This week's favorite product is the Melissa and Doug Shapes Chunky Puzzle
I absolutely love puzzles. There are some many opportunities to teach concepts, hand eye coordination and most importantly - have fun. We just found this puzzle last week and it has been an instant favorite with my littlest preemie. What I like about this puzzle is that the design is bright and colorful but also basic. Each shape piece is chunky so it is easy for little hands to pick up the pieces. This would make a great first addition to any preemie's growing puzzle stash.
Here are some ways to use puzzles to encourage development:
1) Touch and Feel - puzzle pieces are a great way opportunity for preemie's to feel a new object and surface. Encourage your preemie to feel the edges and sharp corners of each piece. Talk about how the pieces are smooth, the edges are round/sharp/pointy/etc.
2) Doing the puzzle - First let your preemie just experiment with taking the pieces out of the puzzle and then trying to put them back in. It doesn't matter if he/she doesn't put them into the right spot at first - the key is that he/she recognizes that each piece goes in and out. After he/she has that concept, start with just one or two pieces. The circle and square are the best ones to start with because they are simple and yet also very different from each other. If you can, user your hands to cover the remaining pieces so your preemie can concentrate on just those spaces. First hand him/her one shape and let him/her try to put into the matching spot. Hand him/her the other piece and then start again. Slowly expand to the rest of the puzzle once he/she gets the hang of it.
3) Shapes and colors - As your preemie gets older you can go back to a basic puzzle like this to start teaching him/her about shapes and colors. The simple design of this puzzle makes it a really great place to start.