3 easy ways to use a jigsaw puzzle to teach cooperative skills

Please work together!
Please share!
Please take turns!

How many times to you catch yourself saying this to your kids? This is indeed a challenge for parents and teachers as well. We all know that the effort is undoubtedly worth it given that cooperation is key to relating and building relationships; skills we all hope to foster in our children.

Included in our Sibling/Friend Conflict box is a simple jigsaw puzzle. Puzzles are a good activity to encourage cooperative play. Typically, when a group of children is given a jigsaw puzzle the scenario follows: one child dumps out the pieces and immediately the race is on to grab pieces and work independently to put it together as fast as possible. In a mixed age group of siblings or friends, the younger kids feel immediately less adequate and thus may lose interest.

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Included in the Sibling/Friend Conflict booklet are some ways to encourage cooperative play with the puzzle.

  1. Make it more Challenging: You can make it more challenging by dividing the pieces between the persons who are participating and taking turns trying to put a piece in the puzzle. Try having the children take turns (adults can play too) drawing one piece at a time out of the box and working together to see if it fits into another piece.

  2. Encourage Cooperation: You can also give the youngest child the edge pieces and the older child(ren) the inside pieces. Encourage cooperation vs. competition by taking turn. Encourage children to compliment each other and work together by modeling positive phrases, such as; “Good job!” and “I knew you could do it!”

  3. Hide-n-Seek: You can also hide the pieces in the room where you are putting the puzzle together and have the children “find” a piece to put in the puzzle to take a turn. If it doesn’t fit then the next person takes a turn alternating finding pieces and working cooperatively to try and fit them in the puzzle. You can use the plastic eggs to put the pieces in and hide around the house. Kids love this!

Curly Clues Club is a monthly box delivery service for kids ages 3-8, focused on social and emotional development. All boxes include original content designed with love by an expert speech & language pathologist.

Jane Koerbel