Let’s Put the Pieces Together

adminbilateral coordination, eeBoo, executive functioning, organization, preschool, puzzles, social skills, visual motor, visual perceptual skills Leave a Comment

One of the things that I have the most difficult time finding are good puzzles for my preschoolers.  They have mastered inset puzzles but still struggle with large interlocking puzzles.  I know from experience that the character puzzles are always a hit with the kids I work with but most of them are 24 pieces or larger and they don’t have the attention span or frustration tolerance for those puzzles.  It’s hard to foster independence in kids if they need a lot of assistance from a grownup in order to complete a task.  I truly believe that in order for kids to be successful, they need to be

A few months ago, one of my colleagues was cleaning out the toys in her home and brought in this box of puzzles.  I disregarded them for a while but then opened the box and since then, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t used them. Considering my love for all things Eeboo, I am surprised I had any doubt that these wouldn’t be as amazing as all of their other products.  There are two different sets to choose from:  Once Upon A Time (Fairy Tales) and Life On Earth (a variety of animals).  These puzzles are amazing and a huge bargain…each set contains 6 different puzzles for less than $15!  They are well made and durable which is great since kids can be pretty hard on their toys!  These are especially good for a therapeutic setting where things are being used over and over again throughout the day.  
Obviously, puzzles are great for improving visual motor and visual perceptual skills.  For parents of typically developing children, I think it is easy to forget how difficult simple puzzles can be for children.  It can be beyond challenging to imagine what a pile of puzzles pieces are supposed to end up being.  One of the things I love most about the Life On Earth puzzle is that each of the 4 borders are a different color which really helps a child visualize the completed puzzle a bit more.  I like to have the kids choose a color to begin with and put those 3 together, then choose a second color and continue that until they have put it all together.  This is a really nice feature and I have seen kids who have struggled tremendously with puzzles have much more success because of it.  
For those of you who are regulars on my blog, you will know that I try and work on more than one thing on a time during my sessions with kids.  Puzzles are great for pairing with gross motor/motor planning activities.  One of my favorite things to do is to create some kind of obstacle course where the children start off by grabbing a piece of a puzzle and end with putting the puzzle together one piece at a time.  I try to include a jumping and climbing activity as often as possible because I find that this tends to help with organizing a child’s body and brain, making them more organized and focused.  For those kids who need to work on building upper body strength, I have them lie on their belly on the floor or put them in the net swing and complete the puzzle that way.  
Additional skills that can be worked on when using these puzzles are:
Improve Bilateral Coordination Skills-puzzles are great for working on bilateral coordination.  In order to put pieces together, a child has to hold one piece still while putting the other piece into place. 
Improve Organizational Skills-one of my favorite things about these puzzles is that they have borders and different colored backs that help children organize their work.  If you are working on improving organizational skills, you can make the first step of the activity to sort the puzzles into piles based on their colors.  
Improve Social Skills-I love using these puzzles when I am working with a group of two kids and having them work together to complete them.  I like watching them interact on where pieces should go.  While the pictures seem simple, they are bright and colorful and can really encourage conversation when they are completed.  
With the holidays just around the corner, these puzzles are a perfect gift for any preschooler.  Or they could be a great gift to provide a classroom or any kind of toy drive.  Not only are you giving someone an educational gift, you are giving them a high quality product that is build to last for a long time.  
Speaking of the holidays, I am busy working on my 2014 holiday guide!  It’s hard to believe that this time of the year is already here and that we have to be thinking of this.  Please keep checking back for what I hope will be a helpful guide for you all.  I know how hard it is to know what to get kids for the holidays, especially those who may have special needs.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate contacting me.  I am just a click away and love hearing from you all.

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