On Building Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills
The boy had created a platform in the tree! Using three inch diameter branches, four to five feet long, the boy had constructed a platform, six feet up in the tree. He used no tools, only trial and error. He hunted for just the right branches and perfected the jigsaw layering pattern that would hold the platform and his weight snuggly in the support of the Y’s of branches and trunk.
In today’s society, our children are smarter than they have ever been. Information is quickly and easily found, and a majority of children are able to hold this knowledge, ready to achieve high marks on the next test. BUT, children’s ability to applicably use this knowledge, to solve problems, is hindered by their lack of direct experience. Experience children can gain by building rickety forts and make-shift bridges over creeks. By making sail boats out of tree bark and leaves, having them sink, making adjustments and trying again. Employers today are looking for people who can critically think and solve problems. Research supports that unstructured play outdoors promotes creativity and problem-solving skills.
Try this, put together a box of odd and ends. A whole spool of string goes a long way, tubing of some sort, anything you can find laying around. Take it outside next to a brush pile or branches and set a task or challenge to be accomplished. Reward them with homemade orange juice ice pops at the end :). Send your pics to email@example.com. Nebraska Project WILD would love to see what your kiddos are creating. See You Out There!