Puzzles in Early Childhood Education: Putting the Pieces Together
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When children work on puzzles, they are actually "putting the pieces together" in more ways than one. Puzzles help children build the skills they need to read, write, solve problems, and coordinate their thoughts and actionsall of which they will use in school and beyond. Find a puzzle with a picture that has particular interest for your child, and you may help her begin to recognize colors and letters, and come to realize that the sum of parts make up a wholea concept that will help her with math later on. By inserting pieces into the puzzle, children also develop the muscle group used for writing, or the "pincer" grasp.
Children can work on puzzles by themselves, without the help of adults or other children. They can also work together on large puzzles and practice compromising and getting along. Because each child must concentrate on the puzzle individually, he experiences a sense of satisfaction as he picks up a piece, rotates it, and discovers the spot in which it fits. Piece by piece, he begins to recognize the picture that the puzzle represents.
Good quality puzzles are a good investment because children can use them year after year. You may also look for puzzles at yard sales, thrift shops, and lending toy libraries. Children who are developing the ability to use scissors can cut pictures from magazines to create their own puzzles. Simply mount the pictures on cardboard and cut into large pieces. Homemade puzzles can make great gifts, too!
Maldonado, N.S. 1996. Puzzles: A pathetically neglected, commonly available resource. Young Chidren 51 (4):410.
Diffily, D. & K. Morrison, Eds.1996. Family-friendly communications for early childhood programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC.Back to the Table of Contents
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