I love to use puzzles in speech therapy and want to share some new terrific puzzles to liven up therapy sessions. Interesting puzzles can be used as a reinforcer for articulation therapy or language lessons, having the child give a number of responses, words or phrases with their target sound, or language target and then put together a few pieces of the puzzle. In addition, beautiful scenes on the completed puzzles serve a second purpose in that kids can talk about the picture, practicing language structures or sounds too. Used as a group activity, puzzles provide for lots of social language, problem solving and turn taking as you discuss what piece you are looking for and search together–I need the one with a tip of pink butterfly and ripply leaves or where is the ear of the jaguar with a bit of the rough branch?
Ravensburger is famous for their beautiful puzzles. I still have some tucked away that our family enjoyed with our kids. Their recent Chromadepth Puzzles with 3D Glasses add some fun to the play. This newest PAL Award winner, was a hit yesterday as I used it in an articulation lesson. My little client couldn’t wait to try out the glasses but I made him do his work before play as he practiced his /s/ sentences in order to complete part of the puzzle. Ironically it was his idea to “say a bunch of sentences and then get to put together a bunch of pieces!” He wanted to start with the jaguar lying on a tree branch in the beautiful wild jungle, tropical forest scene. He asked if he could use the glasses after each animal that he pieced together, adding to the reinforcement of the activity. Our completed puzzle then served as a stimulating picture to describe, using his sounds correctly. There is plenty to talk about for a language lesson–the jaguar lying down on the tree branch, the monkey dangling above him, or the snake slithering around the branch. Another terrific Ravensburger puzzle with loads of detail in its cutaway view is The Pirate Ship Super Sized Floor Puzzle.
Chunky preschool puzzles like, Chunky Lift Out Farm Puzzle by Bigjigs Toys is a wonderful tool for preschool therapy. The thick farm animal and farmer pieces can be used to put in and out of their cut out tray or come alive in 3D form as they become pretend play pieces. When working on language goals, I used these forms to act out 1-3 words or phrases to repeat describing colors, shapes and actions. Add a truck or house for them to go in and out of or make a little Play Doh road or pond and you have the makings for a little story.
For little ones, Alex Toys’s Wooden Mix and Stack Pop Shop is perfect for entertaining play while working on language goals with preschoolers. The pops each have 3 sections that you can match by design and color or make your own creations mixing chocolate and pink icing and toppings. Don’t forget an eyes, nose and mouth piece for each so they can talk back and forth with each other when completed! Take the play a step further and set up your Ice Pop Shop with some play money and you have a perfect shopping experience.
Find-It Games came out with Pieces of History Puzzles this year that are fun for older kids to construct the 100 piece puzzle and use the detailed guide sheets for extra learning and discussion. The Item Key accompanying each puzzle gives an interesting fact about each animal or object using challenging vocabulary–“chameleons have stereoscopic eyes” or “hedgehogs curl up into a tight ball of bristling spines.” Use the puzzles for a language lesson reinforcing the study of Egypt, the forest or religious history.
Disclosure: the above puzzles were provided for review by their companies.