Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Things About Puzzles and Repetition . . . Repetition . . . Repetition . . .

One of the 2-year olds was here this morning, so we got out one of her favorite toys -- the stack of puzzles.
Puzzles are more fun when there's more than one person playing.
“Grandma,” she lisps, “come play with the puzzles with me.”
Who can resist such an invitation?
So down on the floor I went, watching, occasionally helping. Here's what I observed:
* Working on puzzles is a lesson in spatial relationships for the 2-year old and for me. If I'd worked more puzzles, I might have done better in math!
* One thing that helps in working a puzzle is to look at the frame of the puzzle, and match the pieces to what is on the frame. to wit: if Ernie's hair is visible along the edge of the frame, the 2-year old found it helpful to find the piece with Ernie's head and hair, then match the hair to Ernie's hair on the frame of the puzzle. We also matched what was on one piece of the puzzle to what belonged on the next piece: Bert's arm on this piece would link up to Bert's arm on the next piece. Once she figured this out, she was able to put the puzzle together much more quickly, with much less frustration.
* If doing a puzzle once is fun, doing it 18 times must be better. And each time, proficiency increases. Repetition might reinforce memorization, but it also allows experimenting to see if the “right” piece will work upside down, or if it might fit in better backwards -- more lessons in spatial relationships.
I'm sure there are life lessons here, but the most immediate, practical lesson is this: playing with your grandchild and a stack of puzzles is fun!

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