The kids were waiting for the puzzle to arrive (“I’ve never made a 3D puzzle”) and couldn’t wait to open the box. They assembled the van’s bottom frame, wheels and axle and then started in on the 162 piece puzzle. The boys, 7, 9 and 11 years old huddled around Grandpa to start their hunt for pieces by number. It was fun to see how play began to resemble a team. Kids started to gather numbers in a certain section, “I’ve got the 20’s!” The 7 year-old was counting out loud, “One hundred ten, one hundred eleven, what comes next?” Arrows on each piece tell you the direction to build and you can always turn over the pieces to check your accuracy based on the illustration. Their rising energy was palpable as strings of pieces were joined together and they became increasingly efficient¬†at solving the puzzle. Strings of pieces were somehow forming a 3D van. There were streams of problem solving approaches being verbalized–one was numeric, “I need number 45,” sorting by groups of 10, and looking at the picture and lining up the windows visually. Toward completion, they were working as an efficient team! All of a sudden strips of flat pieces were moulding to the shape of the front of the VW. Everyone was equally amazed at what they had built. What a wonderful family activity that crossed generations, with devices and screens turned off to make way for conversation, problem-solving and teamwork!

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