Did you know how good jigsaw puzzles are for working on fine motor skills? My toddler has recently got completely obsessed with them so I love to see him playing!
Like most young children, my son’s first puzzles were the wooden board type – some have peg handles to make it even easier to handle the pieces.
A few weeks ago I found a Crayola 12-piece puzzle that has a cardboard frame. F really like this, and having the frame helped him start the puzzle.
When I saw how much he liked this I bought him some more complicated ones – a 24 piece floor puzzle with giant pieces, and a fairly small 35 piece regular puzzle. He very happily sits down and works away at the puzzle, rarely getting frustrated if he can’t fit a piece.
I consulted my friendly Occupational Therapist buddy, Amanda, about the benefits of working with jigsaw puzzles. She had quite a lot of good things to say! “If the puzzle has small pieces, this is good for working on pincer grasp, and if the pieces are bigger this will work on tripod grasp (thumb, pointer and long finger). Puzzles also develop visual perception – the ability to find a specific piece among many (figure ground), visual closure (the ability to figure out what a whole picture is from just a part of it) and spacial orientation (is this right side up or upside down). It also works on visual-motor integration (hand-eye coordination), in-hand manipulation skills (the ability to rotate the piece to make it fit) and patience/frustration tolerance.” Wow!
To fuel his puzzle craze, I bought a couple of new ones from the dollar store. I thought this would be an easy (and cheap!) solution to giving him new puzzles, but of course the quality wasn’t very good. The pieces were thin and flimsy and didn’t hold together well. But this didn’t mean we gave up on them – it took even more control on his part to work with these puzzles!
F has got super speedy with his favourite puzzles now, often doing one after another. I’m not sure how much of that is just familiarisation, but it’s an activity that I’m definitely going to encourage, especially as it regularly gives me a few minutes of peace and quiet!
Turkey Baster Pom Pom Race from School Time Snippets