The girls' love of puzzles started around 18 months old. They loved the chunky wooden ones where you match the piece to the picture and wrangle it in the cut-out. Just after their second birthday, they graduated to alphabet and number cut-out puzzles. Those were definitely more challenging, but they soon grew to love them, too.
At some point last fall, after the girls turned 2 1/2, I bought their first cardboard puzzles. Each puzzle had 25 pieces and was marked "For Ages 3 - 7".
I'll admit I didn't give the girls free reign with those puzzles for a long time. In comparison to the nearly-indestructible wooden pieces they were accustomed to, the cardboard pieces seemed so fragile. I didn't want them to get bent...or worse yet, lost.
[Is now the time to admit I have slight OCD tendencies???]
[I partly justified my approach, since a kid is "supposed to be" at least three, and my girls hadn't yet had their third birthday...I couldn't expect them to play alone, right???]
Certainly at first, the girls needed a lot of help with those puzzles, too. It seemed that they needed help in identifying shapes...is that an edge piece? And they also needed help in looking at the picture...is that part of the lion's mane?
It was a really interesting study to watch them look at the shape of the pieces, and the color of the pieces...what seemed like independently of each other.
For a long time, we always worked on the puzzles together...all three of us. The girls would usually take turns putting pieces in place, and a certain someone would always make sure she got to add the last piece. (Note: it was not me!)
One day, a month or so ago, the girls wanted to play puzzles. We probably started out together, but after a minute or so, one of them wandered off to something else, taking me with her.
And whaddaya know??? The lone puzzler completed that puzzle all by herself! And she didn't bend any pieces! No pieces were eaten! No pieces were lost forever into the air conditioning vent!
Within the next couple of days, both girls were doing puzzles by themselves, left and right. We made a special trip to the store just to buy some more.
I was so proud...and slightly ashamed, too. Who knows how long the girls possessed this skill.
It was a great reminder to challenge the girls...and to encourage more independent play.
Within the last couple of weeks, we've invested in several bigger puzzles, 48 and 60 pieces.
We often sit down with those together, but I encourage the girls to work on different scenes of the puzzle. (Baby A may take the fire truck, while B works on the farm.) It's an exercise in finding the pieces of each scene, and then it's fun to put A's quadrant together with what B has done.
Last weekend, Baby A asked to work on a 48-piece puzzle. It was "coffee / newspaper" time for Mommy and Daddy, and Baby B was involved in something else.
I could not believe my sweet girl spent close to 45 minutes on that puzzle...and completed it!!!
These girlies never cease to amaze me, especially when I challenge myself to give them room to grow.