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Introducing: Learning Toys & Tools (Jigsaw Puzzles)

Several weeks ago, in a post about the Future of Shafer…Power!, I hinted at a new opportunity for the blog.  Today I would like to unveil Learning Toys & Tools – a series we’ve created to accelerate the fun and learning we’ve been enjoying along the way.

In a nutshell, we’ll be doing reviews of learning toys and tools as part of our entrepreneurial journey.  Our goal is to put these products to the test and determine whether A) they’re fun and B) they teach us something.  The reviews will be done by both the kids and me – initially written and including pictures – and ultimately through short videos embedded in the post.  We may even do separate reviews to give you both a parent’s and kid’s perspective.

We have created a short list of products to get us started but will eventually rely on our readers and partners to suggest unique items for review.  The first item up for review is a classic: jigsaw puzzles.

I sat with Owen and Malia as they finished separate puzzles and asked them a few questions:

Dad: Do you enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles?
Owen: Yes!
Dad: Why?
Owen: Because you learn a lot from puzzles.  Like the A, B, C puzzle, (an alphabet puzzle we own) they’re part of what we learn.  If we didn’t have puzzles, how would we learn?
Dad: Are puzzles difficult?
Owen: Sometimes.  And sometimes they’re not.  Sometimes there’s a lot of puzzles and sometimes there’s a little bit of puzzles.
Dad: What’s your favorite thing about doing puzzles?
Owen: That you can have fun with them too.  If puzzles weren’t fun, then why would they be invented?

Dad: What do you think about puzzles?
Malia: They’re fun.
Dad: What’s fun about them?
Malia: You can learn about them and get pretty good at them.
Dad: What’s your favorite puzzle?
Malia: A girl princess.
Dad: How do you think they make puzzles?
Malia: You have to get some paper and draw a picture.  Then they put on a bottom and a top and it shows what kind of puzzle it will be.
Owen: Hey, you didn’t ask me that question!
Dad: Ok, Owen, how do you think they make puzzles?
Owen: I think the first thing they do is get cardboard.  The second thing is they have to be really focused with light colored marker.  And then they draw a picture.  And then they cut some of the cardboard off and they make it real skinny.  And then they cut it out and they draw a picture on the box and tell you how many pieces there are and then you’re ready to sell it in a store.

Overall, I was very impressed with their answers.  It’s fun to hear their thought process, even if occasionally difficult to follow. Bottom line – in their opinion – is that jigsaw puzzles are indeed fun and teach us something.  Hey, I’ll vouch for them.  Based on their answers alone, I can definitely see them grow.

From a parent’s perspective, I’ve never questioned jigsaw puzzles as a learning tool and still enjoy doing them from time to time.  They seem like a great way to work on spatial relationships and problem solving skills and certainly increasing your focus.  I was not able to find any expert opinions online but I’m not going to overthink this one.  The result?  Jigsaw puzzles are Shafer…Power! approved.

What are some of your family’s favorite learning toys and tools?

ps – our favorite puzzles are from Melissa & Doug and Ravensburger.

Next: The Bottom Line: May, 2012

Previous: Shafer…Power! Chocolate Bars

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. John #

    Nice story. What’s the entrepreneurial lesson?

    May 24, 2012
    • Couple lessons here John, the first one being the need to be transparent with your partners on the journey. By launching/announcing the Learning Toys & Tools series, there will be no surprises in the future. The other lesson is that you need to consider multiple ways to monetize something if that is your ultimate goal. Earning some spare change is our fourth goal (as highlighted on “Our Goals” page) and we’re laying that foundation with this series. Does that help?

      May 24, 2012
  2. We have that puzzle (and love Melissa and Doug). You might check out Colleen’s “Raising Lifelong Learners” post today, which is all about puzzles.

    May 24, 2012
    • Thanks Kirsten for sharing her blog. She nailed in on the head with, “developing critical, creative, and logical thinking in kids is a crucial part of raising lifelong learners and strong citizens.” My hero!

      May 24, 2012
  3. Penny #

    Top 3 are legos, legos and legos. Actually, anything that puts the kids’ minds to work. Lots of great options out there!

    May 24, 2012
  4. sheryl #

    we gravitate toward products that are not made from cheap plastic. apologies to our friends in china.

    May 25, 2012
  5. Solving puzzles and playing brain games can actually help maintain the mental faculties of an individual.

    December 10, 2013

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