We love encouraging creative problem-solving in our kids. Here are some play-based activities kids can do at home to build problem-solving skills.
Our kids are not confronted with too many hurdles at a young age. However, we believe that play is important to inspire creative problem-solving in your little one.
But, learning can get boring at times unless you change it up. So, we incorporate creative problem-solving elements into standard games and toys around the house.
This can be a fun way to stimulate a child’s imagination and promote problem-solving skills without a child even realizing it.
Here are some play-based activities that are tweaks on traditional toys or games.
1. Treasure hunts
I loved treasure hunts as a kid. Running around trying to find the next clue brings back such good memories.
My love of treasure hunts inspired me to create the Blimey Box Escape Room Games, but that’s another story.
Anyway, treasure hunts are one of our favorite play-based activities that inspire creative problem-solving.
Treasure hunts can include riddles to solve, rhyming clues, or (our favorite) problem-solving puzzles! We like to change it up with a variety of games to really encourage thinking through new challenges.
Check out these blog posts that show the treasure hunt games we created for our son:
I couldn’t wait to create these for my son since I loved this activity growing up.
Goonies anyone? Badass! National Treasure? That’s right, I said it!
Who doesn’t like the idea of looking for treasure? Well, the concept is pretty simple for your kids.
Our printable treasure hunt games for kids are low prep and easy to set up for busy parents. You will spend about 15 minutes setting it up, but the reward is worth it! You will get to see your child enjoying a learning adventure at home!
2. Mini-Treasure Hunts
Treasure hunts are a special treat at our house because they can be long and involved. Our son will spend almost an hour working on one of our complete Treasure Hunt games!
When we are short on time (or want a quiet 20 minutes to enjoy a morning cup of coffee), we print out a mini-treasure hunt for our son to work on.
We create mini-treasure hunts that have the intrigue and fun that comes with a regular treasure hunt, but they are shorter (only one or two clues to solve).
The puzzles kids have to solve for each clue encourages kids to think outside the box and figure out the secret message.
Check out some of our Popular Free Printable Mini-Treasure Hunts (all included in our FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY):
Here’s a twist on traditional building with blocks that inspires creative problem-solving.
Try this: use blocks to build two forts or other standing structures 6-8 feet apart. You build one and your child builds one.
Then, take turns shooting at each other’s fort with a nerf gun. The last fort standing wins.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly your child will begin to take notice of your building’s construction if they hold up better than his or hers.
For those anti-nerf gun parents, my father and I used to build Lincoln log forts and set up little army men on them. Then, we would shoot at the army men with rubber-bands.
Admittedly, I would smoke my 5-year old at this version of the game so I incorporated the nerf gun element!
4. Fort Building
Another play-based activity that inspires creative problem-solving is fort building.
But, I can’t emphasize enough. Make your child build the fort!
Every time I see a parent doing something as basic as throwing 2 couch cushions over some chairs for their child I think “Why are you doing this for them!”
Your kid benefits far more from thinking through his crappy lean-to than he or she does sitting under your architectural masterpiece! And have you seen those fort building kits? They are awesome and kids love them.
You can give them materials, like blankets, pillows, and chairs, but take a step back and let them do the creating and building.
When kids build a fort that keeps falling over, they will have to use their creative problem-solving skills to re-design their structures.
All of us parents love them and think our kids are geniuses when they build exactly what the Lego overlords tell them to in the handy instruction booklet. That’s why we shell out piles of money for over-priced Lego sets based on every recent movie in the theaters.
Well, guess what?
To really inspire creative problem-solving you need to make them not just follow the directions, but figure something out. How about telling your youngster to use Legos to build his or her name? Or create a habitat for an animal.
Encourage her to try building a vehicle that flies. Or anything that isn’t carefully outlined in a book for her. Try that and let me know how it goes!
Our son built this Hatchimal House for his little plastic critters. He even made a movie about it. He rambles on a bit, but you can hear a lot of his thinking that went into the design of the house.
If your kid is anything approaching a genius, they’ll figure it out. But, don’t be surprised if your child looks at you like you have a baby arm growing out of your forehead!
That’s because no one has asked them to build something using only their imagination.
BONUS: 6. Blimey Box Escape Games
Finally, there is an awesome learning game called Blimey Box Escape Games (shameless plug). It is a hybrid between a treasure hunt and an escape room.
Our puzzle games build problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They are easy for parents to set up at home (with real locking locks, boxes, bags, and even a wooden treasure box)!
Parents, you simply print out games and set up an "escape box" in minutes. Kids get to practice math and reading skills through a fun problem-solving game!
To learn more about our problem-solving games at blimeybox.com.
How could we not talk about this, right?
Our treasure hunt escape games for kids include many brain-building puzzles, codes to crack, and locks to open.
Try a free sample game!
Create a Blimey Box Account to gain unlimited access to our Free Learning Resource Library. With access to over 25 free games (including printable escape games & mini-treasure hunts)! Lots of leveled thinking games for kids who are getting ready for kindergarten, all the way up to third grade!
Kids LOVE playing our games! They don’t even realize they are learning and it builds intrinsic motivation as well.
Don’t have the locks to set up the game? Not a problem! You can make your child give you the correct code in order to get the next task to solve.
Better yet, make it a treasure hunt type experience. Make them solve the puzzle and give you the code before you tell them where to find the next task.
This is the ultimate #parentwin as parents get to enjoy some free time while knowing their kids are building creative problem-solving skills!
The most important thing to remember is that children learn better with play so if you can keep things exciting, their little synapses will keep connecting while they’re having fun.
What tweaks can you use to liven up the pile of toys sitting around your house?
Are your kids ready for a learning adventure? Check out our Treasure Hunt Games:
Learning Escape Room Game Kits for kids:
Check out our educational escape room games and our escape game kit! Kids love the thrill of solving math, reading, and logic puzzles to get codes to unlock a final treasure. Make learning an exciting adventure!
Learn more about our Escape Game Kit for kids ages 5-9.
Escape boredom. Unlock learning.