One of my favorite stories to encourage problem solving (I learned this from another teacher, who learned it from another source.) involves a farmer attempting to cross a river. He had a chicken, a fox on a leash, and a package of vegetables. Due to the weight restrictions of the canoe, he could only take one item across at a time. The problem was, if he took the bag, the fox would eat the chicken. How did he get all the items across safely?
**If you wish to attempt solving this, don’t look before until your attempt.
Of course, many readers have heard this before, perhaps in class. We take the fox across, so the chicken is alone with the vegetables. Then, we take the chicken, but bring the fox back to the beginning. Then, we take the package. Last, we bring the fox over and continue with the journey.
We used stories like this to challenge the kids and teens to think. Very rarely have we had any student figure this out at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year, having taught them cause and effects and to think for themselves, more of the students can problem solve.