Puzzles - Mindstretch Preschool
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💙 Puzzles

We love puzzles at Mindstretch. We love how they teach our children about the concept of a ‘whole’ and that each piece is a fraction of the bigger picture.

They give lessons in shape recognition, colours and patterns. They aid spatial awareness and visual memory. Our children learn to set a goal and concentrate on it. And there’s the sense of achievement that results when a puzzle is done!

Puzzles to Pick From

Here are the key PUZZLE TYPES in the order in which we introduce them at Mindstretch. 

SHAPE Sorters: Toddlers and those starting out need to experience things on a concrete level. Large 3D shapes are more appropriate than small, flat puzzle pieces. These are great for learning to recognize and match shapes.

PEG Puzzles: Another beginner option that builds visual perception. The pieces are flatter, closer to 2D, and the shape of the piece is the outline of the picture. Each piece has a peg / knob easily managed by little fingers. The pieces fit into a base board. Once mastered, move on to pieces without pegs. 

Multi-Piece INSERT Puzzles. Involves a picture made up of multiple pieces that fit into the overall outline. Children must understand the parts: e.g. know the smoke comes out of the chimney. Help them by chatting through the logic.

  • These work on logic but can be difficult. Your child may prefer to try a Jigsaw Puzzle first.

JIGSAW Puzzles: Jigsaws can have two or thousands of pieces. Pick one to suits your child’s competency. With time and practice they will be able to build more intricate puzzles. Try these tips for success:

  • Turn over all the pieces and put the edges to one side.
  • Build the border first. Use the corners as anchors.
  • Keep the picture of the puzzle visible for reference.
  • If your child struggles, introduce logic: e.g. separate out an obvious colour or pattern and concentrate on completing that bit.

DOT Puzzles: Dot-to-dot puzzles help develop logical sequencing skills. The ‘dots’ to connect may be a sequence of numbers or letters. 

BLOCK Puzzles in 2D and 3D: Geometric puzzles challenge the child who loves building things. They help teach spatial relationships and to predict the results of putting together and taking a thing apart. Lego, which we love at Mindstretch, is in this category. 

Tips for Completing Puzzles

Practice is Key: Make puzzles a regular activity. 

Work on Rule-Based Thinking: Children on the autism spectrum are often good at understanding and working with rules. Use this strength to help them develop their puzzling skills. 

Promote Big Picture Awareness: Children on the spectrum can focus on details rather than the whole: e.g. details in a puzzle rather than the big picture. Talk through what they see and guide the child to consider the whole. Perhaps work alongside and comment on what you are each doing and seeing. Ask questions as you go.

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