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Sudoku for Beginners: How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Are you a beginner when it comes to solving Sudoku puzzles? Do you find yourself frustrated and unsure of where to start? Fear not, as we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to improve your problem-solving skills through Sudoku.

Understanding the Basics of Sudoku

Before we dive into the strategies and techniques, let’s first understand the basics of Sudoku. A Sudoku puzzle is a 9×9 grid that is divided into nine smaller 3×3 grids. The objective is to fill in each row, column, and smaller grid with numbers 1-9 without repeating any numbers.

Starting Strategies for Beginners

As a beginner, it can be overwhelming to look at an empty Sudoku grid. But don’t worry. There are simple starting strategies that can help you get started. First, look for any rows or columns that only have one missing number. Fill in that number and move on to the next row or column with only one missing number. Another strategy is looking for any smaller grids with only one missing number and filling in that number.

Advanced Strategies for Beginner/Intermediate Level

Once you’ve mastered the starting strategies, it’s time to move on to more advanced techniques. One technique is called “pencil marking.” This involves writing down all possible numbers in each empty square before making any moves. Then use logic and elimination techniques to cross off impossible numbers until you are left with the correct answer.

Another advanced technique is “hidden pairs.” Look for two squares within a row or column that only have two possible numbers left. If those two possible numbers exist in both squares, then those two squares must contain those specific numbers.

Benefits of Solving Sudoku Puzzles

Not only is solving Sudoku puzzles fun and challenging, but it also has many benefits for your brain health. It helps improve your problem-solving skills, enhances memory and concentration, and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In conclusion, Sudoku is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills while also providing entertainment. With these starting and advanced strategies, you’ll be able to solve even the toughest Sudoku puzzles. So grab a pencil and paper and start sharpening those brain muscles.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


problem solving activity for babies

problem solving activity for babies

  • May 19, 2010

Supporting Thinking Skills From 0-12 Months

Mother gazing at baby

It’s through interactions and experiences with loved and trusted adults that babies begin to make sense of the world. Learn how you can support your baby’s thinking skills from 0-12 months.

Babies learn by using their senses. They explore and discover by touching and mouthing objects, hearing voices and music, and seeing the colorful, fascinating wonder all around them. But the most important part of your child’s early learning experiences is you. It is through interactions and experiences with loved and trusted adults that babies begin to make sense of the world.

In this first year, babies are learning very important concepts. They learn about cause and effect when they shake a rattle and hear a sound, or when they pull on their mother’s glasses and hear her voice (much sterner than usual) tell them not to pull! They learn about size and shape by stacking blocks, mouthing them, and trying to fit them into the correctly-shaped holes. They learn to solve problems when they discover how to turn the crank to get the jack-in-the-box to pop up. They learn about gravity when they drop a spoon from the high chair and look down to the floor to see where it lands. They learn object permanence—that things they can’t see still exist—when they play peek-a-boo or crawl into the next room to find you.

Encourage your baby to explore.

You will see your baby act on her natural curiosity about the people and objects around her as she:

  • Looks carefully at your face
  • Inspects her hands, fingers, feet and toes
  • Rolls to get closer to a person she wants to connect with or to an interesting object
  • Babbles and then waits for your response
  • Looks at and reaches for objects that interest her.
  • Responds to familiar words like baba, mama, dada, night-night, teddy bear, etc.

Your baby’s curiosity reflects a desire to figure out how the people and objects in his world work. You will see your child’s curiosity in action as he:

  • Touches his fingers and toes
  • Bangs and shakes objects to see what they can do
  • Pulls on long hair or earrings
  • Uses sounds, facial expressions and gestures to get your attention
  • Puts things in his mouth
  • Watches things move
  • Follows interesting sounds with his eyes

These actions help babies learn and build their confidence that they can “make things happen.” When children know they can have an impact on the people and objects around them, they feel confident and competent, which is a key part of developing positive self-esteem. In this way, thinking skills and social-emotional skills are tied together.

What you can do:

  • Offer interesting objects to explore—fabrics of various textures, a ball of sticky masking tape, a wooden spoon and a metal one to touch and compare.
  • Respond to her efforts to communicate. Use words to describe what she is experiencing: I see you looking at that ball on the shelf. Let me get that for you.
  • Delight in their discoveries. You found your hands! Look what they can do. You can use them to reach that red ball.
  • Provide the help your child needs to solve problems, such as showing your baby how to get the lid off the container so she can reach the blocks inside. But before you jump in, give her a chance to do it herself first.

Support your baby’s growing memory and ability to understand new ideas. You will see your baby’s memory develop as she:

  • Recognizes familiar people
  • Anticipates routines, for example, grabbing her “blanky” for naptime or crawling to the high chair when she sees you preparing food
  • Responds (turning/smiling) when she hears her name spoken
  • Shows pleasure when given a familiar object like a favorite book of her “lovey”

Your baby’s growing memory also helps her learn that objects and people still exist even when he can’t see them. This concept is called object permanence. You will see this new skill developing when your baby starts to look for hidden objects. This is because he remembers the object and knows it is still around…somewhere. He may also begin to protest when you leave him with a caregiver, even one he knows and loves. This is because he knows you are out there somewhere and naturally, he wants to make you come back!

During this first year your baby is also learning about the concept of cause and effect—that he can make things happen. When he shakes the rattle it makes a sound. When he bats at the mobile it moves. When he cries out for you, you come. Learning to make things happen is the foundation for solving problems. I want dad’s attention. What can I do? I will crawl to him and pull on his leg to let him know I want him to play. Young babies show you how they are now able to make things happen when they:

  • Cry when they need something
  • Drop food off a high chair tray, look down to the floor to see where it goes, and look for you to come pick it up
  • Enjoy repeating a new activity (like pressing a button to see a toy pop up)
  • Reach for a rattle to shake it and make a sound
  • Play disappearing and reappearing games. Play peek-a-boo. Make a simple game of hiding objects to find. This helps develop your child’s memory and teaches him about object permanence.
  • Encourage your child to explore objects and toys in different ways. Touching, banging, shaking, and rolling help children learn about how things work. Talk with your child about what he is doing. “You got the truck to move by pulling the string!”

Help your baby become a good problem-solver.

Babies learn to solve problems by examining and learning about new objects and people they encounter. Then they apply what they have learned to new situations. For example:

  • A 7-month-old has figured out who she knows and who she doesn’t. So she holds her arms out so you will pick her up, but buries her head in your chest when a new person tries to talk to her.
  • An 11-month-old waves bye-bye when her dad puts her in the crib for the night. This is after seeing her parents wave bye-bye to her many times when they leave for work.

Problem-solving is a critical thinking skill that helps babies be successful now, later in school, and the rest of their lives. In the beginning, the problems babies solve seem simple: How do I make the tambourine rattle? How do I make the jack pop up out of the box? But figuring out the answer to these dilemmas requires a lot of thought and trial-and-error. When they are successful, children feel confident and proud, which motivates them to explore and learn more from the people and world around them.

  • Provide support for reaching goals. Watch your baby carefully. See what she is trying to make happen and help her solve the problem. If she is trying to roll over to reach an interesting object, encourage her to go as far as she can and then bring it close enough that she can get it and explore it.
  • Model problem-solving. Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation.

Explore differences in objects

One of the strategies babies use to figure out how the world works is by putting objects into categories. They notice similar features even among very different objects. A flower, a rattle, and grandpa’s nose are all very different, but they all can be grasped. Babies also notice differences among similar objects. If they are given a piece of furry fabric and a piece of rubber that are the same size, shape and color, babies will pat the fur and squeeze the rubber. This shows they have some idea about how these textures will feel and “should” be touched. (Berger, 166)

  • Take “touching” walks. On your walks together, hold your baby’s hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen. Give her a flower petal to touch, or run her hand over tickly grass. Stop and listen together to the cars going by. Talk about what you are seeing and doing.
  • Look at books that put objects into categories. While your baby won’t be able to understand how to sort objects yet, activities like these will help her build this skill over time.

Make everyday activities “teachable moments.”

Children learn so much during daily routines likes feeding, diapering and bath time. For example, during bath time, babies get to explore math and science concepts like empty/full, in/out, wet/dry. Filling and dumping cups help children learn about empty and full, and in and out. When your child makes the rubber duck splash in the tub, she learns about cause and effect. When the duck stays on top of the water but the washcloth sinks, she is learning about floating and sinking.

What You Can Do:

  • Make the most of daily routines. Let your baby help drop clothing into the washing machine. Hand her groceries she can put on the conveyer belt. Sing a song about body parts as you change her diaper. These routine activities are not-so-routine for your growing baby. They teach her how things work.
  • Give your child some everyday “toys”. See how a wooden spoon and a whisk make very different sounds when tapped on a pot lid. Pull a scarf through a cardboard paper towel tube to make the scarf appear and disappear. Let your child feel the difference between the brush used on her hair, and the spiny teeth of the comb. Activities like this give your child the chance to discover the properties and functions of objects, an important part of problem-solving.

What You Can Do

Offer interesting objects to explore.

Such as fabrics of various textures, a ball of sticky masking tape, a wooden spoon and a metal one, smooth balls and bumpy balls.

Respond to her efforts to communicate.

Use words to describe what she is experiencing: I see you looking at that ball on the shelf. Let me get that for you.

Delight in your child’s discoveries.

You found your hands! Look what they can do. You can use them to reach that red ball.

Provide the help your child needs to solve problems

Such as showing your baby how to get the lid off the container so she can reach the blocks inside. Give her a chance, though, to see if she can do it by herself first.

Play disappearing and reappearing games.

Play peek-a-boo. Make a simple game of hiding objects to find. This helps develop your child’s memory and teaches him about object permanence.

Encourage your child to explore objects and toys in different ways.

Touching, banging, shaking, and rolling help children learn about how things work. Talk with your child about what he is doing. You got the truck to move by pulling the string!

Provide support for reaching goals.

Watch your baby carefully. See what she is trying to make happen and help her solve the problem. If she is trying to roll over to reach an interesting object, encourage her to go as far as she can and then bring it close enough that she can get it and explore it.

Model problem-solving.

Take the top off the container and take the blocks out. Then put them back in and let her have a try. Young children learn a lot through imitation.

Take “touching” walks.

On your walks together, hold your baby’s hands up to a bumpy tree trunk. Crinkle a leaf and let her listen. Give her a flower petal to touch, or run her hand over tickly grass. Stop and listen together to the cars going by. Talk about what you are seeing and doing.

Make the most of daily routines.

Let your baby help drop clothing into the washing machine. Hand her groceries she can put on the conveyer belt. Sing a song about body parts as you change her diaper. These routine activities are not-so-routine for your growing baby, as she learns how things work and begins to imitate the activities of the people she loves.

Give your child some everyday “toys”.

See how a wooden spoon and a whisk make very different sounds when tapped on a pot lid. Pull a scarf through a cardboard paper towel tube to make the scarf appear and disappear. Let your child feel the difference between the brush used on her hair, and the spiny teeth of the comb. Activities like this give your child the chance to discover the properties and functions of objects, an important part of problem-solving

Parent-Child Activities that Promote Thinking Skills

Create an obstacle course..

Lay out boxes to crawl through, stools to step over, pillows to jump on top of, low tables to slither under. Describe what your child is doing as he goes through the course. This helps him understand these concepts.

Play red light/green light.

Cut two large circles, one from green paper and one from red. Write “stop” on the red and “go” on the green, and glue them (back to back) over a popsicle stick holder. This is your traffic light. Stand where your child has some room to move toward you, such as at the end of a hallway. When the red sign is showing, your child must stop but when she sees green, she can GO. Alternate between red and green. See if your child wants to take a turn being the traffic light.

Build big minds with “big blocks”.

Gather together empty boxes of all sorts—very big (like a packing box), medium-sized (shirt or empty cereal boxes), and very small (like a cardboard jewelry box). Let your child stack, fill, dump and explore these different boxes. Which can he fit inside? Which are the best for stacking? Can he put the big boxes in one pile and the small boxes in another?

Make a puzzle.

Make two copies of a photo of your child. Glue one of the photos to sturdy cardboard and cut it into three simple pieces. Put the puzzle together in front of your child. Show her the uncut photo. Put them side by side. Wait and watch to see what she will do. Eventually, she will touch or move the puzzle. With your guidance and help, is she able to put it back together?

Frequently Asked Questions

My 18-month-old is obsessed with our remote control. why does she always go back to it, even when i try to distract her with other toys.

Such is the way with toddlers: Their most frustrating behaviors are often both normal and developmentally appropriate. At this age, your child is working very hard to make sense of her world. One of the most important ways she does that is by watching and then imitating what you do. You are her first and most important teacher. She sees you say “thank you” to the grocery clerk so she learns to say “thank you” too. She watches you sweep the floors and she picks up a broom to help. Unfortunately, you can’t turn this desire to imitate on and off. So when your child sees you touching the remote control, she wants to touch it, too. After all, it must be a good thing if you’re doing it!

Why do children love electronics so much?

You’ll notice that many toys designed for children this age have features they can explore through touch, such as buttons and raised textures—just like most electronics. However, toddlers almost always prefer to play with the real life objects they see you using which is why they go for remotes, cell phones, etc. Toddlers are learning that to be successful, they need to find out how things work. And electronics make for very interesting props. After all, playing with buttons on the remote offers the exciting possibility that–poof!–the magical machine will come alive. Think of how empowering and exciting this is for your child. But it can also drive you crazy! So now is the time to make sure that all “off-limits” electronics are child-proofed or kept out of the way of little hands. However, be sure to offer your child other objects or toys with buttons and other gadgets that he can make work.

How can I get my toddler to stop going for off-limits objects?

Unfortunately, toddlers simply lack the self-control necessary to resist the wonderful temptation of electronic gadgets and other off-limits items (like shiny picture frames or pointy plugs that fit so nicely into those holes in the wall). While toddlers can understand and respond to words such as “no”, they don’t yet have the self-control to stop their behavior, or to understand the consequences if they don’t. Patience is important, since after telling your toddler 20 times not to play with the remote, chances are she’ll still go for it again. Most children don’t even begin to master controlling their impulses until about age 2 ½.

If the object your child is after isn’t likely to pose a danger to him (such as a remote control–although the batteries are a danger if she puts them into her mouth), the decision of how to set limits is yours. Some parents choose to keep all of these gadgets out of reach and don’t allow their children to touch them until they are older. Or, you could allow your child to use them under your close supervision, such as having your child turn the TV on when you’re planning to watch a show and turning it off when you’re through. This models for your child that there are times when using this equipment is okay and times when it’s not.

What’s most important is that you recognize your child’s needs (learning cause and effect, imitating you) and help her meet them in ways that are acceptable to you.

My father recently died, and I’ve been dealing with it okay, but I’m not sure what to do concerning my 20-month-old. When we go to my parents’ house, she asks for Pop-Pop and we tell her he’s not home. However, I can’t keep doing this. I don’t want her to forget her grand-dad, but how can you explain to a baby that someone has died?

This must be a difficult time as you cope with your own feelings and try to make sense of it all for your young child. Helping her understand what has happened to Pop-Pop is indeed a challenge, as 20-month-olds can’t comprehend the idea of death, or even that they will never see someone again. At the same time, children are very tuned in to the feelings of the important adults in their lives, so it is likely that your child, no matter how well you’re handling your Dad’s death, understands that something sad has happened. It is important that what she is sensing is acknowledged.

Since a 20-month-old can’t understand death, trying to explain it to her would probably cause her more confusion and anxiety. Instead focus on addressing her feelings. What’s most important for your daughter at this time is for you to say something like, “Pop-pop isn’t here. I miss him too.” At this time she won’t be able to understand more.

As your child gets closer to 3, she will likely start to ask questions about what happened to her grandfather. You can then explain that Pop-pop is not coming back; that he died, which means that his body stopped working. Tell her this happens when people are very old or sick and doctors and nurses can’t make their bodies work anymore. You can explain that Pop-pop couldn’t do things like eat or play outside anymore. This gives her a context she can relate to. If she asks whether Pop-pop will ever come back, you should tell her the truth–that he won’t. If your child asks whether you or she or others that she loves will die, you can explain that your bodies are healthy and strong so you are not going to die now.

How should I answer my child’s questions about where her Pop-pop is?

Answer your daughter’s questions based on what you think she can understand. Start with something along the lines of: “Pop-pop isn’t here. I miss him too.” As your child gets older and her questions get more mature, your responses will change accordingly until you feel you are ready to tell her: “Pop-pop died. That means that his body stopped working and the doctors and nurses couldn’t make him better.”

Keep your responses brief. A mistake many parents make is giving more information than their child can process. On the other hand, some parents are tempted not to talk about a deceased person for fear that it will upset the child or themselves. But, of course, avoiding the topic doesn’t make the memories or feelings go away. It just deprives your child of the opportunity to make sense of the experience.

How can I help her keep the memory of her grandfather alive?

When your daughter is old enough, share photos, tell stories, and draw pictures of Pop-Pop. You can also have her do something in your father’s memory. Send off a balloon that says, “I love you”. Or have her help you plant a rose bush, for instance, if her grandfather loved flowers. Reading books about loss can also be very helpful. Some good books include When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers (Puffin, 1998), When Dinosaurs Die by Laurie Krasny and Marc Brown (Little Brown & Co., 1998), and About Dying by Sara Bonnett Stein (Walker & Co., 1985).

Does my toddler have a “short attention span” because she won’t sit for a story for more than a minute?

It is perfectly normal for toddlers to not sit still very long–period. Most don’t like to stay in one place for long now that they can explore in so many new ways– by running, jumping and climbing. So, an adult’s idea of snuggling on the couch to hear a story may not be the same idea a toddler has for story-time. You may only be able to read or talk about a few pages in a book at a time.

Here are some ways to engage active children in reading:

  • Read a book at snack times when your child may be more likely to sit for longer.
  • Offer your child a small toy to hold in her hand—such as a squishy ball—to keep her body moving while you read.
  • Read in a dramatic fashion, exaggerating your voice and actions. This often keeps toddlers interested.
  • Get your child active and moving by encouraging her to join in on familiar phrases or words, act out an action in the story, or find objects on the page. These “activities” can help their attention stay focused.
  • Choose stories that have the same word or phrase repeated. The repetition helps toddlers look forward to hearing the familiar phrase again and also develops their memory and language skills. Encourage her to “help” you read when you get to this refrain.
  • Try books that invite action on the part of the child, such as pop-up books, touch-and-feel books, and books with flaps and hidden openings for them to explore.

Browse our full suite of resources on early childhood development.

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  • Infant & Toddler

Problem-Solving Brain Games for Babies

  • January 30, 2017

Problem Solving Brain Games for Babies

It can be daunting to come up with infant classroom ideas. There are so many ways babies learn, and so many things to teach them! One of the most universal things educators can work with is problem solving activities for infants. Problem solving strategies can be introduced to children pretty early, usually starting around 6 months. These activities can apply to universal problem solving—determining that individual actions can effect and fix problems—or specific problem solving like communicating with a caregiver. Cognitive activities for infants build these skills and pave the way for effective problem-solving abilities later in life.

There are several books that focus on puzzles for babies. One of them is Jackie Silberg ’s 125 Brain Games for Babies . This book serves as an excellent resource for parents and educators seeking advice on how best to engage with their children. Below are a few brain activities for babies that provide a foundation for problem-solving skills.

Pick Up, Throw Down

Infants are very observant. They notice when two things happen close together and strive to make a connection. When babies begin to hold and drop things, they notice if people stop to pick them up.

What to Do:

  • Sit your baby in her high chair and give her several large toys to play with. Play with her and talk about the toy’s texture, what they are, and how they look
  • After a while, drop one of the toys on the floor. Draw your baby’s attention to it by saying “Uh oh” or “Where did the rattle go?”
  • Bend down and pick up the toy. Do this a few other times if your baby has not yet caught on
  • When your baby drops or throws one of the toys on the ground, immediately pick it up and give it back to her. Over time, you can encourage her to point or vocalize to tell you where the toy is

Seek and Find

Once infants discover object permanence, a whole array of problem-solving opportunities open up. This activity facilitates that knowledge by encouraging babies to look for an object they can hear but not see.

  • Find a wind-up clock that makes a ticking noise. Hold it up in front of your baby and say a little tick-tock rhyme, such as: “Tick tock, tick tock / Goes the clock / Tick tock”
  • After a few moments, cover the clock with a scarf, blanket, or towel. Ask your baby where the tick-tock went
  • Encourage your child to locate the clock using the sound it makes. When he pulls on the scarf, reveal the clock and say “Hooray!”
  • Practice the game a bit more until your baby gets the hang of it. For an added challenge, move the clock to different places that your child can crawl towards

Quite Puzzling

One-piece puzzles help build motor skills as well as problem solving. Infants have to use trial and error as they attempt to figure out which way the piece fits inside the puzzle.

  • Provide your baby with a simple one-piece puzzle with a wooden knob for them to grasp
  • Talk to your baby as she tries to put the piece in its place. Ask her what she is doing and periodically turn the puzzle board slightly to help her put the piece in
  • When your baby finally puts the piece in the puzzle, celebrate with clapping and praise

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Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers

  • Pretend Play

7 Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers

If you have a toddler, challenges like tough homework problems or social dilemmas are still a long way off. But their brains are already working to build the cognitive skills they’ll need to solve life’s “big” problems later on. For now, problem-solving activities – even ones that seem simple to us – can help them boost their cognition, resilience, and creativity. Best of all? These “problems” are actually fun! Here are seven simple problem-solving activities for toddlers and preschoolers you can start trying right away!

Memory Games

Those little memory card games with matching pictures are great for building concentration, memory, and problem-solving skills in your toddler! Many sets might come with a few too many pairs for a toddler to handle without help, so start with just three to four pairs and see if they can match them up! As they begin to master that, you can add in more and more pairs until they’re working with the entire deck. If you don’t have a deck, you can easily DIY your own with online printables or your own drawings.

Shape Sorters

Shape sorters are a classic problem-solving toy for young toddlers. In addition to matching the shapes to the correct holes, they’ll also need to figure out why the shapes don’t always fit into the hole, requiring them to rotate the shape or make subtle adjustments to their grip.

Sorting/ Grouping by Category

Sorting activities are excellent for toddlers’ problem solving and cognitive development, so there’s no need to stop with shape sorters! Set up simple activities that allow them to sort by a variety of categories. This can be as simple as letting them unload the dishwasher silverware tray into the silverware organizer. Or ask them to gather up all the yellow items they see in a room.

Rotating puzzles is a great way to keep the problem-solving challenge fresh for your toddler. Even a familiar puzzle can present a fun, “new” challenge for your toddler if they haven’t seen it in weeks.

Hide the Teddy Bear

One cognitive milestone for two-year-olds is the ability to find an object that’s been hidden under two or more layers. Once they’ve mastered that, they’ll be ready for more advanced hiding games. Try hiding a teddy bear or other toy when they aren’t looking and then give them clues to find it. You can start off with basic directions and then progress to tougher clues or games of warmer/ colder.

Help Mommy/ Daddy

Toddlers love to help, and helping Mommy or Daddy with a problem can be a lot less frustrating than solving their own. For example, if your little one has been determined to put on their own socks lately but always ends up super frustrated, try mimicking the same problem yourself and asking for their help. You can coach them through the process (“Now we need to stretch out the opening of the sock!”), and because their emotions aren’t already running high, they’ll be more likely to actually absorb your tips. You can model how to stay calm through frustrating situations and help them build confidence in their ability to tackle the same problem later.

Constructive Play Toys

The ability to build a block tower of four or more blocks is actually considered a cognitive milestone for two-year-olds. For three-year-olds, a tower of six or more blocks is the expected milestone. That’s because building anything, even a simple block tower, is a true problem-solving challenge for toddlers. Blocks, train sets, and other building toys let your child work out how to balance, fit pieces together, and deal with frustration as they learn to master the challenge.

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Discovery Play with Littles

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15 Powerful Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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

Not asking for help.

Not trying to solve her problem.

Just crying.

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

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

Know how I knew?

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know.” 

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

Toddlers playing with wooden blocks

What is Problem Solving?

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

Why is Problem Solving Important? 

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

Other problems are significantly more complicated. 

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

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

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

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are:

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

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

The Problem-Solving Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

problem solving activity for babies

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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 activity for babies

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 activity for babies

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 activity for babies

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 activity for babies

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 activity for babies

Board Games  

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

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

Allow Opportunities for Hands-On Investigations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Essential Part of Problem-Solving

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

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

Super Kid Adventures

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

Want More? 

If you like this, you’ll love: 

The Ultimate List of Books that Teach Perseverance

7 Simple Ways to Encourage Independence in Young Children

How to Help Your Child Develop Self-Help Skills

Your Turn 

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

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About Elizabeth

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

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Home • Toddler • Play And Activities

12 Problem-Solving Activities For Toddlers And Preschoolers

Intriguing ideas to boost their analytical and rational thinking skills.

Elisabeth Daly MSEd

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Elisabeth Daly is a state-certified high school English teacher. Over her two decade career, she has taught students in grades 9-12 at both public and private high schools, and worked as an adjunct professor at her local community college. ... more

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Problem-solving preschool activities are an essential part of learning, leading to the development of the most crucial skills for your child. Your child’s journey between realizing a problem and finding a solution involves effort, thinking, and patience. What comes in between realization and solution is important to understand, as it is the key to a lightning-fast intellect. The process is the most beautiful part, which is also the beginning of making a new genius for the world to witness. These little minds could one day become billionaires, philanthropists, or someone far more successful .

Read on to know some of the problem-solving activities for toddlers and preschoolers and how it helps them.

What Is Problem-Solving?

Image: IStock

Problem-solving is the art of realizing a problem and finding an apt solution by a series of interconnected thoughts in the cognitive area of the mind (1) . It requires identifying the problem and pondering over the causes and attempting to chalk out the reason. The next step would be to find a solution out of the many alternatives. Identifying the causes of a problem would involve some deep thinking, which can benefit a child’s growth and aid in their character development.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills are what every child needs to survive in this world. A few problem-solving skills are analytical thinking, logical reasoning, lateral thinking, creativity, initiative, persistence, negotiation, listening skills, cognitive skills, math skills, and decision-making. Good communication skills are also important as they improve the self-esteem of your child.

Why Is Problem-Solving Important In Preschool?

As parents, you may not want to fill your child’s minds with every problem-solving ability. But you must trust the process, as it is the most important phase of life, and they are learning new things every day.

  • During preschool, they are constantly interacting with friends and surroundings. They come across various problems and learn from them. The best part is that it will be effortless for them to pick up these skills faster as they are in their learning stage.
  • Also, the earlier they learn, the better it is (2)
  • Children in preschool are introduced to the realm of creativity and imagination through storytelling and poems. It will be the perfect time to enhance their creative abilities.
  • Children usually try to ignore things beyond their understanding. But problem-solving skills might help them see things differently.
  • Developing problem-solving abilities can help them take new initiatives.

How To Teach Problem-Solving Skills To Preschoolers?

Making them listen with patience and willingness is a skill that will help them comprehend what you teach them. Here are some steps that you can follow:

  • Teach them how to approach a problem in a practical way. Allow them to explore and find solutions by themselves. Problem-based learning will stick with them forever.
  • Make them do simple household chores in their own way. And, there is no right or wrong style to it. Kitchen experiments are a great way to learn.
  • Every kid is unique and has a different pace of learning. A teacher/ parent will have to be observing to analyze the best way to teach them.
  • Usually, the first step would be to identify the problem.
  • Once they find solutions, tell them to evaluate the pros and cons. And choose the best solution.
  • Teach them to take failure positively.
  • Encourage group activities as children tend to be active when their peers are along.

12 Problem-Solving Activities For Toddlers

You may try several problem-solving activities at home. We have listed some of the best activates here:

1. Simon Says

One of the children becomes Simon and gives commands. The rest have to follow the commands and enact only when they hear ’Simon says’ at the beginning of the command. If anyone acts when the words ‘Simon says’ is not told at the beginning, then that particular child is out. This game will improve listening skills and response time.

2. Tic–tac–toe

The game teaches decision-making and the cost of consequences. This game involves two players. One player has to mark X anywhere on the tic-tac-toe, followed by another player marking O. The idea is to make a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line with either three X’s or O’s. Both players have to stop each other from winning. Sounds fun, right?

3. Treasure hunt

Divide the children into groups and give them clues to find hidden objects. Activities such as treasure hunt evidently improve their problem-solving skills and induce the idea of competition.

Puzzles can make a child think out of the box. They can develop a child’s logical reasoning. Arranging the crumbled pieces will surely improve their level of patience.

5. Hide and seek

Playing in a group can make them less shy and socialize with others. And, with hide and seek activity, children can learn devising strategies, escaping from a troublesome situation, and various other skills.

6. Sorting together

Give them various toys, pieces of clothing, or other random objects at home and some bins. Now ask your child to sort and place everything in the right bin. See how good they are at classifying the objects.

7. Spot the difference

Show them printouts of two similar pictures, with one picture having some differences. Ask them to spot the differences. This helps in actively improving their concentration and attention to detail.

8. Matching animals with sounds

Play sounds of various animals and let the children guess their names. You can also take them to an animal farm where they can observe their behavior. This activity may improve their sound recognition ability over time.

Give your child a blank canvas and some paints or coloring pencils. Let them get creative and produce a masterpiece.

10. Memory games

Memory games can improve a child’s retaining capacity. One such game is to sit in a circle and play “Chinese Whisper.” In this game, kids sit in a circle. Each of them has to whisper a word in their peer’s ear. The same word, along with a new one, is whispered into the next child’s ear. This should be continued till the last child in the circle announces it for all to hear.

11. Fort building

Building forts using toy material, Lego, pillows, or blankets can be fun. During the process of building a fort, children may have to face minor or major difficulties. Overcoming such issues and completing the target successfully helps in the improvement of logical and analytical abilities.

Solving mazes can also help a kid improve their approach towards dealing with problems and dead ends. It will enable lateral thinking and thinking out of the box.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the stages of problem-solving?

Problem-solving is a cognitive skill that works through six stages – searching and determining the problem, generating alternative ideas or solutions, evaluating alternatives, selecting the best suitable solution, implementing the solution, and follow-up (3) .

2. At what age do toddlers begin problem-solving?

According to research, children begin problem-solving right after birth. Children learn problem-solving through exploration between zero to two years, whereas, by three years of age, they learn problem-solving through experimenting and trial and error. Four-year-olds learn problem-solving through cooperative activities with peers and friends. By five and six years, kids get enough experience to deal with problems that would need abstract thinking skills (4) .

3. How do toddlers develop critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking skills don’t develop in a day or week. Rather, it takes constant exposure to environments that hone a child’s critical thinking abilities. Indulging toddlers in critical thinking activities by asking open-ended questions or engaging in activities such as block constructing and puzzles and motivating them to think out of the box are simple ways to bolster your child’s critical thinking.

Problem-solving activities for toddlers enhance their thinking abilities and promote early brain development. You may introduce problem-solving activities such as tic-tac-toe, Simon says, hide and seek, treasure hunt, puzzles, etc., to enhance cognitive skills in toddlers. The problem-solving skills in preschoolers help them cope with various situations and mingle with other children. Problem-solving skills help children think differently and take the initiative in making decisions and solving problems. These activities help build the skills without any force or pressure.

Infographic: Hone Your Toddler’s Problem-Solving Skills

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Key Pointers

  • Honing your child’s problem-solving skills during preschool can help them see things differently and enhance their creative abilities.
  • Teach them to find the problem and use their analytical abilities to find a solution.
  • Simon Says, treasure hunt, puzzles, and spot the difference are a few problem-solving activities a toddler can try.


  • You Can Do It: Teaching Toddlers Problem-Solving Skills. https://va-itsnetwork.org/you-can-do-it-teaching-toddlers-problem-solving-skills/
  • Developing Problem-Solving Skills At Early Age. https://kennedyglobalschool.edu.in/developing-problem-solving-skills-at-early-age-takes-kids-long-way-as-they-grow/#respond
  • Problem solving. https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Problem-solving
  • Development: Ages & Stages–How Children Learn to Problem-Solve. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ738434
  • Fact-checker

Kavita Kankani MBA, BEd

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problem solving activity for babies

Some skills gained from the problem-solving activities include lateral thinking, analytical thinking, creativity, persistence, logical reasoning, communication skills, and decision-making skills. 

The Importance of Problem-Solving Activities for Toddlers

In almost every stage of growth, children are likely to encounter some difficulties. How they handle these challenges depends on the skills they have built over time.

That’s why every parent should invest in quality problem-solving activities for their child. The skills mentioned above are critical for toddlers, and it can be challenging to develop them.

Problem-solving activities give toddlers independence to learn and play & can promote their skills in handling different hassles.These activities help toddlers find a solution to a problem.

Early ages are the best time for children to learn how to solve different problems in a fun way. 

In many cases, many young mothers are students who dream of spending as much time as possible with their children, but they are held up with advancing their knowledge in their areas of specialization.

To have more time for toddlers as young mothers, you can use the online essay writer service EduBirdie to have your research papers written by top writers. EduBirdie has great writers, and you will receive quality work at the right time. This automatically translates to excellent scores.

If you have more time with your child, you are likely to notice the challenges they are going through and choose the best problem-solving activities for them.

The more problem-solving activities they perform, the more likely the child will develop excellent skills that will enable them to navigate most of the challenges in their lifetime. Here are some simple problem-solving activities for toddlers:

1. Building a maze

Building a maze is fun outside and one of the best activities for 2-year-old toddlers. Since toddlers can’t yet do a maze in an activity book, this is a great way to use their problem solving and navigation skills.

Problem-solving activities give toddlers independence to learn and play & can promote their skills in handling different hassles.These activities help toddlers find a solution to a problem.

Draw a big maze on the pavement with sidewalk chalk . Then, make passages, including a few that end in a dead-end. Teach your toddler how to walk through and find their way out.

Allow them to try it on their own. The more trials, the better the child gets at figuring out the best way out. If the child gets used to the simple maze, you can draw a more complex one, adding more dead-end passages to make finding their way out more complicated.

This way, you will enhance their cognitive skills, which are vital for success in their life.

Puzzles are some of the best sensory activities for toddlers. They help a lot in enhancing the thinking capabilities of toddlers.

A puzzle is a big set of muddled-up things that must be sorted out and put back together.

Problem-solving activities give toddlers independence to learn and play & can promote their skills in handling different hassles.These activities help toddlers find a solution to a problem.

The best type of puzzle for children is wooden puzzles , as they last longer, and the frame provides a structure to guide the child while playing. Inset puzzles are perfect for toddlers, especially ones with familiar objects (transportation, animals, colors, and shapes).

So, make an effort to sit with your child and help them play different puzzles. It’s even better than leaving your toddler to play with fancy toys with flashing lights and music.

Solving puzzles is real learning and allows the students to build their skills at their own pace. It’s ok to let them get a little frustrated! The more you leave them to independently figure it out, the quicker they will gain the skill.

3. Following patterns

Following patterns is just a simple activity that can be played with colored blocks, counters, or shapes. In this case, the child should simply make a pattern with the blocks and vary it by changing the patterns’ colors, shapes, or sizes.

problem solving activity for babies

At first, you can demonstrate how to make simple patterns to your child and then make the patterns more complex as they get used to the simple ones. Following patterns train the toddler to analyze given information, make sense of it, recognize the pattern it should follow, and then recreate it.

For the complex patterns, carry out the first few steps and then ask your child to continue.

4. Board games

problem solving activity for babies

Playing board games is an excellent way to develop your problem-solving skills, and your child can quickly start with simple games. This could be CandyLand ( a huge hit with little ones) or Chutes and Ladders .

Board games teach toddlers the skill of following rules and moving logically.

With time, you can introduce games that require deeper thinking and planning, like Monopoly Junior. This game will require you to explain a lot, and sometimes you will have to play with the child.

You can also let your child play Go Fish to teach them how to think ahead and solve the problems they will encounter in the future.

Related Post: Perfect Board Games for 2 Year Olds

5. Storytime questions

Stories are a great way of teaching children moral values and the problem-solving skills they require for their lifetime. During storytelling, develop a habit of asking questions to help the child develop higher-order thinking skills like comprehension.

problem solving activity for babies

It’s simple: pause for a few minutes and pose questions about the story. Start with simple questions, like “What did the boy say?” or “Where did the family go?.”

Then move onto more abstract thinking, problem solving questions, like “what will the boy do now that his pet died?” or “what can the girl do to find her lost toy?”

You can also pose an unexpected question to make the child more attentive. Storytime questions teach toddlers to pay attention to details and concentrate on one activity at a time.

It also reinforces the message you were trying to pass to the toddler. As a result, the toddler will easily remember the story’s moral lessons and apply them when faced with challenges in their lifetime.

6. Building with construction toys

Construction toys could be engineering blocks, Legos, or a proper set of wooden blocks that can be used to construct simple structures.

problem solving activity for babies

Everything the toddler will build is challenging as it requires critical thinking in brainstorming what to build and how to put the different pieces together.

The design built should be functional and work as expected. So, let the child construct freely and occasionally set for them a challenge to be completed within the set time with specific conditions.

This could be building two towers with a bridge joining them or building a creature with three arms standing on its own. Let the kids exercise their brains until they find a way to make the structure work.

7. Classifying and grouping activities

problem solving activity for babies

Classifying and grouping activities are among the best sensory activities for toddlers. You can easily do this with a tin of buttons or by unpacking the dishwasher. The idea behind classifying and grouping activities is to teach the skill of categorizing information.

There are several button activities for your kids that you can adopt, and they include a messy play tray, making a nameplate, sorting buttons, ordering buttons, or making a button necklace.

Each activity will teach the child an important skill they need to solve problems in the future.

When was the last time you engaged in any of the activities discussed above with your child? Start young with these problem-solving activities that help them navigate most of the challenges in their lifetime.

Take time and choose one of the activities discussed above for your toddler. 

Author’s Bio

Helen Birk is a magnificent writer who creates beautiful stories that leave her readers asking for more. She’s been a wonderful storyteller and her years of experience help her do even better every time she takes up a new book to write. She’s currently planning a book that talks about the role of AI in the development of school education.

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Problem Solving Activities For Kids

Problem Solving Activities For Kids

Helping kids become problem-solvers is vital to raising independent, critical thinkers. Let’s dive into why starting early matters and share some problem solving activities for kids you can try at home.

What is problem solving for kids.

Problem-solving skills help children navigate daily challenges, from academic to personal relationships. Developing their problem-solving abilities is crucial to foster their adaptability, resourcefulness, and resilience. The steps involved in problem-solving are:

  • Defining the problem
  • Considering the possible solutions to that problem
  • Weighing up solutions and selecting the most appropriate solution
  • Implementing these solutions and assessing their outcomes

Why kids need to learn problem solving

Problem solving skills better equip children to handle the complexities of the world around them. Developing problem-solving skills can boost creativity, adaptability, and the ability to remain composed under pressure. By nurturing these abilities, you empower your child to become a self-assured and capable adult. Kids need to learn these skills while their brain is developing and while learning is the fastest, easiest and most enjoyable.

Introducing problem-solving activities for kids at a young age:

Fosters critical thinking: Problem-solving activities help children analyse situations, identify possible solutions, and evaluate the best course of action, enhancing their critical thinking abilities.

Builds self-confidence: When children successfully solve problems, they gain a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence in their ability to tackle challenges.

Encourages creativity: Problem-solving often requires thinking outside the box, which nurtures a child’s imagination and creativity.

Enhances communication and collaboration: Many problem-solving activities involve working with others, helping children develop essential communication and teamwork skills.

Promotes adaptability and resilience: Problem-solving teaches children to cope with obstacles and adapt to new situations, fostering resilience and flexibility.

Benefits of Problem Solving

Fun and Engaging Problem Solving Activities to Try at Home

You can introduce problem-solving activities to children as young as 6 months of age. You’ll find a range of activities for babies and problem solving activities for 3-5 year olds and older. 

Tangram Puzzles

Tangram puzzles are traditional Chinese dissection puzzles made up of seven flat geometric pieces called tans. They can be used to create various shapes, such as animals, people, letters, and other objects. Tangram puzzles are super versatile and a great problem-solving activity for preschoolers, toddlers and older kids. Assembling a tangram puzzle can be challenging, teaching children to be persistent, patient, and focused on finding solutions.

Try our Cho Cho Ban tangram puzzle. The idea is to fit all the pieces onto a given shape without leaving any gaps or overlapping them. As your child grows, the puzzles become more challenging, providing an excellent way to enhance their cognitive and problem-solving skills. The product is versatile and can adapt to the child’s age and level, making it an excellent long-term investment. With the hardest puzzles incorporating all seven polygons, even adults can enjoy the challenge and have a lot of fun!

The Lego Challenge

The lego challenge is a fun problem solving activity for preschoolers and older kids. Give your child a random assortment of Lego bricks and present them with a specific building challenge, such as creating a bridge, a tower, or an animal. This activity promotes creativity, encourages out-of-the-box thinking, and hones spatial reasoning skills. Increase the challenge level by adding a time limit to the build as well.

The Lego Challenge

Treasure Hunt

Get creative with problem-solving games for kids and design a treasure hunt for your child, complete with clues, riddles, or puzzles to solve. This activity requires problem-solving skills and helps develop reading comprehension and navigation abilities.

Memory Games

Memory problem solving games for kids , such as matching pairs of cards or recalling a sequence of objects, help children improve their concentration, memory, and problem-solving skills. They can also be easily adapted to suit different ages and interests.

Cause and Effect Exploration (6 months old):

Provide your baby with age-appropriate toys or household items that create a noticeable effect when manipulated, such as a rattle, a soft squeaky toy, or a small container with a lid. 

Encourage your baby to explore these items and observe the effects of their actions, like shaking the rattle to produce noise or opening and closing the container’s lid. This activity helps babies develop an understanding of cause and effect relationships, laying the foundation for problem-solving skills.

Stacking and Nesting Cup (6 months old):

Give your baby a set of stacking cups . Show them how to stack the cups on top of one another or nest them inside each other. This activity helps develop hand-eye coordination and problem-solving abilities as they figure out how to manipulate the cups and understand their relative sizes.

Nesting Cups

DIY Obstacle Course

Create a home obstacle course using furniture, pillows, and other household items. Encourage your child to navigate through the course, overcoming obstacles and challenges along the way. This activity fosters physical coordination, spatial awareness, and strategic thinking.

Storytelling Challenge

This problem-solving storytelling activity promotes creative thinking, adaptability, and problem-solving as children must figure out how to incorporate unrelated objects into a coherent and engaging story.

You’ll need a collection of random household items (e.g., a spoon, a toy car, a book, a hat, etc.)

How to play:

  • Choose a few items (3-5) from the collection and lay them out before your child.
  • Explain that the goal is to create a story involving all the displayed items.
  • Start the story by giving a basic scenario, like “Once upon a time, in a small village, there lived a clever cat named Fluffy.”
  • Encourage your child to continue the story by incorporating the items individually, using their imagination and problem-solving skills to find creative ways to include each object in the narrative.
  • Take turns with your child, adding to the story and using the items as you progress. You can provide guidance or ask questions to help them brainstorm ideas for incorporating the objects.
  • After the story is complete, discuss your child’s creative solutions to include the items in the narrative and praise their problem-solving efforts.

“What Would You Do?” Scenarios

Present your child with hypothetical scenarios that require them to think critically and come up with solutions. For example, ask them what they would do if they were lost in a grocery store or if they found a lost pet. This activity encourages critical thinking, decision-making, and helps children understand real-life situations and consequences.

Board Games and Strategy Games

Board games and strategy games, such as chess, checkers, or Monopoly, offer a fun and engaging way for older children to develop their problem-solving skills. These games teach kids about planning, decision-making, and adapting to changing circumstances.

Kids Playing Chess

Group Problem Solving Activities

Organise group activities with your child and their friends, such as a group puzzle, escape room-style challenges, or collaborative building projects. These activities promote teamwork, communication, and collective problem-solving.

Shichida Australia: Problem Solving

Shichida Australia offers a gateway to problem solving by introducing your child to a range of age-appropriate problem solving activities. 

We provide more straightforward tasks like shape puzzles, stacking games, and sorting exercises for the little ones. As for older kids and those eager for a challenge, we give trickier options like tangram puzzles, worksheets, and mazes. Discover more about Shichida Australia early learning program today.

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Book a Trial Class

Join us for an engaging and interactive trial class, and see why so many people choose the Shichida method of education for their children.

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You Can Do It: Teaching Toddlers Problem-Solving Skills

problem solving activity for babies

Problem-solving skills are necessary for early childhood development

Problem-solving skills build upon how toddlers sense, think, and understand the world around them, making them vital for early childhood development. By being active participants in exploration, toddlers learn to make connections they can apply to other areas of life through new experiences.

Luckily, curiosity and play-based activities come naturally to toddlers. But you can encourage them to develop problem-solving skills by showing them exercises and activities that will inspire them to think creatively and critically.

Identify the problem

Problem-solving means finding solutions to a problem. And the ability to solve problems requires mental development, which toddlers need to think, communicate, and take action.

In terms of cognitive development, problem-solving skills include the following:

  • Analytical thinking, breaking down a problem into manageable parts
  • Lateral thinking, solving problems creatively
  • Decision-making
  • Logical reasoning
  • Persistence
  • Communication
  • Negotiation

Toddlers are like little scientists constantly experimenting with cause and effect, socially and physically. This interest is a marker for the development of problem-solving skills, so keep their natural efforts focused to encourage their problem-solving.

Determine the solution

Although as adults we are inclined to help toddlers, letting them solve problems on their own helps them learn better problem-solving skills. Independence will also encourage them to develop the confidence needed for more advanced problem-solving.

The language you use to address a toddler or answer their questions also presents an opportunity to teach problem-solving. Ask a toddler for their opinion on or interpretation of a problem, and make an effort to guide them toward their own solution. Ask questions that start with   what ,   why ,   how ,   when ,   where , and   who , and look to them for answers.

Aside from giving a toddler independence to play and learn, consider the following simple activities to promote their problem-solving:

  • Working with blocks, nesting boxes, or stacking rings
  • Putting together puzzles
  • Playing hide-and-seek with objects
  • Grouping like items together
  • Engaging in imaginative play with household objects
  • Playing games such as Simon Says, Tic-Tac-Toe, or spot the difference between two similar pictures
  • Playing dress-up
  • Drawing in their own book
  • Doing simple chores such as wiping counters or sweeping
  • Stringing macaroni, cereal, or chunky beads
  • Building forts from boxes or sheets
  • Matching animals with their sounds
  • Playing memory games
  • Answering story-time questions

Challenging a toddler to solve problems doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive, but you should do so while they’re still young. Investing time and effort into helping them learn these skills now will give them a foundation to overcome obstacles independently throughout life.   The VA Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers.   Learn more   about how we can help you improve the standard of care.

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Ten of our favourite early years problem-solving activities

Ten of our favourite early years problem-solving activities - Featured Image

A lot of the time when we hear the term ‘problem-solving’, our brain jumps back to the tricky maths teasers from our school days, and we immediately recoil a little. However, problem-solving is much more than number conundrums.   

Problem-solving is a key part of early years development and can support learning across many of the My First Five Years streams. The skill of problem-solving starts developing very early in a child's life and stems from the knowledge of the world that they are constantly building.[1]. For instance, your baby may cry when hungry as they know that crying gets the attention of an adult who can feed them.   

Problem-solving is a part of everyday life for children, from being a baby through to their future adulthood. When children learn how to solve problems, it can support them in building resilience, self-confidence and self-esteem. Taking part in problem-solving activities with others can also help children develop social skills, communication and relationships.[2]   

Psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development also focuses on the importance of problem-solving for early childhood development. In each developmental stage of his theory, the psychologist emphasised the importance of play-based learning for young children when it comes to problem-solving, and in turn building skills across the spectrum.[3]    


Supporting problem-solving  

When thinking about problem-solving activities for your child, it can be difficult to know where to begin.   

To keep children engaged, enabling them to take the lead and follow their interests, is key. Play-based, hands-on learning makes acquiring new skills more interesting and memorable for young children.[4]    

Many activities can support children when developing their problem-solving abilities – the possibilities are wide open. When considering which problem-solving activities are the most effective, it is also important to consider how they can be adapted to multiple interests, abilities and how accessible they are when it comes to using resources and materials.   

To help you out, here are ten of My First Five Years’ favourite problem-solving activities that you can try with your child.   

1) Den-building


Den-building is brilliant for problem-solving as it requires creative and critical-thinking, foresight, and planning. It is also a wonderful way to promote sustained shared thinking with your child. Sustained shared thinking is a way of working together that encourages individuals to evaluate the problem that they are working on and is focused on collaboration, using experiences and prior knowledge.[5]  

When building a den with your child, encourage your child to take the lead. You could provide materials such as boxes and blankets, or you could even ask your child to decide what materials you need before starting, encouraging them to plan out their work. Den-building can also be done both indoors and outdoors and with children from a young age. You may find that people have already started creating these in your local woodland that you can add to, adapt, or just enjoy!  

2) Cooking and baking


Cooking and baking are not only fun activities, but they also focus on mathematical problem-solving. To bring problem-solving into a cooking and baking activity, you can ask your child to count out simple measurements, for instance, cups of flour or sugar. Activities like cooking or baking are great for children to be able to take ownership of what is happening; encourage them to choose what you will make and allow them to do all the elements themselves.   

What’s great about cooking is it really doesn't matter how it turns out! Problems can arise often in cooking or baking, for example, the mixture may turn out too dry, you may be an ingredient short, or your cakes might not rise how you expected them to. If this is the case, talk to your child about what might have gone wrong and how you can rectify it next time! Then when they come to do it again, they can use their prior knowledge to help them.   

3) Playing with patterns


Patterns are a great activity for mathematical problem-solving. You can create patterns of any objects that you can find! For example, with pieces of fruit, pebbles from the garden, building blocks or even snacks! You could encourage your child to continue patterns, fill in the missing pieces or even create their own for you to solve problems with as they grow more confident. 

4) Sorting and categorising


Sorting and categorising objects is an activity that supports children in mathematical problem - solving and can be easily adapted to individual children’s abilities . You could encourage your child to sort by shape, size, colour, or better yet , their interests . For example, if they are a dinosaur enthusiast, they could classify them by wh ich is their favourite or least favourite , or order them by the size of their feet. They may even find enjoyment in helping you with daily sorting such as recycling or washing!  


Puzzles are a fun resource that can be used with children from a very young age. There are a wide variety of puzzles for children to access , such as chunky wooden puzzles or traditional shape sorters. When playing with puzzles, children will have to use their prior knowledge and experience of shape, space and measure whil e also experimenting with different angles and placements. They will use trial and error to find the best way to complete the puzzle and then will use this knowledge in future attempts.  

6) Ice rescue

As well as being a great problem-solving activity, ice rescue enables children to explore seasonal changes, temperatures and develop their fine and gross motor skills using tools. To play ice rescue, freeze toys inside ice overnight. This could be in cake moulds or small bowls. Use toys that will motivate your child, for instance, their favourite small figurines.   

Once frozen, place your blocks of ice in a big bowl or tray, and encourage your child to think about how they can get the items out. You could provide tools, or even get your child to find tools themselves.  

7) Obstacle courses


Obstacle courses are versatile and can be made with a wide variety of resources. When setting up an obstacle course for your child, try to include sections where your child will have to stop and think about how they will have to adapt their body to move through it , for example, something that they must climb over or under, or a section where they have to move differently. You could even include them in trying to create the obstacle course and allow them to make it the most challenging they can.  

8) Filling, emptying and investigation


Many children enjoy filling and emptying during play. Investigating this way helps children to get a sense of size, capacity and explore predicting and estimation. For instance, if your child likes playing with sand, you could ask them to guess how many scoops they will need to fill a container, or if they like water play you could challenge them to find a way to move the water between two containers as quickly as possible , or from one tray to another.  

9) Story problems


Stories are an effective way of introducing problem-solving and they can be a highly engaging way to promote creative and critical-thinking. You could use familiar or traditional stories to help scaffold play opportunities for your child. For example, you could try building a house for the three little pigs that cannot be knocked over. You could test out different methods using materials that you can find around your home.   

If you are feeling creative, you could also make up a little story using your child’s favourite toys. An example of this could be figuring out how to share food between their favourite teddies during a picnic and making sure that everyone gets enough.   

10) Playing with loose parts or open-ended resources

Natural materials such as leaves, conkers, sticks, acorns, and pinecones are all brilliant open-ended play opportunities (if supervised). You can also use household objects like bottle caps, curtain rings, tubes, tins, boxes, buttons etcetera in this sort of play. All it requires is a tray of different objects that you've collected and time to explore them. Your child will have to think creatively about how to utilise the objects and in doing so will be challenging their cognitive capacity by problem-solving to achieve the desired outcomes.   


[1]  Rachel Keen. (2011). The Development of Problem Solving in Young Children: A Critical Cognitive Skill. Available: https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.psych.031809.130730#_i22 .  

[2] Sheila Ebbutt. (2009). EYFS best practice - All about ... problem-solving . Available: https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/features/article/eyfs-best-practice-all-about-problem-solving .  

[3] Piaget, J. (1983). Piaget's Theory. In P. Mussen (ed). Handbook of Child Psychology. 4th edition. Vol. 1. New York: Wiley.  

[4] Unicef. (2018). Learning Through Play. Available: https://www.unicef.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/UNICEF-Lego-Foundation-Learning-through-Play.pd .  

[5] Kathy Sylva, Edward Melhuish, Pam Sammons, Iram Siraj-Blatchford and Brenda Taggar. (2004). The Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) Project: Findings from Pre-school to end of Key Stage1. Available: https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/8543/7/SSU-SF-2004-01.pdf .  

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