Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Puzzle Patch" Puzzles

A few weeks ago at Walmart, I found some puzzle sets that I thought would be a great addition to our classroom puzzle time.  They're the kind that have a cardboard back and frame that all the pieces then fit into.  Daniel was especially excited because one of the puzzles had all sorts of trains.  It looked to me like the set with the train was harder puzzles, and the other set would be easier ones for Mercedes -- you could only see two of the puzzles, and then a little piece of paper showed the pictures of all the puzzles.  They were $5 for a set of four, which seemed like a good deal.

Was I ever wrong!

First of all, the "easy" set only had one easy puzzle with shapes.  The others have at least 25 pieces each, and the one of the alphabet has 26 non-interlocking pieces that are just crazy hard for even Daniel to figure out.  So much for that being a good way to teach Mercedes her alphabet!

Second, these puzzles come all stuck together still, and once we'd separated all the pieces and tried putting them back together, the little tangs of cardboard left where they'd been attached made them not fit together within their frames anymore!  You can put them together outside the frame, but then what's the point of having the frame and back?

I've spent at least half an hour per puzzle carefully cutting off all the little tangs so they'll work the way they're intended.  So once again, let the buyer beware -- if $5 for 4 puzzles sounds like it might be a little too good to be true, it probably is.

Minus all the headaches of them not fitting together, though, these are really colorful puzzles that do have some educational benefits -- the United States puzzle has given Daniel some sense of where we live and where our families come from, and we've had fun tracing the routes of various trips we've taken.  The fish and animal puzzles are nice for them to learn to identify different animals and fish, and Mercedes does enjoy putting the shapes puzzle together, though the other ones she needs constant help with.

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