Lately, there has been a bit of a “puzzle craze” in our Children’s House
Puzzles are a great way to create a fun learning experience with children. Puzzles help promote and develop many skills, such as; concentration, fine motor skills, repetition, visual-spatial development, problem-solving skills and cognitive development. Cognitive development encompasses a child’s working memory, attention as well as a child’s ability to manage and respond to the experiences and information they experience on a daily basis.
In our learning environment we have two types of puzzles which the children work with; compound puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles (the more common type of puzzle) – these are the interlocking puzzles that range in a variety of sizes and levels of difficulty.
The compound puzzles are the ones that comprise of several pieces, which when fitted together, form one picture. These puzzles are a common feature in our Children’s House and can range from simple to complex (multiple part puzzles – layered) and in the Montessori context, they are often a jumping off point for further exploration. For example, a child could be working with a part–of-a–flower-puzzle (as seen in the pictures) and learning can be encouraged by introducing the child to the names of the flower parts using three – part cards. Further exploration could be encouraged by carrying out a botany lesson. Here, we dissect a flower and examine each part.
The pictures below show you some of our compound puzzles in our Children’s House.
Compound wooden puzzles are introduced to toddlers when we observe their sensitive periods for fine motor skills. They are a simple design which is ideal for a toddler – each puzzle piece isolates a single shape as well as a small knob for easier handling and development of the pincer grip. These puzzles are ‘preparing the hand’ for work later down the track. These puzzles are free from distraction (colourful illustrations), encourage concentration and help the young child focus on the task at hand.
In our Children’s House, we have a variety of jigsaw puzzles. While these are Montessori friendly, jigsaw puzzles are typically considered an activity not found within a Montessori classroom. The Educators look for puzzles with beautiful and realistic images. The quality of the pieces are wooden or a good quality cardboard. In the pictures below these children are manipulating jigsaw puzzles.