About a month ago, we established a jigsaw puzzle table in Lower Elementary. Up to three students at a time can work on the puzzle in progress, with a timer available to help them keep track of the amount of time they spend there.
As the jigsaw puzzles are not on their work plans, students are not obligated to work on them. However, these puzzles are a great representation of how students are in charge of budgeting their time and their work in the classroom. Students often agree on 15-minute intervals at the puzzle table, and if one of the three chairs at the table is open, any student may choose to sit down and chip away at the puzzle for a while before returning to his or her other works.
The students in Lower Elementary have already put together three different jigsaw puzzles in the past month (one 500-piece, one 300-piece, and one 100-piece that has been done several times). Jigsaw puzzles have a lot of great benefits for children, including the development and practice of problem-solving strategies, project management, collaboration, tactile skills, and visual recognition skills.
As we continue to add different kinds of puzzle activities to the classroom (including Language Arts and Mathematics-based puzzles), we’ve seen students excel in their other works, too. The enthusiasm that a challenging puzzle creates is truly contagious, and students who are thrilled about one work in the classroom often find their enthusiasm spreading into their work in other subjects, too!