Family Fun – Teach Creativity and Problem Solving Skills

Marshmallow Toast, the first book of our Nana Says Collection, is about being creative, problem solving and not giving up on your idea or dream. Along with Elisa-Kay’s energetic spirit and a light and upbeat song, the book suggests opportunities happen daily where we can create something new and design solutions. Parents can use these opportunities to teach and learn critical thinking and creative skills in fun ways.

During this time of COVID, some parents are assuming the role of teacher. Why not add to your curriculum by arranging for weekly activities which stimulate creativity, critical thinking and innovation by solving challenges in your house, family or community.

As a suggestion, you could take an issue that needs solution in the house or within the family and assign the challenge to “family teams”  (depending on the number of family members) or assign to individuals. First, you’ll want to clarify the problem to be solved by making a problem statement which states the issue clearly. A simple way to do that is using this sentence that begins:  “The problem is _____ which causes _____” then fill in the blanks!

An example of a challenge needing solution might be: The problem is we all rush around in the morning which causes stress, confusion and tempers to flare. You might consider what can be put into place so family members are not rushing around.  Could people take the responsibility for certain tasks on a rotating basis? Might routines be changed? Could a time-table be established?

Another creative problem solving activity, used for kids ranging in ages from 9-14, is offered by Janine Halloran, on her site Encourage Play . Below are items family members could choose from to solve a problem.

#1. Items to choose from: “Feel free to substitute if you don’t have something.

  • Paper Straws

  • Cotton Balls

  • Yarn

  • Paper Cups

  • Clothespins

  • White Cord

  • Tape

  • Popsicle Sticks

  • Paper Clips

  • Sticky Notes

#2. Using these 10 materials, solve any 2 of the following problems. You don’t have to use all the materials to solve the problem, but they are all available for you:

  1. Make a device to move a stuffed animal from one room to another without touching the ground

  2. Devise a slide for mini figures

  3. Make a leprechaun trap

  4. Create a jump ramp for cars

  5. Using at least 4 supplies, build the highest tower you can

  6. Make up your own game – make sure you remember to make rules for how to score and win.

  7. Make a device for two people to communicate to one another

  8. Using at least 3 supplies, make a device that can roll 3 feet

  9. Build a house for a small figure

  10. Make an invention that a kid would love

A third problem-solving option deals with the problem of regulating emotions resulting in kids and adults acting out in negative ways. A solution to stop the emotional escalation is to remove ourselves from the issue, give time for cooling down and gain perspective.

Why not consider creating a quiet, recharging space within your home where family members can seek a retreat or create an “island of peace” space within a room? What would you put in it? How would you decorate it? What colors might be soothing? Would you have music? What books might you have near from which to read positive passages or declarations? Would you have a journal nearby?

The common thread in all of these three activities is using creative problem solving skills in fun ways that involve the family  interacting with each other and building connection.

Have fun experimenting! There are so many possibilities!




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