Problem Solving in Early Mathematics Teaching—A Way to Promote Creativity?

Palmér, H. & van Bommel, J.
Creative Education, 9(12):1775-1793


The article presents results from a study in which 145 six-year-olds were taught mathematics through problem solving. The purpose of the study was to investigate the possibilities and limitations of teaching young children mathematics through problem solving.


The results indicate that the children experienced the task as being fun and accessible, although very few of them managed to solve it without difficulty. Furthermore, it seemed as though the children were able to use and further develop their creative abilities through working on the problem solving task. In the article, the researchers discuss the possibilities and limitations of implementing problem solving in early mathematics education based on these findings.


In the article, the implementation of the first problem solving task in the study (‘the tower task’) is investigated together with interviews that focus on the children’s experience of this task, and on problem solving in general.

The sample consisted of 145 children in eight pre-school classes at three different schools in Sweden. The children were divided into groups of 11–13, where they first worked on the tasks individually, then in pairs and finally in a discussion involving the whole class. The researchers observed, collected notes the children had made and then interviewed the children about the task.


Palmér, H. & van Bommel, J. (2018). “Problem Solving in Early Mathematics Teaching—A Way to Promote Creativity?”. Creative Education, 9(12):1775-1793.