Friday, May 6, 2011


Trent enjoys puzzles...he's left handed...oh, what does that have to do with anything?  LOL  Hmmm....another blog!  L. tends to think he "can't" do puzzles over 12 pieces.  :-P  But with a little encouragement...voila!  All by himself.  He was so proud of himself!  Now onto a 24 piece!  K. is retelling Little Red Riding Hood! I don't think she even knew I took a picture.  It was completely all on her own! LOVE IT!!!

I'll start by sharing a little blurb from another's blog.  You can read the whole article at

Here are some of the skills that are enhanced by playing with puzzles:
  1. Cognitive skills: Puzzles improve a child's problem solving and reasoning skills. It helps them to see whole-part relationships, increases their visual spacial awareness and depending on the subject matter can teach them a variety of topics like the Alphabet, Numbers, Color recognition, shape recognition, categories like pets or transportation vehicles, and more.
  2. Fine motor skills: Puzzles are fun way to improve fine motor skills. From the time a baby can start eating solid food parents give their children cheerios to help a child with their pincher grasp. Fine motor manipulation is key for writing but but children start learning this skill long before they can hold a crayon or a pencil. Various types of puzzles like peg puzzles and chunky can help teach little ones to pick up and grasp pieces and they aid in the development of the pincher grasp.
  3. Hand-eye coordination: As a child places each piece in the puzzle they are manipulating it so see if it fits. Their hand eye coordination is enhanced through this trial and error process.
  4. Social skills: Puzzles can be done alone but are also a great tool for fostering cooperative play. As kids ask for a piece to be passed to them, or discuss where a piece should go they are sharing the task and learning to cooperate. It can also help a child learn how to handle frustration when a piece does not fit.

I agree with what this individual has posted.  It's good to think about the reasons why certain toys/manipulatives are beneficial.   There are so many different types of puzzles.  They vary in number pieces, material it's made out of, peg/no peg, large/small peg, jigsaw etc.  What I have on the assessment I use is that a child, at the end of their preschool years, is able to complete a 12 piece jigsaw puzzle.  That is actually "harder" then what many preschool assessments state.  Usually I see a 6-8 piece puzzle.  But, like with anything, when a child works with something and has been taught how to do it...they advance.  I find that my students often leave with the ability to do up to a 24 piece puzzle.  My own boys did 63-100 piece before Kindergarten.  Part of it has to do with their personality and natural ability for logical thinking but most of all it's experience. 

The logical thinking that is working in the background as they try to do a puzzle will eventually help them be able to think about larger problems and solve them.  We definitely want that.  Also, I find that many children just don't notice details and so I find that puzzle activities helps them in this regard.  Noticing details will help them with writing letters/numbers, drawing, patterning and more!

The small pegs are great for encouraging the tripod grasp. 
The complete article might be beneficial for you.

Well, what do you do if your child is past these peg puzzles but still could use the fine motor experience of them?  That's very often the case, I find.  They consider the peg puzzles "baby puzzles".  Well, breathe some new life into them.  :-)

*  If you are missing pieces...use the others for stamping.  Most are a basic shape and will print nicely on a paper.
*  Remove the puzzle pieces and place them into a sensory tub of rice, lentils, or other "clean" sensory.  Then they can find them and put them back in the board.
*  Hide them around the room...better yet, have them hide them for you and you bring them back for the child to put back in the board.
*  And my favorite...use them for creating or retelling stories.  Peg puzzles can be great story starters.  And often you can find classic story puzzles at the dollar store that work GREAT for retelling/sequencing.

This past school year I found that puzzles got put on "the back shelf".  I very seldom noticed the children getting out the puzzles.  Hmmm.  Not good, at least from my perspective.  :-)  Part of it is interest...I hadn't really worked on creating an interest with them.  Part of it was that we had to move our main shelf and though the puzzles were kept under the shelf, just like the old one...however, they weren't as noticeable.  So, I started putting one puzzle out on one of the desks in the kitchen. That really helped!  It was like ..."oh yeah, Ms. Amber always puts out puzzles."  Now I see them pulling them out more frequently.  I rotate my puzzles every 1-2 weeks and provide a variety of types.  Large floor puzzles are perfect for getting the children to work together!  I also find that putting an older child with a younger child is great too.  In those cases I observe the older child pointing out and verbalizing about the details.   My favorite was when a child was doing one of our 12 piece alphabet puzzle and another was watching and the child was trying to put a non edge piece on the edge.  The observer said, "No, that's not right. See the perimeter is pink. There's no pink on yours."   Wouldn't that put a smile on your face?  It did mine.  Yes, I think the word "perimeter" is brought up in conversation almost every day....we use it with gluing, in math, with puzzles, during large motor and so on.  So when they hit 2nd grade and they are starting to learn about perimeter (like the work my son brought home from school yesterday) will be easy for them.  :-P

I'd like to have a set puzzle time and I may just work it in one of these days.  :-)  There is just not enough time in the day!!!  Be sure to encourage your child to pull out a puzzle today!  :-P

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