Annual Puzzle Day: January 29th 2021
Are you aware of the many benefits of puzzles? Well aside from being an enjoyable pastime, puzzles enable children to begin to think critically and problem solve. They also provide the opportunity for youngsters to develop their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, memory, attention, logic and visual-spatial development too.
Puzzle Day will be an immensely calming day for your children that are on the autistic spectrum. The logical repetition of completing the puzzles will be very soothing for them. You can use this to your advantage to re-introduce concepts that the children may have had trouble understanding e.g. letters of the alphabet or numbers. (Please remember to not give the child random pieces, but to present them in a coherent way).
As you always do, plan Puzzle Day with the needs of your children at the forefront of your mind. If you have a child with additional learning needs or a disability, consider how their needs could affect their participation (for example, you may need to provide large-pieced puzzles with stronger knobs).
Puzzle Day Ideas:
Having both card and wooden puzzles can open the door to a conversation about the different materials and how they feel (e.g. children may describe the glossy puzzles as “soft”).
An ‘All About Me’ puzzle is a fantastic activity where the children can mark-make/ draw pictures personal to them, which they can then talk about - it’s a way for the children to express their own preferences and interests. As an extension, why not get the children to cut up the puzzle pieces using scissors and attempt to complete the puzzle again on another piece of paper and glue.
There are tons of puzzle crafts that you can easily find, but why not hit two EYFS goals with one activity? Challenge yourself to link each arts & craft activity to another area of development. For example, a puzzle activity that links to:
Under the CBeebies section on the BBC website, there is a webpage dedicated to puzzles. These vary in terms of difficulty which will assist you with differentiation. Nowadays, children are growing up heavily familiarised with technology from an extremely young age; many have personal iPads or tablets at home and it’s quite common for young children to use the functions of YouTube (stop, play, next, scrolling down) independently. Because of this, it is vital for you to use any and every opportunity to incorporate tech in a way that makes thematic days, such as Puzzle Day, more interesting.
As you know, the Early Years sector is all about drawing on the children’s interests so you’ll need to make an effort to do so for your tech-savvy cohort. Also, according to Development Matters, the role of an early years professional does include supporting children in experiencing a range of technologies - if you have an interactive whiteboard or an iPad, make great use of it!