Cupcake, Jigsaw Puzzles and the brain

When our kids were young, for their birthdays, I’d take cupcakes to their classes with plenty of candies, icings and such for each kid to decorate their own cupcake.  I was always fascinated to see how each kid decorated their cupcake.  Some were simple, just icing and one candy perfectly placed on the top.  Others were masterpieces of perfection and others attempted to make sure that every single item I brought ended up on their cupcake.  Each represented the kid in so many ways.  I am sure the teacher probably nodded yep to herself (it happened to be a woman each time).

We have been doing jigsaw puzzles over the years at the beach and on the mountain skiing.  It is a fun backdrop to gathering around the table, talking and working on something together.  I have been getting the finished pieces framed for the ski house as every ski house needs a full-on wall of cheesy stuff.  What is fascinating is how everyone’s brain thinks.

Some start off with separating the pieces by color, others by doing the entire circumference of the puzzle first, others just dig on it and figure it out as they go along.

How people think, how people behave, how people work on things as simple as a cupcake or a jigsaw says a lot about how their brain thinks.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    cool and have fun.for us, the group activity is movie as they are one of the key connections I raised my son around and it is being passed on.different but so is every family wonderfully.

  2. Lally Rementilla

    Such a great idea about using puzzles to bring everyone together. I wonder if there are any publishers/puzzle makers who do real beautiful puzzles meant for such undertaking. Would make great presents too!

  3. zainabz

    Love the idea of bringing cupcakes and icing for the kids to decorate. My daughter’s birthday just passed. Wish I’d had this idea before.

  4. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Love that puzzle in your photo. I’d actually LOVE to get it for my mom (bird nut and puzzle nut!), if you have a moment to share where you found it.It’s so true, what you say. It made me think about playing board games and card games a lot as a kid with my family, on both sides. I remember observing how different family members approached the game and trying to see who had the more effective approach that I could use. I have no doubt this all contributed to my love for problem-solving :-)A newer addition to the Leisure Rorschach Test is Minecraft. My son builds huge things just to blow them up, daughter spawns thousands of animals and makes pens for them, and I spend the whole time building my dream house, ha!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Bird puzzle. Amazon of course!!

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Ha! Of course 😀

    2. Alex Wolf

      Leisure Rorschach, nice. Have you played Colorku? It’s a fave. Alone the ThinkFun lines of brain games. Speaking of, it’s toy fair.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Haven’t heard of that — thanks for the tip! Will check it out.Are you doing toy fair this year?

        1. Alex Wolf

          We don’t show at fairs, we hate them. We do visit people we know from things like Sandbox Summit, and do some parties with that crowd. Since we are heavy into setting up pilots for UNICEF right now, I’m only doing a few stealth orders for our new cool thing for retail.Toy Fair makes one weep for the earth and pollution, for dumbed down gender stupid, and miles of cheap sales of crap to suck your believe in the universe and beauty right out of you. It’s like seeing the end of humanity in one giant hall.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Ha! Wow. That sounds truly awful, but your description made me laugh.Cheers on the UNICEF pilots! That sounds exciting.

  5. mbk

    I love puzzles and am an outside to in gal. I don’t know if you saw Puzzle at Sundance this year – nominally about a woman who discovers the world of competitive puzzle solving. Lovely, quiet film about a woman finding her voice. I enjoy your blog – a friend passed the link to me when I was asking about any new/interesting Paris restaurants she had visited recently. I seem to follow in your travel footsteps a bit so I enjoy your recommendations – thank you!

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Great share about that movie. Will tell my fam about it. Thx!

  6. Dennis Noel

    In the last 6-9 months we’ve been working on puzzles with our daughter who will turn 4 in March. We started with basic large piece puzzles and have begun to slowly migrate to the more complex 50+ piece puzzles. I have been paying careful attention to her approach, encouraging and suggesting different ways to look and think about the puzzle. She likes to try as she goes, often pausing to ask for help. I don’t necessarily believe she needs help but rather encouragement and validation that the approach is working. I love your blog and have been a big fan for years. From culture, to art, to food, travel and business, angel investing and the startup world, you’re always keeping your audience engaged. Keep up the great work!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Thanks Dennis…keep commenting!

  7. Alex Wolf

    Finding out how you think is such a great aha moment. The next aha is learning how those around you think. It’s a moment of self awareness, and connection – gift for being present and curious. You can’t build a team without this process.Puzzles and solving skills alone and in groups is why I design games. I started when my daughter was 18 months because we spent so much time in puzzle block and thing mode.As I dig into how vital spatial learning is to having other cognitive skills engage, and how that is a top predictor for STEAM, I learn more about specific skills. Rotating shapes in the mind is a key skill, alongside navigation, folding and more.I’m so glad I grew up puzzling, and so happy when I see others with a mess of pieces.

    1. Alex Wolf

      Joanne, are there other styles other than edge, color and random that you observe in solving?