Jigsaw puzzles are funny and developmental toys and they often become a great part of a family’s pastime. But now I want to focus on the children under 1 year old and understand how to perform puzzle activities for infants.
The most affordable option is pictures cut in two or three parts: animals, toys, cars, fruits and vegetables. You can use either laminated pictures or of a dense cardboard. The pictures should be of a large size – the younger the child, the bigger the pictures (read about baby’s vision in the article Sensory Development). And here is the first benefit of pictures: the ability to teach the baby not to put the game into his mouth. The game should not be freely available for the child – it will be thus safe and interest in it won’t be lost.
So let’s start playing.
First of all take 1-2 pictures cut in two parts. Put one picture in front of the baby, examine it together, point to the constituent elements such as noses, tails, ears, etc. Next, disassemble the puzzle: “Oh, look what’s happened! Our horse has lost its tail. Let’s help her quickly!” Take the baby’s hand and put it on the lower part of the picture, and say that he has found the horse’s tail. Offer your baby to help the horse – together assemble the picture and be sure to praise your little one. Now let the horse lose its head with a beautiful mane. And repeat the actions described above. If it is the first board game you are playing with the baby, you should better stop it for now. But if you see that the baby is still interested in the game, play with the second picture.
Play this way with all the pictures. And do not forget to remind your baby that the pictures came to play with him, they must not be eaten. Place something eatable next to you that can be exchanged for the picture the baby has put into his mouth. Gradually complicate the tasks using more pictures at a time. And do not forget to praise your cleverest child. Once the baby can easily assemble all the pictures, start playing Messy Game.
Below you can download some pictures to play with your baby.
How to play Messy Game
It will be better if a soft toy or a doll helps you play this game. For example Teddy Bear comes to play with the baby and help him to assemble pictures. Say: “Teddy has come to play with us. He also likes to assemble pictures. Let’s play with him!” Teddy Bear should assemble 2-3 pictures in a wrong way. Speak instead of it – let it talk to the baby. Say: “Look, Teddy assembled all the pictures. But it seems that he has mixed them! Let’s help him correct everything.” Assemble the pictures correctly together with the baby, and stimulate him to do this on his own – ask the leading questions, push slightly the right card or point to it with a finger. Soon the baby will understand the essence of the game and he’ll able to quickly and easily correct Teddy’s mistakes.
You should know
- It’s better to start playing games that require focus and calm concentration at about 8-12 months old when the baby can hardly walk. By the time when he starts running he will be already accustomed to play calm games for 5-10 minutes. Such young children are able to absorb huge amounts of information, analyze and compare it.
- Board games (cut pictures, puzzles for kids, etc.) develop fine motor skills of still disobedient fingers, teach the child to focus and think about the task. The most important thing is that the child will have interest in lessons. And in the future, even the most active child will be able to sit down and play a calm game that is especially important before bedtime.
- Assembling puzzles help a child develop his memory, logical thinking, imagination, spatial thinking, accuracy, patience and care. They train his ability to think over a task from the different angles, to make difficult decisions on his own without assistance of adults.