The range of educational toys for pre-school children grows year on year, but there are certain toys which stand the test of time. From building blocks and Lego to animal farms and chalkboards, these toys teach children vital skills. Just such a toy comes in the form of floor puzzles.
Even the very first documented jigsaw puzzle was created due to the need for an educational tool. In 1760, an English mapmaker by the name of John Spilsbury decided to use his maps as a way to teach children the geography of a changing world. He cut countries out of maps which he had glued to wood. More about the inventor of jigsaw puzzles can be found here.
The use of jigsaw puzzles as educational tools continues to this day. Some of the benefits of puzzles include:
Development of fine motor skills. – Picking up and placing those jigsaw pieces helps children practice these vital skills. Hand-eye co-ordination is also enhanced.
Cognition – Puzzles are great aids to problem solving skills. The topic of a puzzle can be a teaching aid in itself, depending on the subject matter this could include learning about animals, numbers, colours and more.
Awareness – Both spatial and shape awareness are improved by the use of puzzles.
Social/speech skills – Children who have the opportunity to use puzzles in conjunction with someone else learn the need to share, co-operate and work with other people. They also have the chance to improve speech skills by talking about the puzzle and what moves might be possible to complete it.
Floor puzzles have a couple of added bonuses.
Gross motor skills – Large puzzles have the advantage of a child having to move around using arms and legs, working out where to place puzzle pieces.
Age – Younger children will find the fun and movement of putting larger puzzles together simpler and less frustrating than fiddly table-top versions.
Think about the puzzles before buying them. Choosing themed puzzles is usually a good option. Try concentrating on colours, body parts, animals, household items and pictures which are easy to decipher. Be careful to choose robust puzzles. Floor puzzles are often lain n, walked and run over, even jumped on. Younger children tend to be less careful of puzzle pieces and sturdy card or plastic are better options for this. Consider the age of the child when choosing how many pieces a puzzle will have.
Examples of floor puzzles can be found here and here.
Puzzles are fun and an enduring part of children’s education, floor puzzles being a newer but no less valuable extension of the genre.