby】This toddler learning toys include high-quality, chunky wooden pieces to ensure tiny hands easily grasp the pieces and complete the stacking puzzles. The edges of montessori sorting toy are smooth and the pegs are sturdy.These blocks are not only covered with smooth non-toxic paint, as safe as food,but odorless and anti-fade, which keeps our 1 2 3 years old boys and girls play with safely. There’s no doubt that little babies will enjoy playing with such toddler toys.
  • 【Learn by Playing】With bright-vivid colors and suitable size, the lovely toys act as a role of wooden puzzles for toddlers 1-3. It feeds the developing minds of young kids, helping them practice fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving. This learning kids toys also provides babies good opportunity for furthering verbal skills with colors, count, and shapes and inspiring imaginative adventures.When toddlers succeed in finishing puzzles, they must feel fulfilled and happy.
  • 【Awesome Gift for Kids】The montessori shape toddler puzzles make the perfect and adorable Christmas/birthday gift for 1-3 year old boys and girls. This baby toys add the puzzles to round out the hands-on playing experience and give kids another engaging option for screen-free fun. It could be a choice that encourages toddlers to spend time away from electronics.
  • 【100% Service Guarantee】Customer satisfaction is our greatest motivation, we produce developmental stacking toddler toys to the highest quality standards, and to nurture minds and hearts.

What types of toys can be used to teach problem solving skills?

Q2: what are the benefits of using toys to teach problem solving skills, q3: how can parents and educators help children use toys to teach problem solving skills.

Toys that Teach Problem Solving Skills

Discovery Play with Littles

Discovery Play with Littles

2:01 pm ·

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 skills toys

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 skills toys

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 skills toys

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 skills toys

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 skills toys

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 skills toys

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.

Reader Interactions

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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

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020

Tested and reviewed by engineers, these top picks make coding, robotics and engineering more accessible than ever

Rasha Aridi

Rasha Aridi

Daily Correspondent

STEM toys-main.jpg

In recent years, STEM-themed toys for all ages have flooded the market, making it a little overwhelming for people to choose the most skill-based gifts for the kids in their lives. But a team of engineers has come to the rescue with a recommendation of the most thoughtfully designed STEM-oriented products on the market.

Each year, Purdue University’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering turns into a toy testing laboratory as faculty and students run mounds of toys, books and games through their paces. The highest rated products earn a coveted spot on the institute's annual Engineering Gift Guide , which is now in its seventh year.

"Play is one of the places where we can capture a kid's imagination," says Tamara Moore, a professor of engineering education and the executive director of INSPIRE. "For a child to get interested in potentially having a STEM career, you want [to] capture their imagination. Being able to have that freedom to play is really one incredibly important way for this to happen."

The gifts usually go through a strenuous review process, which includes input from parents and kids that test out the toys. But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the process looked different this year. It was spearheaded by a team of four undergraduate students that thoroughly inspected, played with and reviewed nearly 100 toys released in the last couple of years, Moore says.

The team looked for toys that embodied the hallmarks of engineering and fostered meaningful skills, like spatial reasoning, computational thinking, innovation and creativity. "And those skills start early," Moore says. Well-designed toys can expand young learners' minds and foster these skills throughout childhood development.

For Smithsonian readers, Moore and her team selected their ten favorite STEM gifts for 2020 spanning three different age groups.

Preview thumbnail for 'Weights Balance Game

Weights Balance Game

This game comes with a wooden balance beam and a variety of blocks in different colors and sizes. The goal is to add blocks to the opposite sides of the scale without tipping it. The set also comes with a variety of cards that show the various ways the blocks can be positioned, helping kids learn how to follow a basic blueprint. By repositioning the blocks on different parts of the board, kids can develop spatial reasoning skills in an engaging, intuitive way. (Janod, $27.99)

Preview thumbnail for 'Sweet Cocoon Stacking Stones

Sweet Cocoon Stacking Stones

The 20 light, colorful wooden stones in this set come in a of number of sizes and odd shapes. Children are able to freely play with the stacking stones and build a variety of structures, from a simple tower to a more complex bridge. Moore says that the "stones are a perfect introductory toy for young children to explore engineering thinking and design," while also improving their spatial reasoning and building skills. (Janod, $29.99)

Preview thumbnail for 'My First Rush Hour

My First Rush Hour

My First Rush Hour is a one-player maze game in which a child is tasked with navigating a little red car through traffic. Pick a challenge card out of the 30-card deck and then arrange the cars and trucks on the board to match the card. Then, the player has to drive the car around the other vehicles on the board and escape from rush hour. This game encourages spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills while fostering perseverance. (ThinkFun, $23.99)

Preview thumbnail for 'Addy-matic and the Toasterrific

Addy-matic and the Toasterrific

This picture book by Curtis Mark Williams stars Addy, who is not a morning person. To avoid waking up early to make breakfast, she hatches a plan to toast her bread without having to get out of bed. To do so, Addy designs her very own Rube Goldberg machine—a complicated series of steps that accomplish a simple task—with items from around her house. It's a captivating and fun story that centers around a hallmark of engineering: identifying a problem and solving it creatively. "It expresses the entire engineering process in a way young children can understand and relate to," Moore says. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $9.99)

Preview thumbnail for 'Gears! Gears! Gears! Robots in Motion

Gears! Gears! Gears! Robots in Motion

This 116-piece kit comes with gears, wheels, claws and axles for kids to build their own moving robots. The set comes with instructions to build three different robot models complete with working treads and spinning eyes, but kids can also get creative and build their own. Since this toy has lots of moving parts, they'll have to figure out how to get the robot's gears and wheels rotating, which introduces kids to basic physics concepts while improving their spatial reasoning skills. (Learning Resources, $39.99)

Preview thumbnail for 'Design & Drill Space Circuits

Design & Drill Space Circuits

Good circuit toys are hard to find, especially for young kids, but this one is a winner, Moore says. This kit comes with an instructional storybook that walks builders through assembling various circuits using a board, a battery pack, an electric screwdriver and other tools and explains the basics of electricity flow. By following the instructions and employing problem-solving skills, kids can complete 20 space-themed missions—from lighting up a rocket to throwing a party on the moon—outlined in the book. (Educational Insights, $49.99)

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020

Enter the Spudnet

Enter the Spudnet is a potato-themed board game that introduces kids to the world of cybersecurity and networking without even having them touch a computer. Players receive tasks that they must complete by moving their ships from warehouse to warehouse on the board while protecting their privacy and preventing opponents from attacking them. Cybersecurity is more important than ever, so it's a socially relevant game, Moore says. It also builds skills in critical thinking, problem solving and design. Plus, it's just good family fun. (Potato Pirates, $57)

Preview thumbnail for 'Code Rocket

Code Rocket

Code Rocket comes with a small, green microcontroller in the shape of a rocket that connects to a computer via a USB port. When users run the accompanying software, they'll be coached through the basics of coding through fun tasks, like lighting up certain parts of the rocket, which start easy and get progressively more challenging as young coders develop their skills. Code Rocket uses C++, a common coding language in the engineering world, so it's a great introductory tool, Moore says. (Let's Start Coding, $44.99)

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020

WordStruct is an engineer's version of Scrabble. This word-building game comes with 100 letter tiles that players can arrange together to spell out words, but in a 3-D structure. The goal is for players to score the highest number of points by building the most complex crosswords they possibly can. Words can be arranged horizontally, vertically and diagonally, creating an extra level of complexity. This game promotes innovative thinking, spatial reasoning skills and perseverance as players are challenged to think both critically and creatively. (WordStruct, $24.99)

Best Overall STEM Toy

Gravitrax obstacle set.

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Gravitrax takes the beloved marble run to a new level. It comes with more than 150 pieces that include obstacles like trampolines, bridges, tiles and ziplines, allowing players to build elaborate routes for their marbles to roll down. Kids have the option to follow the layouts that come with the game or design their own. Players will engage spatial reasoning, trouble-shooting, and critical and creative thinking skills in a game that's fun for adults too. Plus, Moore says this game encompasses several of the engineering skills that she looks for in a good toy, in that "it allows children to explore both through creating their own designs and following maps that have been made [to follow]." ( Ravensburger, $129.99)

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Rasha Aridi

Rasha Aridi | | READ MORE

Rasha Aridi is a science journalist based in Richmond, Virginia. She has written for Science magazine and Science News for Students . You can find her portfolio at .

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Smart Toys for Every Age

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If you've ever marveled at the look of concentration on the face of a child who tries to fit a square block into a square hole or catch a ball in mid-air, you know that playtime isn't just about fun and games. It's serious business — and toys are the tools of the trade.

Here is an age-wise guide to how kids play, and to the toys that entertain and help kids understand the world, learn social and emotional skills, and stimulate a developing brain.

Babies: How They Play

Play in the first year of life is all about exploration. Babies use their five senses to learn about the interesting new world around them: Does an object feel hard or soft? Sticky or rough? What does it do if I drop it? Or put it in my mouth? Most play consists of "tasting" or mouthing an object and shaking, banging, or dropping it.

When your baby develops new motor skills, play becomes more coordinated and complex. For example:

  • At about 4 months old, babies begin to reach for and grasp objects, like a rattle.
  • By 6 or 7 months, they can transfer that rattle between hands.
  • At around 9 months, a newly developed pincer grasp makes it easier for babies to pick up smaller objects, like blocks and other small age-appropriate toys.

During this time, play is usually a solitary activity, but playing side-by-side with other babies and imitating activities is common by year's end.

For now, you are your baby's favorite playmate. Have you ever danced a puppet in front of your baby's face, only to have him grab it and pull it toward his mouth? Or has he ever squealed in anticipation and delight when you creep toward him, saying, "I'm gonna get you!"

These interactions help your baby learn about language, social relations, and cause-and-effect. Once babies begin to understand how things in the environment relate to each other and how they taste, smell, feel, and sound, babies are ready for the next stage of development: figuring out how they work.

Smart Toys for Babies

  • Nursery mobile. Objects dancing above a baby's head while lying in a crib stimulate vision and develop attention span.
  • Mirror. Initially, your baby will be fascinated with the changing face and expressions looking back from the mirror. Over time, your baby will realize that the drooling, smiling baby staring back is actually a reflection. Once this happens, babies become aware of themselves, which leads to more self-discovery as they learn about body parts and where they are.
  • Ring stack. This classic toy features a cone that fits different sized colored rings. At first, babies enjoy holding and mouthing the rings. Later, they practice fine motor skills by fitting the rings onto the cone. Toddlers also learn about colors and numbers when you count the multicolored rings as you stack them.
  • Push-pull toys. These help with balance and large-muscle development as your little one goes from a couch surfer to a walker. The more babies push and pull, the more they work the muscles necessary to turn them into runners and climbers. Later, in the toddler years, kids can use them to help control their increasing speed.

Toddlers: How They Play

Toddlers are becoming aware of the function of objects. They like to stack blocks, babble into a toy phone, or drink from a "big kid" cup. The concept of pretend play starts now. Your little one might tuck a baby doll into bed at night or make "choo choo" noises while pushing a toy train.

This lays the groundwork for preschool play, when using the oven timer in a play kitchen or ringing the bell in a pretend fire truck signifies your child's growing understanding that each item serves a purpose.

Your toddler also will begin to differentiate colors and shapes. So choose toys that are bright, colorful, and fun for little hands to hold. By age 2, most toddlers can kick a ball, scribble with a crayon, and build towers four or more blocks tall. By age 3, they can do simple puzzles and pedal a tricycle.

Expect to see a lot of repetition, as that's how little ones master new skills and learn they have some control over the world around them.

Smart Toys for Toddlers

  • Balls. Whether they're bounced, rolled, caught, or thrown, balls encourage gross motor skills, hand–eye coordination, and dexterity.
  • Shape-sorting toys. Pegboard puzzles, nesting cups or blocks, and buckets with holes for different shaped blocks challenge hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.
  • Mechanical toys. Pop-up toys and "busy" boxes with knobs, buttons, and levers encourage fine motor skills and problem solving, and teach cause-and-effect.
  • Role-play toys. Play kitchens, doctor's kits, and golf sets help children learn how the world works by imitating the actions of you and other influential adults. Dolls and stuffed animals encourage pretend play (a tea party for teddy bears, perhaps?) and aid social and emotional development by teaching tots how to express emotions and take care of something they love.

Preschoolers: How They Play

Babies explore objects with the five senses. Toddlers start figuring out how they work. Now, as preschoolers, they'll use toys and other objects for their intended purpose, yet also will imagine a world of other possibilities for them. A blanket thrown over a coffee table becomes a secret clubhouse. Modeling clay can be used to make pizza pies that you're asked to "taste."

For a preschooler, the world becomes a magical place without limits — and preschoolers are the masters and creators of it all. Many kids this age think they have magical powers and can battle "monsters" and win, or turn into a princess, fairy, or other whimsical creature.

Often, your preschooler will pull you into a fantasy and expect you to play along. It's also during this time that imaginary friends may "appear." This type of fantasy play is crucial to kids' development because it helps them work on their fears, anxieties, hopes, and dreams.

The world is also a stage, so expect to hear lots of "mommy, daddy, watch!" as your preschooler learns one new trick after another and seeks your approval and support for new accomplishments. The desire to connect with others extends to friends as preschoolers begin to learn the give-and-take of cooperative play and sharing.

Pretend play becomes more elaborate. Kids' knowledge of the world is more advanced, so don't be surprised if your preschooler knows exactly how to work electronic gadgets or make electrical toys (like a radio-controlled car or a video game) work.

Play itself becomes more physical. Why just walk when you can hop, jump, or skip?

Smart Toys for Preschoolers

  • Arts and crafts. As fine motor skills improve, activities like holding a crayon, drawing pictures of family members, and using a pair of safety scissors to cut and paste strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and foster self-esteem.
  • Blocks and construction sets. Building a tower (and figuring out how to stop it from toppling over) encourages problem-solving skills and hand–eye coordination. Preschoolers use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets.
  • Puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles help with coordination and dexterity, and teach about spatial relationships (where things are in relation to other things) and logical thinking.

Big Kids: How They Play

Elementary school-age kids are accomplished in ways they never were before. They've grasped an understanding of the world around them and are now moving toward mastering skills that once challenged them, like catching a football or braiding a friend's hair.

This also is the time where talents and interests take hold — a 4-year-old who enjoyed story time may grow to love reading; a 5-year-old who listened to music might want to play piano.

Physical abilities, like large and fine motor skills, are being refined. Children learn to ride two-wheel bicycles and glide on skateboards. Arts and crafts become more intricate, and a child might spend hours weaving friendship bracelets or drawing comic strips.

Peer relationships take on more importance, and your child might be more interested in playing with classmates than with you. But remember that even as your child matures, you are still the most important playmate — so try to carve out some one-on-one time. Family game nights are one way to get everyone together.

And now's the time to try new adventures, such off-road biking, that kids couldn't do when they were younger and need your supervision to do safely now.

Smart Toys for Big Kids

  • Jump rope. By skipping rope with friends, kids learn to take turns and get along with peers. All that jumping, and the coordination it requires, encourages large motor development and problem-solving skills.
  • Card and board games. Card games like "war" or "crazy eights" and board games like checkers or chess teach about strategy, turn-taking, negotiating rules, and fair play. Encourage cooperation and help your child learn to manage the emotions that come with winning as well as losing.
  • Musical instruments. Learning to play the piano, violin, guitar, or another instrument encourages listening and fine motor skills and helps build attention skills.
  • Science toys. Chemistry sets, binoculars, telescopes, or other toys that promote discovery and problem-solving help improve math and science skills, and help develop imagination.

The Perfect Toy: You

A baby staring at a mobile; a toddler stacking blocks; a pre-schooler painting with watercolors — all are activities that can be done independently.

But don't underestimate your role. After all, it's you who put up the mobile, turned it on, and encouraged your baby to follow. It's you who first showed your baby how to stack those blocks. And when you sit side-by-side with your kids and paint, color, or read a story, you give them the attention they need to build their self-esteem and feel loved and secure.

Toys are a tool to help kids develop, but it's parents who nurture that growth.

Entertain Your Toddler

Last Updated on 12/17/2019 by Karen

Best Puzzles and Problem-Solving Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles!

We love puzzles and problem-solving toys. My three-year-old is a thinker. She has more fun working on a puzzle or problem-solving than most other toys. And now her younger sister is following a similar trajectory.

Puzzles and problem-solving toys are the last category on our foundational toys list, but by no means the least. Kids need puzzles and problem-solving toys in order to work on critical thinking skills, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and well, problem-solving!

Stacking type puzzle where balance is needed

In this guide, I’ll walk you through some traditional and non-traditional puzzles, and lots of options for toys that encourage problem-solving and critical thinking.

I had a really hard time deciding what to put in this list because there are so many good options out there. I hope this guide can help you narrow down all those options and find the perfect gift!

As always, you need to be the judge of whether a toy is appropriate for your young child’s abilities and interests. I find it’s best to pick a puzzle that challenges but does not frustrate your child. This makes for us and our kids much happier.

After browsing our top puzzle and problem-solving toys, be sure to read my tips for extending puzzle play.

Disclosure: We use sponsored, or affiliate, links, which means that we could earn a small commission that helps fund our blog (at no extra cost to you!). All opinions are our own and we only recommend products we love. Thank you for your support and happy shopping!

Our favorite board puzzles with removable pieces

Sea Life Puzzle   //   Safari Animals Puzzle   //   Farm Animals Puzzle   //   Dinosaur Puzzle   //   Things That Go Puzzle   //   Construction Vehicles Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Wooden Chunky Puzzle 

We have just started collecting puzzles ever since we first played with the massive collection at our local library. She loves these Melissa & Doug wooden chunky puzzles, and I do too! 

Not only are they solid wood, durable, and hardwearing, the chunky pieces are easy to grab and can be played with as stand-alone figurines. 

These Melissa & Doug puzzles are perfect for young toddlers because under the puzzle piece is a picture of the piece that goes there to help little ones put the right shape in more easily.

First puzzle with picture displayed below where each piece goes

We started with the sea life puzzle, but I’ve got a few more I want to get this year and put links below in the order I’m planning to get them in. (Yes, these toy guides are just a glorified shopping list so that when birthdays and Christmases roll around, I’ve got my next thing ready to buy.)

If you are looking for more on your own, make sure to check that they are not the peg kind as some types with the peg in the middle have thin pieces that can’t stand up like these chunky pieces can.

Sea Life and Safari Animals puzzles

 1.  Sea Life Puzzle    

2. Safari Animals puzzle

Farm and Dinosaur puzzles

3.   Farm Animals Puzzle

4.  Dinosaur Puzzle

Things that go and Construction vehicles puzzle

5.  Things That Go Puzzle

6.  Construction Vehicles Puzzle

I would recommend getting two animal sets. That way you can mix up the pieces and sort them as you talk about animal habitats for yet another way to play!

Our library has this puzzle rack for storing their puzzles. Fits up to 12 puzzles (both the chunky puzzle size and larger).

Farm balancing block puzzle toy

Wooden Wonders Balancing Block Play Set  by Imagination Generation

I wrote about this game in my complete toy buying guide . These are cute little animal pieces that you can stack on a hard surface, or on the wobbly farm block.

This one was challenging for Elena at 18 months, so she mostly played with them as individual pieces . She was disappointed that she couldn’t put them in the barn, though.

Kids will work on fine motor skills, critical thinking, and (the reason for this post!) problem-solving.

Pile of colorful wooden balancing animal problem-solving puzzle toys

Here’s a few other options:   “Blockbeard” pirate set (though more difficult to play with individual pieces, like what do you do with the pirate heads? hmm….) Noah’s ark (2 of each animal, of course!) Lewo animal set (which we own and love!)

problem solving skills toys

Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs

Someone gifted us these ADORABLE little Hide and Squeak eggs and Elena loves playing with them. There is so much to learn and play with in this little half dozen egg set.

The eggs have different shapes on the bottom that fit into the matching shapes in the carton.

Each little chick inside is a different color and matches with the colored faces on the outer shell.

Plus, when you push down on the chick, it squeaks! Squeak, squeak! 

Toddler plays with TOMY colorful toy egg shape sorting and color sorting

It was a challenge at first for Elena to even open the carton. Then she discovered the different shapes on the bottom. And finally, she played by matching the colors. Sometimes Elenawill play with these as actual eggs for pretend cooking. 

Elena was two when we got these, but I could see a one-year-old or younger wanting to play with this set as well.

problem solving skills toys

Fisher-Price Stack and Roll Cups

This toy doesn’t look like much at first… just your standard nesting cups set right? WRONG!

These bad boys can be nested, stacked, or snapped together to make 5 different sized balls! The little smiley at the top has a bell inside and can be hidden inside one of the balls.

Get these for a baby and he will keep playing with them in new ways as a toddler.

I can already think of several different ways to play with these cups, especially in combination with other toys. Color sorting, pretend cooking and eating, matching games, rainbow drums, hide-and-seek games, um, yeah, I think these are a great foundational toy !

problem solving skills toys

Alex Discover Button Art

Fine motor skills will get a workout in this button art set. Toddlers will enjoy putting the buttons in the holes. As they become more interested, they can create the art by matching the colored buttons to the colors on the cards.

The pegs are more vibrantly colored than they appear here. They kind of remind of those food pouch lids that I like to save for color matching games and water play, so already there is another use for the pieces in this set!

It is under $10 right now, so although the cards are more flimsy than I would like, it still may be worth it even for just the buttons to be used as manipulatives in a variety of counting, patterning, and sorting activities.

Russian nesting dolls must be arranged by size for all pieces to fit making it a challenging problem to solve and rewarding puzzle for toddlers

Russian Nesting Dolls

Yes, there are tiny pieces once you get past the fifth or sixth doll, but Elena just loves our two sets so much and we’ve gotten several hours of play out of them , so I had to put the idea out here!

I know matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls) are not the first thing you think of when I say “puzzle” or “problem-solving toy,” but they really are.

The dolls need to be nested in the proper order for them all to fit together. The tops and bottoms need to be matched correctly, and you have to match up the designs so they look like one piece. There’s a lot of problem-solving going on!

Additionally, they can be played with as standalone dolls. Elena has also stacked these in numerous ways (like just tops in pyramid style, or just bottoms like nesting cups), so I believe these would make a lovely heirloom gift for a child.

This particular set from Amazon had good reviews and a lot of people mentioned how large they were (tallest doll is 8″ high), so I think this would be a good set for a child to play with.

I do like the bit of culture these matryoshka dolls bring. Russian nesting dolls were originally meant to be played with but have evolved into an art form. There are some very elaborate ones out there!

I also looked for a less delicate plastic set and found these little nesting penguins  and these fun little robots . Check them out if your child is not into dolls.

Shape sorters are classic problem solving toys

Top Bright Wooden Shape Sorter

How cute is this! It’s a cement truck shape sorter! Plus it comes with a little truck driver!

A shape sorter is for sure a good foundational toy , as you can obviously teach shapes, but you can also teach colors if you have brightly colored set, and do some stacking with the shape blocks.

This sorter has the added bonus of imaginative play and can be pulled around on the string. You can spin the barrel and tip it to dump out the blocks. All in all, a fun, educational toy!

**Note: The blocks are wooden, but the truck is a mix of plastic and wood.

problem solving skills toys

Melissa & Doug Keys & Cars Wooden Rescue Vehicle & Garage Toy

One of my nephews is obsessed with firefighters and police officers, so I’m considering getting him this for Christmas.

It’s a wooden fire truck, ambulance, and police car that can be sorted in the color matching garage. What makes this a unique problem-solving toy is the addition of keys to lock and unlock the garage doors!

The keys will keep little toddler hands busy and working on their hand-eye coordination and color matching. When they tire of that, there is always the rescue vehicles to play with.

Woo-ooh-woo-ooh-woo-ooh! (I’m 99% positive that’s how you spell the sound a siren makes.)

A similar toy is this M&D Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse .

problem solving skills toys

Eric Carle Matching Game  by The Wonder Forge

Does your child like The Very Hungry Caterpillar ? This is one of Elena’s favorite books. We have also just discovered matching and memory games, so this would be game I think she would love.

The cards/tiles are a sturdy chipboard and feature art by Eric Carle (author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? The Tiny Seed, and more!). There are 72 tiles, so you’ll want to play with only 4 or 5 pairs to start with.

If you’ve never played Memory, basically, you mix up the cards and turn them all over. Then you take turns choosing two cards at a time with the goal of finding a matching pair.

For a young one, you could have the whole set face up and challenge them to find matching pairs or play I Spy .

You could also play Go Fish with these, though the chipboard could be tough to hold in one hand.

Afterwards, you can read an Eric Carle book and do a matching puzzle.

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar book and jumbo puzzle
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book and simple puzzle pairs

I think these in combination with the matching game would make a perfect gift basket for an Eric Carle lover.

problem solving skills toys

Grimm’s Water Wave Stacker

Grimm’s rainbow is a favorite among the Montessori/Waldorf people, but did you know there are other nesting sets in the “Elements of Nature” collection which are equally beautiful?

I decided to feature the water wave stacker because the shades of blue are so pretty and I like the ocean 🙂

These open-ended puzzle toys enhance a child’s creativity and imagination. The pieces can be laid on their side to make pretty patterns or stacked in different ways to create bridges or houses or fences for play with animal or doll figurines. It’s pretty amazing to watch a child play with these and get a glimpse into their creative brain.

I love how beautiful the Grimm’s sets are. They look like art pieces that I could display on a bookshelf in the living room. They are wooden and painted with child-safe non-toxic water-based paint and dyes.

Be sure to check out the fire flames nesting set  as well.

Grimm’s can be pricey, but Lewo makes a similar concept, but different style, colorful wooden puzzle set for less. Take a look if you’re interested.

Other Puzzles to Love

Here are a few  jigsaw puzzles that are adorable and perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

problem solving skills toys

The Petit Collage Beginner Puzzles are lovely, unconfined animal-shaped jigsaw puzzles. I love this forest babies set of four puzzles.

problem solving skills toys

Crocodile Creek Birthday Bear is a traditional rectangle jigsaw puzzle with 24 pieces and a whimsical illustration. Below are more floor puzzles from Crocodile Creek.

OK, here’s my favorite. I like these Mudpuppy Pouch Puzzles because they store neatly away in a zipper POUCH! Such a great idea for puzzle storage. You could easily toss one in your purse for play at the restaurant when you need to keep kids busy and quiet. Each pouch has 12 extra thick chunky pieces. 

One Last Tip for Extending Puzzle Playtime

Sensory bin!

Almost anything can be turned into a sensory bin, right? Fill a container with your favorite sensory bin filler (dry beans, rice, popcorn kernels, nothing wet of course) and hide the pieces of a puzzle in it . Let your child dig and scoop to find the pieces and then put it together.

problem solving skills toys

If you’ve got an older child who needs a challenge, why not mix up a few different smaller sets of puzzles and have them sort the sets!

Do you have any other tips for new ways to play with puzzles?

Building toys are also great for building critical thinking skills and hand-eye coordination. Check out our favorite classic building toys  and our favorite building toys for little ones.

I hope these toy guides and gift ideas help you find the perfect gift for any kid on your list!

For more on building a toybox of only toys your child will play with and love, read this complete toy buying guide .

The best puzzles and problem solving toys

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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 skills toys

  • 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 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),, 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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8 Toys and Games that Build Problem Solving in Early Childhood

This post contains affiliate links. my  disclosure policy  gives you more details..

What toys can you gift this season that build those critical problem solving skills in young children?

Toys for toddlers and preschoolers often light up, sing, and chirp. They’re designed that way to entertain children when parents want a moment away from playing, and they often throw in what look like basic pre-K skills (numbers, letters) to make you feel less bad about letting the sing-a-long number line babysit your kid. No shame. We’ve all been there.

But for those moments when you want a break from the bells and whistles, how can you (literally) cut through the noise and give your child toys that will challenge them to solve problems and have fun at the same time?

If you make it to the end of this list, you’ll see my #1 toy recommendation this year!

These are my favorite toys and games that teach problem solving. As a parent and an educator, these are also the toys that have multiple levels of challenge and engagement so your child can play with these for years and years as their cognitive skills grow.

Don’t forget to pin this (and any of these toys) to your Christmas Gift board!

1. haba wooden color pie arranging game.

problem solving skills toys

This game is beautifully crafted with a circular wooden frame and 27 colored pieces. It comes with full color cards that your child can copy in the frame to work on spatial matching.

Your two year old might arrange the pieces in the circular frame, your three year old will copy the color cards to practice matching, and your four and five year old can begin understanding how fractions work. Because of the way the pieces are sized and colored, you can talk about how two red pieces make a whole but also four yellow pieces make a whole.

My daughter has been playing with this for three years and is now fascinated with the idea that different sizes fit into the same space. Such a long-lasting toy in our house!

2. Suspend Family Game

problem solving skills toys

Players take turns hanging the notched rods on the stand, but every time a rod is added the balance shifts. Kids have to use their critical thinking skills to decide where to place the rod when it’s their turn.

This game is used at my daughter’s Montessori school as a “work” that students use to build spacial awareness and fine motor skills as well as problem solving. The big crash that happens when the child miscalculates the balance is an exciting interruption!

3. Peg + Cat Memory Game

problem solving skills toys

Lay out all the cards, take turns flipping them over to find a match, and watch your child develop their memory and visual discrimination skills!

This set comes with a great Peg + Cat poster of our favorite scene from Peg + Cat and The Chicken Problem.  What a bonus!

If books are your thing for gift-giving, come on over here to this post on 10 Feminist Children’s Books for the Next Generation. It features ten books with in-charge girls changing their world. Some of them are fighting for equality and some of them are just livin’ life, like Peg, solving problems and running things.

4. Marble Genius Marble Run

problem solving skills toys

After constructing the run, your child can then drop the marble into the top and see if the run works! Because the parts are see-through, your child can see the progress of their marble and immediately problem-solve to make the run more effective.

What I love about this is that it’s an open-ended toy, meaning your child can create something of their own imagination and play with it in many different ways. It’s not telling your child exactly how to “win” the game or play with the toy. However, it’s still goal-oriented, and kids will delight in the thrill of making a successful run and all the creative paths they can send their marble through.

5. Take Along Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse

problem solving skills toys

This is another toy we have been playing with for three years. At 2, she loved matching the color of the doll to the door and ringing the doorbells (and carrying it all over the house). Now, at 4 she’s fascinated with “tricking” me about which doll is in which door, and going through each key to open the doors over and over again.

The house has a handle on top and sturdily attached keys that, in three years, are still attached. We haven’t lost one key. The dolls are another story, but one week we gathered up all the small dolls in the house and sorted them by color into the house, so #problemsolved.

Don’t forget to pin this to your Christmas Gift board!

6. pattern blocks and boards.

problem solving skills toys

With five boards featuring pictures of 10 designs created from geometric shapes, your child matches the 120 wooden shapes to each picture. Utilizing problem solving skills, kids will match shapes to the mosaic or make open-ended designs of their own.

The whole thing is contained within a wooden box with two sides: one for the boards and one for the shapes. This makes it a perfect addition to any home, but it especially fits in with a Montessori environment where each “work” is self-contained and can be put back neatly in its box.

7. Magna-tiles

problem solving skills toys

These tiles snap together and can combine to make incredible structures, including flat stacks of color combos, animals, houses, villages, and bridges.

This is a great example of open-ended play because your child can direct the play, use their imagination to create structures, and develop spatial, tactile, and construction skills. My daughter likes to place items inside that can be seen through their translucent sides, and the challenge of creating these fragile structures grows with your child’s imagination.

These are perfect when your child is ready to go beyond blocks and wants to create structures that float in mid-air!

8. Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine

problem solving skills toys

In this set, you get 34 pieces that make the spinning machine as well as 9 other possible build ideas. Your child doesn’t need to know how to read for this to be a meaningful experience, but she will probably need your help the first time she creates the machine. Once she understands the concept, she can make the machine in a myriad of ways, teaching her about the concept of a belt drive.

We love this set, though it is complex. If you’re interested in a simpler machine, try the GoldieBlox Girl Inventor Zipline Action Figure Set which includes either Goldie or her best friend Ruby and instructions and materials to make a zipline. When we got this set, my daughter set this zipline up in the bedroom, off the back porch, and through the chicken coop. Watching her create new ziplines all over the house meant she understood the concept of the pulley, and was able to internalize this slightly advanced concept for a three year old. What fun!

I love the GoldieBlox series as a parent and an educator because it includes so much for kids to engage with. The story includes a real-world problem that is solved by a machine, and your child will internalize this machine’s function and concept by building it. Along the way, you get to know the characters of Goldie and her friends, which enriches the play and the fun.

Though not open-ended to start, this kit does what very few toys can do: it teaches your child how to make something that then expands what kinds of open-ended play is now possible for your child.

Check out this list of all the best GoldieBlox kits and get your kids started building and inventing today!

Interested in more gift guides? 

11 toys to build counting and sorting skills  , 22 gifts for the feminist mom smashing the patriarchy between carpool and bedtime, 10 busy books to keep your pre-reader occupied, 10 feminist books for the next generation, and for a fun surprise, download your free pdf gift guide for irreverent parents ..

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The Best Educational Toys Kids Love as Much as Their Parents Do

These toys provide stealth lessons in math, science, technology, and engineering.

educational toy

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

Part of the beauty of childhood is that every new experience offers a lesson, making playtime an opportunity to learn and grow. But there’s one key ingredient that an educational toy must have and it’s the only thing your kid likely cares about: fun.

If a toy engages, entertains, and challenges your child while also giving them that sense of fun and wonder they crave, you’ve created an ideal environment for learning. Nice work, parents! That’s why we’ve tracked down 20 great educational toys for a range of ages, interests, and skills, each of which will help you impart knowledge without the teeth-pulling of formal lessons.

Read more of our expert recommendations for the best toy storage solutions , sensory toys , and science toys to keep your little ones learning.

The Best Educational Toys

The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff

Best Activity Book

Popular mechanics the big little book of awesome stuff.

Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit

Best Digital Game

Osmo osmo little genius starter kit.

Rush Hour Traffic Jam Brain Game

Best Puzzle

Think fun rush hour traffic jam brain game.

Color Sorting Clock

Best for Preschoolers

Coogam color sorting clock.

Interactive Smart Map Poster

Most Fact Filled

Best learning interactive smart map poster.

Geometric Tangram Brain Teasers

Best for Building Spatial Reasoning

Coogam geometric tangram brain teasers.

Wooden Spelling Game

Best for Budding Readers

Coogam wooden spelling game.

Rubber Band Geoboard

Simple Yet Satisfying

Panda brothers rubber band geoboard.

200-Piece Building Block Set

Best for Budding Designers

Tomyou 200-piece building block set.

Construction Building Blocks

Best Engineering Toy

Nxone construction building blocks, what to consider.

Kids want engaging entertainment. Caregivers want the toys to be entertaining, but not superficial. Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to impart knowledge through play. Keep the below in mind, and everyone will end up happy.

Toy designers know what they’re doing when they put an age range on a toy. There are years of consumer reviews and scientific studies to back their age recommendations up, and it's worth mentioning that choosing developmentally-appropriate toys for your kids can increase their independence and confidence.

You want your kids to learn to code, but do they ? There are plenty of ways for kids to flex their intellectual muscles, so pay attention to where their interests lie.

Size and Expense

These educational toys range significantly in size and expense. Think carefully before buying a play center or sand-molding kit, especially if you have a small indoors-only space. The same goes with costs. If you think your child will genuinely love something, it may be worth shelling out triple digits. But if you’re on the fence, think twice, because as any parent could remind you, your kids’ favorite toy is probably one of their least expensive ones.

How We Selected

We reviewed hundreds of toys, with the goal of selecting 20 items that will appeal to kids of varying ages and interests. We also consulted expert guides and consumer reviewers for their (and their kids’) verdicts. We then ran many of them past our own children to see which products caught their eye and captured their imaginations. Our final product selections include the most promising and engaging educational toys on the market.

Keeping kids stimulated without using electronics or technology can be challenging, but having a reliable replacement activity on hand can definitely be helpful.

The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff was curated by Popular Mechanics editors and combines a variety of activities, pranks, strange facts and experiments that will always have your children entertained.

This iPad-compatible learning tool for preschoolers comes with four introductory games that develop skills in phonics, drawing abilities, creativity, and problem solving skills.

The set comes with an iPad base and reflector, which allows the device to interact with objects that kids can actually hold in their hands. These include pretend play costume pieces, silicone shapes, and more, making it far more interactive—and educational—than your average digital game.

If your child likes puzzles, they'll love this three-dimensional traffic jam logic game. The set comes with a deck of 40 cards that display various traffic configurations. Their first challenge is to set the board up as it appears in the picture—a great starting place for younger learners. Next, they'll slide the pieces within their lanes to make way for the red car to escape the traffic jam.

A perfect example of a game that grows with your child, the cards offer three levels of increasing difficulty. Though it's advertised as ideal for children eight and up, kids as young as four can begin puzzling with parents. Plus, this educational toy gives them a glimpse of what adulthood is like.

With the rise of digital clocks, many kids—and even teens—now struggle to read analog clocks with ease. By starting them early on this color-sorting clock, telling time will be second nature for your little learner.

This educational toy comes with 12 removable, numbered blocks in a range of shapes. They'll enjoy sorting the brightly colored blocks while learning to read the clock with your help.

If you’re looking to encourage an interest in our country’s geography, look no further than this interactive smart map of the U.S.

At the press of a button, it gives kids a whirlwind lesson in each state’s location, capital, and most fascinating facts. Once they’ve learned some crucial knowledge of our country, they can take fun quizzes on 500 pieces of state trivia.

Thinking more globally? There’s also a world map for tiny travelers and other aspiring geographers.

This simple tangram toy is perfect for kids who love puzzles and enjoy an added challenge. The set comes with a wooden board and 15 colorful geometric pieces which can be configured in over 60 arrangements.

A manual of instructions and solutions offers five levels of difficulty for your logic-loving kid. Simply set up the board as it appears in each picture, then use the remaining pieces to fill the gaps until the board is full.

If your child is learning to read and spell, mastering their “CVC” words—three-letter words consisting of a consonant, vowel, and second consonant—can give them a major leg up.

This educational toy set comes with five spelling boards—one for each vowel—plus 58 removable consonant blocks to build words that correspond with images on cards. They can experiment with building words and sounding them out, growing their reading and writing skills at the preschool and kindergarten level.

This wooden geoboard has a simple design: a rounded square board with an 8-by-8 grid of metal pegs on its surface.

The toy's simplicity allows kids to focus on the challenge at hand: making various shapes out of colored rubber bands, either from their own imagination or from any of 30 pattern cards. They’ll love experimenting with different designs, which can include pictures, letters, and more.

If your child loves building with blocks or Magna-Tiles, this set of colorful, interlocking shapes offers a new twist on an old favorite. Molded into flower-like discs, the pieces snap together to make an organic look that other building sets lack. Reviewers say this tends to inspire a different sort of creative vision from more traditional geometric shapes.

Though the product is listed as safe for children aged three and up, reviewers say that tiny hands sometimes struggle to snap the pieces together. Kids ages five and up seem to enjoy this set most.

Building with tools utilizes a range of STEM skills, but your own tool set is likely off-limits to your child. These construction building blocks let them design and build their own contraptions, using miniature plastic wrenches and their very own kid-safe electric drill.

With no shortage of design possibilities, they'll stretch their imagination to build robots, animals, vehicles, and more. In the process, they'll make major educational gains in problem solving, hand-eye coordination, and engineering skills. Make it a group project to foster some social-emotional skills as well.

Hape Hape Monster Math Scale

Hape Monster Math Scale

Looking for a new way to engage your kid in math? This monster scale offers a fun take on essential math skills, including addition, subtraction, and broader conceptual understanding of weight comparison and numeracy. By adding a block to one side, you can challenge your child to add to or take away from the other side until they reach a balance.

Goobi Goobi Magnetic Building Sticks

Goobi Magnetic Building Sticks

Like Magna-Tiles and the flower discs mentioned above, Goobi magnetic building sticks similarly challenge kids to get creative with geometric modeling and spatial reasoning.

These rainbow hued rods come with magnetic balls and plastic tripods, which help sturdy their various designs for a frustration-free user experience. They'll love getting creative with this open-ended construction toy—all while developing their fine motor skills.

Learning Resources Learning Resources Alphabet Acorns

Learning Resources Alphabet Acorns

This toy set comes with four games in one. It features 26 colorful alphabet acorns, which will help them learn letter identification. The acorn bottoms feature a letter, and the top have colors that match the letter, so children will enjoy the matching and sorting game as well.

The set also includes 42 plastic letter-shaped cookies, 45 double-sided cards, two spinners, a plastic storage jar, and an activity guide with multiple games.

Reviewers say their “perceptive” kids who do “not care much for structure” love this freewheeling set where you can either set the game or let kids play their own.

Magna Tiles Magna-Tiles 100-Piece Set

Magna-Tiles 100-Piece Set

These magnetic, flat, and colorful tiles are comprised of squares and triangles of different sides. It sounds simple, and that’s the beauty of it. The beautiful tiles can be put together to create an impressive array of structures by snapping the sides together.

Kids will spend hours exploring geometry, cause and effect and boosting their fine motor and planning skills, all while creating and destroying castles, towers and more. The tiles are made from BPA and phthalate-free plastic.

One reviewer confesses that they've become a tile fanatic themselves, accruing five boxes in total for the whole family. Others praise how easy they are to store, saying they are “sturdy, safe” and boost “mechanical dexterity and resiliency in rebuilding things that fail.”

Brain Games Brain Games ICECOOL

Brain Games ICECOOL

  • Age Group : 6+

This addictively fun, silly and interactive board game will be a hit with kids and their caregivers. It essentially entails flicking penguins around a school in a bid for fish, which is patently ridiculous, but also involves learning how to weigh risks and rewards and engaging in experimental play. Throughout the game, a hall monitor (everyone takes a turn), tries to stop the penguins from winning a fish.

Reviewers say this educational game is “extremely fun,” “high quality” and “unique.” Others note that it is not for “serious gamers.”

littleBits littleBits Rule Your Room Kit

littleBits Rule Your Room Kit

  • Age Group : 8+

This kit will have kids ages 8 and up learning how to connect power sources with inputs and outputs. The kit is color-coded, and comes with circuit blocks that can be used for a variety of projects. The modular circuits snap together, with colors identifying their types (blue means power, pink means inputs, green means outputs, and orange is for wires).

Kids will be able to follow the clear step-by-step instructions for eight inventions, and from there, have the basics to create their own. One AAA battery is required, and it comes with the kit.

Reviewers call tis kit “wonderful” and “well-designed,” with clear rules.

VATOS VATOS Take Apart Car

VATOS Take Apart Car

  • Age Group : 3 to 6

Car lovers and building enthusiasts will love this DIY construction vehicle. Kids will love to take apart, build, and operate this bulldozer. They will acquire mechanical, engineering, and fine-motor skills while also working on hand-eye coordination and honing shape recognition.

The kit comes with a manual and power drill. Batteries (two AA) for the power drill are not included. The entire bulldozer also requires an extra three AA batteries, which must be purchased independently.

Reviewers “love” the truck, especially the bright colors and sounds.

Educational Insights Educational Insights Geosafari Talking Microscope

Educational Insights Geosafari Talking Microscope

  • Age Group : 3+

This GeoSafari Jr. microscope will inspire a generation of future scientists. It is designed to be completely user-friendly for preschoolers, with a big focusing knob for little fingers and a large eyepiece.

The set comes with up-close quality images and the voice of Wildlife Warrior Bindi Irwin, who walks them through facts on animals and plants in a fun and engaging way. To add onto the educational aspect, this microscope also features a fact or quiz mode for kids who want to review what they just learned. Three AAA batteries are required and must be purchased separately.

Reviewers say that this “cool” microscope helps their kids “connect lessons from STEM” classes at school.

VTech VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

  • Age Group : 9 months to 3 years

This interactive learning walker comes equipped with a removable play panel with a number of different games and sounds, including spinning colors, shape sorters, light up buttons, and more than 70 sing-along songs and phrases.

This toy will also help babies who have low tone and are having trouble pulling themselves up, and will appeal to any baby who loves to move, dance, and play with sound. Two AA batteries are required and included.

Reviewers love how the walker “grows with the baby” because the front part can be removed, and the wheels can be locked to slow the baby down.

Think Fun ThinkFun Robot Turtles Coding Game

ThinkFun Robot Turtles Coding Game

  • Age Group : 4 to 13

This board game was designed with the goal of developing critical skills. Players will learn key programming principles, through a card and board game that teaches kids how to write programs through play.

Programming expert Dan Shapiro designed the game, and the easy-to-follow instructions are a boon for those who don’t speak in code.

Reviewers love “the concept and learning objectives,” but some note it is “best for young kids” as it is very “simple.”

Headshot of Lauren Gray

Lauren Gray is a writer, editor, and consultant based in New York City. She holds a master's degree from Columbia University and a bachelor's degree from Kenyon College. Her work has been published in Popular Mechanics, Best Life, MSN, and Yahoo! News. 

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Toys as Tools: Everyday Science Experiences

Two toddler girls playing with blocks

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By Peggy Ashbrook

Young children don't need highly specialized or expensive equipment to learn how to explore the natural world scientifically. They do need, as Rachel Carson mused in The Sense of Wonder, “the companionship of at least one adult who can share it.”

Simple toys and tools can engage children as they explore natural phenomena in ways that will support their later science learning. Adults who allow children to play and work through small difficulties by themselves support children as they build an understanding of how the world works. Resist the temptation to “fix it” or “make it go faster” or “use it the right way,” and you will build your child’s self-confidence and problem-solving ability.

1. Spinning Tops

Concept:  Use these toys as tools to explore motion.

How to support exploration:  Ask your child open-ended questions (questions with more than a yes or no answer). How hard do you have to push each type of top before it begins to spin? Are light or heavy tops easier to spin? Are tall or short tops easier to spin? Can a top with a penny taped to it maintain a spin?

Where to purchase:  Look for tops in party stores or in catalogues that sell small plastic party favors.

Concept:  Tools can extend our senses, allowing us to obtain more information than we would be able to on our own. Magnifiers extend our sight by making objects look bigger.

How to support exploration: This tool is fun to use to make the world look blurry and our eyes look huge, and to look closely at everything! Magnifiers reveal aspects of nature that are too small to see with just our eyes. Examine skin, coins, flower structures, and insects—all objects with small parts that make up the whole.

Variation:  Fill a round, clear plastic jar with water and have your children look at their hands or a picture through the jar. Children often notice the change in apparent size. Ask them, “Did your hand look bigger?” Then let them examine it and ask, “Did my hand really get bigger, or did it just look bigger?” Take another look so children can be certain of their answer. Have your children pinch the lens of a magnifying glass between two fingers and gently run their fingers across it to notice that the magnifier is not flat but has a curved surface, just like the jar!

Where to purchase:  Drug stores and discount stores sell inexpensive plastic magnifiers, or you can order them from a scientific supply company.

3. Eye Droppers or Pipettes

Concept:  As children use eyedroppers and pipettes to move liquids, they learn a lot about how liquids behave. For example, they learn that when they squeeze the bulb the dropper pushes air out, and when they release the bulb it pulls water in. Children this age can also observe that water forms drops.

How to support exploration:  Show your child how to squeeze the dropper to force the air out of the bulb and how to release it to allow it to pop back into shape, drawing in air or liquid as it reforms. Your child can feel the air as it leaves the dropper by holding the dropper up to her cheek (away from her eyes) as she squeezes the bulb. Use the dropper to suck up small amounts of rain from a puddle or to mix colored water from one dish with water of a different color in another. Turn the dropper upside down to create a fountain. All of these activities have the added benefit of helping your child develop small motor control.

Where to purchase:  Buy just a few at a pharmacy or dollar store or order many from a scientific education supply company.

4. Bubbles and Bubble Wands

Concept:  Bubbles teach children about geometry (shapes) and give them an awareness of air movement. How long will the bubble last, and where will it float? How to support exploration: Bend a pipe cleaner into a square-shaped bubble wand and ask your child to predict what shape the bubbles will take. Introduce less common words like “sphere” as you blow bubbles to give your child the ability to describe a three dimensional shape and to expand his vocabulary.

Where to purchase:  Look for bubble solution in party stores year-round or, during the warm months, in drug stores and discount stores.

Concept:  Use balls of the same size but differing weights to explore how the mass (what we feel as weight) of an object affects its motion.

How to support exploration:  Which ball will roll farther if we give them the same push—the heavier ball or the lighter ball? Children become very familiar with the effects of the pull of gravity as they throw or kick balls. They explore the properties of materials when they compare the height of the bounce of balls made of different materials. They will draw on these kinesthetic experiences in later science learning.

Where to purchase:  Buy a variety of balls at toy stores, drug stores, and discount stores in the toy or sports sections.

Concept:  Playing with mirrors to reflect light and wondering how our image is reflected teaches children a beginning understanding about the properties of light.

How to support exploration:  Bounce light off of different surfaces. A large plastic “baby” mirror, held freely, is especially good for this. Have your children use mirrors to look behind themselves. “Catch” some sunshine and reflect it to another surface outside or inside. Children can use a mirror to examine their face to draw a self-portrait. Children are more likely to draw from the observations they see in the mirror and not from memory if they are encouraged to focus on parts of their face they don’t usually begin with, such as their nostrils. Ask, “Do you see the holes in your nose? How many are there?”

Where to purchase:  Buy mirrors at a pharmacy or dollar store. “Baby” or designed-for-preschool plastic mirrors can be ordered from preschool, or scientific, education supply companies.

Concept:  Children can play with magnetic force and explore this property of materials. By using the phrase, “attracted to the magnet,” instead of “sticking to the magnet,” you reinforce that there is no “stickiness” involved—magnetism is a force that pulls or pushes. How it does this involves understanding that all materials are made of tiny pieces too small to see (atoms), a concept that children will build toward understanding around age 10. There is no need to rush this understanding. In early childhood, children can understand that being attracted by a magnet, or not, is the nature of a material.

How to support exploration:  Ask questions such as, “What objects in my house can be attracted to a magnet?” and “Can magnetic force work through fabric?” Put the magnet in a sock and see if it can still attract objects.

Where to purchase:  Be sure to buy magnets that are too large for a child to swallow. These can be found in hardware stores or toy stores, or they can be ordered from preschool, or scientific, education supply companies.

The most important science learning comes from experiencing the natural world. Without the natural world we could not manufacture any of the human-made materials that make our lives easier and more comfortable. The natural world is the most important science tool of all, so go outside with your child, breathe, look around, and explore.  

Peggy Ashbrook is the author of Science Is Simple: Over 250 Activities for Preschoolers. She teaches preschool science in Alexandria, Virginia, and leads professional development workshops for early childhood teachers.

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Toys Build Cognitive Skills

by The Genius of Play Team

The Genius of Play Team

Avital helps intentional parents reframe their mindset to enjoy parenting. Founder of, and a homeschooling mother of four, The Parenting Junkie helps you to inspire your kids to play independently - start now with Avital’s celebrated guide: 10 Easy Steps to Transform Your Home into a Play Inducing Haven .

Trained in the Simplicity Parenting and Hand-in-Hand parenting disciplines, her work has been published in Huff Post, Motherly, Mindvalley and is endorsed by the leaders in the Parenting space, Dr. Shefali Tsabary and Dr. Laura Markham. Whether speaking on stage in california, or holding retreats in Costa Rica, or sharing her thoughts on weekly Podcast, The Parenting Junkie Show, Avital serves as a supportive, tough-love friend to parents across the globe. Avital’s inspirational and actionable mindful parenting videos have millions of views and she impacts the lives of families worldwide - through her courses, coaching and blog. Visit .

In play, kids build cognitive skills including:

  • Planning Skills
  • Attention Span

From building pre-math skills to helping little attention spans grow, toys are tools that help develop the cognitive skills kids need to be successful in the classroom!! Here are some cool toy picks that can help build your child’s cognitive skills:

Clixo by Toyish Labs

Clixo offers kids a whole new way to build! Its flexible play system is built on the magic of magnets. Unlike rigid blocks, each Clixo building piece is flexible, allowing children to shape the pieces, snap the magnets together in different ways, and build whatever comes naturally!

What kids learn through play with Clixo: In play with STEAM toys like Clixo, children will naturally explore mathematical concepts like sorting, matching, identifying shapes and spatial reasoning. As children build their Clixo creation, they are also actively honing planning and problem-solving skills.

Kinetic Sand Sandwhirlz Set by Spin Master

Inspired by the drop and squish play pattern on social media, the Sandwhirlz Playset makes it easy to customize Kinetic Sand effects with the shape shifters and tools! Open up the case to discover your Kinetic Sand inside and a play area on the lid. Play with your Kinetic Sand to get it flowy, soft and ready for play!

What kids learn through play with a Kinetic Sand Sandwhirlz Set: Sensory play is play that engages a child's senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. When kids use a combination of senses during play, studies show that the experience creates stronger, deeper neural pathways in the brain . Kinetic Sand is a great way to get your kids excited about sensory play.

Story Time Chess

Kids as young as 3-years-old can learn to play chess with Story Time Chess. It’s no ordinary chess set! Utilizing interactive stories, this toy focuses on teaching kids why chess pieces move in their own unique ways, which can cement chess knowledge in your child’s mind.

What kids learn through play with Story Time Chess: Board games like Story Time Chess ignite cognitive skills . Playing pushes kids to engage in out of the box thinking, and come up with creative solutions. Story Time Chess is also a great way to introduce goal setting to young children . In order to checkmate their opponent's king, your child has to identify the possible steps needed to accomplish the goal and quickly identify alternatives when their plans are foiled by their opponent.

Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition Toy by Hasbro

Unbox 2 rock bands and 70+ surprises with LOL Surprise Remix Super Surprise. It’s the ultimate rock concert unboxing experience! Kids will find LOL Surprise O.MHe may look like “Baby Yoda,” but this lovable creature is called The Child -- and now your child can become his protector. Touching the top of The Child’s head activates over 25 sound and motion combinations, including happy and excited sounds, giggles, babbles, and more, all while the figure’s head moves up and down, ears move back and forth, and eyes open and close.

What kids learn through play with Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition Toy: Pretend play with toys like The Child involves symbolism, which is a concept kids will use for both reading and math . For instance, if your child uses a couch pillow to become an intergalactic cruiser for The Child to command, they are creating and using the pillow as a symbol. The same way the written letter A makes an “A” sound, or the number 1 represents a single object.

Railway Bucket-Builder-Set by Hape International Inc.

The Railway Bucket-Builder train set lets your kids build their own town! Unpack everything from the storage box then use the lid to create a cool little town for your passengers and cargo to move through! Easy to connect wood tracks, a magnetic crane, and more will keep your child engaged for hours.

What kids learn through play with Railway Bucket-Builder-Set: Kids love to play with train sets – and their brain loves them too ! Track layouts are like long puzzles, which challenge a child’s spatial-reasoning and problem-solving skills. Puzzle play activities are also so cognitively engaging that experts recommend them for helping children cope with stress.

HEDimpl Digits by Fat Brain Toy Company

Dimpl Digit’s squishy, silicone bubbles captivate the fingers in a way that's impossible to put down while simultaneously opening a unique new avenue for learning. On one side, the bubbles are embossed with the numerals 1 through 10, each accompanied by its matching word in English. Flip it over and your child will find the words written in Spanish, plus dots to feel and count!

What kids learn through play with Dimpl Digits: Child development experts advise parents to ensure their child is provided opportunities to engage in sensory play , because the brain learns best when multiple senses are involved. Feeling, seeing and pressing numbers in play with Dimpl Digits can help reinforce numerical learning. Plus, for some children repetitive movements and pressure, like those involved during play with Dimpl Digits, can be especially soothing. Especially for those with Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD.

Giving kids time for play, and equipping them with skill-building toys, can help them develop cognitive skills that will help them be successful adults! Find more skill-building toys in our Cool Toy Picks .

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problem solving skills toys

Ahren Hoffman

problem solving skills toys

5 Toys to Promote Problem Solving for a Child With Special Needs

Different types of problem solving.

  • Completing a task
  • Engaging in academics
  • Participating in athletics
  • Interacting with peers
  • Choosing an outfit to wear
  • Playing with toys

Toys that Promote Problem Solving

1. ukloo early reader treasure hunt game, 2. weplay rock “n” fish, 3. tangle therapy, 4. yoga spinner  , 5. korner’d  , the importance of problem solving.

problem solving skills toys

WRITTEN ON November 10, 2014 BY:

Ahren Hoffman IS the manager of Industry Relations and Partnerships for the National Lekotek Center. Lekotek , is a not-for-profit and leading authority on toys and play for children with disabilities. Lekotek is dedicated to providing children of all abilities access to the benefits of play experiences. Visit for a complete listing of toys. You can also find them on Facebook

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Educational Toys – How to Develop Your Baby’s Problem Solving Skills

What are problem solving skills?

Problem solving skills are the way your baby learns to explore, understand and survive in the world.

Your baby is born with problem solving reflexes that are automatic and help her survive. The rooting and sucking reflex means your baby will get fed and nourished by you. Crying is another reflex, and is essential for a baby’s survival. Your baby will cry for many reasons – hunger, dirty nappies, fatigue or even a need for snuggles. You will soon learn to distinguish baby’s cries and understand what your baby needs. This kind of communication develops trust and bonding between you and your baby. Within a few months, your baby will use her innate problem solving skills to work out not only how to have her basic needs met, but to start exploring her world in a whole new way.

How can you help your baby develop problem solving skills?

  • Childproof rooms so that a baby can explore and learn in her environment.
  • A baby needs to feel safe while exploring on her own. Allow her to move around a safe environment and simply observe without interfering in the process. If she wants a toy at the other side of the room, sit back and give her the chance to figure out how to get it.
  • Noise and color are stimulating to a baby. Provide rattles and toys that make noises in bright colours that are stimulating. Your baby will begin to learn cause and effect: she needs to shake the rattle to hear the sound.
  • The older she gets, your baby will learn basic problem solving skills such as how to move one toy out of the way in order to reach another.
  • Present a problem solving activity to your baby by giving her three toys. If she has a toy in each hand and she wants to pick up the third, she will have to put one down to pick it up. See if she can master this basic problem solving skill.

Problem Solving for Newborns

Manhattan Toy Company Skwish Classic

6-12 Months

  • Show your baby problem solving in action. Put a toy inside a box and show your baby how to lift the lid off the box to retrieve the toy. Then, put the toy back in the box and encourage your baby to try it on her own.
  • Shapes, textures and sizes are interesting to your baby and she will love exploring and discovering them by putting them in her mouth, turning them over and over and fitting them together. Learning through active observation is essential for your baby to solve more complex problems later on.
  • Putting a simple puzzle together with your baby is a great problem solving activity.  Point and describe the picture and shapes out loud before taking pieces out, and talk about the process of completing a puzzle while you do it together. Verbally prompt your baby to “try another way” or “turn the piece”.

Problem Solving for 6-12 Months

Wonderworld Peek a Boo Ball

12-18 Months

  • Providing opportunities to create such as making a collage, painting, and molding play dough allows for your child to express her unique personality and builds her confidence – a critical problem solving skill.
  • Give your child the time and space to explore the materials and experiment with different ways to use them. Paint on her hands will quickly lead her to discover the delight of making hand prints on paper.
  • Practice pretend play with your child and provide a question with an opportunity for your child to find a solution. For example, when pretending to cook with pretend food, have your child pick out what you will need to make a sandwich.

Problem Solving for 12-18 Months

problem solving skills toys

  • Building a train track or constructing a tower are activities that engage a child’s problem solving skills and help them to learn new ones. Observe your child’s strategy and ask questions like, “If you put this large block on top of this smaller block, what do you think will happen?”
  • When an activity doesn’t work – a tower falls or a puzzle piece is in the wrong spot, ask your child questions as a way of engaging her problem solving skills. Questions can include: What happened? Why did it happen? What could be done next time to make it work?
  • Empower your child by asking her to look around your house for items that can be turned into something new and useful. Suggest discarded fabrics in good condition, old magazines, newspapers, and even old containers, then start creating! These household objects can provide hours on creating with your child, and will help her develop an appreciation for recycling. They’ll also help develop problem solving skills as your child will be learning to work out what you can do with all the different items. 

Problem Solving for 2-3 years

problem solving skills toys

3 years and older

  • Allow your child to problem solve independently. Give her time and space to explore different approaches to solving the problem and provide encouragement and feedback if necessary.
  • Challenge your child by re-visiting activities that were once frustrating for your child. Observe how she applies new skills to complete the task and encourage her to stick with it, then praise her when she works it out.
  • Point out the shapes of pieces and the colours; for example, a blue piece might be a piece of blue sky or this long thin piece might fit in this thin space.

Problem Solving for 3 years and older

Melissa & Doug See Inside Shapes Peg Puzzle

Copyright © Vanessa Layton 2013

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When do children learn problem solving?

Learning & Cognitive Skills

8 to 11 months

Sorting & Matching, Stacking, Executive Function, Concentration

From tackling a complex project at work to figuring out how to manage your busy schedule, every day you use problem-solving skills like critical thinking, reasoning, and creativity. How did you learn these skills? Just as your child will: through exploration and play. Support their problem-solving skills through activities that let them independently try new things, learn from their mistakes, and test out different ways of thinking.

In this article:

What is problem-solving?

What are examples of problem-solving skills.

  • When do children develop problem-solving skills? 

Why are problem-solving skills important in child development?

  • Problem-solving games & activities for babies and toddlers

Problem-solving and frustration tolerance

Developmental concerns with problem-solving.

Problem-solving is the process by which your child spots a problem and comes up with a solution to overcome it. Your child uses problem-solving skills in all sorts of contexts, from figuring out how to get a ball out of a cup to interacting with a child who took their toy. 

Children don’t inherently understand different approaches to solving problems—these skills develop gradually over time, starting in the earliest days of life. As your child gains experience, tests out strategies, plays with various materials, and watches people around them, they learn how to problem-solve. 

Think about strategies you might use to tackle a project at work—for example, creating an outline, breaking the project into steps, or delegating tasks. With your help, your child will develop problem-solving skills like these:

  • Breaking a large problem into smaller steps
  • Persevering through challenges or setbacks
  • Using creativity to think “outside the box” about different solutions
  • Being resourceful by using available items as tools to reach a goal 
  • Taking the initiative to try a possible solution and see if it works
  • Seeking help when you get stuck
  • Using compromise or negotiation to help resolve a conflict
  • Using critical thinking to discover what the next step should be

When do children develop problem-solving skills? 

As early as 8 to 11 months, you may see the earliest signs of your child’s problem-solving skills at work. If you hide a toy under a blanket or basket, for example, they may use basic problem-solving to try to uncover it. 

As a toddler, your child will grow more experienced with different types of playthings and the challenges they offer. They’ll also develop more focus and patience to work through problems on their own. Support their emerging problem-solving skills by observing their efforts—without stepping in right away to help. It’s tempting to intervene when you see your toddler struggle to fit the pieces of a puzzle, align blocks so they won’t fall, or get a stuck car out of the Race & Chase Ramp . Banging, rotating, failing, and trying again are all important parts of the process. Your toddler gains more problem-solving experience with every attempt.

RELATED: Subtle signs of your toddler’s developing focus

By 3 years of age, your child will have more skills to help them solve a problem. They’ve learned how to communicate and follow directions. They also have more control over their emotions and their body. Not only are they ready to solve more complex puzzles and games, they’re  learning how to solve social problems, like working through conflict and negotiating with peers during play.

If your child is accustomed to tackling problems, they’re more likely to at least attempt to get the cup they need off the high shelf, or try to buckle those tricky sandal straps. Practicing problem-solving can help your child overcome challenges, try flexible ways of thinking, and become more confident and independent in the process.  

Problem-solving skills are also crucial to your child’s cognitive development. They encourage your child’s brain to make new connections and process information in new ways. This is why so many of the best games, toys, and activities for young children stress some element of problem-solving, critical thinking, or creativity. 

Your child can develop better social skills when they practice problem-solving, too: Understanding how to resolve conflicts and compromise with peers is a crucial problem-solving skill they’ll take with them into preschool and beyond.

Problem-solving activities & games

You don’t need elaborate planning or fancy equipment to help your child develop these skills. Many problem-solving activities for kids can be incorporated into daily life or during playtime.

Problem-solving activities for babies

It will be years before your baby is ready for advanced problem-solving skills, like compromising with others and project planning. For now, they’ll experiment with different ways to solve simple problems, showing initiative, perseverance, and creativity. Here are a few activities that help spark your baby’s problem-solving skills.

Reaching for a toy: Setting a goal is the very first step in problem-solving. Once your baby can sit independently, place toys one at a time in front of them, behind them, beside them, between their legs, or on a nearby shelf. This allows them to practice setting a goal—get the toy!—and making a plan to achieve it. 

Emptying a container: Dumping objects out of containers sounds like a mess, but it’s a valuable skill for babies to learn. Place a Wood Ball in a Nesting Stacking Drip Drop Cup and show your baby how to tip over the cup to empty it. Then, put the ball back into the cup and let your baby figure out how to get the ball out of the container on their own. 

Finding hidden objects: Your baby practices problem-solving with the Sliding Top Box every time they work to figure out how to slide the top to reveal the ball inside. This also builds fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Posting: The Wooden Peg Drop lets your baby experiment with “posting,” or fitting an object into its container, a much-loved fine motor activity. The tab release is an engaging problem-solving task for your baby, as they discover how to press down to release the pegs from their slots.

Explore playthings that encourage problem-solving

The Thinker

The Thinker Play Kit

The Thinker Play Kit encourages your 11 – 12 month old baby’s curiosity as they start solving problems, working on hand strength and investigating everything in their path.

Problem-solving activities for toddlers

At 12 to 18 months, your toddler’s problem-solving skills are still taking shape. But you may begin to see them work to figure out more complex problems, like pulling toys around obstacles or getting objects “unstuck.” Encourage your toddler through play with activities that challenge their creative thinking.

Object interactions: What happens when you push a squishy ball through a small opening? How does a bendy thing react when it hits something hard? Understanding how different objects interact helps your child learn to use tools for problem-solving. 

As you play with your toddler, demonstrate different ways playthings can interact. Two blocks can be banged together, stacked, or lined up side by side. The insects from the Fuzzy Bug Shrub can be stuck to the outside of the shrub or put inside. Give your child pieces from different playthings and see how they can make them interact. Perhaps the balls from the Slide and Seek Ball Run and the rings from the Flexible Wooden Stacker can interact in some new, fun way?

Asking questions : Once your toddler learns how to push the Carrots through the Carrot Lid for the Coin Bank, the question becomes how to get them out. Ask your toddler simple questions to spark their problem-solving skills: “Where did the carrots go?” or “How can we get them out?” Encourage your child to explore the Coin Bank and give them time to discover a solution on their own.

Simple challenges: Your toddler may be ready for some problem-solving challenges with their playthings. For example, when your toddler can pick up a toy in each hand, offer a third toy and see if they can figure out how to carry all three at once. Or place parts of a toy—like the rings for the Flexible Wooden Stacker—in different locations around the room, so your child needs to plan how to retrieve the pieces. Pack as many Quilted Critters as will fit in The Lockbox  and let your toddler discover how to get them out. This type of challenge may seem simple, but your child has to problem-solve how to navigate their hand into the box to pull out the Critters. 

Cause and effect: Your toddler may discover how to pull on a string attached to a toy to make it move. They understand that the toy and the string are linked, and use simple problem-solving skills to test—and re-test—what happens when they move the string differently. This type of problem-solving can be supported by pull toys such as The Pull Pup . As your toddler encounters different obstacles—like the corner of the couch—with The Pull Pup, they’ll have to problem-solve to keep the toy moving.

problem solving skills toys

RELATED: Pull toys are classic for a reason

Puzzles are a classic childhood problem-solving activity for good reason. Your child learns  how things fit together, how to orient and rotate objects, and how to predict which shape might fit a particular space. Puzzles come in such a wide variety of difficulty levels, shapes, sizes, and formats, there’s a puzzle that’s right for almost every stage of development. 

Lovevery co-founder Jessica Rolph explains how Lovevery puzzles are designed to progress with your child’s problem-solving and fine motor skills:

Babies can begin exploring simple one-piece puzzles around 6 to 8 months of age. Puzzles that have round slots and easy-to-hold pieces with knobs, like the First Puzzle , are ideal for this age. Around 13 to 15 months of age, they can try simple puzzles with several pieces in the same shape, like the Circle of Friends Puzzle .

By 18 months, your toddler is probably ready to work with puzzle shapes that are geometric, animal, or organic, like the Community Garden Puzzle . This reinforces your toddler’s newfound understanding that different shapes fit in different places. As they progress, they may start to enjoy stacking and nesting puzzles, like the 3D Geo Shapes Puzzle . This type of puzzle requires problem-solving on a new level, since your child may have to turn the shapes in different directions to orient and place them correctly.

As your toddler approaches their second birthday, they may be ready for classic jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles with large pieces that are easy for your toddler to hold, like the Chunky Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle , are a great place to start. At this age, your toddler may also find 3D puzzles, like the Wooden Posting Stand , an engaging problem-solving challenge. Since the dowels are different diameters, your child will likely use trial and error to determine which size fits in the correct slot. At first, you may have to guide them a bit: Point out that the dowels need to go in straight in order to fit.

How to encourage puzzle play for active toddlers

Depending on your toddler’s temperament, they may love to sit quietly and work on a puzzle—or they may be constantly on the move. Highly active toddlers may seem like they never sit still long enough to complete an activity. Here are a few ways to combine their love of movement with puzzle play:

  • Play “hide-and-seek” with toys (or puzzle pieces) by placing them on top of furniture that’s safe to cruise along or climb on.
  • Place puzzle pieces in different places around the room, so they have to retrieve them one by one to solve the puzzle. 
  • Place the puzzle pieces on stairs or in different rooms so your toddler has to walk or climb to find them.

Stacking toys

Stacking toys such as blocks or rings engage babies and toddlers in a challenging form of problem-solving play. Your child’s skills are put to the test as they plan where to place each item, work to balance their stack, and wrestle with gravity to keep the stack from toppling.  

You can introduce your baby to stacking play around 9 to 10 months with playthings that are easy to work with, like the Nesting Stacking Drip Drop Cups . Stacking takes coordination, precision, and patience, and if they try to stack items that are too difficult to keep upright, they may become frustrated and give up. 

You can also make basic blocks easier to stack by using a larger item, like the Little Grip Canister Set , as a base. Demonstrate how to stack a block on top of the canister, then knock the tower down. Hand a block to your toddler and allow them to try stacking and knocking it down. As their movements become more controlled and purposeful, introduce another block to stack.  

Stacking a tower with the pegs from the Wooden Stacking Pegboard is a fun way to introduce goal-setting, an important aspect of problem-solving. The pegs nest together securely, allowing your toddler to build a higher, more stable tower than they could create with regular blocks. You can gently suggest a goal for your child—“Can we stack it higher?”—and see if they’re ready for the challenge. Then, sit and support them as they try to solve any problems that arise: “Is the tower too tall? Can we make it wider so it won’t fall so easily?”


The classic childhood game of hide-and-seek offers your toddler many problem-solving opportunities. Your child has to use reasoning to figure out what would be a good hiding spot. They also use the process of elimination when they think about where they have and haven’t looked. They might even use creative thinking skills to discover a new place to hide.

The game doesn’t always have to involve you and your child hiding. When your child is around 12 months, you can introduce them to the concept using toys or other objects. Hide a small ball in one of two identical containers that you can’t see through, like upside-down cups. Make sure your child sees you put the ball under one of the containers, then mix them up. Lift the empty container to show your toddler that the ball isn’t inside and say, “Where is the ball?” If your toddler looks at the other container, say, “Yes! The ball is under this one.” Let your toddler lift the second container to find the ball. 

Your toddler might enjoy a game of hide-and-seek with The Lockbox . Hide a small toy, like one of the Quilted Critters or a small ball, inside The Lockbox. This activity challenges your toddler’s problem-solving skills on two levels: figuring out how to unlock the different mechanisms to open the doors, and feeling around inside to discover what’s hidden. Add another layer of fun to the challenge by letting your child try to guess the object just by touching it—no peeking.

Using tools to solve problems

Around 17 to 24 months of age, your child may begin using tools to solve simple problems. For example, if you ask your child to pick up their toys, their hands may become full quickly. You can model how to load toys into a bucket or bag to carry them to another spot. This might seem like an obvious choice, but the ability to use a tool to make a task easier or solve a problem is an important cognitive skill.

Here are a few ways you and your toddler can explore using tools to solve a problem:

  • Show your child how to make a “shirt bowl” by using the upturned edge of their shirt as a cradle to hold toys or playthings.
  • If a toy gets stuck behind the sofa, model how you can use a broomstick to push the toy to a place where you can reach it.
  • Provide a child-size stool that your child can use to reach the sink or counter.

The Transfer Tweezers are a simple tool that your toddler can use to pick up other items besides the Felt Stars . They could try picking up the animals from the Quilted Critter Set or other child-safe items. Whenever you model how to use tools in everyday life, your child learns to think about new and different ways to solve problems.

Pretend play

Pretend play supports your child’s problem-solving skills in many ways. Research suggests that children’s pretend play is linked to different types of problem-solving and creativity. For example, one study showed that pretend play with peers was linked to better divergent problem-solving—meaning that children were able to “think outside the box” to solve problems. 

Pretend play is also a safe place for children to recreate—and practice solving—problems they’ve seen in their lives. Your 2- to 3-year-old may reenact an everyday challenge—for example, one doll might take away another doll’s toy. As practice for real-world problem-solving, you can then help them talk through how the dolls might solve their issue together

Pretend play may help children be more creative and open to new ideas. In pretend play, children put together play scenarios, act on them, and develop creative solutions. A 3- or 4-year-old child might be ready to explore creative problem-solving through pretend play that uses their playthings in new ways. Help your child start with an idea: “What do you want to pretend to be or recreate — a favorite storybook scene or someone from real life like a doctor or server at a restaurant?” Then encourage them to look for playthings they can use to pretend. Maybe a block can be a car or the beads from the Threadable Bead Set serve as “cups” in your child’s pretend restaurant. As your child gains practice with creative pretend play, they may start to form elaborate fantasy worlds.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as creative, you can model creative thinking by showing your child how a toy can be used in many different ways. Research finds that parents who model “out of the box” ways to play can encourage creative thinking and problem-solving in their children, starting in toddlerhood.

It can be difficult for young children to manage their frustration, but giving your child opportunities to solve problems on their own helps build both confidence and frustration tolerance . Research suggests that the ability to set goals and persist in them through challenges—sometimes called “grit”—is linked to school and career success. Here’s how you can play an important role in helping your child develop problem-solving persistence.

Model persistence. You know your toddler closely observes everything you do 🙃 A 2017 study shows that young children who watch their parents persist in their own challenge were more likely to show persistence themselves. Allow your toddler to see you attempting an activity, failing, and talking yourself through trying again. While playing with blocks, try stacking a few off balance so they fall. Notice aloud what went wrong and continue to narrate as you move slowly to carefully stack the blocks again.

Give them time. A little frustration can go a long way toward learning. It can take enormous restraint not to point out where to put the puzzle piece or how to slot the peg in place—but try to give them time to problem-solve on their own. You’re helping them feel capable and confident when faced with new challenges.

RELATED:  11 ways to build your toddler’s frustration tolerance

Ask questions to encourage new strategies. If your toddler gets frustrated with a problem, encourage their problem-solving process by asking questions: “Are you trying to race the car down the ramp but it got stuck? Is the car too long to go down sideways?” This may help your child refocus their attention on their goal instead of what they have already unsuccessfully tried. With a little time and creative problem-solving, your child may figure it out on their own.

Problem-solving skills are just one component of your child’s overall cognitive development. By around 12 months of age, you should see signs that your child is attempting to solve simple problems, like looking for a toy under a blanket. By about 30 months, your child may show slightly more advanced problem-solving skills, like using a stool to reach a high counter. Their attempts might not always be successful at this age, but the fact that they’re trying shows they’re thinking through different options. If you don’t see signs of your child trying to solve problems in these ways, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. They can assess your child’s overall development and answer any questions.

Posted in: 7 - 8 Months , 9 - 10 Months , 11 - 12 Months , 13 - 15 Months , 16 - 18 Months , 19 - 21 Months , 22 - 24 Months , 25 - 27 Months , 28 - 30 Months , Learning & Cognitive Skills , Problem Solving , Cognitive Development , Cognitive

Meet the Experts

Learn more about the lovevery child development experts who created this story..

problem solving skills toys

Research & Resources

Alan, S., Boneva, T., & Ertac, S. (2019). Ever failed, try again, succeed better: Results from a randomized educational intervention on grit . The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 134 (3), 1121-1162.

Bergen, D. (2002). The role of pretend play in children’s cognitive development . Early Childhood Research & Practice , 4(1), n1.

Bruner, J. S. (1973). Organization of early skilled action . Child Development , 1-11.

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92 (6), 1087.

Hoicka, E., Mowat, R., Kirkwood, J., Kerr, T., Carberry, M., & Bijvoet‐van den Berg, S. (2016). One‐year‐olds think creatively, just like their parents . Child Development , 87 (4), 1099-1105.

Keen, R. (2011). The development of problem solving in young children: A critical cognitive skill. Annual Review of Psychology , 62 , 1-21.

Mullineaux, P. Y., & Dilalla, L. F. (2009). Preschool pretend play behaviors and early adolescent creativity . The Journal of Creative Behavior , 43(1), 41-57.

We did all the research so you don't have to.

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Keep reading

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Help your toddler work through feelings of disappointment, sadness, and frustration when their skills don't quite match their ambitions.

Wealth of Geeks

Robotics for Kids: The Future With AI and Robotics Education

R obotics for kids is an exciting and engaging way to introduce children to the world of technology, engineering, and programming. By getting into this interactive field, kids can develop essential skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and coding. It’s never too early for kids to explore their curiosity for robotics, as various robotic toys and kits cater to different ages and interests.

Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) focused and clever robotic toys help kids understand the science behind circuits and motion and inspire them to take on more challenging projects in the future. 

The Foundations of Robotics

When teaching kids about robotics, understanding the basics is the first part. Robotics is an exciting field combining STEM elements.

Let’s start with the core components that make up robotics:

  • Mechanical Engineering : This aspect deals with robot design, construction, and operation. It involves understanding materials, structures, and mechanisms that enable robots to perform various tasks, such as moving, grabbing, and interacting with objects.
  • Electrical Engineering : In this area, kids learn about electronic circuits and components that power robotic systems. They’ll explore topics such as voltage, current, and resistance, helping them grasp how electrical signals control a robot’s movements and functions.
  • Computer Programming : At the heart of a robot lies its ‘brain’ – a computer or microcontroller that processes information and sends commands to its mechanical and electrical components. Kids can create code that brings a robot to life by learning programming languages like Scratch or Python.

With these components covered, kids can create robots, experimenting with other designs and functions. 

Getting Started With Robotics

For beginners, it’s good to start with a simple design and building projects, like creating a bristlebot, a tiny robot made from a toothbrush head, a battery, and a small motor. This simple project introduces the basic concepts of robot design and encourages hands-on learning.

When explaining robotics to kids, maintain a casual tone and keep explanations relatable and straightforward. Encourage creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking as crucial skills for thriving in robotics.

Choosing a Starter Robotics Kit

Consider investing in a starter robotics kit to make the initial jump enjoyable. Here are some popular options for various age groups:

  • LEGO Education WeDo 2.0
  • Dash Robot by Wonder Workshop
  • mBot by Makeblock
  • LEGO Mindstorms EV3

These kits typically come with clear instructions, software, and all the necessary components to build a functional robot. They offer a learning experience with simple, well-guided projects to help kids familiarize themselves with coding, electronics, and mechanics.

Considerations and Challenges in Robotics for Kids

While robotics offers kids an exciting gateway into technology and innovation, it will have some challenges and other considerations. 

Firstly, the cost can be a significant factor; not all families can easily access expensive robotics kits or resources. It’s vital to explore cost-effective alternatives or seek out community programs that provide access to robotics education. Robot kits have a wide price range, from beginner to more complex, so there is a right fit for every family. 

Additionally, supervision is crucial, especially for younger children. Working with electronic components and programming requires guidance to ensure safety and practical learning. 

Moreover, the learning curve varies from child to child. Some may grasp concepts quickly, while others need more time and patience. Recognizing these challenges helps us approach robotics education for children in a more supportive way, ensuring that every child can explore and learn at their own pace.

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Digging deeper into robotics.

For kids, programming is vital in helping them understand how to give robots the intelligence and capabilities to perform the desired tasks. Kids can start by learning block-based programming languages like Scratch, which provide an easy way to grasp coding concepts without syntax complexity.

Children can explore more advanced programming languages like Python and Java as they progress. Python is a versatile language favored by many for its readability and ease of use. In contrast, Java, though more complex, is widely used in various industries and provides a solid foundation for further learning.

This is a list of programming languages that can be used in robotics:

  • Scratch (block-based)

The Science Behind Robotics

Understanding science will help kids to comprehend robotics fully. The science behind robotics involves various fields, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and mechanical engineering. By grasping these concepts, kids can further enhance their robotic creations and make them more advanced and efficient.

AI and machine learning, in particular, have been instrumental in making robots more adept at mimicking human behavior and learning from their environments. These technologies allow robots to analyze large data sets and draw new insights, enabling them to adapt and grow over time.

For instance, comparing AI, machine learning, and robotics can be as follows:

  • Key Focus: Simulating human intelligence in machines
  • Application in Robotics: Decision-making and pattern recognition
  • Key Focus: Algorithms that learn from data and improve over time
  • Application in Robotics: Autonomously adapting to new scenarios
  • Key Focus: Design, construction, and operation of robots
  • Application in Robotics: Physical implementation of AI and machine learning concepts

Taking Robotics to the Next Level

For kids who have already mastered the basics of robotics, various advanced projects can help them further deepen their understanding. By participating in more complex projects, they’ll enhance crucial skills like problem-solving, coding, and engineering .

Some advanced project ideas include:

  • Walking robots : Designing a robot that can walk using servo motors, microcontrollers, and sensors
  • Remote-controlled robots : Building a robot that can be controlled wirelessly through a smartphone or a custom remote control
  • Autonomous robots : Creating a self-driving robot that can navigate using different sensors, like ultrasonic or infrared

These projects provide a great learning experience and allow kids to showcase their creations to the community by sharing videos, participating in online forums, and entering robotics competitions.

Robotics in Real-Life Applications

Robotics isn’t just a fun hobby – it’s a growing field with a wide range of real-life applications that have the potential to make an immense impact. Here are some examples of where robotics is playing a vital role:

  • Self-driving cars : Companies like Tesla and Waymo are working on fully autonomous vehicles that rely on advanced robotics and artificial intelligence. Introducing kids to robotics can increase their interest in the technology powering these cars.
  • Manufacturing : Robotics is transforming the manufacturing industry by automating tasks, improving efficiency, and reducing the risk of human injuries. Familiarizing kids with robotics can prepare them for career opportunities.
  • NASA : Robotics is playing a significant role in space exploration, too. NASA uses robots like the Mars rovers to collect and analyze data from other planets, helping scientists learn more about our solar system.

Taking robotics to the next level helps kids hone their skills and exposes them to the vast possibilities of applying their knowledge to real-life scenarios. 

The Future of Robotics

In the coming years, we anticipate many breakthroughs in robotics and AI technology, leading to the development of more advanced and user-friendly robots. These innovations will significantly impact people’s everyday lives, including kids, who will grow up surrounded by technology and automation.

Children should be introduced to robotics at a young age or whenever they show interest in how things work. Encouraging kids to study topics related to robotics, AI, and technology will equip them with the necessary skills and spark their curiosity and creativity. 

Here are some aspects kids can focus on:

  • Coding : Learning to code helps build a strong foundation for understanding and interacting with robots and AI systems
  • STEM education : Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are essential fields that contribute to advancing robotics and AI
  • Problem-solving : Developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills will enable kids to adapt to and understand the complexities of future technology

Integrating robots and AI will play a significant role in various sectors, such as education, healthcare, and transportation. 

For kids, this might translate into classrooms becoming more interactive with AI-driven teaching assistants that can customize learning experiences. Additionally, robotic toys could engage and stimulate creativity while teaching programming and other skills. There would also be a greater emphasis on technologically driven extracurricular activities, including robotic clubs and competitions.

As we wrap up, it’s clear that robotics isn’t just an excellent hobby for kids; it’s a window into a future filled with exciting possibilities. It’s more than just coding and gears; it sparks curiosity, builds problem-solving skills, and opens doors to creativity. 

There are hurdles like cost and the need for guidance, but these are small compared to the enormous benefits. By giving kids a head start in robotics, we’re not just keeping them busy with a fun activity. We’re preparing them for a world where technology is everywhere. And who knows? Today’s kids tinkering with robots could lead to the next big tech revolution.

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Robotics for Kids: The Future With AI and Robotics Education


  • Your Project
  • MoSCoW Method

What is the MoSCoW Method?

The MoSCoW Method is a prioritization tool that helps professionals in managing their time and effort .

To do so, it proposes to classify the importance of the different characteristics of a product (or a Project) according to their importance .

Its name is an acronym of the 4 Prioritization Categories proposed (adding two “o”):

  • M ust Have .
  • S hould Have .
  • C ould Have .
  • W on’t Have .

Four Prioritization Categories

Must Have : Essential Requirements that the product or project must have.

  • Critical Features without replacement.

Should Have : Important desired Requirements for the product or project.

  • They can be substituted if necessary.

Could Have : Improvements to the product or project.

  • There are different alternatives.

Won’t have : Characteristics agreed not to be adopted .

  • No one will waste time implementing them.

Let’s see the first example:

MoSCoW Method example

problem solving skills toys

Imagine that you have been hired to create a Website for a Law firm.

They want a professional Site where people can Register and, once inside, track their court cases .

Since you want to deliver the best possible Site on time, you decide to follow the MoSCoW method .

How does it look like?

Must Have :

  • Solid programming without any bugs.
  • A Solid Register System.
  • A Safe and Reliable personal directory.

Should Have :

  • A Fast Site.
  • An outstanding Design.
  • Notifications sent by e-mail.

Could Have :

  • Custom menus.
  • Suggestions.
  • A Blog section with latest news.

Won’t Have :

  • Paid content.
  • A Public Members section.

As we usually say, this Method may seem obvious.

Then… Why is it important?

Why is the MoSCoW Method important?

Many of professionals end up wasting time , effort and resources on useless task s that are ultimately not essential at all.

Surely you have experienced this situation working in a Team:

  • Everyone spends hours modifying a minor feature and, ultimately, the important thing is missing .

That is why this Method is so important:

  • Because it concentrates your efforts and forces you to think about what is really important .

As you can imagine, this Tool can be employed in practically all kinds of situations.

But when do we especially recommend it?

When should you use the MoSCoW Method?

We highly recommend to use the MoSCoW Method:

  • To put order and prioritization.
  • To avoid wasting time with non-essential touch-ups.
  • In order to meet the Essential Requirements.
  • When the product can have very different characteristics.

Now, let’s see more examples:

MoSCoW Method examples

We have chosen different real examples where the MoSCoW Method can be of great help for the development of certain products.

Let’s begin:

A Wallet - MoSCoW Method example

problem solving skills toys

Let’s imagine that you are developing a wallet .

As you know, wallets are very modular products.

They can have:

  • Several or few departments for cards.
  • Coin purse… or not.
  • 1 or 2 bill slots.

There is not a canonical wallet (one that is the benchmark for all the others).

  • That is why you decided to use the MoSCoW Method to develop it.

After some thoughts, you decide that your wallet:

  • 2 bill slots.
  • 8 compartments for credit cards.
  • High resistance materials and sewing.
  • Leather as its main material.
  • A translucid Credit card compartment.
  • A transverse horizontal compartment.
  • A striking color on the inside of the bill slots.
  • Completely black exterior color.
  • One translucid compartment for small photos.
  • A Coin purse.
  • A Passport compartment.

Making a Cake - MoSCoW Method example

problem solving skills toys

In this example, we’ll imagine that you are preparing a wedding Cake .

  • You have a very rigid deadline (the wedding day, of course).

In addition, as you also know, Cakes can have lots of variations.

  • We could say they are very modular .

That is why you decide to use the MoSCoW Method.

How does it look?

Well, your Cake:

  • White coating.
  • Two sugar figurines on top.
  • 6 layers of sponge cake inside.
  • Belgian chocolate between the layers.
  • Decorations on the edges
  • Sugar flowers.
  • Chocolate balls.
  • Scattered sugar pearls.
  • Multicolor layers.
  • An excessive amount of decoration.
  • Fruit flavor.

Designing a Poster - MoSCoW Method example

problem solving skills toys

You are now an artist hired to Design a poster for a Rock concert.

Obviously, this is a Design job with infinite variations possible.

  • Also, you have a close deadline to finish it.

No need to mention that you will use the MoSCoW Method.

Finally, the Poster:

  • The name of the Main rock band, very prominent.
  • Images and colors that best suit their style.
  • A typeface that best suits the musical style.
  • An illustration related to Rock in the middle.
  • The name of the rest of the bands that will play.
  • Where and when it will take place.
  • Where you can buy the tickets.
  • Nearby metro and bus stations.
  • The name of the city.
  • The maximum capacity of the stadium
  • At what time each band will play.


The MoSCoW Method is a prioritization tool that helps professionals in managing their time and effort.

It proposes to classify the importance of the different characteristics of a product in 4 Categories :

  • M ust Have.
  • S hould Have.
  • C ould Have.
  • W on’t Have.

Although this Method can be used in all kinds of situations, we highly recommend to use it:

  • When working in a team .
  • In Design tasks .
  • When there is a close deadline .
  • With modular products or projects .
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  21. MoSCoW Method

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