In our multitasking world it is heartening to find family recreational activities that can be fulfilling on multiple fronts as well and can be done all ages combined.
In our family, one such activity is making puzzles. It brings us together as we sit down for hours to find that elusive piece that fits. From the littlest one who gets to push the pieces in that the older find, to us the parents who enjoy the chance to talk with the kids while our eyes and hands are busy huddled over the table.
Our kids started early with a large piece puzzle of Canada. Through this they learned eye hand coordination, the colors of the rainbow, and inductive reasoning to bring the pieces together. At the same time it was a quite activity that would keep them focused for quite a while. As they got older they started to examine the map more closely and through their questions, we had interesting discussions about locations, historical events, and of course our national symbols!
My husband is a big fan of historical maps and on his last trip brought a puzzle of the city of Paris that builds up in several layers, each one depicting a successive era in the city’s history, topped off with some 3D pieces of famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomph. The additional difficulty level of the four dimensions brought delight to the our now master puzzlers who would have found it daunting not so long ago. Practice does make things easier!
But we would like to think that the most important thing our kids are learning through this activity, is that a family is very much like a puzzle – we as individual pieces are unique and awesome, yet when put together – work so much better.