Kids’ Corner: Puzzle games encourage many areas of child development

| July 14, 2020

Jadon Smoulder shows off the solution to the nail balancing challenge puzzle that his pappy, Gary Ault, made for him. Puzzles such as this help children develop critical thinking skills, improve fine motor skills and just have fun. (Submitted)

Puzzles and puzzle games are a great way to spend time with your children and also help them develop important skills they will need in school and throughout their lives.

Using puzzle toys encourages a child to develop the ability to concentrate deeply and set goals. Each time their puzzle falls apart, they will learn to be patient and to try again, even when they are upset or disappointed. Puzzles, both jigsaw and toys, develop hand-eye coordination and many other very important fine motor skills.

Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills are important for your child’s handwriting skills. Puzzle toys also increase their memory as they remember how they tried the puzzle and think about other ways to accomplish their goal of finishing it. These are all important critical thinking skills – logic, memory, and visual perceptual skills.

Jadon Smoulder’s pappy, Gary Ault, made his puzzle. It’s called nail balancing act. The toy consists of a 3.5” x 3.5” wood block with one nail in the center, as straight as possible. The challenge is to balance six nails of the same size on the nail that is driven into the block. The idea for the puzzle came from Tom House of Killbuck. The nail holes on the sides of the puzzle are just to store the six nails when they aren’t being used.

Smoulder, 11, said, “Balance is key, but I’m not giving the secret away. It’s a cool trick to figure out.”

If you work on the puzzle with your child, it will help them develop communication skills and help them learn to work with another person and perhaps turn taking. Your child will also remember that you took the time to do something they enjoy, and those memories will last forever.

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