One fine day, I was making my 5 year old memorize his dad’s number – you know, just in case of an emergency! After spending roughly half an hour on the exercise, I decided to test what his little mind had grasped.
“Ok honey, if mommy suddenly falls sick and can’t get out of bed, what are you going to do?”
He didn’t even bat an eyelid before replying, “I’ll eat all the choco-chip cookies I can find in the kitchen.”
To his credit, he did come up with a creative answer to the question… just that it wasn’t exactly the kind of problem solving skill I was hoping for him to acquire!
Trying to bury this particular episode in some remote corner of my brain, I once again bravely attempted to improve my creative child’s problem solving skills – this time around, with desired results (thankfully!).
So here are the 10 kindergarten problem-solving skills that helped my little one get smarter while keeping him thoroughly entertained too, an impressive feat to achieve!
1. Puzzle Time
My kindergartener loves to click pictures on my phone, so if anyone happens to open my gallery, they’d know how much I adore my pet dog and my son’s Mickey Mouse pyjamas and his storybooks and the ceiling of my room and of course, the darned choco-chip cookies!
Anyway, if your little one is a budding photographer too, just get a few of his works printed, paste the pictures on a cardboard and cut them carefully to form puzzles for him to solve.
2. What’s in the Bag
This activity is all about letting your child explore the sense of touch. Collect a few different-shaped and sized objects like ball, plush toy, book, comb, keys, crayon, spoon etc. and put them all in a bag.
Now let your child touch each object one-by-one and identify what it is. Once she identifies all objects correctly, you can increase the level of difficulty by opting for objects that are slightly similar like different plush animals (same size) or cars of different models.
Mazes are an engaging activity that kids love. Problem-solving with mazes requires your child to concentrate in a fun way and they help hone her motor skills too.
You can find a number of free printable mazes on the Internet according to your child’s age. Alternatively, you can create them at home too.
My son’s current favorite cartoon is Jerry the Mouse, so I make a maze where Jerry has to find his way to his yummy block of cheese.
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4. Duplicate my Structure
I am sure your kindergartener must be having truckloads of building blocks of every shape and size. Every kindergartener does.
Now it is time for you to get creative and build a model out of those blocks. Remember to spare enough blocks for your child to duplicate the model. Set a time limit for her to finish the task.
Start by building easy models and then move on to difficult ones.
5. Shape Sudoku
Sudoku is an interesting Japanese puzzle where the player is required to fill empty places in a grid with numbers, making sure no number is repeated in a row or column.
Shape Sudoku replaces numbers with shapes, to make it more fun for kindergarteners, and is a great way to improve your little one’s problem solving skills. You can give him a 4*4 grid for starters and then gradually raise the level of difficulty.
There are scores of simple, printable shape Sudoku puzzles available on the Internet, so just print a few and treat yourself to a relaxing evening while your little monster gets busy wracking his tiny brain.
6. Treasure Hunt
This is an activity my kid absolutely loves, though I believe that’s because he gets his favorite snack in the end! I just tape little notes in different corners of his room, each note giving a clue on where to find the next one, and the last one leading him to his snack.
Not only did treasure hunt help hone my child’s problem solving skills, it also made him learn how to read words like cupboard, flower pot, laptop, pen holder, school bag etc. Good job, mommy (patting my back)!
7. My Name in the Square
Now that’s a game most of us played when we were kindergarteners. I remember I did and was quite good at it too (so that kind of explains why I’m such a problem-solving genius. At least, that’s what my husband believes, bless him!).
So to play this game, make rows of dots, you can start with six dots in six rows. Now take turns with your child drawing one line to connect two dots, either horizontally or vertically. One who completes a box writes their name in it and takes another turn. The one with more names in the boxes wins.
Pro Tip: If you don’t want a wailing child at the end of the evening, let him win a few games too. I know it is hard, but give it a try!
8. Trial and Error Learning
Whenever we buy a new gadget, we usually spend a good deal of time trying to figure out how it works, don’t we? Since I am more technologically challenged than I would care to admit, I sometimes end up spending days understanding the nitty-gritties of my new gadgets.
Now this is exactly what you need to do with your kiddo too. When you’re giving him a new toy/game, don’t tell him right away how it works. Let him struggle a bit and discover things through ‘trial and error’.
As a parent, I know you’ll feel the urge to step in and make things simpler for your munchkin. But I assure you, his joy of solving a new puzzle all by himself, or of figuring out how the controls of his latest car work will be unmatched.
9. ‘What will you do?’ Game
All the above mentioned problem solving skills require your little one to use her brain creatively, which is great, but what about the problems your child might encounter while interacting socially?
This activity involves giving your child a particular situation, framing a set of ‘What will you do?’ questions and then giving her four alternatives for each.
For example: If you fall down in class and your friend starts laughing, what will you do?
- Get up like nothing happened and go back to your seat.
- Ask her to stop as there’s nothing funny about it.
- Start crying.
- Stop talking to her for a while.
To make this activity more interesting and fun, you can draw the four alternatives on a piece of paper and then ask your child to color the one she’d choose. Since I suck at drawing, I got the pictures printed instead.
10. Put my Lid Back
Take a few empty bottles and jars of varying sizes and unscrew their caps/lids. Now ask your child genius to put the correct lid on each one. Again you can use a stopwatch to check how much time he takes to finish the task.
So these 10 kindergarten problem solving skills are sure to give an edge to your little one’s already impressive personality and ensure he keeps himself busy doing something productive too, for a change! And yes, you can thank me later!