Out of all of the products that Christian and I have been able to review, this is definitely in his top 3 as far as what he gets excited about. I am so glad to have come across it. Actually, I suppose I will tell you guys about that first.
You see…I homeschool Christian. I suppose that at this point it can’t officially be called homeschooling since he isn’t yet school age, but that’s just a technicality. I plan to homeschool him rather than enrolling him in public school. Ideally, I would be able to homeschool him from kindergarten to 12th grade, but we will see how it goes.
Anyways, I have a pretty extensive collection of homeschool materials. Reading books, workbooks, parent guides, activity books, games, dvds, cds, audiocassettes, etc. But I am always on the look out for more things we can use to teach various concepts. So I always check out events like homeschool conferences and used book sales. Luckily, I live in an area with a large homeschool community, so these happen fairly frequently.
In late May there was a homeschool book sale in town, so I hit it up — bags in tow. At one table, there was a large stack of magazines that someone was selling. My eye was automatically drawn to the Highlights magazines. I grew up reading Highlights, so I knew it was a great children’s publication. However, they are geared towards kids a few years older than Christian. Normally, I would have taken them anyway and just put them up in my house. But I had a tight budget that day, so I decided to pass on them. Then I saw a stack of magazines called Puzzle Buzz. I had never heard of them before, but I saw that they were associated with Highlights, so I picked one up and flipped through it.
I was impressed! They had a wide variety of puzzle that were more Christian’s speed. And I loved how each puzzle helps to develop a specific skill set that is critical for early childhood development. They seemed perfect! However, many of the puzzles were already complete. Bummer! When I got home, I decided to take a chance and contact the magazine to see if they wouldn’t mind providing us with some magazines to review. Fortunately, they were very amenable to my offer (shout to Angela for being such an awesome correspondent!) So here we are.
I tell you, Christian LOVES these magazines. I can totally see him getting really excited about new issues arriving! Fortunately, each issue includes 2 books and they arrive every 4 weeks. Each book has 32 pages chock full of puzzles, mazes, word games, and codes for kids to complete. And the cool thing is that you don’t really have to write or color on all of them, so your kids can redo some of them multiple times. And, as I mentioned, the activities all have an educational aspect to them. I like to call things like that funducational. By going through the magazines, your kids will be developing skill through play.
Let’s talk a little bit about the different types of puzzles that your kids can find inside a Puzzle Buzz magazine (and don’t worry, the answers to the puzzles are in the back of the book):
Hidden Pictures. This is one of Christian’s favorites. This is a pretty standard puzzle where kids have to find certain objects that are hidden throughout the picture. I have to warn you — some of the pictures are hidden really well! But that just made Christian’s joy at finally finding them that much greater. These puzzles help your child to develop visual discrimination.
Wiggle Pictures. This one is funny to me because Christian describes them as “dancing”. Lol! The images in these pictures are distorted and your child has to figure out what they really are. These help your child to develop visual discrimination and identification.
Mazes. This is another one of Christian’s favorites. Sometimes he uses a crayon or pencil to trace the paths, but other times he just uses his finger. He has a lot of fun trying to get through the maze, and doesn’t even get upset when he hits a dead end. In fact, he seems to find it hilarious. Mazes promote concentration and motor skills.
Sticker Puzzles. Each magazine will come with 3 of these. They include a puzzle page and a sheet of stickers that your child uses to complete the puzzle. This is definitely Christian’s favorite activity. I mean, puzzles and stickers…what’s not to love about it? These activities build matching and fine motor skills (the latter is something that Christian has struggled with in the past, so I love that he has become so adept at this activity). Big thumbs up for this one!
Dot to Dots. This is your classic “Connect the Dots” activity. This one is definitely one that I have to do with Christian. At least for now. It helps to build math skills.
What’s Wrong? This sticker puzzle is one where you complete the picture and then try to find all of the silly things. Christian loved this one (so much so that he had already finished them before I could get a picture, lol!)! It builds vocabulary, thinking, and visual skills.
Matching. These help to build logic, visual perception, and vocabulary skills. Christian has recently been obsessed with matching things, so this one has been a winner with him.
Coloring and Drawing. This provides practice in following directions and creativity.
What Is It? These puzzles are on the back cover of the magazine and help to build visual perception skills.
And these aren’t even all of them!
Just to summarize our review of Puzzle Buzz magazine, what Christian seems to love are the variety of different activities (especially the sticker puzzles, mazes, and hidden pictures), the bright and eye-catching pictures, and that they are all fun. What I love is that they teach him important skills through play, that there is a wide variety of different types of activities, so he never gets bored, and that this is something that he can do alone or that we can do together. Puzzle Buzz definitely gets thumbs ups from us!
If you would like to order a subscription of Puzzle Buzz magazine for your child(ren), you can do so at their website.