How did you learn to count? Do you remember back that far? If you're like most kids, you probably used a special kind of puzzle at one time or another to help you learn your numbers. You may have even used these puzzles to help you learn the alphabet, too.

What are we talking about? Educators have used connect-the-dots puzzles for ages to help teach kids their numbers or letters. These puzzles are also known commonly as dot-to-dot or join-the-dots puzzles.

If you're familiar with these types of puzzles, you know that they consist of a sequence of numbers or letters that create a picture when lines are drawn to connect the dots in the proper sequence. What kinds of pictures? That's the cool thing! You can make connect-the-dots pictures of just about anything!

Wonder Friends already know that you can use dots to create art. In fact, there's a special type of painting — called pointillism — that turns many differently-colored dots into gorgeous works of art.

But what about connect-the-dots puzzles? Can those really be used to create art? Yes, they can! Would you believe you could even create the Mona Lisa? If you don't believe us, watch an artist connect 6,239 dots to form a masterpiece!

Dot-to-dot puzzles are more commonly used to teach kids to count. As they connect dots in sequence, they can learn to count to 50, 100, or more. If letters are used instead of numbers, kids can also use these puzzles to learn the alphabet.

What starts out as a bunch of dots soon becomes a picture when all those dots are connected. It can be fun to connect one dot after another and eventually see the picture emerge. In fact, this process has led to “connecting the dots" being used as a metaphor for piecing together bits of information to form a conclusion. That conclusion is often referred to as “the big picture."

Have you ever done that before? Sometimes we experience discrete events that don't seem to make sense by themselves. If we take a step back and look at all of those events at once, we are often able to form connections between events that help to weave them all into a unified story with a single explanation. That's what we call connecting the dots to see the big picture!

Scientists often connect the dots in this way to come up with new theories and explanations for the things we see in the world. Their careful observations of a single event often don't make sense until they combine that information with information about other events. Once all this information is combined and seen as a whole, a new theory or explanation often can be formed that can't be seen when the events are considered individually.

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Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow for a trip to South America!