Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Puzzled? In Early Childhood Education....

"What's to puzzle over? Spread your 
wings and let your soul melt into the sky"
Puzzles come in all shapes and sizes for preschoolers. Good quality puzzles can be purchased at yard sales, consignment or thrift shops, and lending toy libraries.
Children love cutting pictures from magazines to create their own puzzles. Simply mount the pictures on cardboard pieces or popsicle sticks. Homemade puzzles make thoughtful gift ideas, too!

Here are some things children are learning when they work with puzzles:
*Puzzles assist children in recognizing shapes, colors, and symbols
*Strengthens reading and writing skills
*Develops fine motor skills (Pincer grasp) and hand eye coordination
*Helps children recognize how the brain and body work together to solve problems

Tips About Puzzles:
*Puzzles are self correcting; there is usually only one way to do them
*Always make sure all the puzzles have all the pieces to them. Children can be taught to check for this as they put them away
*Teach proper puzzle care and maintenance to your children
*As children master puzzles, challenge them with new ways to do them or new puzzles, too!
*Introduce new puzzles slowly into the learning environment
*Encourage children to work together to solve a frustration puzzle. Coach a child through a puzzle and never simply ‘do’ it for him or her (a sense of completion to solving a problem is very important; even if you leave it be for a time and return to it later)
*Relax and have fun!
What kinds of games do you like to do with puzzles as extensions?


Jenni said...

I love puzzles. I once had a classroom of children where more than half of them could complete a 500 piece puzzle. Most of them worked together on doing this. We kept the puzzle out on a small table all the time and they could go to it whenever they wanted.

I would NOT recommend this for all classrooms, but I had to incorperate it because I had one child who came to us utterly board with our puzzles because he could complete a 500 piece puzzle on his own in under and hour! So, I took his capabilities and used them to help teach the other children. At first, he was content to show them/help them how to solve simple puzzles. I had a tray with harder puzzled for him and eventually the other children took an interest. It grew from there.

I love using the children as teachers themselves. They are much closer to the "can't figure out this simple shape puzzle" issue than I am. Afterall, they just figured it out last week! They tend to be much more patient in helping each other through it.

I also bring in mind-teaser type of tools. You know, like rubix cubes and those things like "get the ball out of this box maze". They love to do those and some children really get focused in and them and it relaxes them.

Oh, who am I kidding, it relaxes me, too!

Barbra The Bloggess said...

I know what you mean, Jenni. I wasn't good at puzzles until my two-year-old's worked with me. I had a group of what seemed like 'puzzle savants' one year. I had people coming in just to watch them work!
They worked them upside down, sideways, even flat side down! Some of children could identify them by touch and shape only.