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Friday, January 16, 2015


I'm off for the CA Kindergarten Conference in Santa Clara this morning and I'll be hunting for some new projects and ideas to share with you.  

Did you ever sing the song "Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other is gold..."?  This rings true in early childhood.  We want to be ready and excited to try new things, but we also need to treasure activities and materials that have always worked with children.  Puzzles are one thing that will never go out of style, and to celebrate National Puzzle Day on January 29th, here are some "old" and "new" activities with puzzles.

There have been numerous research studies that confirm the importance of puzzles in cognitive development. Other benefits of puzzles include:
Small motor skills
Eye-hand coordination
Task initiation and completion
Sense of accomplishment

Puzzles also provide the opportunity for children to collaborate and cooperate with a partner or small group.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate puzzles into your plans this month. You might be surprised at the standards you’ll find!

Jigsaw Puzzle

Put a jigsaw puzzle (50-100+ pieces depending on the age and ability of your students) on a table. Explain that you will leave it out all week and if they finish their work early they can try and put it together. (You’ll quickly be able to identify the children who have done puzzles at home with their families.)

Story Puzzles 

Have children draw pictures and write stories on cardstock. Next, let them cut the paper into puzzle pieces. (I’ve found it best to give them a limit of 8-15 pieces or they’ll end up with confetti.) Put these in an envelope and exchange with friends. After putting the puzzles together they can read each other’s stories.

Word Puzzles

Write vocabulary/spelling/sight words on sentence strips. Cut between the letters and place them in an envelope. Children put the letters together and read the word. 

Hint!  Write the word on the back of the envelope so they can self-check.
  • Ask them to write the words after they complete the puzzles.

Poem Puzzles 

Make 2 copies of nursery rhymes or poems. Glue one to the front of a clasp envelope. Make a puzzle of the other rhyme by cutting between the lines or words. Store in the envelope. Children place the puzzle pieces on top of the original and then read. 

Magazine Puzzles 

Let children cut out favorite pictures from a magazine. (These could relate to a theme or unit.) Glue pictures to a piece of cardstock and then cut into puzzle pieces.

Cereal Box Puzzles 

Ask children to bring empty cereal boxes from home. Cut the front sections off the boxes and cut into puzzle pieces.
*For younger students it works best to use two boxes that are the same. One can be cut up and then they can place the pieces on the whole. 

Greeting Card Puzzles

Ask parents to save old greeting cards.  Child can cut off the front of the cards and then use them to make puzzles.