Immy is loving jigsaw puzzles at the moment. They are an excellent learning tool as they encourage children to;
- Discriminate between the features of each different piece (shape, size, colour, picture)
- Use reasoning, deduction, analysis and logical thought to find and match the correct piece with the correct space
- Problem solve and persevere to find a solution when the piece doesn’t immediately slot into place
- Develop the manual dexterity and co-ordination of their hands and fingers
- Develop hand-eye co-ordination
- Learn the value of rehearsal and revisiting something they are learning to do over and over again until they reach independence and mastery
Once she had mastered this one she moved onto other simple 5- and 6- piece peg puzzles. And now (at 20 months) loves the challenge of 10- 12 piece wooden puzzles (either peg or chunky pieces).
When choosing jigsaw puzzles for a child it is not however just about the number of pieces, adults should also consider;
- Does the puzzle have pictures on the board that match the pictures on the piece (thereby making the matching easier)?
- Are the shapes of the pieces easy to discriminate one from the next?
- What size are the puzzle pieces? Larger pieces are easier for younger children to manipulate.
- Do the pieces have knobs or pegs to help younger children?
- How hard (or easy) is it to match the piece with the hole in the board or to each other (for more-than-one-piece jigsaw puzzles)?
- Is the subject of the puzzle of interest to the child (aids engagement and motivation)?
With puzzles, it is often not about the age of the child but the amount of experience they have had completing jigsaws and their level of interest.
Having worked extensively with children 2-5 years, I have regularly observed joy on the face of a child who has conquered a new puzzle challenge. Have you planned on adding a jigsaw puzzle to your child’s Christmas stocking this year? If so, I can highly recommend;
These two are great for beginning puzzlers;
These puzzles introduce young children to the idea of adding elements of one picture;
Tuzzles are a great brand and you will see them in many preschools and kindergartens;
Melissa & Doug Rainforest Jigsaw 48 Piece: Melissa & Doug make a range of attractive puzzles that are great for children ready to move away from the peg and chunky beginner puzzles to those with interlocking pieces.
Wooden puzzles are a real investment so choosing puzzles that offer the potential for interest and learning over a period of time are a bonus.
Melissa & Doug Wooden Shape Sorting Clock: Immy is fascinated with clocks. I love that this one incorporates shape, colour and number into the puzzle pieces, as well as the interesting elements of the clock face.
The ImagiPLAY Snail Puzzlemay look simple but this type of 3D puzzle can be challenging for many children as they do not have a board to guide them and the pieces are quite similarly shaped.
Children have a natural attraction to pattern and pattern making. The Colored Spiral Puzzle presents are myriad of creative possibilities.
I love puzzles that incorporate additional ‘thinking and reasoning’ learning for children. The Infantino Counting & Shapes Floor Puzzle covers number recognition and counting, shape recognition and ordering.
Djeco puzzles (thick cardboard pieces) are lovely for children 3-5 years (dependent upon the number of pieces in the individual puzzle) and come in the sweetest boxes.