Identifying things that go together is a great skill for toddlers to work on. Using pictures they’re familiar with, such as simple illustrations from their favorite book can make this task easier, since they already know what the image looks like.
- White card stock
- Your child’s favorite book with simple illustrations, such as Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle
- Optional: Laminating machine
Ahead of time, print and cut out your pictures and cut them in half. Young toddlers don’t need the complication of having a lot of pieces. However, if you were doing this for an older child, you could cut them in to different pieces or even shapes. I was able to find Brown Bear Brown Bear pictures online at 1plus1plus1equals1.com, so I didn’t even have to take the time to scan the pictures, just print them right out. Also, if you happen to have a laminator, I would highly recommend laminating your pieces. Peanut had half of our pictures scrunched up by the end of the activity and I had wished I laminated the pieces.
To start, I spread all of the pictures out on the floor so Peanut could see all the pictures. Then, I asked her to find the puppy, which I knew she’d be able to identify. When she found the puppy head I I asked, “Where’s the rest of the puppy?” Then, I helped her find the back of the dog and put the picture together.
Then, we continued with the other animals. Sometimes Peanut would identify an animal on her own and then we’d hunt for the rest of the picture and sometimes I would have to point out a picture, name the animal, and help her find the rest of the picture. If Peanut was having trouble finding the pictures that matched, I’d help her out by picking up a few different pieces and asking her if it was the rest of the animal we were looking for. Obviously she wouldn’t get it right every time, but she would get really excited and scream, “Yeah!” when we realized a picture was what we were really looking for. Then she’d grab the piece from me and try to put the pictures together (which is where a lot of our scrunched up pieces came from).
As we built the pictures, I set them aside completed in a long row so we could see all of the work we’d done. When we were done I also asked Peanut what each animal was and the sound it made. Peanut had a lot of fun and even when I thought she was done she wanted to play with the pieces more.
Vocabulary used in play:
“This is a puzzle!”
“Which animal is this?”
“What sound does the (dog, cat, horse, etc.) make?”
“Does that look like the right picture to go with this one?”
“Where’s the rest of the (dog, cat, horse, etc.)?”
“Do these go together?”
“That looks silly, I don’t think that’s the right picture.”
“That looks like a dog, I think we found the right picture!”
“What an awesome job your doing of looking for the right picture! You’re working so hard!”
Had a laminated the pieces, I would have put them in a plastic bag and kept them as a busy bag activity for when I needed something to keep Peanut occupied without my help.