Tag Archives: Documentation

Summer of Science: Round Up 2

This week we did a bit with water. It is summer after all. For pictures see my Instagram feed at the right.

Day 1: Moon Phases

Today was the first day of Ramadan. Since the Muslim calendar runs on a lunar cycle you know Ramadan has begun when the new moon is sighted. Today we read a little bit about moon phases so she would understand how the month of Ramadan would progress. It gave us some good new vocabulary too- waxing, waning, crescent, etc. 

Day 2: Shaving Cream Clouds

This was a very simple but exciting experiment the combined a chat about weather and about color theory. Fill a glass with water and spray the top with a pile of shaving cream. You then drip food coloring into the “cloud” and slowly it leaks through into the water. The color initially swirling into the water is fascinating and beautiful and if you do more than one color they mix together in a very dramatic way. I got the idea of Pinterest and it was a hit.

Before we started I asked Cam if she knew why/how clouds rained. I was very surprised to find that she does. I suspect she got it off one of her PBS videos, but I was impressed she recalled it. During the experiment we made predictions of what colors would form if we mixed red and yellow, red and blue, and blue and yellow. Most of the time she had no idea so I might try some other fun color experiments this summer. 

Day 3: Do Oil and Water Mix?

We explored how oil and water repel each other using an ice cube floated in a glass of oil. This was fun because to make the water more visible floating in the oil we dropped food coloring onto the ice cube. As droplets melted the food coloring mixed with the water and dripped into the oil. The end result looked a lot like a homemade lava lamp. It helped that I poured the oil into wine glasses. :) 

Cam is into the experiments where you do the initial set up and maybe even a bit of observation then come back to them over several intervals and make more observations. 

Day 4: Thursday

Thursdays are tricky. If I can plan something very quick and simple and Cam wakes up early enough, gets breakfast and over her process of waking up, then we can do something. This week after getting up late we had swim lessons again and then Cam went to my mom’s house for the afternoon. We didn’t manage to do anything especially science-y today.

Day 5: Water Sings Blue

Today we did a little Poetry Friday. I read several ocean themed poems from the beautiful book Water Sings Blue. I love the blend of information and imagery in this book and it’s very appealing to young audiences. Cam can sit through several poems before wanting to move on to something with a bit more narrative, but those few poems are so worth it. This was perfect too because I brought it with us to the restaurant where we ate dinner and it gave us a few minutes of something to do while we waited for food.

Day 6: The Save Water Game

 A fun little board game in our book How Things Work. Water is always a big deal out here in California and our family likes to talk about conserving it. This was a good little reinforcement of that. 

Day 7: Harvesting

I started our tomato plants from seed way back in January and today we will harvested the first fruits!!! Home-grown, homemade salsa here we come!!!!!

Summer of Science

100dayspledgeI recently came across this project called The 100 Day Project. It encourages you to do one thing for 100 days, with an emphasis on making or doing something. The project technically started back in April, but I just don’t have time to do this kind of thing every day during the school year and I feel like I had my plate full this spring. So instead I decided to start late (which they still encourage you to do) and use it to frame my summer. For this blog I will be doing #100daysofscience with Cam. It will be 100 days of a simple, easy, and fun science exploration each day. 

I have the first week planned out and I think I will try and center weeks around a theme or concept that way it doesn’t feel like a bunch of disjointed projects. It might also allow us to hit on something Cam is interested in and explore more deeply. 

I will be posting (hopefully!) a picture each day on Instagram. I kind of hate taking pictures daily and I also don’t really like having yet another social media platform to check in on, so we’ll see if I can manage. You can see my latest in the widget in the sidebar over there. ———> I haven’t quite decided how to balance Instagram and the blog, but I’m thinking of writing a weekly round-up post where I share the pictures and a brief explanation of what the experiment was (and how successful and popular it was) so anyone interested can recreate it. 

In addition to these posts I am going to try and have a Friday Five book post each week this summer. While I enjoy sharing about our urban farm, our parenting successes and failures, and food, I am most passionate about books and I want that to come through here more. I haven’t been all that enthused about blogging lately (see my previous comment about a full plate this spring), and I want to find that passion again, because I do love it when I do it. 

One last note, I am also going to be doing this with my library/book review blog so if you’re following me on Instagram you’ll be seeing those photos coming through too. That one will be #100daysofdiversebooks. Quite frankly you may wish to see those too. Many of them (most) will be picture books that I test out on Cam and am looking at with an eye toward adding them to my library’s collection so they’ll be relevant here as well. 

Here’s to one more week in school and summer on it’s way!

Summer of Mess: Sink or Float?

IMG_6248This was a perfect activity for a hot day. We gathered up a bunch of objects to test if they would sink or float. We carried them outside to the water table and tossed them in one by one. 

The most interesting conversation we had:

Me: Do you think you would float?

Cam: Yes, because I breathe air.

Me: Are you thinking about your lungs? [I thought this might harken back to a conversation she had last week with my stepdad about lungs and air.]

Cam: Yes.

IMG_6250 IMG_6251

If you try this…

…model what it means to make a prediction. I asked Cam each time we tossed in another object to make a prediction and it took her a little while to catch on to what I meant even with an explanation. I think it would have been faster if I asked her to make one and then modeled it myself. 

…be sure to get a variety of objects including bowls and containers. These are harder to know if they will sink or float. You can also fill them up with water and see if they float when full. We put in several of these and I’m really glad we did because it led to a discussion of boats and buoyancy. 

…this is a great time to break out the loose parts. We got out jewels, rubber bands, Christmas lightbulb covers (it’s a long story), plastic dinosaurs, buttons, and plastic ice cubes. If you’re willing to sacrifice a few, wooden objects might be interesting to throw in because they will float. 

Activity in the Hive: Here Is the Beehive…12345

While Cam has shown some interest in letters, she is really drawn to numbers. She learned them very quickly (both identification and counting to ten) without any prompting from me. Personally I prefer the laid-back approach to “teaching” this stuff and came up with a few passive ways to help Cam explore numbers more. 

Inspiration

Reggio-Inspired Math Table from Wildflower Ramblings

Playful Numeracy: Making Math Visual and Hands On from Racheous

Numeracy Resource Learning Area from Walker Learning Approach on Facebook

Waldorf Gnomes- Mathematics from The 5 of Us

Reggio-Inspired Preschool Math Tray from And Next Comes L

Books

We have a huge bin of counting books in our classroom. A lot of the titles we’ve found used, but there are some we’ve bought too. Using books to passively teach numbers is a great strategy, especially if your child really clicks with one title and you read it over and over and over and…

  Animal 123Animal 123 by Britta Teckentrup

This has been one of Cam’s favorite books since she was less than a year. Teckentrup’s illustrations are simple, beautiful, and really engaging for young children with bright colors and clean lines and plenty of contrast. The pages fold open to reveal the next number and one more of what is being counted. We have a couple tears from less-than-gentle baby hands, but it’s a great teachable moment when that happens. Not only does the book teach the counting 1-10, but it’s a subtle introduction to the concept of adding. 

My First Learning Groovers123: My First Learning Groovers 

We came across this book at Costco. It has the numbers 1-20 and each number has grooved numerals that the child can run their finger along. I usually read this one with Cam so I can be sure she is tracing the numbers in the correct way so as not to establish any bad habits. This is a similar idea to the Montessori tactile numbers and if you can’t find this book you could look for Montessori: Number Work by Bobby and June George.

We All CountWe All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers by Julie Flett

We have tons of these counting 1-10 books in our number books bin, but I adore this recent purchase. Part of the appeal is it’s diverse: it’s bilingual with a Native American language (Cree) and the people pictured inside are not the default white. But it’s all about the illustrations here. The cover has a big flock of burrowing owls, one of Cam’s favorite species, that are just darling. The illustrations are clean and modern looking too which I think makes actually counting the objects easier. It’s also a board book which makes it sturdy.

 Ten Nine EightTen, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

An oldie, but a goodie. This was one of my favorites when I was a little girl and now it’s one of Cam’s favorites which makes me happy. Ten, Nine, Eight makes for a great bedtime story, but what I appreciate about it now is that it counts backwards. Not only does this show children that numbers work in reverse (and demonstrates minus one) it also helps them break out of the order of 1, 2, 3. Essentially it plays with numbers. The illustrations are really charming and cozy. It also makes you look around your own room for things to count. Math is everywhere. The book is available in board book format and paperback (you can often find it in thrift shops and used book stores) and is translated into Spanish. 

 

Media

Montessorium: Intro to Math

This is an app for the iPad. It does a lot of the traditional Montessori math lessons like the red and blue rods and counters, but in a digital format. It isn’t very expensive (considerable less than buying all the physical materials) and is very engaging. It’s clean, beautiful, and works well. Cam likes to play it although a few of the activities are too hard without one of us helping her (which is really how kids should be using apps). 

Poems

Poems and rhymes are great ways to teach young children. Their rhyme schemes and sing-song quality make them very memorable. Cam has amazed me on more than one occasion by reciting a poem or song I’ve recited without prompting. 

1, 2, Buckle My Shoe I was only familiar with the 1-10 part of this rhyme, but it goes up to twenty. Sometimes I feel like we spend so much time working on counting to 10 that counting higher, as Cam wants to do, gets left out. 

Here Is the Beehive This is a counting down rhyme and is a finger play. The link is a great resource from BBC which includes the full lyrics and a little video. The lyrics may come up hidden, just click the arrow to open the box to see them. 

Activities

Kid-O 0 to 9 Magnatab: I thought this looked cool, but wasn’t quite sure if Cam would agree. Turns out she absolutely loves it. We brought it to restaurants, she left it out on the coffee table to play with all the time, and she’s still playing with it a month after its delivery by St. Nicholas. It essentially teaches kids how to write the numbers (there is also an alphabet magnatab in both print and cursive). You’ll need to do some front loading first by showing them and monitoring them writing the letters, but once I was confident Cam was forming them mostly correctly I let her play with it by herself. Also be careful about forming bad pencil grip habits, from a teacher’s perspective those habits are SO hard to break. The tablet features a control of error (for all you Montessorians out there). If they haven’t done a careful enough job not all the little magnets will have popped up. Just a little warning, those magnets popping up into their holes make noise. I am noise averse and it doesn’t really bother me, but be aware. 

Montessori Teens Board: Cam is really into counting above ten now. I know I sound like a pushy mom saying that, but it was all her. I decided to help her visualize these numbers better (and maybe build a bit of place value understanding as we go) and make her a Montessori tens/teens board for 10-14. I’ll make a 15-19 later when she’s more confident going that high. A teens board is essentially a row of 10s stacked on top of each other with tracks to slide in a 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. into the ones place and covering the 0 to make 10 into 11, 12, 13, etc. The actual material is pretty expensive for what it is so I decided to make one. Here’s a round up of DIY Teens Boards on Living Montessori Now. I made one similar to the La Paz Home Learning one and it cost me less than $8. It was also pretty simple to make (an hour max). But you can make it more or less fancy depending on your level of handiness, your budget, and the time you want to dedicate to it. 

Magnetic Numbers: Exactly what these sound like. They’re the number counterparts to the traditional magnetic numbers everyone has seen on fridges. It’s a super passive way to play with numbers and simply get a sense of what they look like. I bought a bin with letters (lower and upper case) and numbers for fairly inexpensive. The ones we have are these, but they don’t seem to have the set like we bought with all the letters and numbers. Go figure. This company also makes their letters color coded in red and blue like Montessori materials so it may be a good substitute for the moveable alphabet if you need something a bit cheaper. I’m very happy with the quality of them.

Red and Blue Rods with Numerals: I used the red and blue rods I made (1-9 because the box was too small to fit the 10 and because 10 takes two numerals to make) and paired them with a bowl of blue magnetic numbers to match with the rods. Cam still has to count each rod so she tires out before we’re totally done with this activity. I also have to sit with her when she does it, but that’s fine with me. She enjoys doing it and counting together. 

For Your Bookshelf: Beautiful Stuff by Cathy Topal and Lella Gandini

Beautiful StuffBeautiful Stuff: Learning Wtih Found Materials by Cathy Topal and Lella Gandini

From GoodReads: Encourage your kids to express their creativity as they discover, collect, sort, arrange, experiment, and think with found and recyclable “stuff.” The real-life experiences of teachers and children will inspire ideas that you can try at home: choose objects and turn them into a display, transform materials into a face, build and glue wood scraps to make constructions. Appropriate for children four years of age and older.

At it’s heart Beautiful Stuff is a piece of documentation. The teachers at XX began by having students collect a small bag of materials at home and bring them in. They suggested recycled materials, broken jewelry and anything the kids were drawn to.

After bringing their bags to the classroom, the kids were invited to sort the materials. This went on for some time as they sorted by color, type, and various other attributes. It was incredibly fascinating to see how the kids viewed the materials and chose to sort them. Some of their distinctions were quite impressive. Shiny objects sorted out when sorting by color, for example.

After finding a good place to scale back on sorting activities, the materials were placed in a creation corner of the room. Sorting was allowed to continue, but not as a whole class project. The class went on to make several art pieces with the materials, self portraits and wooden structures. While working on these projects they moved from one language, or medium, to another, making a line drawing of their wooden structure for example. This really got the kids to think about their process and look closely at their work. 

The book details the process and thoughts of the children and teachers. The teachers offer thoughts on what they did right, what didn’t go as they planned, and how the project evolved over the year. There are pictures of the children working, the teachers interacting, and the creations of the children. And there are plenty of quotes and summaries of what the kids said. Each chapter ends with reflection of the teachers, their thoughts on what the kids learned and what they did. 

This could certainly serve as an introduction to what project-based, Reggio-style learning looks like and how it unfolds. It can also be a manual for how to do this specific project, although I would say you may have to tweak it for your child or particular group of children. I think this is a particularly good example of how Reggio teachers introduce topics to the kids and still let them run with where the project will go. Sometimes it can seem that Reggio has no curriculum and is completely student driven, which isn’t exactly the case. 

My only complaint is that the production quality of the book is so-so. I could have stood to have better design. Some captions and text blocks were, not exactly confusing, but distracting in their placement and didn’t help the flow of the text. The pictures were clearly all taken with a flash and were often grainy and dark. It think this was in part due to the fact that they were taken on film, but I think it speaks to the importance of taking better pictures. All in all, though, this was minor and the content was so overwhelmingly excellent.  Highly recommended as a guide and as an example. 

Handwork: Martinmas

Gluing Lanterns I wrote last year about Martinmas and what we did. Our celebration this year was similar. Since St. Martin was known for sharing his cloak with a beggar one cold winter night we purchased a coat to give to the local coat drive. We made cookies which I will share in the December Cam in the Kitchen post. We also made the traditional lanterns for the holiday.

Martinmas LanternSince Cam was older this year I picked a lantern that she could make on her own. I made four and she made three which was about right. We’re giving them out to family and friends again. 

Supplies:

  • smooth-sided jars
  • pieces of tissue paper
  • white glue
  • paintbrushes
  • small bowl for glue

What To Do

  • I got some things set up on a tray a day or two before we actually did the craft. This made it easy to get it out and make the lanterns, but isn’t essential. I do suggest some prep before you get started though.
  • Cut the tissue paper into small- and medium-sized pieces. They will be covering the outside of the jars so use the sizes of your jars to decide how big to cut the pieces. 
  • In the small bowl, mix some white glue with a bit of water to thin it out. It should be think enough that it doesn’t really drip when painted on the jar, but not so thick it’s hard to spread.
  • Paint a layer of glue onto the outside of the jar. You can work in sections or cover the whole outside.
  • Begin placing the pieces of tissue paper around the outside. They can overlap. If you have a young child it might be easier for you to hold the jar while they place the tissue paper scraps on.
  • Once you have a patch (or the whole jar covered) brush over the tissue paper with the glue sticking the pieces down more and creating a thin layer to protect the paper. This will keep it from peeling off so easily and acts a bit like Modge Podge.  
  • Allow to dry completely. Place a candle inside (we use the battery operated candles, but you can use votives or tea lights).

For Your Classroom: Sewing & Fashion

 Introduction

I’m changing up the format of this series yet again to align more closely with documenting what we’re doing. I’ll still have a number of the same features, such as featured materials and books, for the topic, but the series will be a little more focused. Over the spring and summer I made Cam a number of dresses, pj sets, pants, and even a tunic top. The first few items I sewed I made while my mom babysat. It was just easier that way. However I ended up picking up a few of the projects on days Cam was home. She was fascinated by the process and as the wheels turned in her head she began to “make something” for her stuffed animals as she played with the leftover fabric scraps. To engage this interest I developed a few provocations that break down the clothes-making process into steps she can at least conceptually understand and can begin to mimic. At this point she just doesn’t have quite the grasp on all the work that goes into making an article of clothing, which not only means she doesn’t know where to start, it also means she can’t simplify the process to make an easy dress or shirt for her animals. She also doesn’t have the sewing and fine motor skills mastered to a point where they can be a tool to help her create things and bring her ideas into the physical world in some way. I don’t expect she’ll come away from these provocations sewing outfits, but if she begins to grasp how a project is broken into stages and a general sense of how clothes are made, I think she’ll be satisfied. I also hope they will help build those fine motor skills more so they do eventually become a tool for her to use instead of a skill she hasn’t quite mastered.

Books

Bruno the Tailor by Lars Klinting

Bruno the beaver needs a new work apron so he sets about making one. This is an awesome book for this kind of interest. It’s instructional without feeling like it’s instructional. You see each step of the process with a page of tools he uses in each step. The drawings are simple and sweet. Bruno has a little upset at the end when he discovers he’s made the apron a bit too long. No worries, though, he cuts it down to the right length and re-hems the bottom. The back matter includes some terminology and Bruno’s pattern with measurements. 

I Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn

A little girl wears her favorite dress every Monday, her favorite day. As the year goes on, the dress gets too small so her mom makes it into a top, a skirt, a tank top and several other iterations. Finally it’s so small that she puts the final piece into a collage drawing of what her dress used to look like. The day she wears the favorite piece of clothing changes too, going through the week. The last page has her favorite pants looking a little short. I love that this book shows the reuse and repurposing of clothing. It might encourage kids to look at their clothing in a very different light (moms too, maybe). 

Archie by Domenica More Gordon

A wordless picture book about sewing. Archie is a dog with a pet dog (just go with it). His aunt sends him a sewing machine and Archie gets to work, after a bit of thinking, on making an outfit for his dog. This outfit is a hit with the other dog owners in town and Archie is swamped with orders. Then a client asks if he can make an outfit for her. This kicks off another round of orders. A cute book about creative sewing. I love that it seems prior to receiving the sewing machine Archie is not a tailor. He just tinkers around and comes up with a good idea. The wordless aspect makes it accessible even to the youngest reader. 

How Clothes Are Made Provocation

I broke the clothes-making process into four steps:

  1. Draw a picture
  2. Make a pattern
  3. Sew it
  4. Try it on

Overall I’m looking for her to internalize the idea that making something takes time and follows a process. I am sure the actual act of making a shirt or pair of pants, even for her stuffed animals, won’t happen for a long time. And that’s fine. This is about exploring the process and seeing what it’s all about. I made a poster (which I won’t share because I didn’t use copyright free images) which is hung behind the provocations. Then I cut out and laminated the picture for each step and placed that in the basket with each provocation.  I am helping her take a set of clothes for one of her stuffed dogs through the process. I’m involving her in as much of it as I can, but ultimately she’s helping me plan and watching. You might notice that this follows Bruno the Tailor pretty closely which worked out well. I didn’t have the book when I designed the project so I was really pleased to find a book that went along so well. 

Draw a Picture

IMG_2527For this provocation I got Cam one of those sets of fashion rubbing plates. Cam is not to the point yet where she draws much of anything particular so I thought this would allow her to draw an outfit without all the pressure. Using the rubbing plates is also great fine motor work. The tray has the rubbing crayon, some colored pencils, paper cut to size and the rubbing plate holder and plates. It may also inspire Cam to draw her own outfit eventually, although I’m not worried about it if she doesn’t. 

Make a PatternIMG_2532

This is just a large basket with a real sewing pattern for her to take out and look at. She can cut it up or wrinkle it to if she wants. There is a pad of paper for drawing pattern pieces onto, colored pencils, a black pen and marker, a measuring tape, and a few clothes catalogs. The catalogs I’m having her look through for inspiration and I showed her how to draw an outline around the clothes to see about pattern pieces. Again I don’t expect her to make an actual patten, just get a sense of the process and the components of the process. 

IMG_2536Sew It

This is probably the most hands on step. I have some yarn & tapestry needles pre-threaded with thin yarn in a bowl and some small plastic canvases. Cam can practice the actual act of sewing on these canvases. Although the large plastic yarn needles seem safer they are a little too big to fit through the holes on the canvas. The tapestry needles are not really sharp, the tip is blunted, so I’m not overly concerned that she’ll hurt herself. This is also the step Cam has, surprisingly, been the least interested in so far.

Try It OnIMG_2530

This is the most fun step for Cam when I make her some clothes. Since she isn’t actually making something I got her one of those magnetic dress up dolls. She is so in love with this toy and it comes out a lot. I’m pretty happy with it too and tried to pick one that wasn’t so stereotypically feminine. This girl has all kinds of hair to try on as well as pants, shirts, skirts and dresses. She looks like a kid, too. Of course there aren’t any clothes to alter, but I think that might be a little overwhelming for Cam at this point. 

Next Places to Go…

I’m not sure yet. For the time being I’m leaving everything out for her to explore. I think these are concepts she’ll need some time to work with and really internalize. I am thinking about a child-sized sewing machine, but that is still a ways off. We’ll see what else piques her interest her. Or maybe we’ll let this lie.   

Reflection: 2014/21

Crossover: This past week I went to a conference on technology in the classroom. It’s a great conference with a lot of offerings and this year there were a lot of sessions on Makerspaces. I was so struck, when listening to these presenters, how the maker movement is so similar to the Reggio Emilia approach. Everything from student interest driven projects to project based learning to documentation. This is one of the reasons I really love running the makerspace at school. It ties in so well with the educational philosophy I have come to hold as sort of gold standard. 

School: Cam had a fabulous day at school on Wednesday!!! She was engaged in all the activities, was singing and talking and no tears. This isn’t the only no-tears day we’ve had by a long shot, but she was so happy that she didn’t want to leave and didn’t notice when I showed up to pick her up. Now if only every day could be like that. We’ll get there. 

Documentation in Reggio Environments

While reading in the Miss Reggio blog I came across an article (Learning to Document in Reggio-inspired Education) that looks at the phases a teacher goes through while learning to document in a Reggio way. It’s an incredible article and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There were several thoughts I had while reading it that I wanted to share and discuss, always the sign of a good article.

In all of my reading, documentation and observation have come across to me as two pieces of the same idea. It has even felt like they have been used interchangeably although they are obviously different. What finally clicked for me while reading this article was that observation could be called recording and it’s a subset of documentation. Observation is also just straight recording. You may do this in all kinds of formats, photo, video, paper and pencil, etc., but it is recording nonetheless.

Documentation, on the other hand, is the synthesis, interpretation, and showing of the recording. Documentation is there to show the “aha moments” of the children. Your recording, or observations, provide the raw data to help you find, synthesize, demonstrate, and support these moments. It is also incredibly important to understand that the purpose of documentation is to make the children’s learning visible, not their doing. Documentation is not a narrative of what happened. Not exactly. That is the observation. Documentation has added value in that you have added your understanding and interpretation to what you have seen and made visible what the actions and words of the children reveals about what and how they are learning. I think this quote touches on this idea and the fact that this is one concept that sets the Reggio Emilia approach apart from other educational approaches:

 “Pedagogical documentation is a research story, built upon a question or inquiry “owned by” the teachers, children, or others, about the learning of children. It reflects a disposition of not presuming to know, and of asking how the learning occurs, rather than assuming—as in transmission models of learning—that learning occurred because teaching occurred.”

I especially like the term they chose to refer to documentation, “pedagogical documentation”. They discuss this choice of term early on in the article and I think it really sums up what sets apart Reggio documentation from the regular “documentation” seen in many schools and daycare centers.

Finally, I find this article very comforting, in that it gives me permission to make terrible documentation panels and documents initially. Intellectually I knew documentation and observation would be skills that needed to be developed, but a lot of my reading hasn’t been really clear on how that skill might develop, pitfalls to be aware of and the like. It’s also one thing to read about what good documentation contains, but it’s another to actually create it. Seeing that there are common mistakes and how collaboration can help correct them and build your skill was incredibly refreshing and heartening.

Puzzle-mania!

Puzzles 2I’m not sure when it happened or why it happened, but Cam suddenly has gotten really into puzzles. It’s just about the only thing she wants to play with. Those and her stuffed animal buddies.

It’s been very illuminating watching her play with these toys. It is so easy to see how to giver her something that is comfortable for her, something that is a challenge, and to give her different types of challenges.

She started off with a set of four-piece puzzles of farm animals that was given to us by a very generous friend (thanks, Trish!). Those were at first a bit of challenge as they were her first encounter with the interlocking, jigsaw style puzzle. But she pretty quickly mastered those.

Puzzles 3I ordered her a set of 12-piece puzzles that were also jigsaw puzzles. They were really hard at first and she needed a lot of guidance in how to think about assembling them. Now she has a good handle on them with some help, or if given some quiet time, she can do them on her own.

As far as different types of challenges, we have those wooden tray puzzles Puzzles 1and a few peg puzzles that offer her some fine motor and shape matching that is really good for her (and not as easy as it seems sometimes). I also just picked up a large cardboard puzzle in a frame for 50 cents at the thrift shop. It will require her to think about the picture and to learn some puzzle strategies (like matching the edges). It has way more pieces than she is used to, but she LOVED the picture when she saw it on the shelf so I think the motivation may carry her.