Cultivating Growth Mindset with Problem Solving-Skills

As a teacher, we’ve got a super important mission: to plant and nurture the seeds of a growth mindset in our students. It’s like giving them a magic key that unlocks their potential to tackle challenges head-on, keep going when things get tough, and see hard work as their secret weapon to success. And you know what’s at the heart of this? Yep, you guessed it – problem-solving skills. These aren’t just for acing tests; they’re real-life super skills that help our kids navigate the twists and turns of the world out there. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into some fun, creative strategies and activities. Together, we’ll turn our classrooms into vibrant hubs where problem-solving magic happens every day!”

The Importance of Teaching Problem-Solving Skills to Students

Let’s talk about why problem-solving skills are the real MVPs in our students’ learning toolkit. Picture this: the world’s like a giant, ever-changing puzzle, right? Our students are going to be the puzzle masters of tomorrow! Whether they’re dreaming of being the next Einstein, a business mogul, or an inspiring educator, problem-solving is their golden ticket.

Now, here’s the cool part – as they flex their problem-solving muscles, they’re also giving their critical thinking skills a major workout. It’s like a brain gym where they learn to make smarter life choices. It’s a huge confidence booster! The Institute of Competition Sciences even says it not only helps students build confidence but also improves their achievement across all subjects.

So, let’s sprinkle our K-12 classrooms with some problem-solving magic and watch our students thrive!”

Top Problem-Solving Activities for Students

1. Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are questions that require more than one word or sentence to answer. They can’t be answered with a standard response and require thoughtful answers. They can be used in a variety of ways, but they’re particularly helpful in promoting problem-solving skills. That’s because they encourage students to think about the problem themselves.

Open-ended questions allow students to think critically and respond in their own words. This helps students develop their understanding and build on what they already know. Open-ended questions also encourage students to think outside the box and apply what they are learning in new situations.

Here are some examples of open-ended questions teachers can use to help students develop their problem-solving skills:

  • How might we solve this problem?
  • What do you think?
  • What do you think is causing this problem?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • What would happen if we did this?

2. Working on Chemical Equations

Chemistry is all about problem-solving, and you can use it to inculcate these skills in students. Chemistry equations show how atoms and molecules combine to form compounds and mixtures.

A chemical equation shows how to make a product from reactants. However, it doesn’t tell your students what the products are or how much you should use. That’s where their knowledge comes in, as they have to figure out the amounts of each reactant needed for a reaction to take place. This can make them think and try different ways to solve the problem at hand.

Chemical equations can also be used to determine unknowns, like the concentration of a solution. In fact, the subject itself can be complicated enough to make the students start thinking differently. According to a study in the De Gruyter Journal, chemistry students can develop problem-solving skills through chemical kinetics and equations.

For instance, chemical equations need to be written correctly. According to Proprep, symbols of elements in chemistry should be written appropriately. For instance, the symbol of nitrogen is a capital “N,” and cannot be written as a small “n.”

Hence, students will have to pay close attention when learning equations. These attentive skills are vital to help them develop problem-solving behavior. That’s because to solve any problem, students first need to pay close attention to the problem. Only after understanding the problem clearly, can they find a solution for it.

Additionally, you can also make students find Lewis structures for different chemical equations. Similar to the symbols of elements, creating Lewis dot structures for equations can help flow the creative juices of students’ minds. The reason is that there can be many possible ways to create a dot structure for an equation. However, only one of them can be correct.

Suppose you ask them to write HCN Lewis structure. In that case, all three elements – H, C, and N – have different numbers of electrons. The students will first have to calculate the number of electrons and create a bond accordingly to get the HCN Lewis structure.

You can ask them to try by themselves, and then even allow them to use online resources to find an answer. This will again teach them how they can find solutions to different problems they face.

3. Scavenger Hunts: Learning through Exploration

A scavenger hunt is a fun way to engage students in problem-solving. It also provides an opportunity for students to work together, which can help them develop more positive attitudes toward each other.

Here’s how you can set up your scavenger hunt:

  • Divide your class into teams of four or five students each. If you have fewer than 30 students in your class, consider having teams of three instead. This will give everyone more time during the activity and allow them all access to the materials needed for solving each puzzle.
  • Give each team a paper copy of its list. You could also create an electronic version that includes links back to various parts of your curriculum. This makes it easier for teachers who aren’t familiar with everything being covered during this exercise. They can just follow along with whatever links lead them to where they need to go next.

Scavenger hunt can be implemented for students of all ages. A study by the International Literacy Association shows that even an ABC scavenger hunt can help students learn new words. Even businesses use scavenger hunts to teach new skills to employees. An article from the Taylor & Francis Online Journal shows that a marketplace scavenger hunt can teach employees about consumer behavior.

4. Solving Puzzles : Exploration Problem Solving Activities

Solving puzzles is a fun way to develop the critical thinking skills of students. It requires them to think outside the box, look at things from different perspectives, and come up with unique solutions. This is an important skill set that will help students in their future careers, whether they choose a STEM or non-STEM field.

Puzzles can be used as part of a lesson on problem solving, or for review and assessment purposes. They can also be used as a warm-up activity before starting work in other subjects, such as math or science.

Here are some ideas for using puzzles in your classroom:

  • Use puzzles as a way to introduce new topics or reinforce concepts that have already been taught in class. For example, if you’re teaching about patterns in math class, have your students work on a pattern puzzle before moving on to another lesson. Or if you’re working with fractions in science class, have them solve fraction puzzles before moving on to another topic.
  • Solve puzzles as homework assignments or extra credit options at the end of each week’s lessons. This will enable students to practice what they’ve learned while being encouraged to use their critical thinking skills at home.

5. Brainstorming Sessions: Unleashing Creativity

Brainstorming sessions are vital for developing creative problem-solving skills. These sessions encourage students to think out of the box and come up with innovative solutions. Teachers can facilitate these sessions by posing a problem and allowing students to generate as many solutions as possible, without judgment. This free-flowing exchange of ideas fosters a collaborative and creative learning environment.

6. Role-Playing Scenarios: Real-World Problem-Solving Activities

Role-playing activities are an effective way to simulate real-world problems. By assuming different roles, students can explore various perspectives and develop empathy. For instance, a role-play on environmental issues can help students understand the complexities of ecological conservation and brainstorm sustainable solutions.

7. Technology Integration: Digital Problem-Solving Activities

Incorporating technology into problem-solving activities can greatly enhance the learning experience. Digital tools like coding games, simulation software, and interactive quizzes offer students a modern approach to problem-solving. These tools make abstract concepts tangible and accessible, thereby deepening students’ understanding and engagement.

8. Group Projects: Collaborative Problem-Solving Activities

Group projects are excellent for fostering teamwork and collective problem-solving. By working together, students learn to communicate effectively, delegate tasks, and respect different viewpoints. This collaborative approach not only enhances problem-solving skills but also prepares students for teamwork in their future careers.


Cultivating a growth mindset through problem-solving activities is a transformative approach in education. By engaging students in diverse and interactive problem-solving tasks, we equip them with the skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the modern world. These activities not only enhance academic performance but also prepare students for lifelong learning and success. As educators, our role is to guide and inspire our students to become confident, creative problem-solvers, ready to face the challenges of the future.