Jigsaw Puzzles

by Deb on March 22, 2010

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Jigsaws are brilliant toys for little kids and babies.  While I’m a great believer in inventive toys and playing with things around you, I consider jigsaws one of the essential toys that you really should have.  Having said that, they don’t have to be fancy.  The first jigsaw our daughter ever played with was a beer coaster at a pub, while waiting for our meals to arrive we ripped it into 4 and helped her put it back together again.  We even got really inventive and used two coasters, one black and one gold, and tried to get her to put the right pieces together.  As the wait got longer we progressed from halves, to quarters, to ninths, to pretty coloured patterns.  People around us donated their coasters and had a ball watching her, I think she was about one.

Jigsaws are important toys because they teach about matching and recognition and rely on the ability to build something up from pieces.  They require persistance, memory, recognition of patterns and shapes and willingness to keep trying and physically they help develop co-ordination and precision.  You can start with one-piece puzzles for littlies then try 4-6 pieces and up to 24 pieces.  Even in the coaster example we used the two completely different strategies for solving jigsaws – matching pictures and matching shapes.  Most babies start by matching pictures then progress to shapes, and for some reason they stay there.  Even older kids will jam pieces together that obviously don’t make a picture but fit.  An easy way to help them learn is to make your own, choose a favourite picture or even a word and put it on stiff card then cut it out.  If you want them to concentrate on the picture or word, cut so that several would fit together and they have to decide which one.

And of course they teach about ‘content’ as well.  By that I mean that they can help school kids learn spelling or calculations, or babies learn shapes and colours, or match adult and baby animals, or body parts, or just about anything you can think of.

Here are just a few of the jigsaws we are currently playing with:

One piece puzzles for the little one

One piece puzzles let them  learn about shapes and objects, in this case animals and transport.

Word Puzzles for early readers or pre-readers

The big girl is loving these at the moment, there are lots of clues she can use to put them together and she feels she’s recognising the words.

Homemade Dora jigsaw puzzle

This one has lots of pieces and the added bonus of being made by Daddy.

Puzzle with different options to mix and match.

This is a one-piece puzzle but they can mix and match the different outfits, so they are learning a bit about colours and design as well.

Fish and elephant three dimensional wooden puzzles

I love these puzzles, they are big and chunky, and the elephants have so much you can talk about – elephants, Mummy and baby, and colours.

Lots of other things work like jigsaw puzzles

There are a lot of things that work like jigsaw puzzles as well – we have a lot of foam tiles and train tracks, plus some models and construction kits.

A many piece puzzle of the zoo This puzzle is great for content learning.  You can talk about:

  • Animals and where they come from originally.
  • Habitats and the sorts of places animals live.
  • Counting.
  • Matching types of animals eg birds, cats, …
  • What else?
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Meryl van der Merwe July 30, 2010 at 4:22 am

I also love the fact that as the kids get older you can turn making big jigsaw puzzles into a fun family activity. We love sitting around a table making a 1000 piece puzzle. I try to buy jigsaws that have educational subject matter as well – then you are getting all the great brain workout you mentioned above – and learning something from the picture as well.
Meryl van der Merwe´s latest amazing offering ..USA Jigsaw Puzzles updated Wed Jul 21 2010 2-38 pm CDTMy Profile

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Ian @ http://www.squidoo.com/thomas-the-tank-engine-toys October 8, 2010 at 5:48 am

Hi my daughter who is now 6 loves jigsaws

they were great when she was younger for learning as well as having fun as most of the jigsaws were based on letters, numbers or shapes and now she is older she likes to do picture based jigsaws.

A great way to have fun without resort to modern day violence based toys

Ian

Ian @ http://www.squidoo.com/thomas-the-tank-engine-toys´s latest amazing offering ..Thomas The Tank Engine Toys updated Wed Oct 6 2010 5-29 pm CDTMy Profile

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