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Alternate Activity 2: Three Puzzles

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Three large floor puzzles
  • Bell or chime

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain three puzzles, each with at least 25 large, brightly colored, odd-shaped pieces. Then:
    • Set aside the corner and edge pieces of all three puzzles.
    • Take several pieces from the first puzzle and add them to the second puzzle.
    • Take several pieces from the second puzzle and add them to the first puzzle.
    • Distribute the pieces from the third puzzle equally between puzzles one and two.

Description of Activity

Form two teams and assign each a floor or table work space. Give one team the first puzzle and the other team the second puzzle. Tell the participants they will be asked to complete the puzzles with their teams and the first team to complete their puzzle will win. Ring a bell or chime and say "Begin."

At some point, the two groups will realize they have pieces which do not belong to their puzzle and they are missing pieces they need. Eventually they will understand that they need to work with the other group in order to complete their puzzle. Let them figure out a process for trading pieces. Once they do, they will further realize that both teams have pieces of a third puzzle. Let them figure out whether they need to complete the third puzzle for anyone to win, and what to do about it.

After the puzzles are all completed, take some time to reflect on the group's experience:

  • How did it feel when they discovered some pieces were missing and others were there which didn't go with the puzzle they needed to solve?
  • How did the teams resolve the issue of trading pieces with each other?
  • How did the group respond to assembling the third puzzle as a whole?

Remind the group, in these words or your own:

We may not always have all the pieces available when we set out to solve a puzzle or problem. Just like Judith Sargent Murray, it may be necessary to look around a bit, or even create resources to solve the dilemma. It may also require a new way of thinking such as what happened when your group realized the pieces were mixed up and a third puzzle was involved.

Including All Participants

If any children are unable to participate in puzzle assembly on the floor, use tables instead. Children who lack the dexterity to fit puzzle pieces together may be able to help sort pieces by color and direct others to fit pieces into the puzzle.

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