Some of the best tools for learning look like they’re just for fun. Mazes, for example, can improve kids’ handwriting skills, help them learn to solve problems, and strengthen their eye-hand coordination, among other things. Yet as far as kids know, they’re just playing a cool game.
The most basic mazes involve a piece of paper, a pencil, and the patience to draw a path through a series of interconnected lines. They can be simple, with just a twist and turn or two, or incredibly complex, filling an entire page with false starts and dead ends and winding roads. Online mazes let kids put down the pencil and learn how to use a mouse or trackpad. For a more sensory alternative, braille mazes allow kids to make their way by touch.
A classic marble maze requires kids to twist and turn knobs to tilt a wooden surface and transport a small round object through a carved-out course. For a smaller, lighter option, a maze in a plastic tray with a clear top and a tiny bead inside can be physically rocked and rolled until the bead finds its way through. Choose large or tiny versions depending on the age and dexterity of the child.
To take the movement fun of toy mazes up a notch, try a physical maze in which the child is the marble. If there’s a corn maze or one made of carefully arranged shrubbery near you, walking through can provide a whole new kind of wayfinding experience. You can also try making your own by arranging chairs, desks, tables, and other impediments and invite kids to make their way from start to finish.
Mazes are popular puzzles that deliver both a good time and a good opportunity for learning. Look for them all around, in print and in your path.