Problem-solving skills are important for everyone be it the kids or adults! The following problem solving games and activities teach participants to come up with efficient solutions quicker and use their unique talents in a productive manner. The benefits of these activities are –
- Improves team work;
- Put participants face to face with complex situations so they become better equipped to deal with them;
- Helps develop different thinking styles;
- Improves creativity;
- Helps improve decision making skills;
- Increases a sense of collaboration and hones the skills required for negotiation and cooperation.
Problem solving games work for all age groups. The article has activities to help team building, activities for adults, and activities for kids. Use them to get better at defining the problem, generating solutions, evaluating the solutions, and implementing the best one. The activities allow honing your skills while having fun. Get solving!
- Team Building Problem Solving Games
- Shrinking vessel
- Scavenger hunt
- Egg drop
- Tower building
- Personalised crossword
- Picture pieces puzzle
- Problem Solving Games For Adults
- Move it!
- Line up blind
- Card mix up
- Human knot
- Blind formations
- Dumbest idea first
- Balloon tower
- Problem Solving Activities For Kids
Team Building Problem Solving Games
Working in teams is an essential part of anyone’s professional and personal life. The following activities help better communication and adaptability which will help people navigate teamwork situations.
All you need to conduct this activity is a long piece of rope. Make a big circle with the rope and get all participants inside the circle. As time passes on, decrease the size of the circle. Participants must find a way to stay inside the circle. This will require participants to work together and adapt to the situation.
Develop a scavenger hunt where players must perform activities and tasks that allow them to work as a team. Divide the group into teams. Each team is given a list of activities that they must complete. Following are a few examples of tasks that can be given –
- Write a short story on the given theme.
- Drink a whole bottle of water.
- Solve a crossword.
- Make a jingle about your team.
Write down situations that participants would face in their life. For example, if the group is working in customer service, the slip can have a situation where they are dealing with a grumpy customer on call. Write down many such slips. Fold them and keep them in a fishbowl.
Gather the participants and divide them into teams of equal members. Each group must pick up a slip. The team must come together and develop a skit depicting the problem at hand and how they would deal with it.
Teams are given half an hour to come up with a skit. They must present their skit to the other teams. This activity allows teams to come up with creative yet viable solutions to problems they frequently face.
Seeing each other’s approach will give the participants a broader range of ways to get around a problem.
The activity is best conducted outdoors as it can get messy. Arrange for basic construction materials like tape, straws, newspapers, plastic wraps, rubber bands, etc.
Divide the group into teams. Each team is handed an egg. The team must build a carrier for the egg that will protect the egg. Teams can use any construction material provided to make the carrier. At the end of twenty minutes, the carrier is put to test.
The eggs are put in the carrier and dropped from a height. The egg that survives the drop has a stable carrier. The team that made the carrier wins. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height of the drop till only one egg survives.
This activity helps tune decision-making and collaborative skills.
Communication skills are extremely important to convey ideas efficiently. This activity helps hones those skills.
Divide the group into teams. Each team is given a scenario that they are stranded in an office building. The door is locked and players cannot kick down doors or break windows. The group is given thirty minutes to decide what office supplies are most important for their survival or escape.
They must choose only ten items from the supplies. The goal of the task is to get everyone in the group to agree to the ten items.
Arrange for a sufficient amount of spaghetti and marshmallows before the activity starts. Divide the group into teams of equal members. Give all teams an equal amount of spaghetti and marshmallows. Instruct the teams to build the tallest stable tower they can with the given materials.
Set a timer of ten minutes. The team that builds the tallest tower that doesn’t fall down wins the activity. The aim of the activity is to strengthen communication and instill the spirit of teamwork.
You will need a lot of Legos to conduct this activity. Divide the groups into pairs. Select an overseer from the group. The overseer is given ten minutes to make a structure with the Legos. Post this, the pairs are given fifteen minutes to replicate the structure.
However, in the pair, only one person can see the structure. This member must verbally explain to their pair the structure. The person who can see the structure is not allowed to build the structure. The pair that accurately recreates the structure in the given time wins. The activity helps hone communication skills.
This activity will help team members grow closer and understand how to work with each other. Divide the group into teams. Each team must have eight to ten members each. Get players to list out their first and last names. These will serve as the answers to the puzzle. The clues for the answers must be something that is unique to the person.
For example, if Sharon has red hair, the clue to her name could be ‘a ginger’ and so on. Give each team half an hour to come up with the crossword. Get the teams to exchange the crosswords and solve the puzzle.
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To undertake this activity, you will need to start with an empty space with a door that can be locked. Hide the key to the lock inside the room. Scatter clues around the space.
Depending on the time set for the activity, the number of clues to get to the key can vary. Get the team into the room. Give them the first clue. They must follow the trail of clues to find the key and escape the room. Depending on the number of clues hidden, set a timer.
This activity helps develop the skill of collaboration and teamwork.
Picture pieces puzzle
For this activity, you will have to make some arrangements beforehand. Print out a picture of a famous cartoon with lots of detail. Cut the printout into pieces. Make as many pieces as there are participants.
Arrange for stationery like pencils, colored markers, rulers, colored paper, plain paper, etc. When the participants arrive, give each participant a piece of the picture. Instruct them to recreate the picture on their piece of paper.
The recreation must be five times larger than the picture that they have been given. They must try to recreate as accurately as possible. Give all participants a set amount of time to carry out the activity.
Problem Solving Games For Adults
Adults come across various situations in their life where they need to make quick and efficient decisions. The following activities will help them hone their skills.
Arrange for a sufficient amount of ordinary supplies like toothpicks, rubber bands, sticky notes, etc. Divide the group into teams of four to five members. Give them the following scenario.
The group is stranded in the Arctic. They must build a shelter to spend the night. One member of the group is chosen as the leader. However, the leader has frostbite on both their hands and cannot help their team members in building the shelter. They can only give instructions. Team members are required to follow the leader’s instructions and build the shelter.
After time runs out, switch on the fan to check how strong the shelter is. The activity helps improve adaptability and communication skills.
The players are divided into two teams of equal members. Use chalk or spray paint to draw boxes on the floor of the space. Make two rows of squares equivalent to the players on each team. Ensure that there is space for another box in between the two drawn boxes.
The two teams stand in the rows facing each other. The goal is for players facing each other to swap places. Put down restrictions. You can change the restriction every round. Some examples of restrictions are as follows:
- Only one person can move at a time.
- One step is permitted per person. They cannot take another step until all players from the team have taken a step.
- Moving backwards is not allowed.
- Players cannot move in a direction facing someone else.
- Only one player per team can move at once.
Before the game begins, arrange for a sufficient amount of office supplies of different types. Blindfolds will also be required in this game. The game is best played in an empty space. Place the office supplies randomly around the space. Ensure that there is no clear path dictated by the supplies.
Divide the group into pairs. One member in the pair is blindfolded. The goal of the game is to cross the room without knocking over any office supplies. The player who isn’t blindfolded must give verbal instructions to their pair to get them across the minefield of office supplies.
They are not allowed to touch the blindfolded person. If the blindfolded person touches the mine, the pair must start from the beginning.
To make the activity harder, make all the teams go together. The blindfolded players will have to pay more attention to hear their partner’s voice over the rest. The activity helps build communication skills.
Line up blind
All players are blindfolded as soon as the game starts. The players are numbered secretly. Their number is whispered into their ears. Players are not allowed to share their numbers with each other or talk to each other for any other reason.
The goal of the game is that players must line up in accordance with their numbers. How they choose to communicate is up to them. However, they cannot talk to each other. Height, birthday, hair color, etc. can be used as the criteria to line up as well.
Card mix up
Divide the players into teams. Each team must have 6-8 participants. Give each team two decks of cards that have been mixed up. Teams must sort out the cards without talking to each other. Set a stipulated time.
How the teams sort the cards is up to the team. They can sort it by number or by suit. Midway through the task, ask the players to change up how they were sorting the cards.
Teams that have successfully sorted out the cards even after the midway interruption win the activity. Have the team share tactics and communication routes they used.
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You will not need any equipment to carry out this activity. Gather the group and make them stand in a circle. Instruct the group to hold hands with people that are not standing next to them. This will get them all tangled up.
Now the activity starts. Ask them to untangle themselves without leaving each other’s hands. They must come back to standing in a circle. Their position in the circle may be different than their starting position. Use a timer to check how long the group took.
Have a conversation about communication strategies the group used and their experience and learnings from the activity.
Get your group of players and blindfold them. Arrange for a rope. Tie both ends of the rope together and set it down. The players must form a circle outside the rope. When the round starts, players must pick up the rope and follow the instructions given.
Instruct players to make different shapes like pentagon, hexagon, square, star, etc. Players can communicate verbally and feel around.
However, they are not allowed to remove their blindfolds at any point. This activity will help foster more efficient communication and build team spirit.
Dumbest idea first
This activity is to understand that problems can have a great array of solutions. Ideas that seem dumb on the surface may actually work out for the better.
Once the group has gathered, present them with a problem. Give everyone fifteen minutes to come up with a viable solution to the problem at hand. Ask them to put forth the dumbest ideas they can think of. Put all the solutions together and explore if the dumb idea could solve the problem and how efficient the solution is.
The activity helps people to get creative with their ideas and break free from traditional solutions.
Before starting the activity, make sure to blow a sufficient number of balloons and arrange for masking tape.
Keep spares ready since balloons burst easily. Gather the players and divide them into teams of three. Give each team ten balloons and 3 foot long strips of masking tape. Teams must work together to build a freestanding tower.
Keep a time limit within which teams must complete the task. The recommended time limit is 10 minutes. Teams can use the materials in any way they wish. However, they are not given access to any other materials. The tower must be built either from the floor or a table.
To increase the difficulty level of the game, additional rules can be added. For example, all team members can use only one hand. The team that builds the longest tower in the stipulated time wins the activity.
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Problem Solving Activities For Kids
Problem-solving activities help kids to think about problems in a creative and unique manner. This will help kids develop quick thinking, creativity, and keeps them engaged. These skills will help kids in the long run.
Walk the plank
This activity is ideal for older kids and teenagers. Arrange four boards before the game commences. The board must be an average size of 2*6. Gather all the kids and divide them into two teams. Both teams must have an equal number of players.
The boards are kept on the floor. Two of them are kept end to end. The other two are kept end to end three feet away. The kids must try to move one board forward while standing in a single file on the other. If a player steps off the board while executing the activity, the team must start over.
The team that reaches the predetermined finish line first wins the activity. It helps build teamwork, understanding, and communication skills.
A ball of yarn or string will be perfect to use for this game. Use the wool or the string to create a web across the room. Players must get through the web without touching the string or wool.
Inform the players that the strings are make-do laser. If they come in physical contact with the strings, they are zapped by the laser. Give players chances to try again.
To increase the excitement of the game, dim the light and give players dark goggles. This game allows players to use their problem-solving skills to come up with more efficient solutions quicker.
Gather the group of kids and divide them into teams of three. Each member of the team has a different responsibility.
They can be one of the three designations – drawer, talker, and viewer. The goal of the drawer is to recreate a design that they cannot see. They must stand with their back to their teammates and are not permitted to talk. The goal of the talker is to explain the design to the drawer.
The talker is unable to see the design as well. The talker must ask questions to the viewer without using any gestures.
The viewer is the only player from the team who can see the design. They are not allowed to talk and must only communicate through gestures. They cannot draw the design in the air or make exact shapes of the designs with their gestures.
This activity helps build teamwork and efficient communication systems among the players. The activity ends when the viewer is satisfied with the drawing made by the drawer.
Get the kids to sit in a circle. Choose a category before starting the round. Animals, food, clothing, furniture, flowers, etc. are examples of categories that will work well for this game. Players must call out names of items belonging to the chosen category.
The names must be called out in alphabetic order. If a player takes more than five seconds on their turn, they are eliminated from the game.
Change the category every round to keep the kids engaged and interested in the game. The last player remaining is the winner of the game.
Before starting the game, prepare slips of paper with the names of animals. Ensure that each animal has a pair. Fold up the slips and keep them in a bowl.
When the game begins, the children must pick a slip of paper from the bowl. The goal of the game is to find your animal pair. Children must enact the characteristics of the animal in their slips as well as pay attention to what the other kids are doing.
Set a stipulated time. The kids must find their pair before the time ends. To encourage the kids to explore more and make finding their pair easier, make a suggestion to enact the following activities that their animal carries out –
- Cleaning and grooming;
- Eating and drinking;
- Walking and running.
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Encourage participants to discuss how they approached the activity and went about it. Post-activity discussion can help participants remember the skills they learned well and help implement them in real life as well. Discuss other possible ideas and solutions during the discussion. The activities work well with all age groups. Use the activities to solve problems and have fun doing so.
Naomi is an educator with 2 decades of experience working with children of all ages. She is a keen observer of the magic and importance of Maths in our daily lives. Follow me on Linkedin