20 Problem-Solving Activities for Middle School Students


As students progress through middle school, it becomes increasingly important to develop their problem-solving skills. By engaging in problem-solving activities, students can enhance their critical thinking abilities, foster creativity, and become better prepared for the challenges they may face both in and out of the classroom. Here are 20 problem-solving activities that are perfect for middle school students.

1. Brainstorming Sessions: Encourage students to share their ideas on a particular topic or issue, fostering a collaborative environment that promotes creative problem solving.

2. Riddles: Challenge students with riddles that require critical thinking and lateral thinking skills to determine the answers.

3. Sudoku: Introduce sudoku puzzles as a fun and challenging math-based activity.

4. Chess Club: Encourage students to participate in chess clubs or tournaments to practice strategic thinking.

5. Escape Rooms: Plan an age-appropriate escape room activity to develop teamwork and problem-solving skills among the students.

6. Role-Playing Exercises: Use role-playing scenarios to allow students to think critically about real-life situations and practice problem-solving strategies.

7. Science Experiments: Design science experiments that require students to troubleshoot problems and test possible solutions.

8. Word Problems: Incorporate word problems in math lessons, encouraging students to use logic and math skills to solve them.

9. Puzzle Stations: Set up different puzzle stations around the classroom where students can work on spatial reasoning, logic puzzles, and other brain teasers during free time.

10. Debates: Organize debates on controversial topics, allowing students to present and argue their views while developing their critical thinking and persuasion skills.

11. Engineering Challenges: Provide engineering-based challenges such as bridge building or packaging design activities that require teamwork and creative problem solving.

12. Storytelling Workshops: Host a storytelling workshop where students collaborate to create stories from a given prompt and gradually face more complex narrative challenges.

13. Coding Clubs: Support students in learning coding basics and encourage them to develop problem-solving skills through coding projects.

14. Treasure Hunts: Create treasure hunts with clues that require problem solving, reasoning, and collaboration among the students.

15. Cooperative Games: Facilitate games that promote cooperation and communication, such as “human knot” or “cross the lava.”

16. Geocaching: Introduce geocaching as a fun activity where students use GPS devices to locate hidden objects and work as a team to solve puzzle-like tasks.

17. Exploratory Research Projects: Assign open-ended research projects that require students to investigate topics of interest and solve problems or answer questions through their research efforts.

18. Mock Trials: Set up mock trials in which students participate as lawyers, witnesses, or jury members, allowing them to analyze cases and think through legal problem-solving strategies.

19. Creative Writing Prompts: Share creative writing prompts requiring students to think critically about characters’ actions and decisions within fictional scenarios.

20. Invention Convention: Host an invention convention where students present their unique solutions to everyday problems, fostering creativity and innovative thinking.


Problem-solving activities are essential for middle school students as they help in cultivating valuable life skills necessary to tackle real-world challenges. These 20 activities provide diverse and engaging opportunities for students to develop key problem-solving skills while fostering creativity, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. Teachers and educators can easily adapt these activities to suit the individual needs of their middle school classrooms.

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