When I hear the word ‘puzzle’ I immediately think of a picture in pieces that needs putting back together. Then I think about logic puzzles, word problems, tangrams….there are lots of different puzzle types I have used with students in the classroom and many I enjoy doing myself. According to Wikipedia, ‘A puzzle is a game, problem, or toy that tests a person’s ingenuity or knowledge.’
Traditional wooden puzzles are a common sight in most homes with small children and for good reason; they are a great toy to engage young children in play. There are many, MANY more advantages to puzzles and, many different types of puzzles that are equally as engaging as those first wooden ones. Here are a few (all listed puzzle types are clickable links):
- Puzzle boxes
- Puzzle books
- Word problems
- Brain training exercise
- Problem solving
- Matchstick puzzles
- Logic puzzles
- Word searches
To see more great examples, head over to the Flying Sprout Pinterest page.
The Advantages of Puzzles
Some puzzles are great fun, others can be immensely frustrating but they all have their benefits. Here are a few:
Satisfaction of achievement
Completing a task is satisfying and often, the more challenging the task, the greater the feeling of achievement once it is completed. This sense of satisfaction is a great way for children to build an understanding that hard work pays off and brings its own reward.
Patience and persistence
Persisting and having patience when faced with a challenge is not always easy but, as mentioned above, it brings great satisfaction when approaching tasks with a level head and having success.
Problem solving strategies
Different puzzles require different approaches in order to solve them. When completing maths, word and logic problems at school children are often encouraged to think carefully about the right strategy to use. These include acting out the problem, drawing a picture, writing a list, looking for a pattern, simplifying the problem, creating a table, working backwards, guess and checking, writing a number sentence or using and using objects.
Hand eye coordination and fine motor skills
Physical puzzles are a great way for children to practise their hand eye coordination and develop those all important fine motor skills.
Fun and rewarding
Puzzles can be used to reinforce learning or they can be used as a fun, rewarding activity. Great satisfaction comes from completing puzzles and this is lots of fun.
Building dept of knowledge on a subject
Whether learning new skills, practising, revising or consolidating understandings, there is a place for puzzles.
Some children are naturally quiet, while others take a little more encouragement. Puzzles give all children an opportunity to work with quiet concentration, either on their own or cooperatively with others, to complete tasks.
Setting and achieving small goals is rewarding and reinforces the idea that, with hard work and focus, you can achieve your larger goals.
Many puzzles are, particularly physical ones, are self correcting. They are either right or they aren’t, so children can work out immediately if they have solved the puzzle.
Many puzzles encourage the use of skills that children aren’t necessarily using everyday, skills that are very important such as critical thinking, logical thinking and spatial reasoning.
If you have a few spare minutes and enjoy a challenge, have a go at this collection of puzzles.