Friday, September 26, 2008

Piecing It Together

We have a very special family tradition of always getting a puzzle that the family has to put together during the Holidays. We have so much fun trying to out do each other by finding the most pieces or that one piece that can not be found. There is something very satisfying and just a little sad when you place the last piece.

Puzzles are certainly a fun activity to do, alone or with a group of people at any age. When it comes to the benefits that it offers young children, puzzles really help with their problem solving skills, language skills, pattern recognition, logic and hand-eye coordination.

Puzzles are great toys that parents can also use as early learning tools to teach children their numbers, shapes and the alphabet. The Melissa and Doug ABC, Numbers, and Shapes Peg Puzzles are certainly a fun way for children to be exposed to their numbers and letters.

Puzzles are also amazing at helping children develop problem solving skills which they will use for all their lives. Jigsaw puzzles are great for this because children need to identify patterns and must place the pieces in the correct way for it to fit. It is best to introduce jigsaw puzzles to children who are two and older, starting with the easier ones and working up to more complex ones with more pieces.

When I first introduced jigsaw puzzles to my daughter, it was incredibly interesting to see her select the correct piece and then try to fit it to the puzzle. In the beginning she would always try to position it wrong, it was interesting to see that she would be guided by colour and trying to match the colour in the piece with the other one. When it did not work she would turn it around and try again. I have found that good jigsaw puzzles will be cut in such a way as to help the child work through it in a logical way. For example, the Playful Pets Jigsaw puzzle is cut so that it is easy for the child to identify the face of the animals and then the other parts of their bodies. This makes it easy for children to start the puzzle selecting one of the animals and working their way to to all the others. It also helps that all the animals are a distinct colour which helps them recognize the puzzle pieces and know that the yellow ones belong to the bird and so on.

For younger children, the best puzzles are ones that have few pieces, have large knobs for them to hold and even have a picture underneath the puzzle piece to help them in the beginning. These puzzles are great for children one year and up and it will help them with their hand-eye coordination because they will have to put the piece in the slot. Like all puzzles it also helps them with their judgment and reasoning . Parents can also take an opportunity to teach them the names of the objects that are found on the puzzle. With the Melissa & Doug Large Farm Jumbo Knob puzzle, parents can teach their children the names of the farm animals. As the child gets older, they can use it to sing to Old MacDonald and get the child to point to a farm animal and make their corresponding sounds. A fun game that helps children learn so much.

Along with blocks, puzzles are toys that are a must have in any play room. There is a puzzle for children of all ages and skill level. There is always something exciting about opening up that puzzle box, taking stock of all the pieces scattered and getting started.

No comments: