When you hear the word puzzle, your first thought may be that of a young child working on a jigsaw puzzle. Its a quiet toy, which keeps a child busy and does not require being plugged in or adding batteries. The word puzzle may even stir up memories from your own childhood; an old fashioned sort of toy. Its a toy thats stood the test of time: the first jigsaw puzzle was created in 1760 by John Spilsbury, a mapmaker, who mounted a map on a sheet of wood and sawed around each country. What prompted him to do so? He wanted to use it as a teaching tool.
Spilsburys creation has evolved over the years and continues to be a toy that parents and teachers invest in. Puzzles help a child develop physically, socially, and intellectually.
From an educational point of view, here are a few reasons why puzzles are good for kids:
Eye-hand coordination - using the skills of reaching and grabbing and then correctly turning the direction of the puzzle piece so that it fits.
Fine motor skills - improving dexterity by strengthening the little muscles in your fingers that later become important for holding a fork, playing an instrument, using the computer and writing.
Focus - the ability to concentrate and continue working on a problem until you complete the puzzle.
Memory - both the short term memory and visual memory is at work as you look for just the correct piece and need to remember what type of piece for which you are searching. Or remembering where was that piece that I think will fit?
Critical thinking - this can include sequencing (What was the pattern?), logical planning (Am I solving this in valid way?), and/or problem solving (What plan should I use to put this puzzle together?).
Social skills - when working with a small group or as a family, there is ample opportunity for conversation, cooperation, and sharing strategies.
Works both sides of the brain - your creative side works to see the finished product while the logical side works to fit the pieces.
Here are a few puzzles you may want to add to your collection -- just in time for International Puzzle Day!
Animal Alphabet Parade Wooden Puzzle (Begin Again)
This alphabet puzzle has 26 pieces, each an animal that represents each letter of the alphabet. One side has uppercase letters; the other side has the lowercase.
Penguins Puzzle (Eurographics)
This 100 piece poster-like puzzle features over 15 species of penguins. A variety of puzzles from 35 pieces to over 1,000 pieces are available from Eurographics.
Cute Clowns Puzzle (White Mountain)
Known for their adult puzzles, White Mountain has recently released kid-friendly puzzles. Bright colors make this a fun puzzle to put together.
First Shapes Big Knob Puzzle (Melissa & Doug)
Jumbo knobs make it possible for young children to grasp and lift the wooden puzzle pieces.
Sometimes puzzles come in different shapes and sizes. Children can mix and match the interchangeable pieces on these vehicles to complete their creations.
Not all puzzles are jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles may include letters, numbers, shapes and riddles. Puzzles can be found in many sizes, for all ages. Some puzzles may be put together for pure enjoyment while others may be used as a teaching tool. Whatever your reason for working on a puzzle, there truly is something for everyone!
Join the fun on January 29th as we solve a puzzle and fit the pieces together!
About The Read Apple
Located in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, The Read Apple LLC wants to make learning fun! They help direct their customers to the best art and craft activities, baby gifts, birthday gifts, classroom decorations/resources, family games, holiday presents, and more! Visit them at http://www.thereadapple.com/.