Stingrays and Octopuses and Eels, Oh My

January 20, 2015

Last Sunday, I watched my four-year-old play Pangolin Sea Puzzle with his newest best friend from preschool. The two of them took turns, applauding and elbowing each other out of the way.

But, the game did much of the cheering and jeering. The calm music and dings that signaled a correct alignment guided the kids to complete puzzles. They giggled over the eyeball bubbles and “oohed” and “ahhed” over the scary octopuses. My favorite moment was when my son Ray pointed to a stingray and told his friend, “That’s a ray too.”

Then, my two year old joined the mix. Eli did his own cheerleading, lifting his arms in the air in full victory pose announcing, “Yes! I did it!” With the Sea Puzzle, as with most challenges in his life, he found his anchor (the submarine), stared, and then made his next move with his chubby finger. Usually that finger goes directly into his mouth or nose, but this time, Eli focused on a different sort of challenge.

Of course, now we have a new thing to fight about: how long each turn is, who’s next, and who went last. At least now I don’t feel so bad when I go sneak away to drink my decaf cappuccino while the kids play on the iPad. Instead of watching Minnie’s Winter Bow show or Elmo’s World, I know they are exploring underwater creatures, honing fine motor skills, and solving puzzles.

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