Ellis started preschool in September, but I am still doing my part at home to help her with learning her ABCs, 123s, fine/gross motor skills, etc. I’ve been calling these activities I do with her “learning fun,” but some parents on the internet are calling it Tot School, so you pick how you want to refer to it. I know my daughter is learning something at school, but I think it’s more social and listening skills. I just had a conference with her teacher last week. On the evaluation, the teacher checked Never under the category Uses a Spoon on Her Own. She said she checks Never only because she has never seen it. Um, I pack a spoon with her yogurt for almost every lunch. When I reminded her of this, she replied, “Oh, that’s right!” So, I understand she’s got a lot of little ones to look after, and I just need to do my part at home as Ellis’s main teacher. Because really, everything else is just supplemental, including preschool, at this point.
One great fun learning tool that we have a large supply of in our house is puzzles. Her very first puzzle was a Melissa & Doug that has cut outs of three large animals – a giraffe, elephant, and lion. She got the puzzle sometime in the summer after she had turned one, and she didn’t really seem to grasp the idea of it at the time. So I waited until Christmas last year, and she got another Melissa & Doug puzzle with farm animals that make their animals sounds when you put them in place. Initially it was challenging, but after about a week, she was a pro. That’s when I realized maybe she was ready for more puzzles. Today, she does a pretty good job of putting up to 24 pieces together by herself.
I mainly get her puzzles at exactly two places: the dollar store for cheap, cardboard puzzles, and Tuesday Morning for wooden puzzles, including Melissa & Doug. Retail, Melissa & Doug is expensive, but at Tuesday Morning, I can get those puzzles at least 50% off. I normally pay between $2-$8 for wooden puzzles at Tuesday Morning.
There is good and bad to buying puzzles at the Dollar Tree. Good: They’re cheap and have all the Disney characters and designs that Ellis loves. Bad: They warp very easily, so they can be played with only so many times before they end up in the trash. But puzzles get easy for Ellis after a while, so it’s nice to be able to get her new ones to challenge her after she’s mastered the old ones.
Here are some of our favorites. (There aren’t too many cardboard puzzles to share because they get thrown away frequently.)