Piece It Together: 10 Best Jigsaw Puzzles for Toddlers and Kids
Did you have a favorite jigsaw puzzle growing up? My husband remembers the United States map puzzle that I’m sure pretty much everyone had or was gifted at some point in their childhood. Puzzles do so much for our little ones. Studies have shown they help with brain development, motor skills, problem-solving, memory skills, teamwork (if partaking with a friend or family member), and let’s face it, time away from the TV screen.
But with so many types of puzzles, how do you pick the best one that will challenge your toddler or child without boring them? From simple matching puzzles, ones that make noise, chunky blocks, and puzzles that you and I recognize, there are a lot to choose from. Here are 10 types of jigsaw puzzles that are sure to delight your curious kiddo.
1. Chunky Puzzles
Best for toddlers, the big pieces are great for imaginative play as well as the basics of learning how puzzles work. Some have funny faces or drawings of some sort, encouraging not only putting the pieces together but engaging in play. The pieces are big enough to stand up by themselves, so sorting and counting can also be a great activity.
2. Pairing Puzzles
These are great for older toddlers because it helps them with matching as well as putting pieces together. The puzzles only have one match and are “self-correcting” (for example matching animal heads and tails). These are usually thicker and easy to grip and use. They are also great in boosting confidence and self-esteem.
3. Wooden Board Jigsaw Puzzles
Perfect for the preschool set, these are almost like the “big kid” puzzles, except that they have a board to help align the pieces together. Since there is no picture on the board that helps kids figure out where the pieces go, it’s a great challenge. The puzzle pieces are age-appropriate so kids feel encouraged to try, but not overwhelmed.
4. A to Z Jigsaw Puzzles
These are my son’s absolute favorite. Gifted by family on a vacation trip, they thought the jigsaw puzzle was just too adorable not to buy. Usually shaped like an animal like a giraffe or elephant, the pieces are double-sided, with one side being letters and the other side numbers.
Putting the pieces together is one thing, but since they go in order, learning the alphabet or numbers in the correct order is also happening. In the end, a very colorful and fun animal has been built- much to the proud toddler.
5. Floor Puzzles
Floor puzzles are awesome. They encourage teamwork as well as provide a fun way to see the finished project laid out. I love these jigsaw puzzles as a family activity where everyone can get involved (a plus for siblings). The USA map puzzle is a popular one and has been around for years. The picture options are endless and you can find ones that are sparkly unicorn princess-themed all the way to monster truck and construction.
6. Educational Puzzles
Whether it’s the human body, world map or alphabet, these types of puzzles do more than create a pretty picture. Meant to help kids figure out where states, countries, body parts, or letters go within the puzzle, it can open up a ton of curious questions while also teaching.
7. Two-Sided Puzzles
Two jigsaw puzzles in one! With themes like sea vs. land animals and air vs. ground vehicles, these puzzles are great for keeping the little ones busy. It’s fun to pick a theme your kid might be into and explore that category even more. It’s also a good learning opportunity to start the discussion about different categories and where certain things go in the everyday world. Ideal for 1st graders and older.
8. Character Puzzles
Think anything from Disney princesses to Harry Potter, these jigsaw puzzles are all themed according to a favorite TV or movie character. There are a ton of these with a puzzle piece count according to age and difficulty. The options are endless and are a great way to encourage play with siblings and playmates. They also make great gifts for themed birthday parties.
9. 3D Puzzles
Either loved or hated, these jigsaw puzzles require a dose of patience and persistence because the end product can be super cool. Best for older kids, the pieces are made from either wood, cardboard or plastic and are meant to piece together to create a 3D image. Start simple with a zoo animal and go up from there. Instead of taking it apart and starting again, these puzzles can also make a great decor piece in the kid’s bedroom.
10. Color Your Own
These are super cool and awesome for those that want to take puzzles to a whole other level. While it may be difficult to put the pieces together initially because of their monochromatic color, it’s fun to color the pieces and make your own art! Best suited for older kids that have the patience and like arts and crafts as this puzzle will take a while to put together and then color.
Jigsaw puzzles have been around since the 18th century, and are a favorite for kids and adults alike. It might just be the greatest activity that brings the whole family together. It evokes a sense of peace, quiet, concentration, and (while sometimes starting off as frustrating), a proud moment that can be shared when the puzzle is completed. It’s a great gift idea and one that I always have in my gift closet for last-minute birthday parties!