Sunday, July 13, 2014

Community Building Puzzle

It's almost that time of year again!  Can you believe it?  We're nearing the back-to-school frenzy.  I know some of you just ended your year and some of you have already started back again.  Those of you in the southern hemisphere, of course, didn't get a summer break over the past few weeks.  Crazy how quickly time flies!

I'm Jessica from What I Have Learned, and I'm here to share with you a fun back-to-school activity you can do with your students at any time of the year.  I've used it in grades 1-5 and it's a fun community building activity.

It's a puzzle!  What kid doesn't love a puzzle, especially one they create!  I started out doing puzzles that were shaped like a rectangle, but saw some shaped like kids in a teacher-friend's classroom.  I knew we had to change up our boring rectangle puzzles!

I outline all my shapes in black marker, although that step is optional.  I tell students that they have to write their name large on it (names are blocked out on the image above) and color it however they want to.  Then, I divide students up into the boy / girl teams to assemble the puzzle.  Students work together to put all the pieces in place.
Several years ago, I made it into a product.  Each year, I just print a new set of puzzle pieces on card stock, outline each piece in black (again, optional) and have students color them during the first week of school.  I do cut out the puzzle pieces, just to make sure everything fits!  I also label the back of each piece with with "B" or "G" to signify if it's the boy or girl puzzle.  The labels are on the front side of each print out before cutting.  I don't have my girls do the girl puzzle or the boys do the boy puzzle.  They're all mixed up.

Actually putting together each puzzle is a little bit of a challenge for some kiddos.  My second graders do fairly well.  Last year one group got it and one group didn't.

Sometimes I leave the puzzle unassembled and have it as an early finishers activity.  Other times, I put it up for display.  Each year is a little different!

So, how are your puzzle building skills?