Post By:

Kristine Spindler Denton

Created On:

March 20, 2024

Problem-Solving Role-Play Lesson Plan and Activity

SEL Competencies

  • Responsible Decision-Making
  • Social Awareness


Students will be able to apply problem-solving skills in real-life scenarios through engaging role-playing activities.



Ask students to answer the following questions out loud or in a journal:

  • Have you every faced a problem that seemed difficult to solve? How did you handle it?
  • Do you think you have strong problem-solving skills?


Ask students why they think problem-solving is important. Explain that everyone faces problems and challenges in life, so problem-solving skills are necessary for success. Further explain that being able to resolve conflicts with friends, family and co-workers is essential and that these skills support critical thinking and informed decision-making. By developing effective problem-solving skills, students can become more confident, independent, and successful individuals


Break students into pairs/ teams and view the terms below.

  • Problem-solving: the process of finding solutions to challenges/obstacles
  • Collaboration: working together with others to achieve a common goal
  • Creative thinking: Generating new and innovative ideas to solve problems

Discuss and agree upon classroom definitions to use throughout the lesson.

Opening Activity:

Instruct each pair/team to list steps that they take when trying to solve a problem. Bring the class back together and allow teams to share their problem-solving steps.

Compare differences between the steps below and the students’ steps, and discuss the importance of having a clear plan for solving problems that they can use with any type of problem.

Problem-Solving Steps:

  1. Clearly identify and state the problem (if possible use no more than one sentence).
  2. Brainstorm different ways to solve the problem.
  3. Look at each idea and decide if it's possible, what you need, how well it might work, and potential consequences for the top three solutions.
  4. Choose the best solution from the top three and make a plan to do it. Break the plan into steps if necessary and include what you might need help with. Identify potential challenges and how you'll overcome them.
  5. After you try the solution, reflect on what worked and didn't work. Think about what you can learn from the situation. Determine if the problem was solved and if anything should have been handled differently.


  1. In teams, students will collaborate and apply the first 4 steps to real-life scenarios. Students will brainstorm 3 real-life problems that they might encounter at home, school, sports team, etc. Students will write down the problem on a piece of paper, fold it, and put it into the team’s container.
  2. One member from each team will pick a folded paper from another team’s container and bring it back to their team to solve.
  3. Teams will work on poster board paper or on their computers to complete steps 1-4 of the problem-solving process. Teams must show their work foreach steps.
  4. Students will assign the following roles to each team member to act out the real-life scenario and show how their character solved the problem.

Main Character: the person facing the problem

Conflict Character: the person who represents the problem or participates in causing the problem

Support Character(s): friend and/or adult who brainstorms and supports solution(s) and steps with the main character

Additional Characters: other who may be affected by the problem or solution consequences.

  1. Reflect and discuss.

For teams: Discuss how each team followed the steps and solved the problem. Encourage students to participate and provide supportive feedback for each group.

For individuals: Have students reflect on the steps. Ask them if they feel better equipped to solve problems and if they will apply the steps to future personal problems. If possible and while respecting privacy, support students in applying the steps to a personal problem.

Teacher Tip: Spend one hour /week practicing problem-solving as teams. Practicing these steps throughout the semester or school year can help students in their everyday lives and decrease frustration and behavior issues within a classroom.

Access the downloadable Problem-Solving Role-Play Lesson Plan and Activity here.

Our online SEL curriculum and video game Ava have already impacted students in 200+ schools and therapy centers throughout the world. Want to learn how Ava can enhance your SEL program? Let's talk.

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