As with any purchase, choosing the perfect puzzle can be difficult. You know that if you choose the wrong one, your child may not like the educational toy or, worse, they may hate the experience and refuse to solve the puzzle again in the future.
Think about presenting a puzzle with 100 pieces to a two-year-old. The toddler would not know what to do. This is because most children at this age do not have the concentration, fine motor skills or cognitive ability to solve such a difficult puzzle. The key to choosing the right puzzle for a child of any age is to find an adjusted difficulty level. In addition, interests and concerns come into play, regarding the child’s safety
Imagine a 6-year-old putting together a 9-piece frame puzzle. He would complete it in less than a minute. On the other hand, a puzzle with 400 pieces is probably beyond their capabilities. This shows how important the number of puzzle pieces is in terms of a child’s ability. The number of pieces is one of the most important factors when choosing the right puzzles for little ones.
Younger children usually need puzzles with fewer pieces that are easier to put together. As they grow, they can handle more complexity in the form of more pieces.
Puppies, an ocean scene, a beautiful landscape, cartoon and movie characters are just a few of the possible themes you may see on puzzles available in stores such as Puzzle 1000. While one child may love a puzzle with a beautiful unicorn, another may hate it. The ideal theme to choose largely depends on the age of the child, which will influence their personal interests.
Imagine that the average preschooler has a choice between a dinosaur or a puzzle with a mountain landscape. Which would they choose? The dinosaur would probably win outright, despite any other features the puzzle might have. On the other hand, seven-year-olds might prefer more sophisticated themes, such as artwork, buildings or seascapes.
The right puzzle image can be a big motivator for kids when putting the pieces together. In fact, it can even inspire your child to work on a puzzle that goes a little beyond their normal level of difficulty.
Puzzle pieces come in a wide range of sizes. As a general rule, the younger the child, the larger the pieces you should look for. Larger, thicker pieces are easier for little hands to manipulate and assemble, which is usually the case with foam puzzles.
Incidentally, you may have seen puzzles with a 3+ or similar tag. This basically means that the puzzle is intended for children ages 3 and up. The reason for the age restriction is that the small pieces can cause choking in toddlers and babies, who usually like to put things in their mouths.
Wood, cardboard and foam are the main materials used to make puzzles. Cardboard warps and tears easily, especially if it is not high quality, making it frustrating for young children to work with because the pieces do not hold together.
Foam pieces can be easier to lock into place and stay in place compared to cardboard, although they are usually not recommended for young children due to the risk of choking on small parts.
Wooden puzzles are usually slide-on or framed puzzles and are ideal for younger children. However, as a general rule, wooden toys should be checked before giving them to children, as they can be dangerous if their edges have not been properly sanded.
From photos to drawings, cartoons and more, the image of the puzzle plays a big role in its appeal and level of difficulty. For example, photos that show a lot of leaves can make for a very difficult puzzle because many of the pieces appear identical. However, a puzzle with a graphic image with 3 brightly colored animals is much easier to put together.
The amount of contrast between the colors and the image are key things to consider. The greater the contrast, the easier the puzzle will be. In particular, pictures with many different, vibrant colors can make the puzzle more accessible to young children. This way, the child can develop a strategy by finding all the pieces in a similar color to connect them.
Main photo: Magda Ehlers, source: pexels.com