During my underwater theme I checked our resources and found a puzzle that fit perfectly. There was one problem, it had 48 pieces! I knew there may only be one or two of my students that would sit long enough to even attempt a puzzle of that magnitude. I put the puzzle out anyway and naturally everyone was drawn to the bright beautiful colors and the sea animals that seem to float on the pieces. After several failed attempts the puzzle was left scattered amongst the table where it sat for two days. During Centers on the third day I sat and carefully numbered the back of each piece and the board they sit on. Unlike tracing the pieces which I've done in the past, I had hopes that matching the numbers would spark a conversation and possibly get some progress with the puzzle. As soon as I was done adding the numbers again they flocked to the puzzle. This time there was a little more success. I was happy to see them carefully looking at the numbers and trying to find it's matching place. I sat with a few of them and talked about the numbers "3 and 1 is 31, where is that same number on the board". Even after numbered pieces and assistance no one completed the puzzle. Next step, trace the pieces!
I figured this is how toy makers and early childhood specialist conduct their research for age-appropriate toys.