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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Puzzling in a Multi-Child Home - A Guest Post by Matthew at Puzumi

Hello to all of Penny’s readers! My name is Matthew, I’m the writer and researcher for Puzumi. We’re a puzzle company that prides itself on creating puzzles that help people train their brain, sharpen their skills and let folks have fun while doing this!

A big focus of mine of late has been looking at how puzzles impact children during their development. From their earliest moments when they begin using puzzles that are simple cutouts of basic shapes, to more complex puzzles which are outlines of animals and everyday objects, to complex jigsaw puzzles and finally reaching a point where they can complete one of our complex packing puzzles.

How does puzzling impact multiple children homes?

When I first started talking to Penny, I became interested in looking at how puzzles would impact a multi-child home. As you should know from reading her blog, she has two children. One who likes to play with her puzzles (sometimes to comedic effect!) and another who is a puzzle lover in training.  This is very true, Matthew!!

To figure this out we’ll have to first look at what we know to be the benefits of puzzles during early childhood development for a single child. I looked at this for a post over on Teach.com, I’ll summarize it below:

     Physical skills: developing your child’s ability to manipulate objects by moving puzzle pieces until they fit into the given space.
     Cognitive skills: developing your child’s problem solving skills and ability to remember shapes.
     Emotional skills: teaching your child patience and giving them a reward for that patience. Puzzles are a sit and think activity, they are not like sports which are mostly pure instinct.

As you can see, puzzles have a number of benefits for single children working on them alone. But what about when you have two holy terrors, I mean, lovely young children, like Penny will once her younger one gets a little bit older?

What benefits are highlighted in a multi-child home when it comes to puzzles

Puzzles, when they’re used by two children at once, begin to enter the same territory as sports when it comes to childhood development - with fewer bruises! I wrote about the 3 main benefits of sports (soccer, to be specific) for children over on Our Kids Media a year or so ago, but the ideas still apply:

     Physical benefits: growing the strength of their body and developing their ability to use their body
     Social skills: teaching teamwork, encouraging communication skills to develop
     Instilling the ideals of equality: success is earned through work, not given to any particular race, religion or ethnicity

Sports are great at this, but how do sport skills and puzzle skills cross over when we’re looking at a multi-child puzzle solution environment?

Take a look at the benefits that I highlighted as ‘Emotional skills’ under puzzles, and ‘Social skills’ under sports. They’re the same basic skill sets. Puzzles can help your children develop those important skills right in the comfort of your own home, along with the other two which are developed while working on the puzzle alone.

All of this with no cuts, no bruises and no wins or loses - just your children working together to develop their social and emotional skills, solve a puzzle and have some fun outside of a video game environment.

A further skill that I believe can be highlighted by having your children work on puzzles together is that of the learning of patience. Have you ever helped someone with a puzzle and tried to get them to put a puzzle piece in one place, but they didn’t quite understand or agree with you? Patience is learned or the yelling starts!

I’d like to turn it over at this point to Penny to allow her to comment on what she hopes puzzles can do for her children as they grow up together, and any opinions she has on how it has helped her family already.

Keep on being puzzled!

Thanks so much, Matthew for your insightful look at how puzzling can benefit a multi-child home.  I truly look forward to the day when both boys are old enough to help mommy with her BIG puzzle as I'm pretty sure I'll still be working on it by then!  LOL

Derek already desperately wants to help mommy with the Life puzzle, but mommy is still a little gun shy about allowing him to do more than be in the same room with her when she's working on it. Especially after finding my one missing piece to the wooden jigsaw puzzle I recently completed in his Halloween candy stash!  LOL

One of the things that I would like to start as an annual tradition with my kids soon (and hubby too, if he'll participate) is a Christmas puzzle.  A small puzzle of course, maybe 300 - 500 pieces or so that will put us all in the holiday spirit every year and allow for some good family bonding time as well.

Thanks again Matthew, and Happy Holidays everyone!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weird Places to Find a Puzzle Piece - #3

Conversation with my almost 4-year-old son yesterday, "Mommy, can I have a piece of candy?" "Sure, Derek. Get one piece out of your Halloween bowl." A minute later, "Mommy, look....a puzzle piece!" What?!
My missing piece from Kevin Sloan's The Messenger has been found! I wonder how it got in Derek's Halloween stash?! It's wood so I don't think it would have tasted too much like 100 Grand bar. Hmmmm.......

Friday, December 6, 2013

JigamaWHO? Why, Jigamajoy of course!

Earlier this week, I was contacted by Mike from the Jigamajoy Company of Pine Brook, New Jersey,
who has created a very unique product that combines standard playing cards and jigsaw puzzles into a really interesting puzzling experience.  A few formats have several different ways to solve each puzzle and some even have math questions to help kids put the puzzle together correctly.  Huh?  Who would have thought of combining these two seemingly unrelated aspects of "gaming", but it seems to work. Since this is such a new start up company, they are looking for fellow puzzling and card enthusiasts to help spread the word, and enable them to produce more and more of these cool card puzzle games.  Their website is www.jigamajoy.com. Take a look!



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Whimsical Woodie

In my last post I mentioned that I was getting my first wooden jigsaw puzzle, entitled The Messenger by Kevin Sloan.  What I didn't say at the time, as I hadn't yet received the puzzle, was that I was contacted by Artifact Puzzles and given the opportunity to choose any puzzle I wanted (up to a generous pre-set price) and they would send it to me absolutely free of charge.  Of course I was very skeptical at first because it sounded too good to be true.  Who sends someone something that expensive for free and not have some kind of catch attached, right?  I emailed the person back and asked a bunch of questions and received an equally nice and reassuring response.  Apparently, this is something that companies are starting to do more and more these days.  They are willing to send me their product for free to try out with the hope that I will like it and then write about it on my blog.  Good advertising for them and keeps me happy too.  A win win to be sure.

So, about a week later I received my puzzle.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the way it was presented.  It came gift wrapped in a nice little wooden box. Here, take a look.


I opened the box and the pieces were beautiful.  In keeping with the theme of the overall puzzle, there were lots of whimsical pieces having to do with turtles and time - a clock, several different turtles, roman numerals representing the odd hours on a clock as corner pieces, and even an Indian brave.  



So, I set to work on the puzzle immediately.  This is the first time I've ever done a puzzle where I didn't start with the edge pieces.  There really wasn't an advantage on this puzzle to doing the border first as it wasn't a straight edge anyway.  I worked on the puzzle for maybe an hour or so the first day and then had to put it up until the next day.  Here's a few pictures after the end of day 1.  




On day 2, I worked on the puzzle for several hours broken up throughout the day and I made a lot of progress.


On day 3 I was able to complete the rest of the puzzle and discovered that I had one missing piece!  Booo!!!


I have no idea if the puzzle was missing the piece from the start, or if it somehow "walked" away either on my clothes or with my almost 4-year-old-toddler.  LOL  The puzzle was only on my kitchen table from day 1 to completion so I don't know where it could have disappeared to, but it's definitely gone.  

Amazingly enough, I contacted Artifact Puzzles, and let them know what happened.  I explained that I did not expect them to replace the whole puzzle since they sent it to me for free to begin with, but was hoping they might be able to send just the one piece if possible.  They immediately responded and said that yes, they would replace the piece.  So I guess it's on its way.  I am looking forward to seeing the puzzle completed as it's really cute and I would like to frame it and hang it up near my bookcases upstairs.

Overall, a really GREAT puzzling experience.  Having never worked on a wooden puzzle before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  The quality of the pieces are amazing.  The detail of the cut is superb.  The pieces do fit together fairly well, but they're loose.  So, I was never able to pick up an entire section and move it without it coming apart.  That would be my only criticism of the puzzle is that the pieces do not interlock so it's difficult to move it without it coming apart.  However, I'm not sure if this is something unique to Artifact puzzles or just the way wooden puzzles fit in general since it's my first of this type.

Thanks again to the nice folks at Artifact Puzzles for sending me this great puzzle.  I really enjoyed putting it together.