Last week our Tangeos Jr. arrived. If you have a toddler, this is a perfect puzzle for her (ignore the ages 4+ label). When we opened the box, Little Miss and Wild One were so excited. I didn't even get a chance to explain how to complete the puzzle before Little Miss started working on it, correctly! She placed piece after piece in the right spot while I just stared at her dumbfounded. When she finished, she proudly exclaimed, "I did it!" Then, she started putting each piece back in the travel case (that's right, she put her pieces away). After she put the last piece away, she chose a new puzzle and began working again. She repeated this process again and again and again. After the fifth puzzle, we tried level 2, but it was too challenging without the piece guidelines. Little Miss tried several times, but then flipped the card over and started working on level 1. "I like this one better Mommy." Now, what about Wild One? Well, he didn't get a chance to work on the new puzzle by himself. She tried to let Wild One work on the puzzle by himself, but if he didn't place the puzzle piece fast enough, she would quickly point out where the piece belonged. When I would tell her to let her brother work on it, she would reply, "Momma, he needs my help." This is from a two year old. Thank goodness for technology. I quickly did a search on my phone for tangram toddler puzzles and came across Tangams Lite. Wild One loves this one. He especially likes "the boy" puzzle. Finally, Wild One got a real turn using the Tangeos puzzle (Little Miss kept saying, "look Momma, we're sharing" I'm so proud of her). He quickly found the cat puzzle and began working on it. At one point when he needed to flip the piece over, he said that the piece was broken (how cute). Then, he put the piece back and took it out again and "Mommy, it's fixed now."
Another puzzle that Little Miss has liked playing with is her knobbed cylinders. This is a classic Montessori tool that encourages problem solving, spatial reasoning and develops the pincer muscles for fine motor development. I love watching her solve this puzzle. We place two or three of the blocks on the table at the same time (with the pieces already removed and mixed together). She'll then work piece-by-piece identifying where each cylinder should go. Wild One prefers working on them first thing in the morning, after that he's too awake to sit still and finish the puzzles (he has so much energy- he barely sits still even when he's eating).
I was going to put this shape puzzle away, since she completes it so quickly- I felt it wasn't offering a challenge. However, I found her playing with it again and again, so on the shelf it will stay. Months ago, we used it to sort pom poms by color. I'm planning on trying that again, except instead of the kidabunks using tongs, they'll use their new chopsticks. These are fantastic! They have three little rings to hold the three fingers properly in place. Plus, they even make it for left-handed tots like my daughter!