Extending Learning with Puzzles and Games: Brain exercises for mental endurance

By: Carol Carmichael

Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Puzzles and games are wonderful activities to keep the brain active while extending learning. For example, young children use counting blocks and other tangible items to learn about shapes and abstract concepts like numbers. Learning abstract thought allows young children to explain their ideas in detail, which helps with problem-solving, language skills, and an overall sense of greater understanding. Jigsaw puzzles give children the chance to manipulate physical objects to develop an understanding of spatial relationships. Additionally, puzzles and games provide a safe haven for risk taking. As students fail over and over again, they build determination and mental endurance—great skills to acquire.

They Can Do Even More

Many benefits are associated with the use of puzzles and games to further extend students’ learning:

  • Enhance Problem-Solving – Learning how to problem-solve is an important skill to master. Whether it’s learning which way to turn a puzzle piece (hand/eye coordination) or asking if a puzzle piece looks like it’s part of a letter, students improve their critical thinking skills as they figure out what goes where.

Kids will think outside the box as they correctly fit the scenic pieces together to create a giant floor puzzle. This 96-piece Jurassic Period puzzle is full of bright colors and realistic dinosaurs. It also features a species guide for students to refer to once they complete the puzzle.

  • Develop Language Skills – Puzzles and games that use letters and words in a fun context are great for developing language skills.

These standards-based games feature 16 brain exercises to help extend learning. These sets are ideal for small group or center work. You can also use these games on an individual basis.

Consisting of 180 word/photo cards, this box of photo puzzle pieces helps children learn how to spell 60 consonant-vowel-consonant words. Intended to educate and engage young learners, this product can also assist you in building an appropriate curriculum.

  • Reinforce Math Skills – Math-based puzzles and games can help students extend their learning and skill building beyond the classroom. Some puzzles and games highlight specific facts and skills, while others highlight strategies such as classifying and sorting.

The Math Learning Games Board Games are ideal for differentiated instruction and cooperative learning groups. Each board game set includes four games, focusing on grade-appropriate math skills.

Learning to tell time is now easier than ever, thanks to the What Time Is It? Board Game. As a complement to the original Judy® Clock, this board game offers students a unique approach to mastering basic time-telling skills. Ideal for center activities or small group instruction, this board game is aligned to state standards and is recommended for ages 5–9.

  • Improve Social Interaction – Students may ask for advice or help while playing a game or completing a puzzle. Clearly communicating the rules for games and interacting while applying strategies can help teach students how to win, or lose, graciously.

Recommended for ages 7–11, this game offers a fun way to teach students multiplication and division. Ideal for whole class or small group instruction, the Multiplication and Division Bingo Board Game allows students to assist each other while teaching how to win and lose with good sportsmanship.

Recommended for ages 10–14, this resource book includes a variety of science-based games and puzzles. Ideal for peer-to-peer learning, this resource book gives students the chance to apply strategies they previously learned.

For more information about the variety of puzzles and games that Carson-Dellosa offers, visit carsondellosa.com.