Overcoming Obstacles

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Lesson 4: Problem Solving at Home


  • Students will analyze a video clip of a problem at home.

  • Students will practice techniques of evaluation and feedback.

  • Students will apply the six steps of the problem solving process to problems at home.


  • A balloon (not inflated) with the words “family relationships” written on it (Starter)

  • A pin (Starter)

  • A video clip from a popular movie or TV show showing teens grappling with a problem at home (Part I)

  • Poster board in dark colors, one piece for each group of four or five students (Part II)

  • Sheets of white drawing paper, approximately one per student (Part II)

  • Glue and an assortment of colored markers, crayons, pencils, magazines, etc. (Part II)

  • Several stacks of sticky notes, enough so that each student gets several notes (Part III)


Take the balloon with the words “family relationships” written on it and slowly blow it up for the class. When the balloon is almost at full capacity, stop inflating it for a moment and ask the class what would happen if you kept blowing air into it. (Student responses should indicate that the balloon would pop.)

Continue blowing up the balloon until it is at full capacity. Ask students how many of them feel tension or fear that the balloon will pop as the pressure on it increases. Pop the balloon suddenly with the pin. Tell students that this is how stress affects family relationships; as stress increases, the tension grows, problems become worse, and the situation may explode out of control.

Brainstorm with students some examples of common problems at home; write student responses where everyone can see. (Students might respond: feeling as though parents don’t trust them, feeling as though parents are too strict or not strict enough, feeling as though they are treated differently than their siblings, not getting along with siblings, feeling as though they are given too much responsibility for younger brothers and sisters, wishing they had more privacy.) Save this list for use in Part II.

Tell students that they are going to practice applying the final two steps of the problem solving process to problems at home.

Part I: Scenes from Home

Purpose: Students analyze the problem solving strategies depicted in a video clip.

1. Students define the final two steps of the problem solving process.

Tell students that the final steps of the problem solving process are making and evaluating a decision. Ask students what it means to evaluate a decision. (Student responses should indicate that this means seeing how the solution turns out and deciding whether the actual consequences are primarily good or bad.)

Point out to students that the final step is often overlooked—people may thoroughly work through a solution to a problem but may not revisit it to see if it was effective.

2. Students view a video clip depicting a problem at home.

Tell students that they are going to watch a clip of a common problem at home. Instruct students to take notes while they are watching in order to identify the steps of the problem solving process that are being followed. Tell students that they should also note indications that the steps are not being followed, such as someone who has not gathered enough information. Show the video clip to students.

3. Students identify the steps of the problem solving process that are evident in the clip.

When the video is finished, ask students to list the steps of the problem solving process that were apparent in the video and identify the specific scenes or dialogue that relate to each step. Discuss students’ responses and lead students to draw inferences about the steps of the problem solving process that were not overtly addressed in the clip.

As students identify the steps in the video, create a rough storyboard on the board. (Draw a large, horizontal rectangle; then draw six boxes inside that rectangle. Each small box represents one step of the problem solving process.) Write in each box key words or dialogue from the scenes that relate to each problem solving step.

Part II: Storyboard

Purpose: Students develop storyboards to demonstrate problem solving techniques.

1. Students choose problem solving scenarios to illustrate.

Point out to students the sketch you have made on the board. Explain that this is an outline for a storyboard of the video clip they watched. Tell students that storyboards contain drawings or visual representations of each scene and are used by animators, artists, and filmmakers to create films and shows.

Tell students that they are now going to create storyboards that outline solutions for their problems at home. Divide the class into groups of four or five students. Referring them to the list of problems that they brainstormed in the starter, instruct the groups to each choose a problem that is important to them. Explain that each group will then create a storyboard to visually represent possible solutions to its problem.

2. Students create storyboards to demonstrate problem solving skills.

Display a completed storyboard for the class or label the sketch on the board to show students how to assemble their materials.

Distribute the poster board, white paper, markers, glue, and other art supplies to each group. Students should design their scenes on white paper and attach these, in order, to the dark poster board. Give students about 20 minutes to work on their storyboards. Ask each group to post its finished storyboard on one of the classroom’s walls.


Ask students to name the steps of the problem solving process. Encourage them to focus on specific situations in their own lives in which problem solving might be useful. Elicit from students the following key points that were taught in this lesson:

  • Cooperation reduces problems in the family.
  • Handling stress helps problems become more manageable.
  • Problem solving techniques work in family situations.

Student Assessment

  1. What can you do to help build cooperation in your family?
  2. Describe a problem that you have had at home. How did you overcome this problem? How could the steps of the problem solving process have helped you?

Extensions for Lesson 4: Problem Solving at Home

Using Quotations


“There is little less trouble in governing a private family than a whole kingdom.” —Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, 16th century essayist


As a class, discuss the meaning of the quote. Have students write possible solutions for solving problems at home.

Addressing Multiple Learning Styles


Have students imagine their family as a sports team. Ask, “What sport would you play? What position would each family member play? What would your team name and colors be?”

Have students meet in groups based on the sport their families would play (e.g., all soccer teams together). Have each group present the members of their league to the class.

Writing in Your Journal


Have students describe a situation in which their family used cooperation to solve a problem.

Have students share their descriptions with a partner.

Using Technology


Have students research various services available to families.

Have students record PSAs for a service offered to help families solve problems.



Have students create a bar graph of their problems at home, at work, at school, and with friends. Have them keep the chart for one week and track how many times problems arise.

Have students present their bar graphs to the class and share their solutions or ask for advice.

Additional Resources


Have students research songs about families or family members.

Have students discuss the lyrics of these songs and the messages they send about families and problems at home.

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