Archive for the 'letter formations' Category

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection #2

Last blog post, we looked at simple inset puzzles.  Before moving on let’s take these skills we discussed and see how they apply to writing:

Inset puzzle
Visual discrimination: Shape of the puzzle piece and the space it  goes in are the same or can be different A letter needs to fit on or between  lines. A half circle and a long stick may or  may not be the same letter (d,b)
Visualization: A puzzle piece must be turned over  or rotated in the child’s mind and in his
A letter may be turned over or rotated to form a new letter (b,p,n,u)
Child must visualize (remember) the shape and where it goes as he  removes the pieces from the board A letter must be visualized (remembered) while writing it to be  matched to the picture of the letter in the child’s mind (long-term memory)
Color or size does not change the shape of the piece A letter’s shape does not change regardless of color or size

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

Puzzles and writing? What could be the connection?!

We just explored how concepts are developed with block play.  A child learns to make a square out of blocks before they are able to draw one from memory.  Puzzles offer many opportunities to develop concepts of space just like blocks do (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, around, over etc.).  There are two types of puzzles we will consider:  the inset puzzle and the multiple piece
interlocking puzzles that make a picture.

For younger children the inset puzzle introduces:

  • Visual discrimination: shapes of objects and  matching spaces. A shape and space can be the same or they can be different.
  • Visualizing as they move a piece to place in the hole: A shape can be turned to make it fit into a like space. However, they also learn that a circular piece will never fit into a square hole even if you  turn it.
  • Size and color discrimination:  A large piece will not fit in a small area!  The color of an object may or may not determine where it should be placed in a puzzle.
  • Many other concepts: can you think of some?

Our next blog we will look at the more complex interlocking puzzles and what a child can learn from them!!!

Visual Perception: Blocks and Puzzles

Is your child having trouble drawing a square?  Can he make a square out of blocks?

As a child develops concepts of up, down, around, left ,right, etc. with his body, he is also playing with these concepts in toy play.  Seeing a five-year old child who
cannot draw a square, I may ask him to make a square with blocks.  Often they cannot which means we need to begin with the three D concept of a square before teaching the drawing strokes of a square.

Let’s look at what concepts must develop to eventually draw that square:

Vertical: up and down: Near one year of age, a child begins to stack toys.  Playing with the concept of vertical, a child at this age may be successful with two or three blocks. But they are successful!

Horizontal:  Closer to two years of age, a child will align blocks in a row.

Combining vertical and horizontal: Nearing two and a half, a child can make a line of blocks but also adds blocks on top.

But not until they have taken these concepts and used a pencil to develop these same concepts through scribbling, imitation and finally copying, can they eventually draw a square around age four and a half.  Pretty amazing!!!!! Please encourage lots of toy play!!!! Don’t forget blocks!  Don’t forget puzzles!

Puzzle play:  next blog!


We have our second winner from the e mail list and PTAC sign up sheets.

Congratulations to Carol Bateman.  If you would e-mail me your address, I will mail your book Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters.

This book based on my 35+ years of experience  is filled with pages of activities, pictures of normal pencil grips at various ages, ways to learn letters without a pencil,  fine motor suggestions for the bath and the kitchen, and so much more! The contents are listed on a previous blog and you can purchase the book at my website:

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Pre Writing?

What do puzzles and parquetry blocks have in common?

A child needs the ability to:

  • —  Move the pieces (fine motor)
  • —  Mentally or visually break down (visualization) space: part to whole or vice versa
    (which are you?)
  • —  Visually discriminate shape and space (visual discrimination)  or
  • —  Match “like” shapes/letters with the space
  • —  Turn an object (block or piece) in space for placement (position in space)

Let’s add several of the components of writing a letter and see if there are overlaps with the above:

  1. Verbal label: name or sound

2.    Visualization of the symbol

3.   Spatial awareness: visual and body

a. Shape of letter

b. Parts of letter: size of each part

c. Part to whole perception or vice versa                                             

d. Directionality:  right, left, top, bottom, round, half circle, etc

4. Visual memory of each part  and whole

5. Sensory and motor skills to move the pencil

Could it be that skills developed with puzzles and parquetry blocks provide foundational developmental  skills for writing letters?  Shall we explore that possibility?


Please Join Lyn At:

The PTAC Conference July 19-21 at the Woodwind Presbyterian Church 10555 Spring Cypress Road where she will be presenting 4 workshops:

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Pre Writing
Birth to 3 years of Age: building Hands for Fine Motor
Red Flags in Motor Development of Pre K children
Games and Activities to Enhance Handwriting Skills
Its a GREAT conference with many exciting speakers!  Come Join US!!!

Dysgraphia: Last of the Tips for Helping

Computer: A computer helps eliminate the questions of “How do I make the letters?”, “Where are the letters placed on the line,” and “Where is the sentence placed on the page.” computer use is not to replace handwriting as worksheets still demand legible handwriting but does offer recourse for longer assignments.  In severe cases of dysgraphia, software allowing a student to dictate into the computer is available.  Consider an Alpha Smart instead of a LapTop:

Shorten writing assignments

Encourage editing and proofreading.

Encourage a good pencil grip.  Use an inclined clipboard and a gripper if needed for hand fatigue or discomfort.

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R