any old or blank jigsaw puzzle - as long as you still have all the pieces
3-5 different colored stationery stickers or pens
Blank. We start off by getting a blank puzzle. I've tried a few times to
actually cut puzzle-like pieces from an old firm cardboard, but in my
opinion this is not worth the effort... unless your main aim to actually
make the puzzle rather than to enjoy playing with it. But for now, let's
assume we're not going to make the actual puzzle.
Easiest is to buy a blank jigsaw puzzle from any toy store or even online.
Another cheaper option is to use any old puzzle you have around the house... like the one shown in the graphic. Just make sure you still have all the pieces.
An easy rule of thumb for selecting the right number of puzzle pieces for your child is this:
3 yrs = about 2 pieces
4 yrs = about 3 pieces
5 yrs = up to 20 pieces
6 yrs = be guided by your child
Build. Next step is to
completely build the old or blank puzzle. Most blank puzzles come already
built to save you a bit of trouble. But if you're using an old one, first
build it the normal way... face up. Then turn the puzzle upside down - picture side down.
What you have at the end of Step 2 is a built puzzle... blank side up
Now choose any 2 interlocking pieces, preferably edge pieces, and mark the connecting pieces with matching colored markers or stickers.
So, if you use 1 red dot on one of the interlocking pieces, you also have to
mark the other matching piece with 1 red dot.
Continue marking random interlocking pieces with different colors, shapes, numbers, etc... just make sure that any 2 matching pieces have identical markings.
Of course, if you want your child to build the whole puzzle, then you'll have to mark all interlocking pieces with unique identifications.
If you want to make your own jigsaw puzzle even better or
more challenging, here are a few ideas:
mark the connecting puzzle pieces with different shapes and markings
mix and match colors and shapes (just ensure that any 2 interlocking pieces have the same patterns)
even use an arithmetic problem on one piece and the answer on the other. This makes a great jigsaw puzzle: one piece will have, say, 2+3... and on the matching piece put 5
or you can go one further to make say, 5, dots on the one piece and the number 5 on the matching piece
another option is to match a written word, say, red on the one piece, while the connecting piece is red colored.
Every toddler must master the skill of shape recognition which is vital for reading and writing. The method described in this article is a great way to teach simple shapes like squares, rectangles, circles and other combinations.
The one common mistake most parents make is to continue buying just more and more puzzles. The only change is to buy ones with more and more pieces. Of course one of the exiting ways to change this is to make your own jigsaw puzzle. Surely this is a much smarter, cheaper and more exiting way to teach your child even more valuable skills.
If your child is still very young most of this 'design and build' work will be your responsibility. Of course, another option is to try out a few other types of educational toys.
However, if your child is a bit older making jigsaw puzzles also offers a bit of artistic exercise and excitement.
With some imagination you and your child will start viewing any old child jigsaw puzzle as very exiting teaching aids.