We love puzzles! We use them all the time. Because they have multiple pieces they are great for encouraging multiple repetitions of an activity. Repetition is important for kids to learn and master new motor skills. Some of the activities we do over and over again are:
- Obstacle courses – you can set these up to work on whatever skills are most important, or to work on a variety of skills. They can also help kids to learn how to sequence activities and complete sequential tasks with diminishing cues.
- Stairs – practicing going up and down stairs to nowhere (like our practice set in the clinic) can get boring, but if they are getting pieces to the puzzle, it gives them a reason to keep going!
- Tricycle/Scooter/Bike Riding – with the board at one end of the hallway and the pieces at the other end it’s easy to encourage multiple laps of these activities until the puzzle is complete.
- Walking/Cruising – when kids are learning to walk and cruise it’s helpful to have them go back and forth between support surfaces, or along a support surface. Using toys is a great way to provide motivation!
Another activity we have used them for is prone over a peanut ball. This activity works on core strength, arm strength, and weight shifting to name a few things. By reaching for the puzzle piece, they have to stabilize at the core and shift their weight onto their supporting arm. And then they repeat with the other side!
And, all the while, they are working on fine motor skills, picture recognition, and matching!
Here are some of our favorite frequently used puzzles:
- Melissa and Doug Animal Puzzle – The kids love the sounds and they love to ‘rescue’ the animals and bring them back to their home
- Melissa and Dough Shape Puzzle – We often pretend the pieces are treasures that the kids are collecting and bringing back to their treasure box
- Melissa and Doug Fish Puzzle – The kids like to pick the colors and figure out what color is everyone’s favorite
- Melissa and Doug Instrument Puzzle – It’s fun to hear the different sounds each of the instruments make