Problem Solving Activities and Skills
June 13, 2018 Rob Sayers Team Building Activities , Training Courses 0
Problem solving is a very valuable skill to have, and each of us possess it to some degree. To teach problem solving skills, you need to set a few challenges or puzzles for the team to solve.
There are several things you need to consider when approaching or creating problem solving activities. One of the first questions that needs to be answered is what is the point of this exercise?
What are you trying to Achieve?
This is the most obvious question to ask, yet often overlooked. You need to ask what it is that you are being asked to do. This leads onto other questions such as “What does success look like?” of “What effect are you trying to have?”
If you are creating problem solving activities, I find that making the outcome obvious a good way to engage the team. However, you have to make the method require some considerable thinking and experimentation. This is the key to setting problem solving activities. It is not a challenge if the solution is easy.
Another important thing to consider when setting problems is to make the solution appear achievable. Unless your team is full of some strong characters, you may find that everyone gives up. This most often happens with teenagers who aren’t always engaged with team building and would rather be somewhere else. Maintain attention by a bit of storytelling. You are just trying to get a box out of a tree, you are rescuing a stranded pilot, or stealing food store from a group of bandits.
Understand the Situation
Do you understand the circumstances in which you have to work and solve the problem? Do you understand the following:
- Rules and constraints of the problem
- Assumptions – don’t take anything for granted. You may be able to find clever ways to circumvent or innovate
- What is important? – It cost the key factor, or time, or how much resource you use?
- What are the dependencies – How to different parts of the system interact or relate? If you change one area, what is the impact on the overall situation?
- Time critical responses – what needs to be done and when, or doesn’t it matter?
- Will circumstances change during the task? – Will external factors change the rules by which you have to play by?
Learning system skills is another way of approaching problem solving activities. Thinking strategically is an extremely important skill, especially for leaders.
Problem Solving Activities
So, here are a few ideas to get you started. Some are physical, others can be done in the classroom or office. All of them require the team to think strategically and for there to be good leadership.
Water Barrel Swap
Tie a pulley to a tree branch and pass a rope through it. Tie a barrel to each end of the rope. Fill one barrel with water. Then fence off an area around the barrels. The challenge is to swap positions of the barrels without anyone touching the floor inside the fenced off area, or touch the barrels.
Create a swamp, and then the teams have to cross it without going in it. They can be provided with a variety of useful and unuseful equipment. Planks and bricks are commonly used. You can also get the teams to make a bridge.
Get Container from Fenced Area
Place a container inside a fenced off area. The teams are then given a range of equipment to reach and remove the container with it or the equipment touching the ground. Poles and ropes are the main bits of kit. If the canister is light, then the use of an elastic band and four pieces of string are a quick extraction solution.
Film Canister Retrieval from Tube Using Water
Mount a length of plastic drainpipe vertically. Seal off the bottom. Drop in a plastic film canister. The team then has to use their initiative to get the canister out. It will of course be too narrow to get your hand in, and the use of a stick will not work. The solution is to pour in water to make the canister float to the top of the drainpipe.
Carry Bucket of Water Along Rope Over Obstacle course
Make an obstacle course and string a rope along it. Then put the rope through the handle of a bucket of water. The team then has to work together to get the bucket along the length of rope over the obstacles without spilling any water.
As a team, get over a ten foot wall.
Get the Team Through a Sheet of Paper
Using a sheet of A4 or letter sized paper and a pair of scissors, you have to cut the sheet of paper so that it forms a hole big enough to fit the entire team through.
HINT You cut the paper in a zig zag pattern…
Measuring Without Markings – Water Decanter
Give the team two jugs. One jug holds 5 litres, the other jug holds 3 litres. The team has to measure t exactly 4 litres using the jugs. They have an unlimited amount of water to experiment with. The answer lies in pouring water from one jug into the other and back.
For a more advanced problem to solve, give the team an eight litre container full of water and two empty containers, one that holds 5 litres and the other 3 litres. The team must divide the eight litres into two of the containers, each with exactly four litres in each.
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Outdoor Learning and Advanced Problem-Solving
By Leslie Morrison, CTD Summer Leapfrog Coordinator
“There is no such thing as bad weather—only inappropriate clothing.”
-Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Alfred Wainwright
School curriculum and daily lessons are typically anchored in rooms with walls, and play is often associated with the outdoors. And yet just the words “outdoor learning” seem to open new and exciting possibilities for students. Outdoor learning offers challenging problem-solving opportunities as well as a chance for students to learn from failures and rediscover their strengths.
How might an outdoor classroom enhance learning for younger students? In outdoor learning environments, students can experience hands-on opportunities for learning, and engage in authentic problem-solving in ways that could not be experienced with the same depth in an indoor classroom. For example, in one study , a small group of children wanted to create a rope swing in an outdoor area. The teacher provided the rope and modeled how to tie knots, and then the students took charge at that point. The students figured out that there were important steps they needed to take to create a functioning swing, from deciding that a large stick would be used for the seat to measuring out the length of the rope. This was a collaborative, higher-order problem-solving activity that was also highly motivating for students. Additionally, rich conversations developed as they worked towards completion of their unique swing.
Mistakes and Persistence
Outdoor learning experiences allow students of all ages to experience risk and adventure at a developmentally appropriate pace. Risk-taking is critical to advancing children’s learning. But in some instances, and often for gifted and talented children, students can become risk-averse. Because some GT students are perfectionists, they may not want to risk failure in unfamiliar tasks. Their motivation can waver, and they may not want to try, or try more than once. When students “play it safe” in their learning, their creativity and higher-order problem-solving can be stifled, leaving messier but fruitful learning experiences to the side.
With outdoor learning, such as a wilderness challenge, students work collaboratively on projects. They can quickly identify mistakes and make modifications, since the learning experiences are so immediate and concrete. Students often draw on skills that they likely don’t exhibit in a traditional classroom, which builds confidence and excitement for learning. Outdoor learning offers students a new way of discovering how failures can lead to new understandings. They can figure out how to make a lean-to shelter that doesn’t fall down, or propose new ways to make a working solar oven, or just keep trying until they make a swing that actually works.
This summer, CTD is offering a class on outdoor learning for grades 2-3. In Wilderness Challenge , students will hone survival skills while putting STEM concepts into practice. These immediate, concrete learning experiences make math and science a lot of fun!
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What is problem solving.
A range of problem solving challenges, some physical and some more cognitive all involving team work. Sessions can be themed and problems solved rewarded with points or items of equipment for a further mission; or money (special OE currency!) awarded that can be used to buy equipment for an end task.
This session is great for bringing new groups together or to explore team dynamics within existing groups.
Learning Outcomes of Problem Solving
Team work, communication, leadership, self awareness, reviewing, encouragement and support, mutual respect, listening skills, carrying out instructions, risk awareness, awareness and consideration of others, work ethic, personal preparation, self esteem, problem solving and analytical skills, responsibility, shared experience, willingness to try, new skills, personal development, sense of achievement.
Outdoor Elements has an outdoor activity centre set within a 7-acre woodland. Problem Solving is one of the activities available. Additionally, problem solving can be delivered:
- at your place of work
- at your school
- inside or out
- conference facilities
- woodland settings
- based on your requirements, we can offer various venues across the north-west
Great as part of a mission within one of our team building programmes.
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Home » Games » 17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games [for Kids, Adults and Teens]
17 Fun Problem Solving Activities & Games [for Kids, Adults and Teens]
Everyone should learn problem solving, as it is important in both our personal and professional lives. Problems occur all around us and many people react with spontaneous emotion. Instead, effective use of problem solving skills can lead to rational thinking, a component of any successful endeavor.
Creative problem involves using one or more of the basic steps of problem solving in exercises designed to challenge the thinking. Problem solving activities work for every age group. In this article, we will present problem-solving activities for adults and kids. We will also provide you with group and team building problem solving ideas.
Table of Contents
- 1.1 Wool Webs
- 1.2 To Do Scavenger Hunt
- 1.3 Impromptu Skits
- 1.4 Block Duplicating
- 2.1 Tower Building
- 2.2 Personalized Crossword
- 2.3 Picture Pieces Puzzle Game
- 3.1 Move It!
- 3.2 Playing Card Mix-up
- 3.3 Blind Formations
- 3.4 Line up Blind
- 3.5 Balloon Tower
- 4.1 Walking the Plank
- 4.2 “Laser” Web
- 4.3 Group Drawing
- 4.4 Animals
- 4.5 Alphabet Game
- 4.6 Related Posts
There are four basic steps in problem solving:
- define the problem
- generate possible solutions
- evaluate and select possible solutions
- implement solutions
Problem solving activities use one of more of these steps.
Group Problem Solving Activities
Group activities provide an effective way to learn problem-solving skills. The following list of activities present problem solving skills in the form of games, a non-threatening and fun way.
Divide your group into teams of equal numbers. Give each team a ball of yarn. Instruct the teams to create a web using only the yarn. Once the teams have finished (you may have to set an amount of time for completion), switch the teams around so that every team has a web other than their own. Each team then blindfolds one team member. The goal is for the blindfolded individual to unwind the web following the verbal instruction of their teammates. In order to be successful, team members must concentrate, and give/follow directions. The first team that has dismantled the web wins this game.
To Do Scavenger Hunt
This scavenger hunt game involves solving a list of problem activities. Begin by dividing your group into teams. Give each group a list of to do activities. The list should begin with some simple tasks, with increasingly more difficult activities. Some suggested activities are:
- Write a one hundred word poem on a given theme.
- Find an object readily available in the area in which you are playing
- Drink a whole can or glass of a liquid
- Solve a Sudoku or cross word puzzle
- Write out all the lyrics of a song (a Christmas carol works well at holiday time)
The team that completes all the activities first, wins.
Prior to playing this game, write down a few appropriate situations that deal events in the venue in which you are playing. For example, for a group involved in customer service, use dealing with an angry customer on the phone. If you have a large group, divide them into teams of six to eight members. Have each group choose a folded piece of paper on which you have written the subject of a skit they must create. Give a set amount of time to prepare the skit and then have each team present their skit to the group. If you have a small group, have each person create one side of a conversation dealing with the problem for presentation to everyone.
Build a model out of building blocks. Provide each group member (or divide into teams for a large group ) enough blocks to duplicate the model. Set a specific amount of time for completing the duplicated model. The team that is the first to finish – or gets the furthest on completing their model – wins. The more difficult the original model, the longer this task will take.
Team Building Problem Solving Activities
When choosing team building problem solving activities, make sure the game you use suits the group of people – their ages and interests. The activities we have listed will help with not only problem solving, but also build decision making, collaboration, and listening skills.
Although there are many variations to this game, this one using spaghetti and marsh mellows is our favorite. Divide you group into teams with an equal number of players. Provide each team with an equal amount of spaghetti and marsh mellows. The goal is to see which team can build the highest tower within a set amount of time.
For this game to be effective, you need one or more teams of 8 to 10 people. Have each team list the first and last names of their group members. The goal is to create a crossword puzzle with clues composed of hints about the person, for example, if only one team member has red hair, the two clues for her first and last name could be, “Red hair,” and “Ginger.” It should take each team 20 to 30 minutes to complete their puzzle. When all the teams are finished, trade puzzles so that every team has a different one. Make sure you provide a list of names for the puzzle solvers.
Picture Pieces Puzzle Game
Prepare for this problem solving activity by choosing a well-known picture or cartoon full of detail. Cut the picture into equal sized squares and give one to each member of the group. You will need as many pieces as you have participants. Additionally, give each person a pencil, ruler for help enlarging the picture, colored markers, and a clean sheet of paper. Instruct them to make the puzzle piece five times larger.
Problem Solving Activities for Adults
Divide your group into two teams. Line up the two teams front to back. Have the two groups face each other. Using chalk, spray paint, or masking tape (depending on the play surface) mark a square space for each person to stand on with one extra empty space between the two facing rows. You may also use a piece of paper for each person. The goal is for the two facing lines of players to change places.
Place these restrictions on movement:
- Only one person may move at a time.
- A person may not move around anyone facing the same direction.
- A person may not move backward.
- A person may not move around more than one person on the other team at a time.
Playing Card Mix-up
Divide your group into teams of six to eight participants. Give each team two decks of cards randomly mixed together. Tell the group they must sort them out without talking. As they working at the task, after a few minutes, change the way in which they are doing so using one of the following:
- If a team is sorting by suits from ace to king (4 stacks), tell them to collect the suits together by number (13 stacks).
- If a team begins by collecting the suits together, i.e. all the ones, twos, threes, etc., tell them to sort the suits from ace to king.
The team(s) that do so successfully by the end of a given time (depending on the size of your group) share what methods they used to accomplish the task.
Blindfolded games are always fun and provide the perfect challenge for adult problem solving. We have provided two for you.
Have your group of adults put on blindfolds and form a large circle. Tie the ends of a rope together and lay in it a circle in the middle of the group, close enough that each person can reach down and pick up the rope. Tell them they must create a shape – a square, triangle, pentagon, etc. If you have a very large group, divide them into teams and provide a rope for each team. Let them compete to see who forms a particular shape quickest.
Line up Blind
Blindfold everyone and number the group by whispering a number to each individual beginning at one. Tell them to line up in numerical order without talking. Variations are many, with some of the favorites not requiring the whispering step being to line up according to height, birthday, surname, color of hair, etc.
Divide you group into teams of three and provide ten balloons and four 3-foot long strips of masking tape for each team. The object of this problem solving activity is to build the tallest freestanding tower in ten minutes. They can break the balloons if they wish. However, they may not use any additional materials and the tower must be built on a table or the floor. If you wish, you may add the following instructions:
- No talking.
- Each team member may use only one hand.
- One team member may not touch the materials and only give directions.
You can use one or more of these limitations in 60-second intervals. The first team to complete their tower wins this challenge.
Problem Solving Activities for Kids
The purpose of problem solving activities for kids is to get kids to think about a problem in a different way and have fun while solving it. Children will develop their creativity as they seek to implement a solution.
Walking the Plank
For this problem solving activity for older kids or teens, you will need four 2×6 boards. Divide your group into two teams with an equal number of children on each team. Place two of the four boards end to end on the ground or floor. Set the other two parallel to the first two about two or three feet apart. The goal is for each team to pass one board forward while standing on the other board in single file. If someone steps off a board, the team must start over. The team that succeeds in passing the boards a set number of times, or reaches a predetermined spot is the winner.
Use a large ball of string to create a giant web from one end of a room to the other. The goal is for individuals or teams to move through the web without touching the string. If they do so, they have been “zapped by a laser” and must try again. For greater suspense and for older players, use blindfolds or turn off the lights, allowing players to touch the string, but not pull it down or out of its original shape.
Divide your group of kids into teams of three. Each person on the team has a one of the following roles:
- Drawer . The drawer attempts to recreate a pre-drawn design they cannot see. They take directions from the talker. They stand with their back to the talker and viewer and may not talk.
- Talker . The talker describes the design to the drawer, without seeing the design. They may question the viewer. They may not use hand gestures.
- Viewer . The viewer sees the design. However, they are not allowed to talk and must communicate nonverbally to the talker. Additionally, they must not draw the design in the air or actually show the design with their gestures.
The activity ends when the viewers say they are satisfied with the drawings. You may wish to award a prize to the best drawing.
Prior to playing this game, write on individual slips of paper the names of animal pairs, one name on each slip. Distribute the slips of paper to each group, instructing them not to share which animal name they received. The kids then move around performing activities their animal might do. The goal is for the kids to get into pairs successfully in a set amount of time without talking or making any noises. Suggest the following activities:
- Cleaning or grooming
- Eating and drinking
- Walking or running
Have your players sit or stand in a circle. The goal is to shout out words in alphabetical order. Give the kids one of the following categories (or choose your own):
If a player takes longer than five seconds to think of a word, they are out. The last player remaining wins the game.
People achieve more when they solve problems and make decisions together. Our problem solving activities teach participants how to work out a solution, a talent useful in many different environments. Problem solving:
- Improves team work
- Helps participants address complex situations
- Utilizes different thinking styles
- Increases creativity
- Collectively leads to decision making
- Teaches both negotiation and cooperation
After completing a problem solving activity, encourage participants to discuss what process(es) they used in the exercise. Even kids are able to participate in such discussions. Also ask what was learned and if they have any opinions about how they could have solved the problem more efficiently.
Team-building exercises can improve problem solving and decision making in a new or established team. They work with every age group and in many different environments. Use our exercises to help solve problems and have some fun doing so.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.
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Thanks for your help!!
excellent ideas – thanks !
Thank you. My students have requested we do team-building activities; I thought we would start with problem-solving.
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Top 15 Problem-Solving Activities for Your Team to Master
Some people see problems as roadblocks, others see them as opportunities! Problem-solving activities are a great way to get to know how members of your team work, both individually and together. It’s important to teach your team strategies to help them quickly overcome obstacles in the way of achieving project goals.
The importance of problem-solving skills in today’s workplace
According to a 2019 report by McKinsey , soft skills are increasingly important in today's world — and problem-solving is the top area in which skills are lacking. A company or team’s success weighs heavily on the willingness of managers to help employees improve their problem-solving abilities. Team building activities targeting focus areas like communication and collaboration, adaptability, or strengthening decision-making techniques help.
All problem-solving processes start with identifying the problem. Next, the team must assess potential courses of action and choose the best way to tackle the problem. This requires a deep understanding of your team and its core strengths. A problem-solving exercise or game helps identify those strengths and builds problem-solving skills and strategies while having fun with your team.
Problem-solving games aren't for just any team. Participants must have an open mind and accept all ideas and solutions . They must also have an Agile mindset and embrace different structures, planning , and processes. Problems usually arise when we least expect them, so there's no better way to prepare than to encourage agility and flexibility.
Another aspect to keep in mind when engaging in problem-solving games and activities: There are no winners or losers. Sure, some games might end with a single winner, but the true goal of these exercises is to learn how to work together as a team to develop an Agile mindset . The winning team of each game should share their strategies and thought processes at the end of the exercise to help everyone learn.
Here’s a list of fun problem-solving activity examples to try with your team. From blindfolds to raw eggs, these problem-solving, team-building activities will have your team solving problems faster than Scooby and the gang.
Classic team-building, problem-solving activities
1. a shrinking vessel.
Helps with: Adaptability
Why adaptability is important for problem-solving: Adaptability is highly associated with cognitive diversity, which helps teams solve problems faster , according to the Harvard Business Review. Innovation and disruption are happening faster than ever before . People, teams, and organizations that can adapt will come out on top.
What you’ll need:
- A rope or string
1. Using the rope, make a shape on the floor everyone can fit into.
2. Slowly shrink the space over 10-15 minutes.
3. Work together to figure out how to keep everyone within the shrinking boundaries.
2. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
Helps with: Collaboration
Why collaboration is important for problem-solving: “Collectively, we can be more insightful, more intelligent than we can possibly be individually,” writes Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline . We can solve problems better as a team than we can alone, which means developing your team’s collaboration skills will lead to better problem-solving outcomes.
What you’ll need (per team):
- 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti
- 1 roll of masking tape
- 1 yard of string
- 1 marshmallow
1. The goal of this exercise is to see which team can use the materials provided to build the tallest tower within an allotted time period. The tower must be able to stand on its own.
2. To make this exercise more challenging, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower. This team problem-solving exercise helps people think on their toes while building camaraderie and leadership.
3. Egg Drop
Helps with: Collaboration, decision-making
Why decision-making is important for problem-solving: Making decisions isn’t easy , but indecision leads to team paralysis, stagnant thinking, and unsolved problems. Decision-making activities help your team practice making quick, effective choices. Train your team’s decision-making muscles and they will become more adept at problem-solving.
- A carton of eggs
- Basic construction materials such as newspapers, straws, tape, plastic wrap, balloons, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, etc., tarp, or drop cloth
- A parking lot, or some other place you don’t mind getting messy!
1. Each team gets an egg and must select from the construction materials.
2. Give everyone 20-30 minutes to construct a carrier for the egg and protect it from breaking.
3. Drop each egg carrier off a ledge (i.e. over a balcony) and see whose carrier protects the egg from breaking.
4. If multiple eggs survive, keep increasing the height until only one egg is left.
Helps with: Communication, decision-making
Why communication is important for problem-solving: More employees work remotely than ever before. Good communication skills are vital to solving problems across virtual teams . Working on communication skills while your team is together will help them solve problems more effectively when they’re apart.
Here's the setting: Your team has been stranded in the office. The doors are locked, and knocking down the doors or breaking the windows is not an option. Give your team 30 minutes to decide on ten items in the office they need for survival and rank them in order of importance. The goal of the game is to have everyone agree on the ten items and their rankings in 30 minutes.
Creative problem-solving activities
Helps with: Communication
What you'll need:
1. Divide everyone into small teams of two or more.
2. Select an overseer who isn't on a team to build a random structure using Lego building blocks within ten minutes.
3. The other teams must replicate the structure exactly (including size and color) within 15 minutes. However, only one member from each group may look at the original structure. They must figure out how to communicate the size, color, and shape of the original structure to their team.
4. If this is too easy, add a rule that the member who can see the original structure can't touch the new structure.
- A lockable room
- 5-10 puzzles or clues (depending on how much time you want to spend on the game)
1. The goal of this exercise is to solve the clues, find the key, and escape a locked room within the time allotted.
2. Hide the key and a list of clues around the room.
3. Gather the team into the empty room and "lock" the door.
4. Give them 30 minutes to an hour to find the key using the clues hidden around the room.
Helps with: Decision-making, adaptability
- A blindfold
- 1 packet of construction materials (such as card stock, toothpicks, rubber bands, and sticky notes) for each team
- An electric fan
Instructions: Your employees are Arctic explorers adventuring across an icy tundra! Separate them into teams of four or five and have them select a leader to guide their exploration. Each team must build a shelter from the materials provided before the storm hits in 30 minutes. However, both the team leader’s hands have frostbite, so they can’t physically help construct the shelter, and the rest of the team has snow blindness and is unable to see. When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the fan and see which shelter can withstand the high winds of the storm.
- An empty room or hallway
- A collection of common office items
1. Place the items (boxes, chairs, water bottles, bags, etc.) around the room so there's no clear path from one end of the room to the other.
2. Divide your team into pairs and blindfold one person on the team.
3. The other must verbally guide that person from one end of the room to the other, avoiding the "mines."
4. The partner who is not blindfolded can't touch the other.
5. If you want to make the activity more challenging, have all the pairs go simultaneously so teams must find ways to strategically communicate with each other.
9. Blind Formations
1. Have the group put on blindfolds and form a large circle.
2. Tie two ends of a rope together and lay it in a circle in the middle of the group, close enough so each person can reach down and touch it.
3. Instruct the group to communicate to create a shape with the rope — a square, triangle, rectangle, etc.
4. If you have a very large group, divide them into teams and provide a rope for each team. Let them compete to see who forms a particular shape quickest.
Quick and easy problem-solving activities
10. line up blind.
1. Blindfold everyone and whisper a number to each person, beginning with one.
2. Tell them to line up in numerical order without talking.
3. Instead of giving them a number, you could also have them line up numerically by height, age, birthday, etc.
11. Reverse Pyramid
Helps with: Adaptability, collaboration
1. Have everyone stand in a pyramid shape, horizontally.
2. Ask them to flip the base and the apex of the pyramid moving only three people.
3. This quick exercise works best when smaller groups compete to see who can reverse the pyramid the fastest.
12. Move It!
- Chalk, rope, tape, or paper (something to mark a space)
1. Divide your group into two teams and line them up front to back, facing each other.
2. Using the chalk, tape, rope, or paper (depending on the playing surface), mark a square space for each person to stand on. Leave one extra empty space between the two facing rows.
3. The goal is for the two facing lines of players to switch places.
4. Place these restrictions on movement:
- Only one person may move at a time.
- A person may not move around anyone facing the same direction.
- No one may not move backward.
- A person may not move around more than one person on the other team at a time.
13. Human Knot
1. Have everyone stand in a circle, and ask each person to hold hands with two people who aren’t directly next to them.
2. When everyone is tangled together, ask them to untangle the knot and form a perfect circle — without letting go of anyone's hand.
Our last two problem-solving activities work best when dealing with an actual problem:
14. Dumbest Idea First
Helps with: Instant problem-solving
1. "Dumb" ideas are sometimes the best ideas. Ask everyone to think of the absolute dumbest possible solution to the problem at hand.
2. After you have a long list, look through it and see which ones might not be as dumb as you think.
3. Brainstorm your solutions in Wrike. It's free and everyone can start collaborating instantly!
15. What Would X Do
1. Have everyone pretend they're someone famous.
2. Each person must approach the problem as if they were their chosen famous person. What options would they consider? How would they handle it?
3. This allows everyone to consider solutions they might not have thought of originally.
Looking for more team-building and virtual meeting games ? Check out these virtual icebreaker games or our Ultimate Guide to Team Building Activities that Don't Suck.
Additional resources on problem-solving activities
- Problem-Solving Model : Looking for a model to provide a problem-solving structure? This detailed guide gives you the tools to quickly solve any problem.
- The Simplex Process: Popularized by Min Basadur's book, The Power of Innovation , the Simplex Process provides training and techniques for each problem-solving stage. It helps frame problem-solving as a continuous cycle, rather than a “one and done” process.
- Fun Problem-Solving Activities and Games : Looking for more ideas? Check out this list of interesting and creative problem-solving activities for adults and kids!
- The Secret to Better Problem-Solving: This article provides tips, use cases, and fresh examples to help you become a whiz at solving the toughest problems.
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17 Unbeatable Team Building Problem Solving Activities
Problem-solving is a critical skill for professionals and with team building problem-solving activities, you can sharpen your skills while having fun at the same time.
Updated on August 31, 2021
In the professional world, one thing is for sure: problem-solving is a vital skill if you want to survive and thrive. It’s a universal job skill that organizations seek in new potential employees and that managers look for when considering candidates for promotions.
But there’s a problem. According to Payscale , 60% of managers feel that new grads entering the workforce lack problem-solving abilities – making it the most commonly lacked soft skill.
Problem-solving skill needs to be practiced and perfected on an ongoing basis in order to be applied effectively when the time comes. And while there are tons of traditional approaches to becoming a better problem-solver, there’s another (much more interesting) option: team building problem solving activities.
The good news? This means learning and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And you can create a stronger team at the same time.
11 In-Person Team Building Problem Solving Activities for Your Work Group
1. cardboard boat building challenge, 2. egg drop , 3. clue murder mystery, 4. marshmallow spaghetti tower , 5. corporate escape room, 6. wild goose chase, 7. lost at sea , 8. domino effect challenge, 9. reverse pyramid , 10. ci: the crime investigators, 11. team pursuit, 5 virtual team building problem solving activities for your work group , 1. virtual escape room: mummy’s curse, 2. virtual clue murder mystery, 3. virtual escape room: jewel heist, 4. virtual code break , 5. virtual trivia time machine.
- 6. Virtual Jeoparty Social
There are a ton of incredible team building problem solving activities available. We’ve hand-picked 11 of our favorites that we think your corporate group will love too.
Split into teams and create a cardboard boat made out of just the materials provided: cardboard and tape. Team members will have to work together to engineer a functional boat that will float and sail across water without sinking. Once teams have finished making their boats, they will create a presentation to explain why their boat is the best, before putting their boats to the test. The final challenge will have teams racing their boats to test their durability! Nothing says problem-solving like having to make sure you don’t sink into the water!
Every day at work, you’re forced to make countless decisions – whether they’re massively important or so small you barely think about them.
But your ability to effectively make decisions is critical in solving problems quickly and effectively.
With a classic team building problem solving activity like the Egg Drop, that’s exactly what your team will learn to do.
For this activity, you’ll need some eggs, construction materials, and a place you wouldn’t mind smashing getting dirty with eggshells and yolks.
The goal of this activity is to create a contraption that will encase an egg and protect it from a fall – whether it’s from standing height or the top of a building. But the challenge is that you and your team will only have a short amount of time to build it before it’s time to test it out, so you’ll have to think quickly!
To make it even more challenging, you’ll have to build the casing using only simple materials like:
- Plastic wrap
- Rubber bands
- Popsicle sticks
- Cotton balls
Feel free to have some fun in picking the materials. Use whatever you think would be helpful without making things too easy!
Give your group 15 minutes to construct their egg casing before each team drops their eggs. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height gradually to see whose created the sturdiest contraption.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using eggs for this activity, consider using another breakable alternative, such as lightbulbs for a vegan Egg Drop experience.
With Clue Murder Mystery, your team will need to solve the murder of a man named Neil Davidson by figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.
But it won’t be easy! You’ll need to exercise your best problem-solving skills and channel your inner detectives if you want to keep this case from going cold and to get justice for the victim.
Collaboration is critical to problem solving.
Why? Because, as the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This expression reflects the fact that people are capable of achieving greater things when they work together to do so.
If you’re looking for a team building problem solving activity that helps boost collaboration, you’ll love Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower.
This game involves working in teams to build the tallest possible freestanding tower using only marshmallows, uncooked spaghetti, tape, and string.
The kicker? This all has to be done within an allotted timeframe. We recommend about thirty minutes.
For an added dimension of challenge, try adding a marshmallow to the top of the tower to make it a little more top heavy.
Whichever team has the highest tower when time runs out is the winner!
If you’ve never participated in an escape room, your team is missing out! It’s one of the most effective team building problem solving activities out there because it puts you and your colleagues in a scenario where the only way out is collaboratively solving puzzles and deciphering clues.
The principle is simple: lock your group in a room, hide the key somewhere in that room, and have them work through challenges within a set time frame. Each challenge will lead them one step closer to finding the key and, ultimately, their escape.
At Outback, we offer “done-for-you” escape rooms where we’ll transform your office or meeting room so you don’t have to worry about:
- Seeking transportation for your team
- Capacity of the escape rooms
- High costs
- Excessive planning
That way, you and your team can simply step inside and get to work collaborating, using creative problem solving, and thinking outside the box.
In this smartphone-based scavenger hunt team building activity , your group will split into teams and complete fun challenges by taking photos and videos around the city. Some examples of challenges you can do in this activity are:
- Parkour: Take a picture of three team members jumping over an object that’s at least waist-high.
- Beautiful Mind: Snap a photo of a team member proving a well-known mathematical theorem on a chalkboard.
- Puppy Love: Take a photo of all of your team members petting a stranger’s dog at the same time.
It takes a ton of critical thinking and problem-solving to be crowned the Wild Goose Chase Champions!
Can you imagine a higher-pressure situation than being stranded at sea in a lifeboat with your colleagues?
With this team building problem solving activity, that’s exactly the situation you and your group will put yourselves. But by the time the activity is over, you’ll have gained more experience with the idea of having to solve problems under pressure – a common but difficult thing to do.
Here’s how it works.
Each team member will get a six-columned chart where:
- The first column lists the survival items each team has on hand (see the list below)
- The second column is empty so that each team member can rank the items in order of importance for survival
- The third column is for group rankings
- The fourth column is for the “correct” rankings, which are revealed at the end of the activity
- The fifth and sixth columns are for the team to enter thee difference between their individual and correct scores and the team and correct rankings
Within this activity, each team will be equipped with the following “survival items,” listed below in order of importance, as well as a pack of matches:
- A shaving mirror (this can be used to signal passing ships using the sun)
- A can of gas (could be used for signaling as it could be put in the water and lit with the pack of matches)
- A water container (for collecting water to re-hydrate)
- Emergency food rations (critical survival food)
- One plastic sheet (can be helpful for shelter or to collect rainwater)
- Chocolate bars (another food supply)
- Fishing rods (helpful, but no guarantee of catching food)
- Rope (can be handy, but not necessarily essential for survival)
- A floating seat cushion (usable as a life preserver)
- Shark repellant (could be important when in the water)
- A bottle of rum (could be useful for cleaning wounds)
- A radio (could be very helpful but there’s a good chance you’re out of range)
- A sea chart (this is worthless without navigation equipment)
- A mosquito net (unless you’ve been shipwrecked somewhere with a ton of mosquitos, this isn’t very useful)
To get the activity underway, divide your group into teams of five and ask each team member to take ten minutes on their own to rank the items in order of importance in the respective column. Then, give the full team ten minutes as a group to discuss their individual rankings together and take group rankings, listed in that respective column. Ask each group to compare their individual rankings with those of the group as a whole.
Finally, read out the correct order according to the US Coast Guard, listed above.
The goal of this activity is for everyone to be heard and to come to a decision together about what they need most to survive.
If your team works remotely, you can also do this activity online. Using a video conferencing tool like Zoom , you can bring your group together and separate teams into “break-out rooms” where they’ll take their time individually and then regroup together. At the end, you can bring them back to the full video conference to go through the answers together.
Many problems are intricately complex and involve a ton of moving parts. And in order to solve this type of problem, you need to be able to examine it systematically, one piece at a time.
Especially in the business world, many problems or challenges involve multiple different teams or departments working through their respective portions of a problem before coming together in the end to create a holistic solution.
As you can imagine, this is often easier said than done. And that’s why it’s so important to practice this ability.
With a collaborative team building problem solving activity like Domino Effect Challenge, that’s exactly what you’ll need to do as you and your group work to create a massive, fully functional chain reaction machine.
Here’s how it goes.
Your group will break up into teams, with each team working to complete their own section of a massive “Rube Goldberg” machine. Then, all teams will regroup and assemble the entire machine together. You’ll need to exercise communication, collaboration, and on-the-fly problem solving in order to make your chain reaction machine go off without a hitch from start to finish.
Being a great problem-solver means being adaptable and creative. And if you’re looking for a quick and easy team building problem solving activity, you’ll love the reverse pyramid.
The idea here is simple: break your group out into small teams and then stand in the form of a pyramid.
Your challenge is to flip the base and the peak of the pyramid – but you can only move three people in order to do so.
Alternatively, rather than doing this activity with people as the pyramid, you can do another version – the Pyramid Build – using plastic cups instead.
This version is a little bit different. Rather than flipping the base of a pyramid to the top, you’ll need to build the pyramid instead–but in reverse, starting from the top cup and working down.
With this version, you’ll need 36 cups and one table per group. We recommend groups of five to seven people. Give your group 20 to 30 minutes to complete the activity.
To get started, place one cup face down. Then, lift that cup and place the subsequent two cups underneath it.
The real challenge here? You can only lift your pyramid by the bottom row in order to put a new row underneath – and only one person at a time can do the lifting. The remaining group members will need to act quickly and work together in order to add the next row so that it will balance the rest of the pyramid.
If any part of your pyramid falls, you’ll need to start over. Whichever team has the most complete pyramid when time runs out will be the winner!
The value of being able to approach problems analytically can’t be overstated. Because when problems arise, the best way to solve them is by examining the facts and making a decision based on what you know.
With CI: The Crime Investigators, this is exactly what your team will be called upon to do as you put your detective’s hats on and work to solve a deadly crime.
You’ll be presented with evidence and need to uncover and decipher clues. And using only the information at your disposal, you’ll need to examine the facts in order to crack the case.
Like many of our team building problem solving activities, CI: The Crime Investigators is available in a hosted format, which can take place at your office or an outside venue, as well as a virtually-hosted format that uses video conferencing tools, or a self-hosted version that you can run entirely on your own.
Each member of your team has their own unique strengths and skills. And by learning to combine those skills, you can overcome any challenge and solve any problem. With Team Pursuit, you and your team together to tackle challenges as you learn new things about one another, discover your hidden talents, and learn to rely on each other.
This team building problem solving activity is perfect for high-energy groups that love to put their heads together and work strategically to solve problems as a group.
If you and your team are working remotely, don’t worry. You still have a ton of great virtual team building problem solving options at your disposal.
In this virtual escape room experience, your team will be transported into a pyramid cursed by a restless mummy. You’ll have to work together to uncover clues and solve complex challenges to lift the ancient curse.
You’ve probably never heard of a man named Neil Davidson. But your group will need to come together to solve the mystery of his murder by analyzing clues, resolving challenges, and figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit a deadly crime.
This activity will challenge you and your group to approach problems analytically, read between the lines, and use critical thinking in order to identify a suspect and deliver justice.
If you and your team like brainteasers, then Virtual Escape Room: Jewel Heist will be a big hit.
Here’s the backstory.
There’s been a robbery. Someone has masterminded a heist to steal a priceless collection of precious jewels, and it’s up to you and your team to recover them before time runs out.
Together, you’ll need to uncover hidden clues and solve a series of brain-boggling challenges that require collaboration, creative problem-solving, and outside-the-box thinking. But be quick! The clock is ticking before the stolen score is gone forever.
With Virtual Code Break, you and your team can learn to be adaptive and dynamic in your thinking in order to tackle any new challenges that come your way. In this activity, your group will connect on a video conferencing platform where your event host will split you out into teams. Together, you’ll have to adapt your problem-solving skills as you race against the clock to tackle a variety of mixed brainteaser challenges ranging from Sudoku to puzzles, a game of Cranium, riddles, and even trivia.
Curious to see how a virtual team building activity works? Check out this video on a Virtual Clue Murder Mystery in action.
Step into the Outback Time Machine and take a trip through time, from pre-pandemic 21st century through the decades all the way to the 60’s.
This exciting, fast-paced virtual trivia game, packed with nostalgia and good vibes, is guaranteed to produce big laughs, friendly competition, and maybe even some chair-dancing.
Your virtual game show host will warm up guests with a couple of “table hopper rounds” (breakout room mixers) and split you out into teams. Within minutes, your home office will be transformed into a game show stage with your very own game show buzzers!
And if your team loves trivia, check out our list of the most incredible virtual trivia games for work teams for even more ideas.
6. Virtual Jeoparty Social
If your remote team is eager to socialize, have some fun as a group, and channel their competitive spirit, we’ve got just the thing for you! With Virtual Jeoparty Social, you and your colleagues will step into your very own virtual Jeopardy-style game show—equipped with a buzzer button, a professional actor as your host, and an immersive game show platform! Best of all, this game has been infused with an ultra-social twist: players will take part in a unique social mixer challenge between each round.
With the right team building problem solving activities, you can help your team sharpen their core skills to ensure they’re prepared when they inevitably face a challenge at work. And best of all, you can have fun in the process.
Do you have any favorite team building activities for building problem-solving skills? If so, tell us about them in the comments section below!
Learn More About Team Building Problem Solving Activities
For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
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10 Fun & Easy Outdoor Team Building Activities (In Any Weather)
1) egg drop, 2) team sports.
- 3) Charity Events & Social Work
4) Scavenger Hunts
5) team tic-tac-toe, 6) hole in many, 7) fearless factor, 8) team mall, 9) the emotional bus.
- 10) What's Your Fortune?
Check out our handy guide to the 10 best outdoor team building activities that you can run safely outside. All the weather types accounted for!
In this chapter, we'll take you through the best outdoor team building activities and outdoor events for team building to try with your company.
One of the best ways to get everyone to start bonding and getting to know each other on a personal level or build trust within the team is to provide a change in scenery. Team building activities work for new teams or old ones too. Through a series of these challenges, teams improve problem solving skills and help the whole team to see the beauty of working together towards a common goal.
Whether it be a trip to a state park or even a national park or national forest, simple outdoor activities in your local parks, rock climbing, a river adventure, horseback riding, treasure hunts, obstacle courses, a field day, team outings, and so on; These are all fabulous outdoor adventures and activities for you and your team.
When we constantly see someone in the exact same context and situation every single time, it’s very easy to fall into the mindset that the person is defined solely by their role and responsibilities. The goal of a team building activity or set of activities is to get people to realize that they play a bigger part in achieving more.
Just think of the first time you saw a teacher outside of school and were utterly shocked that they actually had a life outside of school grounds. That's how team building activities help companies as well— it opens our eyes to a whole new world of team work.
With this in mind, here are some fun team-building exercise ideas and outdoor team building games for large groups or small teams that are for the great outdoors.
If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our best virtual team building games and activities for remote teams . In there you'll find 100 ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.
Objective: Creative problem solving and improving team collaboration
Participants: 4 to 20 people
Duration: 20 to 30 minutes
Materials: Carton of eggs and building materials (e.g., newspaper, balloons, string, etc)
Everyone loves throwing stuff out of a building, if they say they aren’t interested then they’re a liar.
A schoolyard classic, this is a fun game that tests everyone’s problem-solving and teamwork skills, and you get to throw things off the roof!
Gather a carton of eggs and simple building materials (e.g., newspapers, balloons, string, cardboard, masking tape etc).
Divide your team into two teams or more. Ensure that you have small groups working together. We recommend having a group size of no more than three to five people. Evenly distribute the materials to every group.
The challenge is for every group to construct a carrier in 20 to 30 minutes that’ll allow for an egg to be dropped off the roof of the building (or a two-story window if you work in a skyscraper) without breaking. Have each team take turns dropping the carrier. Whoever completes the challenge without breaking the eggs first wins the game.
- Top tip: Make sure you avoid this team activity on a hot day as no one enjoys the smell of rotting eggs in the parking lot.
Objective: To improve communication Skills, Team Bonding, Confidence Building & Improving Collaboration
Participants: 5 to 50 people
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
Materials: Depends on the game
Ahh… the joys of school sports day.
A day with no lessons, out on the sports field, the sun shining and you’re in friendly competition with your best mates. It brings back happy memories even now.
So, why not bring this euphoric moment back to life with a friendly, and fast-paced and fun activity?
This is one of the most self-explanatory activities out there.
Simply set up your own sports day by dividing your group into different teams, and making them compete in different sports.
Whether it's soccer, volleyball or even dragon boat racing, a little friendly competition and physical activity is a fun way of encouraging communication and collaboration between your great team members.
All you really need is a large enough space to play your sport of choice and it’s game on.
Top tip: Make sure you take into consideration the type of sport you choose, as well as the physical abilities and personalities of your group as people who aren't naturally athletic, might feel embarrassed or humiliated, and others who are extremely competitive can make it uncomfortable for everyone involved.
3) Charity Events & Social Work
Objective: Team Bonding & Get To Know One Another
Participants: 5 - 500
Duration: Anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of weeks
With experts in Britain and Canada noticing that people who support charities are much happier; and with studies finding that happier employees are far more cooperative within teams, we cannot recommend this team-building event highly enough.
Again, another activity with very simple instructions.
Simply, get the team together to volunteer at a local charity together. It is a great way to give your team the opportunity to give back and learn more about each other in the process. It also brings the team group members out of their comfort zone by learning to get out of their way to help others.
Whether it’s spending a few hours at a soup kitchen, helping out a nonprofit, or reading to kids at a hospital, volunteering not only helps your team feel more connected with each other but to their community as well.
To help you look for volunteering work that you and your team can get behind, make sure to check out sites like Idealist, All for Good, VolunteerMatch and Catchafire.
Objective: To work in teams to collect objects from around the office
Participants: 15 to 40 people
Duration: 10 to 15 minutes
Materials: A list of object that can be found in the office
If you’re able to set aside at least a few hours for employee orientation, then it’s highly recommended that you try out this fun and engaging team building activity.
We love scavenger hunts because it is a great and engaging way to introduce new staff into the workplace and get a feel for their new job.
Not only does it encourage collaboration and interaction, it’s also an activity that all personality types can enjoy.
Break everyone into small groups of four or five.
Give each group a shortlist of things to find within the office (e.g., a hole punch, tea bags, a pink pen…).
Set the clock for 5 minutes and instruct the teams to find as many of the things on the list as possible. Team members must come up with their own strategy of gathering as many items on the list. That way, people work together to ideate, not just execute.
The winning team is the team that has the most stuff from the list collected.
- Top tip: In order to spice things up a little further, you should add a small incentive for the winning team.
Objective: Improving Collaboration, Decision Making, Confidence Building & Communication Skills
Participants: 5 - 10 people
Duration: 15 to 30 minutes
Materials: Eight bean bags and nine cones/hoops
Often used as a warm-up drill for sports teams around the world, this activity also has the side benefit of being an excellent team-building game that gives everyone a chance to shine while working together as a team.
Personally, we love it so much because it's active and is guaranteed to get everyone's heart racing.
Divide everyone into two equal lines.
Set up cones in a three-by-three grid a few yards away from the players.
Each member of the team must place their respective beanbag on one of the cones and then runs back and tags the next person in the line, who places their bean bag and runs back. And so on and so forth.
Run as many rounds of this game as you’d like and feel free to mix it up by adding in an extra challenge like having to dribble a soccer ball for example.
Objective: Communication Skills & Improving Collaboration
Participants: 4 - 12 people
Duration: 30 minutes
Materials: A tarpaulin and some tennis balls
The aim of the game is to keep the tennis ball from falling through any of the halls for as long as possible. This is a great game as it practices your team's ability to effectively communicate with each other; which is important because studies have found that teams with effective communication are more competent.
Find (or buy) an old tarpaulin and cut some holes in it.
Instruct everybody to grab a corner of a tarpaulin and stretch it out between them so that everyone is in a circle.
Place a tennis ball in the tarpaulin - the aim of the game is to keep the tennis ball from falling through any of the holes for as long as possible.
To make it even more challenging, you can cut a few more holes in the tarp or add a few more tennis balls as the time limit goes by.
Objective: To promote teamwork, trust, patience and creativity
Materials: Pen and paper for each team
The ‘fear factor’ is a great team building activity because it gets everyone involved and thinking outside of the box.
We personally love it because it’s fun, tests everyone’s ability and encourages cooperation.
Split your group into teams, we recommend having no more than three to six players per team.
Each team must come up with six challenges that they can accomplish and win.
The team coming up with the challenge must be able to do the challenge before they can add it to the list for another group to attempt to accomplish. We suggest encouraging challenges like this:
Physical challenges, such as each member of the team jumping a rope ten times without tripping or stopping.
Non-physical challenges, such as having to sing happy birthday in Spanish.
‘Gross’ challenges, such as eating ice cream with ketchup.
After 5 minutes, get the group to hand in their list.
Call out challenges, the team (or teams) who did not create the challenge have a chance to do it. If they successfully do it, they get a point.
Go through all the challenges, whichever team finishes on the most points wins.
Objective: To highlight individual strengths and creative thinking
Participants: 4 or more
Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Materials: A piece of butcher paper for each team member, paint, brushes, water and newspaper
This team building activity appeals to us because it is creative, fun and allows everyone to express things they personally value. In return, it promotes trust and a sense of cohesion within teams.
Give everyone the equipment that they need.
Instruct them to create a storefront and in the storefront, they should draw things that represent them.
The storefront should contain items that represent their positive aspects and skills.
Once dried, turn the room into a ‘team mall’ by hanging all the pieces of paper on the walls.
Get each team member to explain their stall and why they put what they put on it.
Objective: Learning to express emotions
Participants: 6 or more (in pairs)
Duration: 20 or more minutes
Materials: Two chairs and paper slips
This team building activity is one of our favourites because it promotes effective management of emotions; which research has shown to increase performance - especially in virtual teams.
Before you start the game, write down different emotions on slips of paper.
Invite the first pair up to select an emotion each (so two are selected). It is important that no other pair sees their emotion.
Give the pair a scenario (e.g., they are waiting for the bus). The pair then has three minutes to act out a scene which must use the emotion they are given.
The rest of the group must then guess what emotion each pair was acting out.
Invite the next pair up and repeat.
10) What's Your Fortune?
Objective: Getting to know your team; creating an open conversation with your team
Materials: Fortune cookies
Everyone loves to cook (well, most people do), so a nice activity for you to do is to bake some cookies for all your team.
To make it more beneficial, add writing to make the fortune cookies so that you can understand what your team members want.
Find a cookie recipe online to complete this task.
Add your own fortunes and positive affirmations in these cookies for the group to answer:
What is your favourite activity with the team?
What is your hope for the team in the future?
How would you describe the teams function to someone?
Where do you see the team in five years?
When someone opens a cookie, they must answer the question.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are these team-building activities safe?
Yes! But anything can come at a risk, be careful and if certain people don't want to participate it's okay. We suggest voting on which activity you do as a group, so everyone has a say in it.
- Do you have any indoor team building activities?
Absolutely we do! Our list of indoor team building activities will have you and your team laughing and motivated.
And there you have it. Those are our favourite outdoor team building activities.
We hope you've liked our list!
Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specialising in organizational psychology - helping teams work better together.
- Heather Harper on LinkedIn
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17 Fun Problem Solving Activities for Kids
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As a child, I would spend hours putting together puzzles… whether it was 3-D puzzles or figuring out a crossword. I also loved it when teachers would give the class an open-ended question and we had to work in groups to figure out the answer in our own way.
Even something as simple as playing checkers with my brothers gave me the chance to use strategy as a way to win the game. I honestly believe that it’s so important for kids to solve problems at a young age, as it helps them think critically and outside the box.
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So, Why Is It Important To Teach Kids Problem Solving?
I think these kinds of activities are so important for kids to do because it helps them learn how to think analytically and solve problems on their own. It's a great way to get kids to use their imaginations and be creative.
Rote memorization simply does not have the same effect. This type of learning is great for learning facts like historical dates, but it’s not going to help kids figure out how events in history happened and the results.
We take these problem-solving skills into college, the workforce, and travel . My ability to problem solve since childhood has certainly got me through many sticky situations while in a new city or country.
Additionally, problem-solving helps children learn how to find creative solutions to challenges they may face both in and out of the classroom . These activities can also be fun and used in cohesion with school or playtime.
17 Fun Problem-Solving Activities for Kids
1. marble mazes.
This activity was selected because it requires them to think spatially. Spatial learning will benefit kids when they start driving, riding a bike, playing sports,etc.
To do this activity in its simplest form, you will need a piece of paper, a pencil, and some marbles. First, draw a maze on a piece of paper using a pencil.
Make sure to create a start and finish point. Then, place the marbles at the start of the maze. The goal is to get the marbles from the start to the finish by tilting the paper and using gravity to guide the marbles through the maze.
Another example of a marble maze can involve using toilet paper rolls taped together to create a three-dimensional maze. The larger the maze, the harder you can make it.
Check Price on Amazon!
If you are not into the DIY method, you can always buy a toy maze on Amazon. A good 48 piece puzzle is the Melissa & Doug Underwater Ocean Floor puzzle.
2. The Tower Challenge
Building a tower gives kids the chance to think about gravity, structure, and balance.
To do this activity, you will need some building materials like legos, blocks, or even toilet paper rolls. The challenge is to see how high they can stack the materials without the tower toppling over.
This can be done individually or in teams. An activity like this is good for younger kids and is the building block to learning about harder topics like engineering.
3. The Egg Drop Challenge
The egg drop challenge helps kids learn how to engineer a solution that prevents something from breaking. It requires them to think critically about which materials will best protect something fragile like an egg when dropped from a height.
To do this activity, you will need some eggs and various materials such as straws, cotton balls, bubble wrap, etc. The goal is to construct a device that will protect an egg from breaking upon impact.
This can be done individually or in teams . Teams can even have a competition for the best egg drop device.
As children begin handling, shopping for, and cooking their own food, activities like this will help them understand how to handle breakable items like bottles, eggs, delicate fruit,.etc. Ideally, this is best for age groups 8 and up.
4. The Penny Drop Challenge
This activity was selected because it requires kids to think about physics and how different materials affect sound.
To do this activity, you will need a penny ( or another coin), a cup, and various materials such as paper towels, cotton balls, etc.
The goal is to drop the penny into the cup without making any noise. Begin by placing different materials into the cup and then drop the penny into it. The children should also drop the penny from different heights into the same material to see if/how the impact from a higher drop affects sound.
Group kids into teams or let them try it on their own.
Kids should make note of what type of sounds are made when the penny hits different materials. This is a great activity for kids who are interested in science and physics.
5. The Balloon Race Challenge
This activity was selected because it helps kids learn about aerodynamics and Bernoulli’s principle . It also requires them to think creatively about how to design a balloon-powered vehicle.
To do this activity, you will need balloons, straws, masking tape, and markers. The goal is to design a balloon-powered vehicle that can travel a distance of at least 10 feet. Kids can begin this activity by sketching out their designs on paper.
After they have a basic design, they can begin building their vehicle from various materials. Then kids can explain why they think the balloon traveled or did not travel as far as it did.
6. The Marshmallow Challenge
Marshmallows are not only delicious, but they are also soft and malleable. So kids can have fun using it for some construction projects.
This activity was selected because it requires kids to think creatively about how to build a structure using limited materials. It also helps them learn about engineering and work as a team.
To do this activity, you will need marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. The goal is to build the tallest free-standing structure possible using only marshmallows and spaghetti noodles. If you don't have spaghetti noodles, use something similar like pretzel sticks.
You may even want to establish certain rules like each team can only use a certain number of marshmallows or noodles. A time limit can also make it more fun and challenging.
For more fun activities, check out our post on problem solving exercises for team building .
7. The Balloon Pop Challenge
If you remember your childhood, you probably remember popping balloons for fun at times. But this activity is different because it requires kids to use strategy and critical thinking.
This activity was selected because it helps kids learn about patterns and problem-solving. It is also a lot of fun for kids who like popping balloons. The goal is to create a device that will allow them to pop a balloon without using their hands.
To do this activity, you will need balloons and various materials such as straws, string, paper clips, etc.
8. Picture Pieces Puzzle Game
As mentioned earlier, puzzles are a great pastime – especially in childhood. Kids must think critically about how to put the pieces together to create a certain picture. It also helps them learn about shapes, colors, and other concepts.
You can take a medium to large picture and cut it into pieces. If you have younger kids, you may want to make the pieces larger. However, if you have kids closer to the 8-11 age range, you should be able to provide a challenge and make the pieces smaller.
9. Copy the Block Model
For this challenge, you can build a model out of blocks for the kids to copy. Put kids into groups and make sure each group has the same number of blocks you used for your model.
Make your model block as simple or complex as needed for your child's age group.
Set a time limit and make sure each group starts at the same time.
10. Team Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt is great for kids because they have to search for items and use investigative skills. It is also a lot of fun and can be done both indoors and outdoors .
To do this activity, you will need to create a list of items for the kids to find. The items can be anything from common household items to things you would find outside.
These types of activities can also revolve around a theme like a holiday, movie, or book. For example, if the kids are fans of “Harry Potter” you can make a list of items to find that are related to the movie.
11. Obstacle Course
This activity requires kids to think creatively about how to get from one point to another while maneuvering around obstacles. If you have outdoor space, this can be done with common objects such as hula hoops, cones, etc.
If you don't have access to an outdoor space, you can use common household items to create an indoor obstacle course. For example, you can use chairs, blankets, pillows, etc.
Begin by setting up the course and then timing each child as they complete it. You can also have them race against each other to make it more fun.
Obstacle courses are also great because kids get to be physically active while they are thinking critically.
12. Reading Storybooks
There are many great benefits for kids that read storybooks. One of the excellent benefits is the ability to problem-solve. When they read the stories in the books, they see scenarios that cause them to be attached to the various characters they read about.
So, when they encounter a real-life problem, it is often productive to ask a child how their favorite character would solve that problem. Your kids can also be encouraged to come up with various options and possible outcomes for some of the situations they may encounter.
This not only helps kids solve various problems but become more independent as well.
13. Ask Them Open-Ended Questions
A good way to improve a child's ability to think critically and creatively and improve their ability to solve problems is by asking open-ended questions. It also helps them to develop healthy personalities .
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. In addition, the solution requires more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Furthermore, it allows kids to put some extra thought into their responses.
Here are some examples of open-ended questions you may want to ask.
- What did this experience teach you?
- Was this easy? What was easy about it?
- What this difficult? What is complicated about it?
- What may happen next in this situation?
- How did you come to this solution?
- What, if anything, would you do differently next time?
- What can we do to make things more fun next time?
14. Build Various Structures with Toys
Whether wooden blocks, LEGO blocks, or engineering blocks… giving your kid blocks to build whatever their minds can dream up is fun. In addition, it requires them to think about how they will make a structure, put the pieces together, and creatively ensure the building's function and design.
You may also want to challenge them to build something more complicated and watch them use their brain power to make it happen.
15. Acting Out Skits
Impromptu activities like acting out skits help kids identify problems, develop solutions, and execute them. This process works with multiple kids being divided into teams.
First, you will want to write down different situations, such as resolving a disagreement between siblings or dealing with bullying on the playground on a piece of paper. Second, you will fold the paper and place it in a hat or bowl.
Third, each team will pick a scenario out of the hat. Finally, you can give the kids a few minutes to discuss their solution and act out.
16. Solving Moral Dilemmas
In this simple game, you will help your kids solve simple dilemmas they may find themselves in. You could write down a situation your child may find themselves in and help them learn the moral way to solve the problem.
For instance, “The cashier gave them an additional $5 change back on my purchase. What should they do?” Another scenario could be, “I saw my friend cheating on a test. Should I tell on them or let it go?” A third one could be, “I caught my friends stealing some gum from the store. What should I do?”
After writing down the dilemmas and placing them in a bowl, get each child to select one and read it aloud. Finally, you will help them devise morally correct solutions to the moral dilemma.
17. Animal Pairing Game
This is a fun and creative game to help your kids with focus, critical thinking, and team building skills . In addition, this activity requires an even number of players to participate (4, 6, 8, etc.)
Before starting the game, you will want to write the names of different animals twice, each on a separate slip of paper. Then pass out the slips of paper to each individual or team member, instructing them not to share with anyone the name of the animal they received.
Then the children will perform activities the animals might do without talking or making sounds. Some of these activities might include:
- The way the animal cleans or grooms itself
- The way the animal sleeps
- The way the animal fights
- The way the animal eats or drinks
- The way the animal walks or runs
The goal is for each child to successfully pair up with the other child who has selected the same animal.
How Problem Solving in Childhood Helps in Adulthood
Children are not born with problem-solving skills. It is something that needs to be learned and developed over time .
From babies who learn how to communicate their needs to toddlers who figure out how to get what they want, to children who are starting to understand the consequences of their actions – problem-solving is a process that begins in childhood and continues into adulthood.
Some of the benefits of teaching problem-solving skills to children include:
- Improved critical thinking skills
- Better decision-making skills
- Enhanced creativity
- Improved communication and collaboration skills
- Increased confidence
There are many ways to teach problem-solving skills to children. The activities mentioned above are just a few examples. It is important to find activities that are appropriate for the age and abilities of the child.
With practice, children will develop these skills and be better prepared to face challenges in both childhood and adulthood.
Final Thoughts About Fun Problem Solving Activities For Kids
These are just a few ideas to get you started on teaching your child crucial problem solving skills. Perhaps they’ve inspired to come with some of your own, or seek out others? The important thing is to make sure the activity is age-appropriate and challenging enough to engage the kids.
Problem-solving skills are important for kids to learn because they can be applied to various situations in life. These skills also promote critical thinking, which is an important life skill.
There are many other problem-solving activities for kids out there. In time, you’ll find the ones that work best for your child. And be sure not to forget about your own needs and self-improvement, both of which will make you a better parent and mentor. Here are some useful activities for adults to get your started.
Finally, if you want to level up your parenting skills, then check out this resource that will show you how to get your kids to listen WITHOUT yelling, nagging, or losing control .
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