Four Ways Puzzles can Invigorate an Early Years Classroom
Puzzles are more than just placing pieces in a frame. A puzzle’s engagement of fine motor skills helps develop mental dexterity and can be a great way to introduce curricular themes and learning areas, inspiring open ended play.
With a puzzle, children are examining and working with one static image over time. In our visually busy world of on-demand still and moving images -- pics, videos, gifs, slides, movies, animations -- puzzles encourage meditative consideration of a single image.
Puzzles are also inherently errorless and self-regulating. You can get stuck with finding the right piece but there's no way to do a puzzle wrong. These built-in rules make puzzles a great opportunity for the collaboration of students of different abilities.
Often puzzles are kept in specific learning area but thoughtfully introducing a puzzle can reinvigorate an existing area. Also completed puzzles can be displayed and then used as an invitation for a specific theme. The Display-It-All from Community Playthings (pictured above) with its clear panel is great way to display puzzles and keep them intact. Wheels hidden behind a kickplate and display area on both sides makes it ideal for using for invitations in different learning areas.
Here are our top four puzzle applications in an early years classroom.
- Puzzles can reflect your community and reinforce values of your centre. Connect youngsters to interact and manipulate images that might be on your walls or in books
- Indigenous themes and teaching
- Local landscape and environment
- Family diversity
- Introduce new topics or themes. The close-up focused interaction with a single image can reinforce or act as an experiential introduction to curricular topics:
- Community helpers
- Eco-systems and biomes
- Number puzzles that reveal value
- Create patterns
- Art and creative expression. Not all puzzles can be solved in just one way. Some puzzle sets can be a way to express creativity.
- By decomposing and recomposing image or type of image, puzzles can be a great way to model the structures and shapes of images in 2 d or 3 d artistic representations of their world such as food, landscapes, people, objects.
- Creating their own puzzles out of images photographs or images of art work. Puzzles can help focus a student on more visually challenging images – paintings, abstractions, images of sculpture – that they might otherwise not dwell enough on to decode and engage with the image. With a Dusy Maxx teachers and students can create their own puzzles out of any image, for endless flexibility.
Share how you use puzzles in your classroom!
- Bogdan Pospielovsky