As well as providing family fun, the educational benefits of puzzles are many. To increase the student’s vocabulary when they play with puzzles, use words such as straight, curved, edge, inside, outside, above, below, and beside.
Richly illustrated puzzles entertain children of all ages. Puzzles that contain jumbo pieces are designed to fit in small hands. Wooden or thick, strong board puzzles are the best for younger kids.
When children play with puzzles they:
- Develop vocabulary
- Increase small muscle development
- Develop eye hand coordination
- Improve memory skills
- Increase problem solving skills
- Build spatial perception
- Build literacy skills
Teaching puzzle skills to children
Teach children that lots of puzzles (not all) have a straight edge on the outside and to look for similar colors and shapes that relate to each other.
- Start with simple puzzles with few pieces.
- When the child is successful move on to a more difficult puzzle.
- Resist the temptation to point out which piece goes where, give the children plenty of time to figure it out by themselves.
- Assist only when asked.
Children like to repeat the same puzzle over and over again. Although developmental levels vary with kids, look for the following criteria when buying puzzles for beginners:
- large pieces
- sturdy pieces (kids will try to force them to fit together resulting in bent edges)
- puzzles with one or two pieces (match chick with hen)
- pictures that are easy to recognize
- non-toxic paint and products
- products that pass safety standards
Types of Puzzles
Galison Mudpuppy produces a number of different style puzzles for children that are non-toxic and meet safety tests. They feature contemporary art and design and are an excellent choice for those looking for products without the latest movie characters and logos.
They have a line of puzzles, packaged in a reusable plastic pouch with colored zipper and ribbon edging that are great in the classroom, where boxes easily get stepped on and broken.
Melissa and Doug puzzles are another favorite, educational and well made. They have quite a variety of wooden puzzles.
A few types available are:
- two piece puzzles
- tray puzzles
- theme based puzzles
- 20 piece puzzles with familiar objects
- 6 sided block puzzles
- large floor puzzles
- 36 piece puzzles with smaller pieces
Ravensburger is another company that produces excellent educational puzzles for kids. See more…