Tag Archives: Puzzles

Spring Roundup

Spring is such a busy time for me.  As usual I’ve been collecting pictures to use in blog posts but not leaving myself enough time to actually write posts 😦

So, here is a roundup of what should have been three posts;

I made a batch of homemade glue for an art project but then realized the recipe made much more than we needed and it doesn’t keep for very long. So, I dumped it in a big bin along with paper bits from the shredder, wool scraps, glitter and paint powder.  The children enjoyed mashing it all together – no pictures of that part because it was way too messy to have a camera nearby.

Initially the mixture was extremely sticky and some of us were not impressed by the sensation of having our hands coated in the goo.  Eventually the paper absorbed enough of the glue and made the mixture easier to handle.

Later each of the children took a portion of the mixture to work with;

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Or form into mini balls and throw around the room;

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They pressed the mixture into the shape of the bowl and then we let it dry;

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It took a lot longer than anticipated – nearly a week before they were dry and ready to take home;

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Outside, now that the snow is gone, the boys have been begging for me to open the ‘summer toys’ bin. So far I have resisted – knowing there will be a big issue over who gets the one Batman figure (which may mysteriously disappear).  They’ve managed to keep themselves busy with the loose parts and eggs;

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The longer periods of outdoor time have meant some are very tired by nap time (or earlier).  One however, has been using quiet time to become a jigsaw puzzle expert. He has now completed ALL of my 100 piece puzzles several times and can finish two of them in one afternoon.

I decided maybe we should try something a little more challenging – so I brought out a 500 piece puzzle.  This part took him two days with no assistance from me;

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He did find the trees and mountains a little more difficult so I assisted with sorting some of the pieces. He is persistent and refuses to give up without finishing.  By the third week – after about 12 hours of actual work – he had done this much;

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I think that is very impressive for a four year old 🙂  I’m not the only one who has been busy.

 

Puzzle Masters

In my collection of childcare supplies I have dozens of puzzles.  Some of them belonged to my own children when they were young, others have been purchased or donated to my childcare program. There are some very simple puzzles with only a few pieces, some with up to 1000 pieces, and everything in between.

Puzzles have always been available as a quiet time activity but they have never been a favourite choice for any of the school-age children.  Occasionally the older children would choose a few of the simplest puzzles and have competitions to see who could complete them the fastest – this tended to be too loud for quiet time.  The larger, more complicated puzzles were never popular and simply gathered dust.

In the past I’ve wondered if the children found these larger puzzles to be too time consuming to be completed in one sitting.  When I have had several older children in attendance for longer periods of time during school breaks I have set up a puzzle area where they could work on a puzzle project independently or with others.  There was no need to put it away when they tired of working on it and so it could be completed over several days.  Still, no interest.

My current group of preschoolers might change that.  For these little ones puzzles are one of their favourite activities.  They have done all the smaller puzzles many, many times.  They can easily complete several puzzles in one sitting and often have many puzzles out at once because they finish them so quickly.  They never seem to get tired of doing puzzles.

None of the preschool puzzles offer much a a challenge to these three and four year old children any more so we now work on the 100 piece puzzles.  What I find most interesting is that they also ask if they can do these puzzles ‘together’.  Cooperating on any activity is a challenge for these little ones so of course I’m going to facilitate any request like this.

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There are so many learning opportunities throughout this one activity!

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Even when they are busy doing other activities they often talk about doing puzzles together – planning or reminiscing.

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Start to finish these two can complete a puzzle this size in about 30 minutes.

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They are puzzle masters.

Quiet Time

Possibly one of the biggest problems with having a mixed age group of children in a small space is nap/quiet time. Every day after lunch the younger children have a nap.  School-age children and older preschoolers who do not nap have quiet time.  The emphasis during this time is on ‘quiet‘ – being respectful of those who are trying to sleep in the adjacent room.  When the older children are off school I arrange the dining room like this;

15-06-quiet01There is space for all the school-age children to do crafts, sit and read books, or play with quiet toys from one of the bins.  There are blankets on the dividers to offer a little sound insulation but the children are still encouraged to whisper as they talk amongst themselves.  These dividers are the only solid barrier between the nappers and the non-nappers.

Older preschoolers are usually first introduced to quiet time by shortening their nap time.  They have a brief quiet reading time while I get the little ones to sleep and then they also have a short nap so (hopefully) everyone wakes up at about the same time. When there are no school-age children present I use the dividers to create a smaller quiet time area with just enough room for one or two older preschoolers;

15-06-quiet03At first reading books is the only activity choice available.  Gradually their quiet time is lengthened and other activity choices such as the felt board may be added.  Eventually their nap is completely eliminated and they are capable of independently engaging in quiet time activities for the entire time the little ones sleep.

Occasionally I have one or two toddlers who wake early.  Now ‘quiet’ is not something the toddlers do well, at least not often.  So, for this reason there are two activities that I allow only for those times when a toddler wakes early but the others still need to sleep longer.  One toddler quiet time activity is puzzles;

15-06-quiet06I know some of you are now wondering why I would limit such a fantastic activity like puzzles to such a short, occasional period of time.  Honestly, there are so many other activities that we like to do when everyone is awake that we don’t miss doing puzzles.  In fact, even with only a few short opportunities to work on puzzle skills some of my two-year-olds have  already mastered the easy puzzles and now need more challenging ones;

15-06-quiet07Some of the toddlers much prefer the other quiet time activity choice – stickers!

15-06-quiet04Although some toddlers find stickers to be a tedious, often frustrating activity there are others that will peel and stick stickers for hours on end.  So, even though there are always some miscellaneous stickers in amongst the craft supplies I have a large secret stash of ‘just for quiet time’ stickers too.  You never know when I might need a toddler to be quiet for just a little bit longer before nap time is over.

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