Problem-solving activities are a fun and engaging way for students to use their creative thinking. Not only do these types of problems have different solutions, but they are usually modifiable so you can use them repeatedly. All you have to do is give the students to tools and let them roll with it.
Creating a Trap
In this problem-solving activity, kids are going to create a trap for an unspecified creature. You can mold this to the kids in your classroom by deciding on the creature they should trap. For example, for younger kids, you could have them create a trap that might catch a fairy, elf, monster, or a leprechaun. For older children, maybe you have them catch an insect or mouse. You can add an extra challenge by having them create the creature they are going to trap. For example, tell students they need to catch a small animal. Since the animal is made up, they have to create its habits before creating the trap itself. Additionally, creating a trap can work as both a group and individual activity.
These are simple materials that you can offer, but if you have other things available, you can modify the materials list.
- Cups (paper or plastic)
- Straws (both coffee and regular straws work great)
- Popsicle sticks
- Construction paper
- Art supplies (crayons, markers, glitter)
- Paper clips
Using the materials provided, have your kids create a trap. The trap can be as simple or as complex as the students want. However, it should have multiple moving parts to be able to trap the decided upon creature. Additionally, the kids should utilize at least 3 of the materials to create their trap.
Formulating the Solution
Since there are multiple solutions to this problem depending upon how the kids use the materials, it is important that they follow the problem-solving steps to come to a creative solution.
Consider their creature. To understand how to create an effective trap, the kids need to think about the creature they are trying to trap. Questions they should be asking include:
- When does it sleep?
- What does it eat?
- Where does it live?
- How does it sense the world? (see, hear, smell, feel)
- How does it move? (is it fast or slow)
For example, if you are trying to trap a fairy, they would need to consider that a fairy moves very fast and can fly under the radar. Additionally, many would agree that they eat flowers or fruit. They also live in wooded areas so putting a trap there would be important.
Considering the materials and your creature, brainstorm ideas of how to make a trap. Here kids will use the paper and pencils to possibly sketch out a few of their ideas based on the questions above. This will help them to work through the problem-solving process.
Gather the materials and start building their traps. In this step, kids will learn whether their ideas will work. Some may need to scrap their original idea and start over and other might need to modify their idea based on building complications. This is great for helping them to think on their feet.
Explain how your trap will work. Kids will work to explain the theories behind the trap and how it will work. This can be done through a paper explaining their thought process behind the trap, a poster that uses images to show how the trap will work, or through a verbal presentation.
If possible, allow the kids to test their traps. In the instance of make-believe creatures, this will not be possible, but it can be fun to put them out for kids. Maybe even leave a little fairy dust behind.
Fun in Steps
Problem-solving activities allow students to get creative and really think outside of the box. Not only do they have to consider the problem at hand, but create a unique solution that can really push the limits of their thinking. Now, get building then check out the activities for building humility.