Communication really "fits" into puzzle play. Depending on how many pieces your particular puzzle has, it can take varying amounts of time to solve.
Remember that If it is too challenging your child may lose interest. If your child has difficulty attending to tasks you probably want to pick a puzzle that can be completed within ten minutes. Be prepared to assist them and remember to have fun together while doing it. If they enjoy completing the puzzle with you, they'll want to revisit the task in the future! You can always work on extending the time and difficulty level of the puzzle as you practice this skill.
Here's a list of target vocabulary for a puzzle task:
Nouns: box, pieces, corner. whatever items are portrayed in the puzzle
Verbs: want, need, help, turn, fit, push, look
Pronouns: I, you, my
Questions: where, what, when
Adjectives: colors, round, pointy, same, more
1. Place the cover to the puzzle box in plain sight so you can refer to it from time to time when you need to see where a piece fits.
2. Teach your child how to start a puzzle by looking for the corners so you have a framework. You can teach that the corners are "pointy" and show them what the edges look like. Ask them to help you find the other corners. You can say "Where are the other pointy pieces?"
3. Find to pieces that fit together and show your child. You can say, "Look they have the same pattern." Or "They fit." Then you can ask "Where are other pieces that fit?" You can infuse more describing words when looking for pieces that go together. (i.e. "A round piece needs to fit here.)
4. Continue to help your child find more pieces and gesture to blank spots on the puzzle to model language. You can say, "We need more pieces." Or "Let's find another piece that fits."
5. If your child has difficulty getting the pieces together you can help them by saying, "We can turn the pieces until they fit." Model twisting and moving pieces to see where they fit so your child can see. It is okay to help as we want to decrease frustration but allow them to work at portions of the puzzle because they can also feel a sense of accomplishment for overcoming a challenge successfully! You can also prompt the to request help from you which is a skill that can transfer to many other activities.
6. Encourage your child throughout this process with positive praise such as, "Great job fitting those pieces together." Or "Wow, you found that?!"
7. Also remember to give positive reinforcement for completing the puzzle. We always want to praise task completion! You can say, "That was a big puzzle! Fantastic work finishing it!" Or "I had fun doing this puzzle with you!"