By Karen Key
During these times of self-isolation, with children out of school for months on end, I’ve found myself struggling to find enriching, educational activities that keep my second grader, Violet, occupied at home.
She misses her regular routine, her teachers and her friends—and, as time goes on, it only gets harder to suggest the same few activities again and again. With the beautiful weather we’ve had, it’s been difficult, too, to explain why (up until recently) we couldn’t just pack up a picnic and head into to the Smokies for the day.
To keep us busy, with our brains still functioning, I turned to GSMA’s online store for products that remind us of the beautiful natural world beyond our front door. For our indoor-outdoor adventure, we chose two puzzles: the Carter Shields Cabin puzzle, a 500-piece puzzle depicting a lovely autumn Cades Cove scene, and the I Am Owl puzzle, a poster-sized 550-piece jigsaw of our iconic nocturnal Smokies friend.
In short bursts of energy, Violet and I completed the first puzzle piece-by-piece—and, in the process, she learned about the park while experiencing the joy that comes from finding a perfect-fitting piece. She helped me finish Carter Shields Cabin, and we took some photos of the result. But, in the end, her favorite part was tearing the completed puzzle to shreds—its pieces, once neatly fitted together, flying through the air, across the table and scattered to the floor in a chaotic frenzy of overzealous destruction.
With all the uncertainties this pandemic brings, I can’t say I blame her. We all have a little pent-up anger and anxiety right now, and, for Violet, I think this small, harmless act of mayhem provided some much-needed catharsis. Next time, when we dig into the I Am Owl puzzle, I might just save the end for myself!
The Carter Shields Cabin puzzle is no longer in stock, but there are plenty of others to choose from!