Today I wanted my girls to try and solve a problem in an efficient matter. I wanted to use the technique of making a plan, taking action and reflecting on how things worked. Inspired by my years watching Survivor, I gave them a problem. I put a strip of tape on one end of the room and another strip way across the other side. I then gave them three pieces of cardboard and four stuffed animals. I told them the area between the tape was hot lava. They could not step in the hot lava or would have to return to the beginning. The cardboard pieces were magic and can float on top of the hot lava. The stuffed animals are their friends. Their goal was to get all of their friends from one piece of tape to the other. They could work individually as a team. They didn’t want to make a plan, and I had to really try and slow them down to think it through. They didn’t quite know where to begin. I let them just go and experiment because making a plan didn’t appear to be in the cards. I figured a little trial and error wouldn’t hurt since they didn’t have much reference for this kind of problem solving.
They both got stuck immediately by just taking one piece of cardboard, throwing it out and standing on it. They didn’t have a clue what to do next. They returned to start. Kenzie became immediately frustrated and kind of grumpily threw in the towel at the time. I explained they could use more than one cardboard at a time.
Abby’s next solution was stand on two pieces of cardboard and slide across the ground. That was actually pretty efficient, and she was going to stick with that plan the entire time.
I wanted to expose them the concept I originally had in mind, so I showed them how they could stand on one cardboard and throw the other in front of them and then walk to the next. Then, I did it with Abby as a team using all three pieces of cardboard.
Inspired by Abby and I working together, Kenzie decided to get in the game.
After accomplishing the task, we reflected on their efficiency of our processes. Abby and Kenzie thought working as a team and using the three pieces of cardboard was the most efficient. I tend to think it was when Abby was doing it by herself and sliding on the two pieces. I guess if we wanted to know for sure we could time it to figure out what was the fasted way across the lava pit. Overall, it was a fun little task, and they kept the game going for a bit after they had already accomplished the task.