Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fun and Games: Puzzled by New York

Tim's daughter Anne gave N. an amazing 4-D Cityscape New York City Puzzle for his birthday in late August and he's been diligently working away at it.  He was thrilled to finally complete it last weekend (with some help from Grandma!).

It was a great gift because he loves New York, buildings, and miniatures.  He had a wonderful time working on it and he really learned the layout of the city from the tactile process of laboriously fitting the pieces together. 
First you have to put together the grid of the city.  This was the most challenging and time-consuming part of the puzzle.
Then you add the buildings.  The "fourth dimension" of the puzzle's title is time; the plastic buildings are numbered chronologically according to their date of construction and an accompanying timeline poster lists their names and dates as well.  Naturally, N. loved this: history and buildings!  He didn't start with Old City Hall and work his way towards the present when placing the buildings, however; he put them in as he happened to figure out where they went.  But he still learned a lot about the history of the skyline and the buildings of New York. 

And now that he's completed the puzzle, he spends a lot of time touching and looking at it, absorbing the shapes and outlines of the city.

Many children's museums and science museums have hands-on exhibits to foster tactile learning; such exhibits often seem to be less than effective or engaging for N.  But I think the difference with this puzzle is that "fourth dimension," time.  The time it took him to put the puzzle together and the time he has to come back to it again and again make it deeply engaging and productive as a learning experience.

Bonus reading: Here's an interesting meditation on the role of time in learning, by Lori at Camp Creek Blog.


Mom and Kiddo said...

We see this puzzle in a toy store window near our home nearly every day. Kiddo wants it sooo sooo much! But I have no idea where to keep it after it is completed. Plus, his brother would probably take it apart, leading to much chaos.

Fanny Harville said...

Yet another example demonstrating what Kiddo and N. have in common!

Anonymous said...

It was fun helping N complete it. I came in on the easiest parts!