“When children flip, turn, remove, etc. pieces of the puzzle, they are learning the connection between their hands and their eyes.”
Pam Myers, BSEd, Child Development Institute
PUZZLES HELP US IMPROVE OUR MINDS:
• Young children learn key cognitive lessons like visual perception and problem-solving while developing fine motor skills to manipulate pieces and put the puzzle together.
• Logic puzzles and brain teasers can promote higher level thinking and problem solving skills.
• Research has shown that people who do puzzles of various sorts from an early age have a lesser occurrence of the brain plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients.
• Working on puzzles greatly increases our mental speed and thought process by strengthening the existing connections between our brain cells, and setting up new connections
• Young children benefit because their minds are still malleable and growing—puzzles help strengthen their minds.
• Seniors greatly benefit too! As we age, the connections between our brain cells become weaker or disappear altogether. Puzzling is a great way of keeping neurological disease like dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay.
• Puzzles make our brains think in different ways by forcing us to think outside of the box instead of linearly—retraining us to be more innovative.
• Solving puzzles requires a lot of trial and error, so we formulate and test theories—allows us to combine our creative capabilities with our more empirical mind.
and this type of imagination brings us to innovative, precognitive and efficient problem-solving skills that can be applied pretty much anywhere in life.
8 mos + Knob Puzzles • Wooden
For Babies and Toddlers: I like to have 1 wooden puzzle and one plastic puzzle to start with.
PUZZLES FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS:
WOODEN 3 PIECE PUZZLES:
I personally like the basic 3-4 piece wooden puzzles with large knobs for my babies. All three of my children started off with the Melissa & Doug Pets Jumbo puzzle at around 6 months old. My last baby just turned two, so we passed on our wooden knob puzzle to a friend with a baby.
At 6 months old, my babies could not place the pieces in correctly, but they could take them out!
Gradually, with practice, they started to be able to put the pieces back in. We often played peek-a-boo with the pieces and pretended to make the animal sounds when we played.
PLASTIC 5 PIECE PUZZLES
We have also had the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Activity Puzzle . My 3rd child LOVED being able to open and close the door, crinkle the birds winds and squeek the dog collar. The extras made it a little more of an interactive toy during the first stages. I tend to limit puzzles that make a lot of noises in our household.
WOODEN 9-12 PIECE PEG AND CHUNKY PUZZLES.
My 2 year old is a master of puzzles and can put these together in just a few minutes. We take two out at a time and mix the pieces together in a pile so that he has the opportunity to sort the pieces out to the correct puzzle. This adds one more beginning math skill to the activity. Some of these puzzles have pegs and some just have chunky pieces. Both are easy for little hands to manipulate. We are slowly trying to introduce the 12 piece wooden preschool puzzles, (see the next section) but he gets frustrated with them.
2+ 2-6 Piece Jigsaw • Peg Puzzles • Nesting & Stacking Puzzles
For Preschoolers – I personally thing that they need a minimum of 5 different puzzles to rotate between. I like to have 3+ wooden puzzles and 2 learning puzzles minimum for each child. Of course, having more can help keep puzzles exciting and new. Try rotating puzzles. Keep 2-3 in a closet and 2-3 out for use.