Thursday, 21 November 2013


Round about the time that my son turned one, I realized that he had would often place the cap on his drinking bottle after he had finished drinking. Then I noticed it was happening with other things too-like he would try to screw back the vaseline cap onto its container, or to fit his sister's Lego blocks together and pretty much try to 'fit in' anything that could be 'fitted onto' something else!
This got me excited and I thought he was ready for one-peice puzzles. So, without wasting time, I got him a puzzle with  about 6 different animals, where he could fit each animal into its appropriate space! Well...I realized I was probably a little too ambitious. He did have the general concept of putting each piece into a particular space(probably from seeing his sister do her puzzles), but he wasn't able to fit the right animal into it's correct space...(nonetheless, I took heart)

What I then did was to get him toys that he could start stacking together or that fit into each other. These, he has taken to beautifully! Obviously fumbled here and there a bit (often preferring to "demolish" than to stack!) but he got acquainted with them easier. He still needs to learn that a star shape goes into the star groove only and not the circular or triangular groove...but hey...we"ll get there.

I'm pretty sure these toys are developing in him the foundational skills necessary for taking on the board puzzles! I will be sure to let you know when he conquers the one-piece animal puzzle which is patiently waiting for him!

For those of you with babies&toddlers, what toys are you investing in them with the aim of developing them cognitively? What's your baby's favourite toy? How does your baby/toddler occupy herself?

Thursday, 14 November 2013


My twin sister was quite the wiz-kid (now, wiz-mom!) during our high school years. She completed her O-level maths (passing with a smacking A!) a year earlier than the two year standard period which most of us do. So when we were doing our final year, she was already doing a higher level of mathematics called ADmaths. I vividly remember her working on these problems late into the night or in the wee hours of the morning and whenever she managed to solve a problem...THE JOY AND ELATION of accomplishment was astounding! She would scream, do a dance...anything to express the joy of 'I've done it again!' And somehow, her joy had a ripple effect on whoever was around when she had 'solved the problem' and we couldn't help but feel the same joy for her!

I see a similar 'sense of accomplishment' expressed in my daughter when she has 'conquered' another puzzle. (Okay, maybe not as dramatically expressed as my twin sister would but nonetheless- a definite expression of pride and joy!) She will parade the puzzle around for all to see! And often, she'll put the finished puzzle in a convenient place for her dad to also see and applaud when he comes home from work in the evening!I'd like to think that this activity has had a part in building her self-confidence because she has become more eager to take on new tasks(both familiar and unfamiliar). 

We all know that an applauded and celebrated child is a CONFIDENT child! So, the next time your child comes to you with a 'conquered puzzle!' (beside themselves with pride and joy at what they've done), know that another building block in their self confidence has just gone up! 

What activities have contributed in building your child's confidence? Any memorable episodes you can share with us?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Puzzle-making is an activity that demands quite a lot from a concentrating and problem solving.  To a small child, such disciplines are WORK! If your children are anything like mine, they thrive on 'having fun whilst learning' and puzzles are no exception to this rule. So, here are some tips on funning-it all up from time to time!

1) Include puzzlemaking as one of your family quality times. One of our Twinkldonians, Constance Soutter, shared with us the other day on how the whole family had so much fun doing puzzles together! You could even throw in some popcorn& fancy delights to snack on during the process. (Puzzlemaking is a great way of committing about 20-30mins of your undivided attention to your child when you've come home from work and are too tired to jump around and pillow fight!)

2) Once your child has got a hang of the puzzle, you can start timing him on how long he takes to complete the puzzle. Each time he does it, he should aim to beat his previous time record

3) You can also compete with your child on completing puzzles or she can compete with her siblings

4) Another Twinkldonian, Tavonga C Goto, shared with us the other day on a certain puzzle book her daughters have that combines storytelling with puzzlemaking. I think that's pretty neat! I  know my daughter would certainly love that approach to Puzzlemaking!

What other ways do YOU think can be helpful in making puzzle building a more enjoyable experience for your child? What comes easier to you as a parent-playing rough and tumble with your kids or doing quieter activities such as puzzles or storytelling? Both are important for your child's development and for your own bonding with them 

Sunday, 10 November 2013


It's amazing how we often approach the same matter differently because of the way we are all wired differently! This goes the same for our children!

Give a puzzle to one child and they'll approach it's construction by starting with the four outer corners, then filling in the borders and finally fitting in everything else in the middle! (Structured)
Another child will just start randomly, by picking any peice and then fitting in consequent ones according to their shapes and grooves! (Talk about trial and error!)
Another child, will use the full picture as a guideline for bringing the whole story together! (Working with the end result in mind)
And, I've realized that my own daughter uses the colours and details on the puzzle pieces to bring about her story together! 

The natural approach to solving a puzzle will be different for each child and there really is no wrong or right way. But there are certain guidelines you can follow to get your child started or to improve their approach...

1) Firstly you need to get the right puzzle! If it's either too easy or too hard for your child, your child will lose interest very quickly and not benefit from the activity. 
From about toddler age (1 year and older) you can start your child on toys that they can start stacking or that fit into each other. From there you can then move on to 1-piece puzzles, then 2-piece, 4-piece, 8-piece, 12piece and so forth. Go at the pace of your child but be consistent so that their progress is not slowed down by your inconsistency. You will know when they are ready to upgrade to the next level because of the speed and ease at which they carry out the activity!

2) Choose the right time and space for puzzle making! You aren't gonna get much done if the TV is blaring out loud, the baby is crying, your child is too tired, etc. The environment needs to be conducive for concentration

2) It helps to start with the end picture in mind when constructing a puzzle...or any goal in life really! So, have your child look at the full picture at beginning, especially if the puzzle is new. It's no harm for them to even refer to the picture from time to time as they are building the puzzle, in the initial stages of getting acquainted with the puzzle. But you want them to eventually move on to building the puzzle from memory and not by always referring to the picture

3) As mentioned earlier, you can help your child to identify the four outer corners of the puzzle, then all the border ones, so they can have the basic outline in place before filling in the rest of the detail. This should just be a guideline though because as they become more confident at the activity, they will probably discover their own unique approach.

These are a few practical tips that may be helpful in getting your child developed in the habit of puzzle making! Initially your involvement will be necessary but once they have mastered the art, yours will be just to purchase the appropriate puzzle  and ensure it's getting done. Im sure there are other helpful nuggets that you know about or have experienced with your own kids- DO SHARE!