Problem Solving Activities for Toddlers
Benefits of Problem Activities for Toddlers
No matter how hard we work to protect our children, there are always going to be challenges that they will have to work through and overcome. As adults, we problem solve every single day, using the tools we learned throughout our life to help us navigate our daily lives. Children also encounter many problems that need solving.
For example, your child may find themselves fighting with another classmate over the same tiara in dress up or they might run out of a specific paint color during arts and crafts. Problems are always around us! With this in mind, it’s important to help your child work on problem solving!
So, even if we can’t solve our kids’ problems, we can help them learn the skills necessary to solve and conquer the problems coming their way, setting them up for future success.
What are problem solving activities?
To help work on your child’s problem solving skills, it's important to know what a problem solving activity is! Essentially, a problem solving activity presents your child with a challenge they must solve using the knowledge provided within the activity or event. Your child uses their resources and current knowledge, along with potentially your help, to accomplish their goal.
Within a problem solving activity there is always one, if not more, solutions. Your child works on skills such as adaptability, creativity, resourcefulness, critical thinking, active listening, decision making, and even vulnerability.
Problem solving activities can be more than some of the immediate things that come to mind. You may immediately think of math problems or hypothetical situations that they could solve. These are great options! But there are plenty more out there.
Here are some examples that involve problem solving and activities ideas that go with them!
Simple problem solving activities for toddlers
- Building with toys around them: blocks are an easy first step into problem solving. Your child can build by themselves or with others, using the blocks as a tool to accomplish their goal and creation.
Even if you don’t have blocks, there are plenty of toys that can be stacked or objects that you have around your home! Playing cards, legos, shoes, toilet paper rolls, and plastic plates/utensils are some great and easy options!
With any toy, make sure your child is not at risk of choking or swallowing the toy parts. Check out our parent's guide to toy safety to help you feel safe and secure with the toys you have at home!
- Board games: board games are a great option for your child to work on problem solving and for you to feel nostalgic! Bring out your favorite board game as a kid and play it with your child.
The people behind board games put a lot of thought and effort into the rules and purpose of their game! Your child is being challenged appropriately for their age while having fun!
- Storytelling: storytelling is a great option to work on creativity! Play the sentence game where you each only say a sentence, building off of what the other person says while creating a fun and often hilarious story.
When creating a story, try to incorporate a conflict for your child to come up with a solution for. Perhaps without even realizing it, your child is working on problem solving while having fun!
Cognitive problem solving activities for toddler
- Scavenger Hunts: have your child find objects or places in your home or nearby that they must think about in order to find! A basic description can be given that will act as a guide for your toddler in coming up with an answer! They must use their memory and thinking in order to successfully find an object or place that fits the prompt!
- Word problems: usually used to help develop math skills, word problems force your child to conceptualize the problem in their head. They don’t necessarily have an image provided to help them solve the problem; rather, they might draw the factors of the problem or learn to organize the information in a way that makes the problem easily solvable!
- Memory Games: If you already have a matching memory game, great! If you don’t, create your own! In a memory matching game, your child must match two cards of the same image. Have your child create these cards, cut them out, and set them down so that they cannot see the image on the other side. We recommend using crayons as markers may bleed through the other side, ruining the mystery!
In order to win, your child must remember where the matching card lays!
Problem solving occurs whether the environment is controlled or uncontrolled, meaning even if you don’t intend for a problem, it can happen anywhere and at any time. Use these moments as teaching moments! You don’t need a formal plan to help your child work on problem solving as a skill. Instead, use the world around you!
How can I help my toddler with problem solving?
Now, you may be wondering, “How exactly do I work on and/or teach problem solving?”. You now understand what a problem solving activity is, but you now need to actually try one out. Here are some ideas for you to use as inspiration!
Work alongside your child!
Having your support will help your child feel comfortable to ask questions and think through the problem in front of them. At times, it's important to allow your child to figure out a problem or toy on their own! Here at ToyVentive we highly recommend Montessori toys that emphasize independent play, but we also know the value of being a source of support for your child.
Prompt your child through questions
At times, the only thing standing between your child and a solution is the right question being asked. Communication is so important in problem solving at any age! Emphasize asking and answering questions to help your child understand the importance of talking out a problem.
Make sure they understand what the problem is
Similar to asking the right questions, make sure your child understands what the problem exactly is in front of them. If they don’t understand this, they’re likelihood of solving the activity is very low. Have them verbally identify the problem so you know they are on the right track for success!
Offer alternative solutions!
Oftentimes, there are multiple solutions to a single problem. After your child has taken the time to come up with a solution, consider throwing out other options! This will help them see the problem in new ways and that there isn’t always one way to approach a problem. This creates conversation between you and your child!
Make the activity fun and lighthearted!
Problem solving can be scary. Your child is working on their vulnerability and confidence by offering up a solution to a newly presented problem. If they get it wrong, encourage them to try again and emphasize that it's okay to be wrong. If they feel comfortable, they are more likely to offer up answers and try out new solutions.
Allow them to fail!
As harsh as it sounds, failing is inevitable. However, it's an important lesson that can be applied to many aspects of life. Oftentimes failing leads to a new and better solution. Talk to them about why that solution didn’t work so they can learn from the moment. If you see them working in a way that won’t lead them to success, don’t intervene. Rather, watch, assess, and use this failure as motivation to keep trying.
How do you teach preschool problem solving?
In teaching anything, it's important to engage your child in the lesson. Customize your activity to your child’s interests. Food is a great tool. If your child loves bananas, consider talking about bananas in your activity. For example, think about a simple math problem. You could ask your child if they had three bananas and they ate one, how many would be left? This will help your child be interested and want to learn.
Also, make the activity relevant to what your child is learning about. Your little one may be working on feelings and understanding many different emotions. Create an activity with hypothetical situations and ask your child what they would do and how they would feel. They can incorporate their knowledge on emotions while working on figuring out how to solve certain situations.
If your child is in school, ask them about what they are learning. Not only do you show interest in their life, but you are also gaining valuable knowledge that you can use at home!
Consider purchasing premade toys that emphasize problem solving! We know you don’t always have the time to come up with activities and lesson plans. Check out our products for some great options! With each of our toys, your child is faced with a unique set of challenges.
With our wooden activity cube, your toddler has a variety of problems to solve. Each side offers a new challenge.
With our puzzles, your child begins to understand and conceptualize size and shape. Check out this article for new ways to play with puzzles!
Even if you don’t use our products or want to clutter your house with a new toy, your environment is full of options for your child to problem solve. If you use your creativity, your child will also work on their own!
In problem solving, the answer is not always an easy solution, especially for children still learning so much about the world around them. For your toddler, it can be easy for feelings of frustration and anger to take over. Let them feel whatever they feel. It’s so important to validate and affirm feelings; however, use this as an opportunity to teach patience as well!
Tell them that even you as an adult struggle with frustration. It’s a lifelong struggle! However, just like anything, practice makes perfect. As long as you put in the effort, you’ll get a result.
At any age, problem solving is no easy task. But, the younger you start to work on problem solving, the easier it will be to solve challenges as you grow. When your child is an adult, they will need to problem solve in their workplace and in their personal life. The younger you start teaching them, the stronger and more effective their skills will be!
We hope you found this blog helpful and as a great starting point in helping your 2-3 year old solve their current or future problems! Comment down below any challenges or successes you have found!
Benefits of Problem Activities for Toddlers