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.
There are so many learning opportunities throughout this one activity!
Even when they are busy doing other activities they often talk about doing puzzles together – planning or reminiscing.
Start to finish these two can complete a puzzle this size in about 30 minutes.
They are puzzle masters.