While playing with this animal puzzle one afternoon, Miss H decided to add a new material. After we had put all of the animals together and were talking about what each animal was, she got up, went to her toy shelf, and came back with her container of letters.
She silently picked out a letter, looked at it, and then placed it on top of one of the animals.
After stepping back to take a look, she continued to do the same with each animal. I noticed that she named each letter correctly as she chose it and placed it…interesting. After finished all of the animals, she surveyed her work and I initiated a conversation with her about what she had done. I pointed out that she had put letters on each animal, and she named a few of the animals before moving on to something new. What a cool experience.
Why did I find this so interesting you might ask? Let’s talk literacy first: She chose to incorporate letters on her own as “labels” for each animal. Right there we have not only letter recognition, but recognition of the fact that the names of the animals start with a certain letter, and that letter can act as a label for the animals. Awesome. How about creativity: Introducing a manipulative into her puzzle play on her own, thereby extending the play with the puzzle to a new level. Hooray for play! Now some cognition: She had a plan. She looked at the animals, considered their “names,” and went to find something that could connect to those names. And she chose letters to represent each name. Granted, the letters weren’t the right ones, but that doesn’t matter. She’s 2. Her mind was working and working hard…she’s headed in the right direction.
Give this a try with your kids. Bring out a container of letters when doing any type of puzzle and see if they can make the connection with you. Nothing wrong with adding some literacy, creativity and learning to puzzle play.