Thursday, March 26, 2015

Puzzling skill development

Book week was approaching and I was scrambling for easy to implement but engaging activities for the secondary school. Inspired by the above tweet from @sarakiplinger aka the Library Princess I thought I would give the idea of a community jigsaw a go. I had tried doing a community puzzle it at a previous school in the primary school, but it was a bit of a disaster due to little hands stealing pieces and messing up the puzzles as they were nearing completion.

I looked up how to order the puzzle in the above tweet, but found it a little uninspiring with older titles so continued in my research and found Create Jigsaw Puzzles, an online company that will create and send you your custom designed puzzles very quickly and worldwide.

I quickly created a design based on the most popular, newly and just released titles, with interesting and detailed covers that would make the puzzle challenging in parts. I loaded it up and paid my money for a 500 piece puzzle. 10 days later the order arrived all the way from the USA. Just in time for book week.

Book week arrived and the puzzle was placed on a round table in the middle of a major thoroughfare with a couple of stools and chairs placed beside it. There was no promotion about the puzzle. We just let it talk for itself. Within seconds of students walking into the library a group started on the puzzle. They chatted about many things while completing the puzzle including the books they were piecing together - had they read them? They hadn't heard of this book - do you know what it is about? Did you like it etc... Many even sought to read the books they had pieced together on the table.

Through the week the puzzle has been completed about twice a day, sometimes a group completes it one sitting, sometimes individuals come along and finish one book and leave it, and sometimes individuals just sit and do the puzzle by themselves, but accepting casual help from passers by.
At first those who completed the puzzle were upset that we destroyed it 10 mins after completion, but as we explained puzzles are for doing, not looking at. They were accepting and looked forward to helping and watching another group finish the puzzle.
Due to its popularity we have left the puzzle out for an extra week, and it continues to be as popular with different groups as in the first week. We are now looking at extending our range of puzzles - double sided, classics, series etc. 

There have been many studies on the benfits of jigsaw puzzles on the brain essentially it comes down to the following from The Infinite mind blog

  • enhances visual perception
  • hones coordination
  • improves memory
  • develops critical thinking
  • increases dopamine production in the brain
  • heightens creativity
  • stimulates the whole brain
After observations doing group jigsaw puzzles also enhances collaboration, co-operation, altruism, conversation and inquiry.

I did not ask permission to use the book covers in this way, but feel it is fair use in the promotion of the books and it is for educational purposes, and I will not be using them for a commercial purpose.

Do you have community jigsaw puzzles in your library? If you don't, I would highly recommend it.


Karen Lindsay said...

What a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing it, Dianne. I intend to steal it next year when I will be at The Carol Morgan School in Santo Domingo.

Dianne McKenzie said...

Congratulations on your new job - steal away, it has been a very popular activity. Low level makerspace activity. We have just ordered our next puzzle - 1000 piece Harry Potter covers!

Leanne SERCOMBE said...

Hi Dianne
We started our puzzles yesterday - so good to see the mixed age groups doing something together. The Harry Potter one is tricky but just the right amount of challenge for Primary. The popular covers for Secondary relaxed a group of stressed out Yr 13s who are up to their eyes in revising for IB exams. Perfect activity for coming back into the library after a very hot Sports Day last Friday, too! So engaging for all. Thank you ;-)