When it comes to timeless, classic toys for kids, puzzles are a definite win. Through puzzles, your little precious one can explore visual perceptual concepts and also refine hand manipulation skills. Not only for kids but an engineer, architect, artist or a designer, the ability to transform shapes mentally is important in their daily lives. And thanks to puzzles that was introduced to them during their kiddo days, they developed advanced skills in transforming shapes, a skill that comes in extra handy in their day-to-day job. Oh, and did we mention that these puzzles can be fun too? Fun and educational, what toy can beat this?
When it comes to puzzles, there are 3 different types – non-connecting puzzles, connecting puzzles and interlocking puzzles. Here we explore each type of puzzle and how it might just be helpful when you choose one for your kid.
Non Connecting Puzzles – The simplest of all puzzles. They are made out of separate pieces that do not fit with each other. An example would be a 4 piece puzzle with shapes such as circle, square, triangle and rectangle. As your kid grows, you can progress to non-connecting puzzles up to 12 pieces. Examples might be puzzles with zoo animals, farm animals, fishes, numbers, alphabets, cars and trucks.
*For kids who are still figuring out how their hands work, a non-connecting puzzle that comes with knobs can really help in their hand development.
Connecting Puzzles – The transition from non-connecting puzzles to connecting puzzles can be quite a jump for young children. The perceptual skills required are much more complex. These puzzles are usually board puzzles, and therefore do not have a picture for the child to reference, like a boxed puzzle would. The pieces of connecting puzzles are placed with edges in full contact with other pieces to form the picture, but pieces do not interlock. What you can do as an older one is to put the pieces together with them. You can assist them with edge pieces and background images.
Interlocking puzzles - Interlocking puzzles, or jigsaw puzzles, are what most adults think of when referring to “puzzles”. These puzzles have a classic tongue and groove that interlock to hold pieces together. This type of puzzle would be more suitable for kids aged 4 and above as they would be able to understand how these pieces matches together to form an image.
Here are some reasons why puzzles should be introduced to your kids.
- Hand–eye coordination - When children flip, turn, remove, etc. pieces of the puzzle, they are learning the connection between their hands and their eyes. The eyes see the puzzle, and the brain then envisions how the puzzle needs to look or what piece needs to be found and placed. Then the brain, eyes, and hands work together to find the piece, manipulate it accordingly, and fit it into the puzzle accurately.
- Fine Motor Skills - Similar to the way hand-eye coordination is achieved, puzzles provide the opportunity for children to develop fine motor skills. Not to be confused with gross motor skills such as walking, fine motor skills require small, specialized movements that puzzles provide. Fine motor skills are necessary for handwriting and other important achievements.
- Gross Motor Skills - For babies and young children, gross motor skills can be enhanced with stacking blocks and other large, easily-manipulated puzzles.
- Problem Solving - The skill of effective problem solving is a valuable and important one. As a child looks at various pieces and figures out where they fit or don’t fit, he or she is developing this vital skill. A puzzle, after all, can’t be completed by cheating! It either works and fits or it doesn’t. So puzzles teach children to use their own minds to figure out how to solve problems and think in a logical way.
- Shape Recognition - For young children – even babies – learning to recognize and sort shapes is an important part of their development. Puzzles can help little ones with this, since the pieces need to be recognized and sorted before they can be assembled.
- Memory - Simple jigsaws and other types of puzzles may help enhance a child’s memory. For example, a child will need to recall the size, color and shape of various pieces as he or she works through the puzzle. If a piece doesn’t fit, the child sets it aside; but he or she will need to remember that piece when it is needed.
Now that you know the benefits of puzzles, it time to get one or more exclusively from