Foster thinking skills in the classroom by focusing on problem solving.

Mathematical Problem Solving
Knot Theory Problem

(a personal favourite)


- Over the course of the week before this activity have children bring in a tazo. (they know what they are).
- cut out about 10 pieces of cardboard in the shape of a tazo as it is rather predictable that certain students will not bring in the required materials ;)
- Make sure each child has a pair of scissors.
- Have some wool on hand.

Method: - The Teacher Does These Steps

1. Punch two holes through a Tazo, a bayblade (or a small piece of cardboard) using a holepunch or an electric drill.

problem solving
2. Loop c. 30cm of wool through the Tazo and tie it with a firm knot.

problem solving

3. Tie the wool and tazo to the handle of a pair of safety scissors as shown here.

The Problem
- Attempt to remove the string loop by: not bending the tazo, not cutting the string or undoing the knot and then put it back on. This is a logical thinking puzzle not a brute force one.

Just for Fun:

- Make it that the children are not allowed to use their scissors until they solve the puzzle :)


- This is 'problem solving NOT problem showing'. Do not show the solution to your friends no matter how much they whine, you will take away the a-ha feeling from them.
- when they do show their friends how to do it (and they will) discuss how it is funny that no-one got the solution and then all at once heaps of people did ;)
- Discuss the taking away of the a-ha feeling as a whole group.

problem solving with children