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“What Do You Do With a Problem?” Problem Solving Activities

“What Do You Do With a Problem?” by Kobi Yamada is a story that is sure to leave an impact on your students.  Many times kids can feel overwhelmed by their problems, whether they are big or small.  This book will help your readers realize that challenges can make us more courageous and when we face our problems, we often find that they are not as daunting as they may have seemed.

In the story, the boy is plagued with a problem that follows him everywhere, the illustrations allow the reader to imagine the problem as a cloud hanging over the boy’s head; this visual is a great talking point with your students as you can discuss how sometimes a problem feels like a cloud hanging over us that just will not leave our thoughts.  The cloud soon grows into a storm, and the problem feels like it is just too much…until the boy arms himself with the tools he needs to take on the problem and discovers that the problem really holds an opportunity.  

The discussions that you can have can be so meaningful as the story unfolds, revealing that problems may be overwhelming, but we can face them, learn and grow from them.

Skills to teach with “What Do You Do With a Problem?”:

  • Character development
  • Theme
  • Inferences
  • Beginning-middle-end
  • Growth mindset

Important Discussions:

  • The importance of dealing with our worries, stress, and anxiety
  • Acknowledging problems and working to solve them
  • Learning from problems and growing with each problem you face

5 Favorite Activities for ” Skills to teach with “What Do You Do With a Problem?”:

Here are some of my favorite activities that you can do with your students after reading the book.

What Do You Do With A Problem book quote

1. Asking for help

In the story, the boy tries everything he can to avoid the problem but it just keeps following him.  This is a great opportunity to discuss with students ways that they can ask for help.  Thinking of someone that they could turn to, writing down ideas and ways to ask for help, and sharing ideas with others will all give students strategies to use when they feel overwhelmed by their problems.

What Do You Do With A Problem book page and activity

2. Avoiding your problems

As the story continues, the boy uses different strategies to avoid the problem, which does not fare well as it gets bigger.  Students can think about how they feel when they hold their feeling inside and feel overwhelmed by their worries, fears, or problems.  You can share your own feelings when you avoid tasks, problems, or fears and how often times makes you feel worse.

What Do You Do With A Problem book page and activity

3. When small problems become big problems

The boy realizes that maybe he is making the problem bigger than it actually is…what if it is not as scary as it seems? The idea of the boy’s problem is very vague and the author does not identify what the problem is; this can be a great discussion with your students to predict what the problem could be.  It could be things that they have faced, things they fear or worry about, or just an idea that they have.

Students can share about a time that they had a problem that turned out not to be as scary as they thought it would be.

What Do You Do With A Problem book page and activity

4. Facing your problems head on

As the boy realizes that he needs to face his problem, students can also proudly share when they faced a problem and how they felt.  Share with your students small and big wins that you may have experienced to show that no matter how small a problem may be, overcoming the fear of asking for help or facing the problem head-on is a feat to be proud of.

What Do You Do With A Problem book page and activity

5. Problems can hold opportunities

The boy realizes that his problem holds an opportunity…to learn and grow, to be brave, to do something.  Your students can interpret this any way that they find meaningful to themselves.  What opportunities do their problems hold for them?

What Do You Do With A Problem book page and activity

I think you and your students will love “What Do You Do With A Problem?” and the lessons that you learn.  I love reading engaging books that leave an impact on young readers.  Students can take these lessons and discussions and learn strategies to help them deal with their struggles and know that they always have a way to carry on and someone to turn to.

I hope you and your students love it!

You can grab a free one-page guide for using this book in your classroom here:

You can find more of my favorite read-aloud books HERE.

And read more about why I think reading aloud is so important HERE.

You might like this blog post about self-love.

Check out all of my favorite read-aloud books and grab free guides for reading them aloud HERE.

You might also like to read more about these books:

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What do you do with a problem book cover

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Happy Teaching!

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