Puzzles are a great educational toy for kids. So, what are the best puzzles for children and why are puzzles so important for kids to play with?
Puzzles have been around since the late 1700's. They originated when British map makers designed puzzles as a way to teach others about geography and the world. Over time, puzzles grew into an activity that people of all ages enjoy completing by themselves, with friends or with their children.
For younger children, around the age of 1 and 2, puzzles are usually made of wood and have large handles for small children to easily hold. Once the puzzle piece is removed from the board, there is typically a colored picture on the board, which makes it easier for children to match the pieces and place them correctly in the right location. At first, younger kids use trial and error, which means they pick up a piece with their fingers and try and fit it into any hole by guessing, moving the piece until it fits.
The older a child gets, puzzles get more complicated. There might be more pieces a child is required to match. Instead of fitting inside a wooden board, puzzle pieces interlock and snap together. Pieces definitely become smaller in size and include more details, making it harder for kids to solve quickly. The more complicated puzzles require that kids dedicate extra time and attention to complete the puzzle from start to finish.
There are many reasons why puzzles are great for children of all ages:
- Puzzles are a great educational or learning toy, because they encourage kids to follow steps to solve a problem
- Puzzles help children achieve a sense of accomplishment. No matter how big or small the puzzle is, kids and their parents are proud and satisfied when they finish them!
- Puzzles teach children how to match pictures. Over time, kids learn to mentally manipulate pieces in their mind, using higher level thinking skills to predict what the final picture will look like
- Puzzle making is an activity that can be classified as a "quiet" activity. It involves attention and concentration, bringing a nice relaxing escape from the world
- Puzzles can be bought in all sizes with varying amounts of pieces, which appeal to problem solvers of all ages
- Children can improve their eye-hand coordination and hand dexterity as they learn to maneuver pieces within their fingertips and fit them into the board
- Alphabet and number puzzles are a popular activity to help kids learn about letters and numbers without the need for flashcards
- Puzzles can help improve a child's language. Farm puzzles or wooden puzzles that make noises encourage kids to mimic animal sounds and learn vocabulary words
- If a child has an interest in certain animated television or movie characters, many small puzzles can be purchased for $1 at the dollar store and make great activities to entertain children during airline travel
- Puzzles are a thought provoking activity that is a great bonding experience for the whole family to complete together during an evening at home
- For children who are completing puzzles with friends and family, it teaches them other skills to share and work together collaboratively as a team
- Well-made wooden puzzles are durable, keepsake toys that can be passed on from one generation to the next
Edited by Keriann Wilmot, Toys Expert at The Spruce.