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When workbooks feel limiting to kids, using hands-on materials help them discover and absorb concepts in a concrete way. Here’s how the Bugzzle Pattern Puzzle changed our experience with math.
Young children, especially if they are visual or kinesthetic learners, learn primarily through the act of play. The input they receive from their senses paves the way for new concepts to be absorbed.
While there are children who are drawn to textbook and workbook learning, the concepts taught may fall flat for hands-on learners.
This is definitely the case for my spirited, kinesthetic, 4-year-old. In our preschool and Pre-K years, we’ve tried workbook pages and lessons read from storybooks, but nothing seemed to interest her.
When I saw the colorful and engaging design of the Bugzzle Pattern Puzzle created by Fat Brain Toys, I was intrigued.
A special thanks to Timberdoodle Co. for graciously sending us a complimentary copy of Bugzzle in exchange for our honest review.
The Bugzzle Puzzle
Recommended for ages 3-8, Bugzzle is a pattern-matching puzzle created to strengthen visual-spatial thinking, encourage problem-solving, teaches basic fractions, beginning geometry, symmetry, and sorting.
It includes creatively designed pieces that are dual-colored: one set is blue on one side and pink on the other, and the other set is orange on one side and green on the other side.
With 40 puzzle challenges spanning 4 levels of difficulty, Bugzzle grows with a child as their spatial skills increase. Each card shows the visual challenge on one side and a solution of what pieces to use on the other side.
Math Concepts to Grow With
My 4-year-old can complete the Level 1 puzzles mostly on her own. She can also do some of the Level 2 puzzles, but some of them take a little prompting and guidance.
She sometimes gets confused when the outer ring is green, such as is pictured in the Level 2 puzzle above, because the bug itself is also green and there is no definition between the colors.
While she likes to attempt the Level 3 and 4 puzzles, she usually needs quite a bit of guidance and help to do so. I appreciate that the challenges increase in difficulty and I know this puzzle with grow with her as her skills increase over the years.
With young 3-5 year olds, you can focus mainly on color distinction and learning about the dual-sided puzzle pieces, then as the child grows, you can move the conversation to fractions, geometry, and symmetry.
A Design Kids Love
While my daughter never asks to do math in a workbook, she often asks for the bug puzzle. If I leave it out on a shelf, she will pull it out on her own a few times a week and attempt the challenges.
She does ask for help and wants me to do it with her, but I feel like part of that is because she’s a social child (and an only child), so she wants the interaction of playing with someone else. I encourage her to try it on her own, then if she needs help I can help guide her to reasoning out the solution for herself.
When we got our box from Timberdoodle, Bugzzle was the first thing she grabbed and it has been her favorite by far! If you’re looking for a cute, fun and engaging way to help your child learn math concepts, Bugzzle might just do the trick!
Things to Keep in Mind
A few of the solution cards do not look “correct” in that they don’t correspond to the fractional pieces (as shown in the picture below). I assume that the reason for this is that with the dual-color pieces, a child could choose to use either color as the full piece and the fractional piece, so they chose to not show either color as a fraction.
However, this can be confusing to children when they look at the answer and don’t see the pieces they actually used to complete the puzzle. So know in advance that this could cause frustration and require an explanation from an adult.
As with all puzzles, there are a lot of little pieces and 40 cards, so keeping an eye on your child while they’re playing is important to safety and reducing the loss of pieces. So far we’ve managed to keep all the cards and puzzle pieces in the box.
Final Thoughts on Bugzzle Puzzle
Learning through play is so important, and I love resources that allow my daughter to explore, discover, try new things and make connections with her senses. Bugzzle allows her to work on matching, pattern formation, mirroring, color recognition, and spatial skills by critical thinking and trial and error.
Every time she pulls out the puzzle, she’s working on those cognitive skills in a way that’s fun and concrete to her. Bugzzle has become a beloved tool in our homeschool!
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