Small Group Problem Solving Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Students will practice collaborative problem solving. Multiple activities are offered to encourage students to work toward goals in small groups. Adjustment ideas are offered to allow these activities to suit all age groups.

Problem Solving in Small Groups

The ability to collaborate with others in order to solve problems is a necessity in life. Just like any skill, it is important to practice collaboration in order to master the skills needed to work efficiently with others.

The activities offered here can be adjusted for any age group. They are all small group problem-solving activities that will help your students practice communication and collaboration skills.

Hole in One

This design activity will require your students to build, test, and re-design a hole of putt-putt golf.

Materials

  • Small balls (one per group)
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Pool noodles
  • Paper cups (for the golf hole)
  • Other items that students can use to create a single golf hole
  • Wooden dowels or large cardboard tubes (for the club)
  • Note: ask for parents to donate these items ahead of time

Set-up

  • You will need a lot of open space for this activity.

Instructions

  • Divide your class into small groups of 3 or 4.
  • Provide access to all of the materials to all your students.
  • Tell your students that they need to design a putt-putt golf hole. Parameters will depend on the skill level of your students; however, some might include:
    • For older students:
      • You must include at least 2 obstacles.
      • The total length of your hole must be x feet.
      • There must be a possibility of getting a hole in one.
    • For younger students:
      • Try to include at least one obstacle.
      • Make the length of your hole as long as two bodies.
  • When everyone is finished, allow the groups to play a round of golf using all the holes as the course. Ensure that all students take a turn.

Alternative

  • If you do not have the space for a large scale golf course in your room, decrease the scale by making it a table golf course. You will need:
    • Match sticks (craft sticks)
    • Marbles (for the golf balls)
    • Scraps of card (for the obstacles)
  • In this case, students would use their fingers to flick the ball into the hole.

Crossword Problem

This problem-solving activity will have your students working together to create a unique crossword puzzle.

Materials

  • Grid paper
  • Letter tiles or sticky note paper

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