- Fine and gross motor skill development using toddler puzzles are one of the best toys for development. Since toddlers like sorting puzzles and are learning their colors, shapes, and numbers when they play with toddler puzzles they are practicing how to solve puzzles efficiently. This will prep them for math and science too.
- Make sure they’re STEM-certified puzzles. They will have an authenticated badge. These types of puzzles will combine math, engineering, science, and technology. In one sitting, they’re using all four subjects in order to build important skills like; logical thinking, critical thinking, spatial awareness, dexterity, emotional intelligence and so forth.
- STEM puzzles for toddlers can help encourage them to own and express emotions, work through problems, communicate and connect with others. You can foster their emotional intelligence and set them up for a lifetime of success and happiness.
Fine and Gross Motor Skill Milestones
You’ve read that right if your child is anywhere between 12-36 months toddler puzzles are a large contributor to reaching and passing developmental milestones.
It’s so exciting to see your toddler jumping for joy and running to you as they completed a puzzle. They know when they’ve completed a hard puzzle how satisfying it is to solve the mystery.
Your excitement brings them more joy. They want to make you happy and it feels good to be supported.
Which brings me to the importance of knowing what milestones are appropriate for your toddler. That way you’ll be even more proud of your baby and brag away at how advanced he or she is.
- Improved control over hand and finger movements.
- Holding crayons, pencils, small pieces of toys (although make sure they don’t eat them).
- Put round or square pegs into holes.
- Practicing snaps and zipping.
- Screws and unscrews jar lids, nuts
- Unfastens buttons
How do toddler puzzles improve fine motor skills?
Using toddler puzzles like the Lock and Learn “snap” into place.
It’s a game-changer because your child doesn’t just simply take a puzzle piece and put it in a million times to see if it fits. They have to snap it in place so it “locks”.
By doing this they are using fine motor skills to not only flip it around several times but now they have to push it down until they hear and feel a click.
Then, in order to release the puzzle, they need to click on the white release tabs to set them free.
That means they are working their large and small motor skills all in one. Your toddler’s muscles are learning to work together at the same time.
As if those aren’t enough amazing benefits to your toddler’s development, the baseboard is Lego®, Duplo®, and Mega Blok® friendly.
That means they can remove the image and have a creative free-play session without making a mess.
All while they further develop their fine motor skills with pressing, pushing, and flipping pieces.
As they use a toddler puzzle they are strengthening muscles that will help them in other areas as mentioned above.
Gross motor skill Development
- Muscle development in their extremities improves.
- They can climb over furniture, kick a ball, run short distances.
- Walk more like an adult without falling down as much.
- They can walk upstairs while holding the railing and might just alternate their feet too.
- Stack 4-6 blocks
- Encourages head and trunk balance
- Encourages help and leg balance
Active play in children is required for brain growth, physical development, communication, and social growth.
From 18-24 months children began to squat while they play which we think is just a cute thing they do, but while they play with toddler puzzles, this is actually helping strengthen their leg muscles.
If your child doesn’t have good gross motor skills it can affect play skills.
A lack of spatial exploration skills leads to poor body awareness, decreased sense of personal play and uncoordinated movements.
As they play with puzzles, they are going from one side of the puzzle to the next to keep their little bodies active. That’s perfectly okay.
This actually brings me to the next developmental milestone.
Even though they’re still moving around, their concentration, patience, and attention span is increasing which is one of the most important skills your toddler could have in a world obsessed with instant gratification.
- Enjoy more complicated pretend play.
- Remember and talk about this in the past like “the other day” or “a long time ago”.
- Can complete up to 12 piece puzzles.
- Group toys by color, size, and type
- Can follow 2-step directions
- Enjoys exploring all five senses which are important for learning
- Use trial and error to problem solve
- Understanding cause and effect
How do toddler puzzles improve cognitive development?
As your toddler plays with puzzles, especially the Lock and Learn because it stimulates more than one of their senses.
Let me walk you through this.
First, they are feeling the puzzle piece, feeling the round edges, and feeling it “snap” into place when they get it right.
Then, they hear it “snap” into place. Which is pretty satisfying if you ask me.
Lastly, your toddler is playing with these Lock and Learn puzzles and they see it lock. They are stimulated in multiple ways as they confirm they got it correct.
Since toddlers like sorting puzzles and are learning their colors, shapes, and numbers when they play with toddler puzzles they are practicing how to solve puzzles efficiently.
One of the classic ways to solve a puzzle is to sort out the puzzle pieces how you see fit.
Your toddler can take all the red ones and put them together, then blue, then yellow.
Then they look at each color and notice the shape. Will one shape fit best in the stencil of this puzzle?
Let’s try it out. Now that it did, they can count how many pieces are left.
They are problem-solving, learning cause and effect, and practicing how to sort and count.
There are tons of puzzles out there, how do you choose what’s best for your toddler?
First, always make sure it’s STEM certified.
If you’re unfamiliar with STEM education-based learning, this blog explains it all.
Toddler Puzzles should be STEM-certified
STEM certification is something that is taken seriously by educators and parents.
That’s because in order for STEM to be taught and understood correctly a teacher needs to know how to take a regular activity and increase your child’s potential to learn difficult subjects by adding a STEM approach.
It’s an integrated approach to learning.
For example, instead of just free-playing with puzzles, STEM ensures there is guidance and understanding using a scientific approach of creating a hypothesis, trial and error, and solving the problem to prove or refute the hypothesis.
There are 6 steps: Focus, detail, discovery, application, presentation, and link.
Now that you know a little more about STEM educators and how they stand out from a typical educator, here’s the difference between a STEM-certified toddler puzzle and a typical toddler puzzle.
Stem.org is the longest continually-operating and privately-held STEM education research and credentialing organization in the USA.
They work with product, educator, and program certification.
They are the leaders in the growth of the STEM movement since 2001. They’ve been featured in MIT News, Reuters, NYMetroParents, Forbes. That’s just to name a few!
Toddler puzzles that are STEM certified:
- Have an authenticated badge (as seen above). It means it’s reviewed by the company above.
- Will combine math, engineering, science, and technology. In one sitting, they’re using all four subjects in order to build important skills like; logical thinking, critical thinking, spatial awareness, dexterity, emotional intelligence and so forth.
- Help maintain interest in children as the most struggle with short attention spans.
- Offer opportunities to use tools to build, take apart, and measure.
- This study showed that children between 26-46 months who played with puzzles had better spatial skills when re-assessed at 54 months as compared to those who didn’t.
When a product has a STEM badge, it means it will:
- Integrate seamlessly into STEM program and classrooms Credentialing
- Align to Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Math standards
- Support the development of students 21st Century Skills
- Engage children through hands-on learning and collaboration
- Ensure an unbiased, third-party review and evaluation process
Emotional and Social Skill Development
I’d argue that EQ is just as, if not more important than IQ because if someone can handle diffusing difficult situations from those with difficult personalities, they will handle all that life throws at them.
Great leaders who are always successful have great EQ.
That’s where STEM toddler puzzles come into play.
STEM puzzles help your child develop fundamental EQ skills too.
If your child doesn’t show signs of emotional intelligence, don’t fret.
The Gottman Institute notes is that if you encourage them to own and express emotions, work through problems, communicate and connect with others, you can foster their emotional intelligence and set them up for a lifetime of success and happiness.
Here are some ways your toddler develops EQ by playing with puzzles
- The ability to express emotions by clearly naming them. For example, I feel sad, angry, hurt, or happy.
- Show empathy to others. If someone is crying because they broke a toy, spilled their milk, or even fell and your child runs over and say’s “it’s okay” and pats their back or wants to give a hug. They’re showing compassion.
- Being curious. Are they constantly asking “why” or drawn to stories of others overcoming challenges?
- Kids who are easy-going about changes in routine or manage disappointing and unexpected news. This is a component of EQ.
Now onto specifics.
- Mimic what and how things are said by adults and other kids
- Start to notice they can be independent
- Disobey more than before to test boundaries
- Parallel play. They’ll play next to each other
- Sometimes they’ll play together for a bit too
- Defense of their things and learning to share with others by taking turns.
How do toddler puzzles improve social development?
This is the perfect age to have your toddler use puzzles to learn to play with others. They can take each puzzle piece and divide them evenly. Then, take turns places a puzzle piece in the correct spot.
This teaches even more patience, it teaches them leadership skills too. That’s because if they have experience playing with it they will already know where each piece goes and show their friend how to do it.
- Shows a broad range of emotions (terrible twos). Yes, this is a good thing even though on the inside you’re screaming “Send help!”
- They feel good about dressing themselves
- Identifying emotions in others accurately
- Managing strong emotions like anger, excitement, and distress
How do toddler puzzles improve emotional development?
When your toddler plays with puzzles and is upset they can’t get the puzzle to fit in, they’re practicing expressing their frustration and anger.
But, do they get mad and throw it? This is a perfect opportunity for you to walk them through how to process what’s wrong and how to work through their emotions to solve the problem.
Toddler puzzles are shaping other parts of their social and emotional development at the same time which helps them work through those emotions like frustration and anger.
What’s exciting is that next time they’re in a similar situation, they will remember how they dealt with their emotions and use it to work through their new problem. That is EQ.
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