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World War I Puzzle Review by Jennifer Smeltser

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But, it is a puzzle. Yes, it is and there is more to it than just matching the pieces and putting it together. When it comes to creativity in learning, Standards in Puzzles delivers in a neat and innovative way. The puzzles move beyond piecing together beautiful images and incorporate a learning experience that also meets academic standards.

If you are like most teachers, you are always looking for creative ways to encourage learning. Middle school English teacher Jane DiBridge, the creator of Standards in Puzzles, is one of those teachers. She saw an opportunity to promote learning, in several subject areas, while also meeting academic standards established by many school systems across the country. The puzzles behind Standards in Puzzles are geared towards middle school students and cover several academic areas including English language arts, math, science and social studies.

The World War 1 (Great War) Jigsaw Puzzle is one of three featured social studies puzzles. As each one of the 513 pieces of the puzzle is connected, the history of World War I comes to life. The war lasted four years, three months and two weeks, from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918. Students learn important details about the war through the construction of the puzzle. The material is geared towards middle school students and introduces them to a significant event in American history.

Along with the puzzle, DiBridge includes a free, downloadable Lesson Plans & Stations Activities guide that has several suggestions of how to continue learning beyond placing the last puzzle piece in the picture. Although the lesson plan is geared towards students and teachers in a classroom, homeschoolers at home or in a co-op or tutorial environment may easily adapt the activities for their school. The lesson plan has students completing tasks over a three-hour period. For homeschoolers, the experience may be completed in one day for a focused study as a group or independently. It would also work well for an independent student as an enhancement to a study of World War I.

The social studies download also includes introspective questions (ex: What were the main causes of World War I? and How did World War 1 influence popular culture?). Students learn vocabulary with the definitions of words like imperialism, central powers and Versailles Treaty. The interactive stations may be where students learn the most. There are six and each station takes the student through a different learning experience and requires them to complete a task. One of those stations, Station One, includes putting together the World War 1 Jigsaw Puzzle.

For reference, the box cover has a picture of how the completed puzzle should look and a poster of the finished puzzle also comes with the set. Students will also find an interactive version of the puzzle on the Standards in Puzzles website. This version is the activity students complete during Station Six.  The interactive puzzle is free for anyone to access and provides more learning opportunities with images, specific to the period. Many students may have heard of the Red Baron. His real identity, as well as the real “War Horse”, is revealed.

All of the products found on the Standards in Puzzles website are aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). That was one of the goals when DiBridge created the puzzles, so students could use the puzzles as a learning tool in the public schools. The fact the puzzles are CCSS and NGSS aligned may deter some homeschoolers from including them in their school. My suggestion is to learn more about the content before bypassing the experience. Two other goals of Standards in Puzzles are to make “learning fun and engaging” while “encouraging intense study” in the subject areas it overs. Both of those goals, which homeschoolers also share with non-homeschool teachers, are achieved. Puzzles from Standards in Puzzles are a fun way to start, continue or end a school day and keep your children engaged and learning.

- Product review by Jennifer Smeltser, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2018