I was watching a couple of children working wooden puzzles the other day. Sometimes just watching kids work is great way to think about and understand more about children and development.
These two kids were working puzzles. Well, one was working a puzzle and the other was watching. (Her preferred method of learning is watching.) But occasionally the watcher would help with pieces and the worker was fine with that.
But as I watched, I noticed that there were two different techniques at play. One child would hold a piece and try it in several different places or in several different ways in a space. She would keep working until she found the right place or abandoned that piece for a new one. The other child would just look at the puzzle and look at the pieces lying around the table. Suddenly she would swoop in, grab and piece, and insert it in the right place.
Two different ways to solve puzzles - exploring and experimenting by physically trying different things; looking, observing, taking in the overall look and then seeing the "right answer" to the problem.
Both of these are valid puzzle solving strategies...and problem solving strategies. It was interesting to see these two children working on the same puzzle in completely different ways...and not even really communicating to one another as they worked....