Importance of Play
When playing with puzzles there is an easy way to present them when children are new at it. Interlocking puzzles can be confusing and when all of the pieces are put on the floor or table it can be very NOT fun. Choose a puzzle that is rectangular or square. Before presenting the puzzle to the child put the puzzle together. Once you have it together beginning with the top line remove 1 piece at a time and put the number "1" on each piece in the top row. You can even write 1a, 1b, 1c etc to let you know where in the line the piece goes. Do the same for each row writing "2" or "2a" on all the pieces in the 2nd row etc. Continue until each row in the puzzle is numbered. Pick up each row and put a rubber band around the row. put each rubber banded row back into box.
Now you are ready to present the puzzle to the child. You can give the child 2 pieces at a time that you know for sure interlock. Let her/him try to figure out how they connect. You can present them in exactly the correct position that they interlock or you can give the piesces in a random order and the child can practice turning them until they fit. Once she /he gets the concept you can present 1 row at a time and allow her/him to look at the picture for clues to how the pieces line up. Eventually the child will become expert at completing the puzzle without the cues. This way of completing the puzzle makes it easier to start and finish in a shorter time. This helps busy parents connect with children with less stress.
Young Children 1-2 years old
One piece picture puzzles are good for language and speech development as well as increasing attention span. Puzzle tray with an identical picture in the puzzle space are perfect for first puzzles.
Using picture puzzles (one piece) example farm theme.
Remove each piece as you name it and say “cow out”, “sheep out” etc giving the child a chance to imitate the words.
Do not allow the child to put them back in until they are all out.
Then one at a time put them back in the puzzle as you name them again. Keep pieces out of reach.
You can add the animal sounds as well as you put them in and take them out.
As the child learns to put in and take them out you can begin some simple turn taking with this activity, while saying “my turn”, your turn”.
Using “hand over hand you can assist the child that is not moving the pieces.
When all of the pieces are out, encourage the child to point to an empty space (picture) on the board and name the animal for him. This will eventually become a way for the child to make a “request” for the next piece. Pointing usually comes before words.
Ages 3 and up
Using Interlocking puzzles 48 large piece rectangle/square puzzlesI put all of my new puzzles together. I then pick them up line by line.
I number each piece by the row it belongs in. I put a rubber band around each row. Then they go back in the box each row banded, each piece numbered.
When putting the puzzle together you can present 1 row at a time, or 2 or more pieces that interlock, making the activity either simple or more complex.
Puzzles and Books with animals find you tube videos of the real animals in the wild. When you are finished reading the book or putting the puzzle together look at some or all of the videos and compare and contrast animals; mammals, reptiles, flying, crawling, running, swimming. For example; The duck and parrot are both birds but the duck can swim and a parrot can’t. A parrot can learn to talk but a duck can’t. Can you think of another bird that can swim ( swan, goose)?
Puzzle vocabulary words to use: here, there, next to, slide, turn. Name the items in the puzzle, generate sentences that make sense and ones that don't. Have your child generate sentences in the same way.