Friday, 23 May 2014


It all really began quite organically for Jonathan, my son. Round about the time that he 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 8 different animal peices 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 had absolutely no clue about synchronizing the shapes and colours (being able to fit the right animal into it's correct space).

What I then did was to get him toys that he could start stacking together and that fit into each other. He naturally took to these and got acquainted with them easier!

His first to  'master'  were brightly coloured toys of various shapes that each fitted into their appropriate groove. He learnt that a star shape, for instance, goes into a star groove and not a triangular groove

The next toy he mastered was constructing a tower.

 He grew to understand that the biggest piece must go to the bottom, with the sizes getting smaller and smaller, the higher the tower went. The conceptualizing of the differing sizes and placing them in their correct order wasn't an overnight venture for him. He fumbled quite a bit, but the concept eventually developed.

Constructing a tower is something he doesn't even think about now, it's quite a smooth sail!

After having noticed that he was very comfortable with the shapes and the tower, I recently then re-introduced the one-piece board puzzle. Boy was I amazed! He so easily and so quickly got well-acquainted with it. 

He knew for instance, that a 'particular piece' fitted into a 'particular groove'. He was aware of the color of each piece and quickly associated that color and shape with a particular position on the board! Shapes and colours! 

He knew to WORK at 'fitting in' each piece if it didn't slide in easily the first time.  
He still needs to work at turning it 180 degrees round if its upside down, but at least he knows where the piece is supposed to be

That's been our journey! I know it's gonna be easier now as we start developing from 1pc puzzles to 2pcs, 4pcs, 8pcs and so forth. I think he has the basic concepts in place to develop his puzzle making skills. I don't know if he could have been ready to do puzzles at an earlier stage (than now, when he is almost 2years old) and I don't think there's a single route to acquiring the skills that are necessary. But this was OUR journey, and it was organic for Jonathan!

How did you go about introducing your child to the world of puzzles?

Sunday, 5 January 2014


If your kids are at the stage where they are starting to learn numbers and the alphabet - where they can color in, trace, cut and paste (which is probably anything from the age of three or four), then a 'collective' and fun way to get them to develop in these and other areas would come in the form of an activity book!

My daughter has ENJOYED learning to add and subtract by using activity books.  The approach used in these books is so creative and enjoyable that a child actually finds fun in 'work'. Some of the activities in these books actually include a lot of popular TV, movie and Disney characters, which make them even more 'alluring' for kids.
Activity books have saved me the effort of coming up with different exercises to keep her mind stimulated during school holiday breaks. They have also saved me the headaches of researching and figuring out what's appropriate or not appropriate for her age.

Activity books come with many 'activities' a child can enjoy, whilst developing cognitively in the process. These include:
- dot to dot activities
- differentiation (i.e. identifying the differences between two similar pictures)
- word construction 
- completion of pictures (where only one half or part of the picture is given as a guideline)
- word and number puzzles
- coloring in, cutting out and pasting
- preliminary writing skills such as tracing out numbers and letters on wipe-clean pages

So, if you would like your child to be doing a little more of what they are learning at school in the home environment...and actually have fun in the process...why not invest regularly in age appropriate activity books??



With so many flashy toys around these days, one can't help wondering if there are still any benefits to the traditional wooden or plastic building blocks! Well, you'll be pleased to know that these 'good old toys' are still beneficial for your kids-cognitively, physically and even socially! And nowadays they come in various shapes, sizes, colours and materials...all aimed at achieving a common goal

My six year old daughter and 18month old son both enjoy playing with building blocks! The girl is obviously at a more advanced stage in her interaction with building blocks and often 'tells' elaborate stories through the things she constructs. The boy, on the other hand, is still new to the game and really just enjoys stacking together the various colors and shapes and breaking them all up again! Albeit - he too is developing in the process!

 The following are some of the benefits that come from playing with building blocks/construction toys:

1) Physical Benefit - Building blocks allow children to develop and improve both their gross and fine motor skills. As they reach for, lift, move and build the blocks it strengthens their fingers, hands, and arms as well as assisting in developing hand-eye coordination

2) Creative Benefit - Playing with blocks gives the child an opportunity to be creative as there are no limits to what they can build. It allows them to make their own design as well as give them the satisfaction of creating something on their own that did not exists before

3) Problem solving benefit - As they build and experiment with the different types of blocks they are also enhancing their problem solving skills; they learn firsthand what will and will not work. They develop skills in design, representation, balance and stability

4) Social Benefits - Block play encourages children to make friends and cooperate with one another. It encourages interaction and imagination as they strive together to solve problems. Research even suggests that kids become friendlier and more socially-savvy when they work on cooperative construction projects

5) Other cognitive benefits- Blocks encourage children to count, match, sort, group, add and subtract thus developing early math skills.  They also learn how to describe colors, shapes, sizes and positions as they build various structures

These are just a few pointers that have hopefully enlightened you on toys that you can invest in the next time you go toy shopping!

If you have building blocks in the home, what has your child's experience been with these? At what stage/age did your child start playing with building blocks?