A favorite family rainy day activity is sitting around the table and building their favorite puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles have been around size the 1700s when they were first used by mapmakers who engraved their designs onto the wood and then cut them into pieces.
It’s time to put away those screen devices and start working out the analytical and the creative sides of your brain. When you provide a puzzle with your little one at a young age, you’re giving your child the tools to build memory and to make connections between relationships and objects. So, gather around the coffee table, pick out your favorite puzzle and let’s get to work!
Our Top 3 Picks
- Ravensburger Disney Moana
- Every Piece is Unique
- Melissa & Doug Vehicles 4-in-1
- + Storage Box
- White Mountain The Games We Played
- Blast From The Past
Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Jigsaw Puzzles
These puzzles promote education in a variety of ways. One of the best ways that kids learn is through play. Kids are more adept to learn if they are enjoying the activity or task at hand. Kids can learn many different subjects such as math, reading, science, geography, cinematography and gaming while completing these puzzles. The puzzles on our list provide the chance for kids to exercise problem-solving skills, tactile- and visual-sensory stimulation, individual play and cooperative play, imaginative, social and physical play, as well as logical thinking, hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
Due to the educational nature of these puzzles, they can be used as supplements during math, science, and social studies lessons. For example, maybe your kid is struggling with memorizing the location of the states or their capital cities. The USA puzzle on the list above is an excellent resource to help with that.
If a kid is going to spend a lot of time and effort assembling a puzzle, then as a parent, you want it to be educational and well worth their time. These puzzles are amazing educational resources that will teach lasting life lessons.
These puzzles require a direct hands-on response which is wonderful for stimulating your kid’s tactile sensory skills. The puzzles listed above will keep not only engage your kid’s mind but keep your kid engaged in the task at hand.
Each puzzle promotes hand-eye coordination, which is a skill that kids will need throughout their entire lives. Hand-eye coordination should be practiced by kids very often as this function enables the eye and brain to communicate through hand movement. A lack of proper hand-eye coordination can have a huge impact on life such as:
- The inability to write
- The inability to tie shoes
- The inability to safely play sports
In addition to hand-eye coordination, interactive play is closely tied to developing fine-motor skills, which are needed in order to do everyday life tasks.
Although many of the jigsaw puzzles promote independence as they are easy to complete without much assistance from adults, these puzzles can promote communication skills.
After completing puzzles from the Disney movie scenes, kids may want to retell their favorite part of a specific movie from their point of view. While doing the map puzzle, kids may want to review the name and capital of each state with a parent, teacher or friend. In addition to that, kids may even want to teach their younger siblings about the United States.
Jigsaw Puzzles and Children’s Cognitive Development
If you think that the only benefits you’ll get from solving a jigsaw puzzle are strained, tired eyes and a severe throbbing headache, for children, it is entirely different.
Being able to piece together several units of vastly different shapes requires an understanding of patterns, colors, and shapes and how a particular shape can fit into the slot of another shape. This helps sharpen a kid’s cognitive skills, primarily his or her spatial reasoning and problem-solving.
For example, to put a piece into a slot, the brain has to interpret how the slot is shaped and then compare it with the piece in hand. The brain makes very fast computations and estimations leading it to conclude that the piece fits into the slot.
While this does not happen all the time, it is also possible that kids learn to appreciate problem-solving by means of trial and error. If the piece does not fit into the slot, then the brain is encouraged to look for another piece which the child can “try” to fit into the slot. If it doesn’t fit again, then the process is repeated until such time that a particular piece fits perfectly into the slot. While the trial-and-error method is going on, the brain is keeping track of which shapes of puzzle pieces do not fit into the slot so that these will automatically be excluded from successive attempts.
In real life, we are often faced with situations wherein the solution is unknown to us. So, we try a particular solution. If it works, then we can say we are successful. If not, then we try a different approach. We do this until such time that we are able to achieve the desired outcome. This is grounded in our ability to solve problems using the trial and error method. It may not really be scientific but, given the scarcity of factual information, we can only use what we currently have.
This is what children learn to develop in solving jigsaw puzzles. While most moms and dads will see fine-motor skills development, most child experts see substantial improvements in kids’ cognitive development.
What Determined the Jigsaw Puzzles on Our List
When we told our research team that our next project will be jigsaw puzzles, almost everyone in the group, quite literally, had a “puzzled” look on their face. And why not? How do you choose a jigsaw puzzle from a sea of choices when everything essentially boils down to the same inherent features? The only possible thing that can differentiate one puzzle from another will be its design which is, in our opinion, very subjective. Our choice of designs may not actually sit well with your taste. So how did we do it?
Well, we had to rely on fellow parents. Many of the products on the market today have been around for quite some time. As such, we had to look at the experiences of these parents and determine if they strongly recommend the jigsaw puzzle. Likewise, we had to look at the developmental appropriateness of the puzzle. Most manufacturers recommend a particular age for which their products will be most valuable. Our task, therefore, is to make sure that the recommended age is appropriate to the developmental age of children who will be putting together the jigsaw puzzle. It should not be too easy otherwise they’d get bored easily. It should not also be too difficult lest they get frustrated and simply give up.
And then there’s the reputation of the manufacturer. While it is safe to say that well-established brands have an excellent reputation, there are also new players that really strive to adhere to federal guidelines regarding product quality and safety especially when talking about products for kids. It is therefore essential that we establish a company’s credibility as well as trustworthiness to help us better decide on whether to include the product on our list or not.
Choosing the top jigsaw puzzles that will comprise our shortlist was never easy. Nevertheless, it was a fruitful endeavor.
The Bottom Line
Jigsaw puzzles are not just for kids. These are for adults, too. That is why we believe our top 10 jigsaw puzzles for kids will be an excellent source of Christmas gift ideas for your loved ones. It can be a great tool for encouraging family bonding and cooperation. Completing a jigsaw puzzle is one great way to spend the holiday with the whole family.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can these puzzles be used in a classroom?
A: Yes, due to the educational nature of the majority of these puzzles, they can be used in classrooms as well as childcare centers. Kids can learn a variety of subjects while putting these puzzles together, such as:
- math, with the 30-Piece Match It! Mathematics by The Learning Journey
- cinematography, with the scenes from the 60-Piece Disney Frozen 4-Puzzle Pack by Cardinal and the 500-Piece Thomas Kinkade Disney Dreams Collection 4-in-1 Jigsaw Puzzle Set by Ceaco
- geography, with the 55-Piece Kids’ Puzzle of the USA by A Broader View
Q: What’s the best way to store these puzzles?
A: Many of these puzzles come in their own box, as well as non-resealable plastic bags to store them in. However, with loose puzzle pieces being bounced around in a box, there’s definitely a slight chance of losing them. In addition to that, storing them in the non-resealable plastic bags that they come with increases the risk for losing them, as the bag remains unsealed.
The best way to store loose puzzles when not in use is to put them in a labeled quart-sized ziplock bag. By doing this, you can rest assured in knowing that your puzzle pieces are safe from getting scattered about. Furthermore, by labeling the puzzles, you’ll know exactly which puzzle is located in the bag.
The wooden puzzles each come with a wooden tray to contain all of the puzzle pieces, but the trays do not come with a top. The best way to store wooden puzzle pieces, when not in use, is by putting the wooden pieces in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Due to the fact that wooden puzzle pieces are bigger in size than cardboard puzzle pieces, you should use a bigger sized ziplock bag to properly fit all of the pieces into it without causing damage. If large wooden puzzle pieces are shoved or stuffed into a quart-sized ziplock bag, the pieces may chip or the paint may become damaged.
Q: Can I frame the cardboard puzzles?
A: Yes, you can frame the cardboard puzzles. Framing completed puzzles is an excellent way to preserve your kid’s hard work as well as adding to your home decor. Framed puzzles are great conversation starters and a good way to provoke storytelling. To frame your puzzle you should seal it first, in order ensure it will look natural in the picture frame and won’t fall apart. To seal your kid’s puzzle, simply take the following steps and tips:
- Place your puzzle on a flat surface that is clean and dry, it’s also very important to put a piece of wax paper beneath the puzzle to prevent a mess from happening.
- Be sure that there are no fibers such as hair or lint on the surface of the puzzle.
- Get your adhesive ready to apply. One of the most important factors when sealing a puzzle is the type of adhesive that you use. Using regular craft glue will not give your kid’s puzzle the beautiful finish it deserves. Be sure that you have an adhesive that’s specifically made for preserving puzzles.
- After you have your puzzle adhesive ready. Pour an adequate amount directly into the middle of the puzzle. Use a thick plastic card, such as an old gift card or credit card to spread the adhesive easily around the puzzle, leaving no part untouched.
- Many puzzle adhesives include a small brush, use that brush to spread the adhesive evenly around the border.
- Allow the adhesive to set and dry. Depending on the type of puzzle adhesive that you use, it could take anywhere from one to four hours to dry.
- For more durability, after the adhesive is dry, carefully flip the puzzle over and repeat the steps above to the back side of the puzzle.
- Be sure not to use too much adhesive, as it could cause the puzzle to peel or swell.
After your kid’s puzzle is completely dry, place it in an accurately sized frame and mount it to a wall in whichever room that your kid will like.
Q: Do any of these jigsaw puzzles pose any hazardous threats?
A: All of the puzzles on our list of best jigsaw puzzles for kids are durably made and don’t contain sharp edges. However, many of the puzzle pieces are small which poses a potential threat for small kids. If consumed by kids, the small pieces could become lodged in their airway, causing them to choke.
It’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s age-appropriate warning to prevent any potential hazards. When doing puzzles that include small pieces around small kids, be sure to keep the puzzle out of arm’s reach of the kid. Small kids, not knowing any better, may be attracted to the small puzzle pieces due to their unique shapes and vibrant colors.