Shaping Minds with Puzzles

Article excerpt

From a very early age, children are fascinated with puzzles. Put a puzzle on the classroom table and students will gravitate to it. Why are puzzles so appealing? What value do they offer to the learning process? You will want to read Barbara White's informative article "Are Jigsaw Puzzles Educational?" [http://searchwarp.com/ swa17295.htm]. White concludes that jigsaw puzzles are educational when they are included as part of the learning objective. Solving different kinds of puzzles can help students to visualize and understand concepts, learn vocabulary, and build problem-solving skills. Allowing students to create puzzles reinforces their knowledge of the subject. See the sidebar "National Academic Content Standards" for corresponding standards. The Web sites listed here contain interactive puzzles that can be completed online.

PUZZLE HISTORY

Elliott Avedon Museum & Archive of Games: Puzzles

Learn about the history of puzzles from experts and curators who have assembled this collection at the University of Waterloo. Anne Williams, a well-known authority on jigsaw puzzles, presents more than 3 centuries' worth of information about them. Language puzzles cover crosswords and cryptograms from the 20th century. Instructions are provided for the logic classification that includes mathematical and optical puzzles. Rounding out the museum's archive are mechanical and manipulative puzzles with commentary by Jerry Slocum. This site is a great starting point.

Fact Monster: The History of the Crossword Puzzle

Did you know that the first crossword puzzle was published in 1913? Can you name the newspaper in which it appeared? What is a cryptic puzzle? The answers to these questions and more are included in this interesting article from Fact Monster.

History of Jigsaw Puzzles

Browse more than 3,000 puzzles by makers, artists, categories, and countries. Representative examples are displayed with color illustrations. If you have questions such as how to frame a puzzle, click on Q&A for detailed information. This site is geared to the collector, but the images are worth the visit.

PUZZLES FOR LEARNING

Animal Puzzles

Solve the Animal Puzzles! Figure out which animal is hiding inside each of the puzzles. Clues help you unscramble the images and name each creature. Younger students will enjoy this activity.

Astronomy for Kids Puzzles

Astronomy for Kids is a comprehensive site that includes information on planets, constellations, and sky wonders. After reading the information, students can play an interactive word search that requires knowledge of the planets while finding words to fill in the blanks. Hints are provided as well as answers. As students complete these puzzles they learn about the solar system. This is an excellent complement to the study of astronomy.

The Big Picture

In this engaging activity, students put together a series of jigsaw puzzles gathered from the American Memory collections at the Library of Congress. After finishing each picture activity, students are quizzed on what they learned. When the entire series of pictures is completed, students are invited to discover the "Big Picture."

theKidzpage.com

Play jigsaw puzzles online that range from six to 40 pieces. The puzzles are arranged into categories with a variety of themes and pictures. Put the puzzles together and identify the bugs and slugs, flowers, fish, birds, and animals. Many of the puzzles allow the user to select the number of puzzle pieces desired to design the picture.

iKnowthat.com

Visit the workshop gallery for a multitude of puzzles and problems that are provided to reinforce skills in mathematics, social studies, science, reading, language arts, and the arts. Topics include creating your own weather, problem solving, word searches, and learning about geography through interactive maps. …