Friday, January 2, 2015

Puzzle Learning

Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle? Puzzle play, at any age is not only entertaining, it can also provide a variety of learning opportunities.

Puzzles exercise memory. Notice how a child delights in remembering how to put together a familiar puzzle. At times, children will talk about how pieces fit together. Verbalizing to themselves or a play partner is a way to aid memory skills.  

Puzzles help develop fine muscle movements. The control of fine muscle movements develop slowly and are dependent upon a lot of practice. Fine muscle coordination aids in activities such as writing, self-dressing, using a keyboard, and more.

Puzzles help eye-hand coordination. Children look for visual cues such as patterns and colors to help match pieces together. This process strengthens coordination by using eyes and hands simultaneously, as well as thoughts with actions.

Puzzles increase mathematical awareness and problem-solving skills. A puzzle can teach a child how parts fit together to form a whole. In addition, problem-solving skills can be supported when an adult gives directions such as, "All the red pieces go here," or "This piece is curved." The opportunity to practice a skill over and over again enhances problem-solving abilities. The problem solver also gains a sense of intrinsic reward when they complete a puzzle.

As children grow and gain competency, you may notice that they begin to concentrate more deeply—often they move on to complete increasingly complex puzzles.They quickly learn to rotate and slide pieces right into the fitting location! While engaging in tactile puzzle play, children reap the learning benefits of manipulating pieces, critically thinking about placing those pieces, and developing problem-solving skills. 

Practice your own problem-solving skills by looking for puzzle play opportunities at the Museum during your next visit! 

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