When children work on puzzles, they are actually “putting the pieces together” in more ways than one. Puzzles help children build the skills they need to read, write, solve problems, and coordinate their thoughts and actions—all of which they will use in elementary school and beyond.
A puzzle with a picture that has particular interest for a child may help her begin to recognize colors and letters, and come to realize that the sum of parts make up a whole—a concept that will help her with math later on.
By inserting pieces into the puzzle, children also develop the muscle group used for writing, or the “pincer” grasp. Children can work on puzzles by themselves, without the help of adults or other children. They can also work together on large puzzles and practice compromising and getting along. Because each child must concentrate on the puzzle individually, he experiences a sense of satisfaction as he picks up a piece, rotates it, and discovers the spot in which it fits.
Piece by piece, he begins to recognize the picture that the puzzle represents. For this activity, your little ones took pieces of a hippopotamus, and combined them to create their own large hippopotamus!