The following is the text from this section of the 2009-2010 edition of The Joyful Child, Montessori from Birth to Three
To see other sections of this publication return to: http://www.michaelolaf.com/JCcontents.html
Visual Discrimination and Eye-Hand Control
As the child explores the environment, she becomes aware of and interested
in the variety of colors and shapes in the indoor and outdoor environment.
This is the time to give very simple shape and color puzzles as children
love to put things inside containers, such as puzzle pieces in spaces
The use of knobbed puzzles and other toys that call for special finger
and hand grips called the pincer grip that will prepare the child for
writing and other fine muscle activities, while it satisfies her need
to think and solve problems.
It is specifically the opposition between the thumb and index finger
that has made it possible to execute the extremely refined movements that
have produced the whole of human culturefrom architecture to writing,
from music to painting, and all the technology that enriches our lives.
Dr. Silvana Montanaro
Some toys, such as puzzles, have a specific way to be used, and others,
such as dolls and blocks, are more open-ended in their usage. Both are
creative. It is a challenge, however, to find toys that have an exact
way to be usedsuch as puzzles. Children delight in knowing the correct
way to use toys with specific procedures, just as they are proud to learn
the correct way to use a woodworking tool, or a musical instrument.
Through early experiences with such puzzles, children can develop many
useful skills: handling materials, refining movement, completing a cycle
of activity, carrying out logical steps in order, solving problems. There
is a built in control of error in puzzles so the child can judge for herself,
without the help of another person, if the work has been done correctly.
This is high level mental activity. So is the mastery of steps that logically
follow each other: grasp the knob, remove the pieces of the puzzle one
at a time laying them out on the table. Grasp the knobs again one at a
time and place the pieces correctly in the frame. This is so satisfying,
mentally and physically, that a child will often be seen repeating the
same puzzle over and over, sometime as many as twenty times, and then
breath a sigh of satisfaction when finishes. We do not know what occurs
in the mind of the child at these times but we do know that it is important
and should not be interrupted.
With good logical puzzle toys children learn to bring the use of the body
under the control of the will, to concentrate, to make a plan, to follow
a train of thought, and to repeat and perfect. This is the foundation
With open-ended toys children learn to apply these same skills and to
express and process their unique mental information. They process and
relive experiences, for example while playing with dolls or animal models.
The quality and variety of open-ended, imaginative play depends on the
quality and variety of experiences in the world of reality.
In choosing a puzzle there are several elements to keep in mind. Look
not only for durability, quality and beauty, but also for the purpose
and the amount of time the play, the child's work, will engage a child.
Knobbed puzzles offer more steps to master, insert puzzles beginning with
simple shapes are the best with which to begin. Two-piece jigsaw puzzles
introduce a new challenge and lead the child on to more and more difficult
and satisfying puzzles as he grows.
The most important thing to consider is that the child enjoys the work,
for it is through enjoyable work that she will repeat, focus, and grow.
Click here to forward this page to friends
© Susan Mayclin Stephenson, 2010 (www.susanart.net)
Permission to reprint or link to a website is granted if these words are include:
"Shared with permission of The Joyful Child Montessori Company: www.thejoyfulchild.us"