Looking for a new quiet activity students can go to when they are finished their work early?
Have you considered utilizing a puzzle table in the classroom? There are several specific brain benefits associated with the consistent use of challenging puzzles, and they can be used in with any age or language ability
Here are just five of the psychological benefits of regular puzzle use:
1. Improved Memory
Puzzles strengthen the connections between brain cells, and create new connections for improved cognitive speed. Jigsaw puzzles are especially good for short-term memory because students will have to remember colours, shapes, and the big picture, all while determining which pieces fit together.
A good puzzle causes a puzzler to think about things in new/different ways. Even if an idea is not the solution to a puzzle, all out-of-the-box thinking helps train the mind to work in new ways. Puzzles require experimentation and the application of the scientific method, coupling creativity/imagination with empirical inquiry.
3. Whole Brain Learning/Training
Puzzles require students to see things simultaneously in terms of parts and wholes. They require both logic and creativity. As different regions of the brain work together to achieve the best results, the brain trains itself to integrate different types of thinking for long-term benefits. In fact, studies show that subjects like mathematics are best understood when the whole brain can work together on tasks. Isolated brain regions see just one facet of a situation, but educators find that the whole brain approach is much more effective for deep, lasting understanding.
4. Dopamine Production
Puzzles are known for their power to help the brain produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is a chemical in your brain that affects your emotions, movements, and your sensations of pleasure and pain. The brain releases dopamine in response to both small and large breakthroughs when students are working on a puzzle. The benefits of this dopamine surge include a positive mood, better concentration, improved memory, and refined motor skills. Dopamine increases reinforce the habit of using puzzles, which is why many people feel a strong desire to keep trying puzzles that are more and more challenging.
While puzzles stimulate the brain, they also relax it. Studies show that just looking at a puzzle and pondering possible solutions actually helps the mind stay calm. The brain enters a state of meditation. Benefits include greater peace and perspective to aid in stress management. Meditation is also known to boost self-confidence. Of course, solving a puzzle helps boost confidence all on its own.