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Five Puzzling Tips for You and Your Kids

Puzzle on a table

puzzles

Read on to find a puzzle challenge ....

With the latest and greatest technological gadgets, it can be puzzling how to entertain your kids. Sometimes the simpler toys, like board games, cards and puzzles can be just as entertaining as the gadgets.

They can also be beneficial for your child’s growth and development.

In celebration of National Puzzle Day, a national early childhood literacy non-profit called the Parent-Child Home Program has these tips on how to engage the family in puzzles to use motor skills, practice problem solving and work on task-oriented goals:


1. Use Your “Magic Finger”

Before beginning to piece the puzzle together, ask your kids to point out things they see and recognize. Depending on their age, ask them questions about the puzzle. For younger kids, ask them what kinds of items they see (animals, buildings or cars) or what kinds of colors or shapes they see (circle, hexagon, green or blue). For older kids, engage in some math problems asking how many puzzle pieces there are or by dividing the puzzle pieces by the number of people putting the puzzle together.

Younger children may find it difficult to fit the pieces into place, and that’s okay! Be patient and adapt the activity to suit your child’s needs and skill level.


conversation

2. Create Conversation

One of the most foundational supports for cognitive and social-emotional development is language use and conversation. While pointing out colors, sizes, shapes and numbers, ask open-ended questions to strike up more conversation. Ask questions like: What objects in this room are the same color or size as that puzzle piece?


3. Keep In Mind the Purpose

Use every opportunity to help your children consciously attend to the activity at hand. This will support their cognitive development and promote language use. If they seem distracted, start a conversation around what they are instead interested in, perhaps connecting it back to the activity. They will likely come back to the puzzle on their own. When they do, help them reengage and make choices by asking if a puzzle piece you put down seems like the right fit.


4. Think Outside the Box!

Puzzles don’t have to be conventional, so get creative!

  • Mix all of the puzzle pieces in a bag or bowl and take turns pulling one out and naming it – this can easily be turned into a game of charades! This game works great with a farm puzzle.
  • Play a memory game by laying out all of the puzzle pieces and giving your children time to examine all the pieces. While they have their eyes closed, take one piece away and see if they can figure out which one is missing. Then give your child a turn to stump you!
  • With paper and writing utensils, invite your children to trace the puzzle pieces, and then color it in with their own details.

You've come to the puzzle challenge! Congratulations. (Scroll down below the image for the answer.)

ANSWER: Throw the ball straight up in the air.

The Parent-Child Home Program’s (PCHP) nationwide network of program sites provides low-income families with the necessary skills and tools to ensure their children achieve their greatest potential in school and in life. Together we are strengthening families and communities, and preparing the workforce of the future.