My Best Tips For Puzzle Play

January 19, 2024

Toddlers are fascinated by puzzles! They present challenges for their developing cognitive abilities, and each finished puzzle gives them a sense of accomplishment and boosts their self-esteem.

Puzzles are more than just a fun activity for your little one. They are also a powerful learning tool. You are probably already aware that puzzles help them refine their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. But did you know you can also use puzzles to help your toddler develop their language skills?

Hands of a Girl Playing with a Jigsaw Puzzle

Puzzles engage children by stimulating their curiosity and requiring active participation, which can make learning fun and effective. The next time your child wants to put together a puzzle, remember these tips to help your child learn how to communicate better.

  1. Have a variety of different puzzles, such as vehicles, farm animals, wild animals, dinosaurs, numbers, letters, and shapes.
  2. Try placing the puzzle piece where it doesn’t fit. Say words such as “Uh-oh,” “Oh, no,” and “Where does it go?”. Hand the piece to your toddler and let them find the correct spot. When they do, tell them “Good job” or “Thank you”. Or you can say, “Yay!” or “It fits!”
  3. Place puzzle pieces in a sensory bin. Say phrases such as “Let’s dig”, “Where is it?” or “It’s my turn, it’s your turn.”
  4. Use puzzles to introduce new words. As your child matches the pieces together, they learn the names of different objects, animals, colors, shapes, etc. For example, a puzzle of a farm can teach your child words such as ‘cow,’ ‘horse,’ ‘pig,’ ‘barn,’ etc. 
  5. Keep all the puzzle pieces in a bag, box, or on your lap. Encourage your child to let you know when they want another piece. You can also offer them a choice by asking, “Do you want the car or the truck?” while holding up each piece and saying its name. They can choose by either pointing or verbally.
  6. Alphabet puzzles can help children learn the sounds that correspond with each letter. Repeating the names of the letters provides them the opportunity to practice pronunciation.
  7. Encourage conversation by talking about the puzzle’s theme. If you are doing a puzzle with vehicles, say phrases like “The car goes vroom” or “the truck’s horn says honk-honk.” If you use a farm puzzle, you can try asking questions such as “What does the pig say?” and “What noise does a cow make?” (Something to be mindful about: if your toddler doesn’t answer your questions, switch to a statement like “The cow says moo!”)

Even if your toddler isn’t saying many words yet, you can be assured that they are learning language skills.

As parents, it’s important for us to find creative ways to engage our children in learning. Puzzles are an excellent way to make learning fun and interactive. They help to boost vocabulary and improve comprehension. Just remember to keep it enjoyable. If they start to get frustrated, then move on to something else.

If you’re looking for more ways to take your child’s language skills to the next level, you will want to register for my free workshop, where I share even more tips!

Happy playing!


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