Welcome to Photo Friday, a place where I share photos of therapeutic tools and ideas that can help boost your child’s development. Please give me feedback on my ideas — I love hearing how they go over with other kids!
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Looking for a way to make puzzle time more engaging and challenging for both you and your toddler? Try hiding the puzzle pieces in a pillow case or small box with a lid.
By hiding the puzzle pieces partly or fully from sight, you are kicking puzzle time up a notch by challenging your child’s tactile perception, tactile discrimination, and visual memory skills.
- Tactile perception is challenged when your child reaches into the container without looking, and he must feel around to locate the puzzle pieces.
- Tactile discrimination is challenged when he begins to feel around and try to identify the differences (a.k.a., “discriminate” the differences in shape, size, etc.) between puzzle pieces without looking. For example, the elephant piece is kind of round and fat, while the giraffe piece is relatively tall and skinny, and he must be able to remember and identify all of that through touch alone. Tactile discrimination is a HUGELY important part of the development of fine motor skills such as fastening buttons, coloring, and writing.
- Visual memory is challenged when you ask your little one to “Find the elephant.” He must remember what the elephant looks like in order to know whether or not he found the matching piece once he pulls it out.
As we played this game earlier this week, my 16-month-old correctly selected seven out of eight puzzle pieces from the box or bag. At first I thought he was just lucky, but then he kept getting them right! You might be amazed at how proficient your toddler is at this challenge…I know I was.
You could increase this challenge for preschoolers and older by placing the puzzle pieces in a bucket filled with dry rice, beans, or pasta and then burying them so they are partly or fully out of sight. This challenges their tactile discrimination skills even further and is great for both the child who is sensitive to touch input as well as the child who craves it.
Try it out and have fun!