Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Learning Problem Solving (from a four-year-old :-)

Problem solving.

I am not referring to math problems.  I mean everyday problems...situations that pop up unexpectedly.  Sometimes when we get older, we get into a pattern-- more of a holding pattern, when it comes to problems.  You'd think that age and practice would have taught us to look at things from different angles.  But all too often we become frustrated and then fail to use our creativity to our greatest advantage.

Maybe part of it is because we get so serious about problem solving. We get tense, and that shuts down our creative natures.  Maybe we are in too much of a hurry--trying to force an immediate solution.

And maybe we have learned a non-productive way to approach problem-solving.  The way we think does affect everything. One time I even started to read a self-help book that taught people how to think differently.  It appears there is a market for it--so there is probably a need?

And then, maybe...just maybe, it is a little bit of all of that.

Nattie Friday is my favorite day of the week. We like to have little projects. Sometimes we bake, sometimes we do a craft...but this past week, we dumped out a box of  Cheez-its brand crackers--the Scrabble ones.  And then we proceeded to spell words.

Nattie is a bright girl, and can name most of the letters when she sees them. Recently empowered by her preschool lesson on the letter "A", which somehow made it official that she did know what the "A" was, Nattie went in search of letters familiar to her, naming each as she found them. A great orange heap of letters, facing this way and that, and upside down, slowed her progress.

Amid giggles, we discussed what the letters "said". That was my word from my early school days in the mid 1960s.  Now we all know that letters don't really "say" anything. :-)

First up was her name.

Next up, of course, was her mom's name, which was a breeze--even with three of the magical "A"s she had just learned.  Next? Her dad's name. Then we searched and searched, but somehow, the letter "H" was not in the box! It had become impossible to spell her father's name!
Natalie said, very matter-of-factly (I know-- "matter-of-factly" is a rather questionable use of artistic word license ;-) "We should spell daddy, because that is what I call him...because...he IS my daddy."  Great suggestion! We had "Daddy" sorted out and arranged in a couple of minutes. Then we went in search of m-o-m-m-y.      Uh oh!  In that big stack, Nattie and I could not find 3 "M"s...only two.  While sorting through them, Nattie stopped and said, "Grammie, we can turn a "W" upside down."   :-) Yep, the second "M" in "Mommy" is a "W" turned upside down. 
I am not only impressed with how quickly she solved those problems, but am fascinated at watching human development blossom in front of me. She is just past turning four years old. This problem solving was not taught to Nattie; it was likely, innate.

I never finished reading the self-help book, by the way.  It seems that humans arrive in this world with some ability to solve problems, and then lose it along the way while we are being taught the way to solve problems.

And, to add just a bit more fun to the day, and since the crackers were stale (I found them in the back of the cupboard) Nattie was allowed to toss some of them to the dogs--who, as made obvious in the photo, adore her.  And when she is pitching food to them, she is a god among humans. :-)


  1. All I can say is she is ADORABLE and now i'm desperate for scrabble cheezits!

  2. Zigzee, you know how much I love it when you read and comment! Your opinion means so much to me. :-) Thank you. Love you! Momzee

  3. Johanna, Thank you for making the time to read this! And thank you--yes, I think she is ADORABLE too!. Have you googled to see where you can find the cheez-its? http://www.cheez-it.com/where-to-buy.aspx I hope this takes you to the right page :-) The cheez-its are a pretty fun choice for a wordsmith :-)

  4. Hi, Teresa:

    Two things: One, I admire the imagery you create with your words. While reading your post, I could "see" you and Nattie playing Cheez-It Scrabble. She's a beautiful, smart girl! Two, I must run out and buy said Cheez-Its. My kids would love them!

    Be well. :-)

  5. If I'm not mistaken there were some 40+ points scrabble words there. Smart!

  6. Janette, thank you! I hope that you found the Cheez-its--and that you and your children had a grand time with them! I think that Nattie is pretty wonderful--but, I am a bit biased ;-)

    Thank you for taking the time to read this :-)

  7. lol! Jan, I have not played "wood and plastic" Scrabble for a while. I can't remember values. I cannot imagine how Nattie would be if she realized that there was an associated game. She is funny with "Don't Spill The Beans". She "accidentally" tips the beans. Ha! Too much fun. One more year until she goes to school all day. :-( Then our precious Nattie Fridays will be over... Thanks for taking the time to read this :-) !