Spontaneous problems often add an additional element to the verbal problem solving that you should practice so your team is not caught off guard and gets frustrated during competition.


An example is that kids are assigned a number by where they sit in the spontaneous room and when time begins a card is turned over and the kids answer when their number comes up. These often do not go in order and one member may have two cards before another member’s comes up. A team member may also be asked to answer, and then turn over the card for the next member. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS EASY for some kids. They forget to turn it over, or turn it over before the answer is given. Judges tend to be patient with this, but it does lose some time. The worst is when another member attempts to turn over the card or reminds the team member to turn it over. Again, most judges will not penalize for this but the team may lose points if the kids appear to “fuss” at each other this. SUGGESTION- practice this! Get two sets of old playing cards and use the numbers one – seven (depending on the number of team members you have), and with two decks you will have eight cards of the same number. Or, get some note cards and put numbers on them.


Another way to use cards is to give each kid a certain number, like six cards and two free passes. Kids get extra points if they do not use the pass cards. In this case the team needs to try not to use the pass cards in order not to lose points. It can be used with strategy. The kids that are “hot” that day don’t need to use them, and the team member who is struggling can use them. A team member who finds verbal problems easy may run through all six cards quickly and then the team member who struggles is stuck with three cards left and no answers. Agh! Those left are then more likely to throw in pass cards. Team members may also get worried by seeing an actual number of cards and be in a hurry to throw in cards and not give creative answers. When all of the cards are done then the problem is done. SUGGESTION-practice this. I suggest you have the kids still take turns throwing in a card and answering the question so that even though they do not have to go in order they will still tend to take turns and not use the pass cards. Let them know though that they can practice not taking a turn and let the others still put in a card.


For younger Division I teams, or when first beginning to learn how to both answer and remember to do something else, practice with bubble wrap so each kid has to pop the bubble wrap before giving them her answer. Again, this is often easier said than done at first. Then add putting a card in the center of the table and saying an answer. Then change it to saying an answer and then putting in the card. Move on to the other two ways that I discussed in the beginning. This is a process that takes some time. Have fun with it and realize this is easier for some than others but everyone can learn it. Practicing it will give the team confidence before competition.