Puzzles for Children

simple fun for kids

There are such a huge array of puzzles for children that we thought we should define what we mean to avoid confusion! Just the word ‘puzzle’ can conjure up many different ideas, is it a crossword, a wooden puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle, a riddle or a maze?

All are great indoor activities for kids but different puzzles will appeal to different kids depending on their temperaments. Generally, puzzles aid in concentration and problem solving.

They may seem old-fashioned in these days of electronic games, but they provide essential skills to prepare our children for school and beyond. The educational value of puzzles and games is enhanced when parents and children play them together so sit down with your child, a puzzle, and a cup of tea and enjoy! The perfect rainy day activity!

Jigsaw puzzles for Kids

Jigsaw puzzles are an established part of rainy day activities in our household. I consider them to be a good quiet activity that uses cognitive and problem-solving skills without being too difficult or losing the ‘fun’ aspect. They help younger children stay with an activity until it is complete and thus aid in concentration and being able to apply themselves to a task.

Jigsaw puzzles for children come in a variety of forms.
For the very young there are peg puzzles which generally only have 3-8 removable pieces with small knobs attached so that little hands can manipulate them. They aid learning in regards to shapes, colours and fine motor skills for toddlers. If your child shows a love of puzzles then find some that are more of a challenge- they may need help at first but with familiarity they will soon enjoy being able to master more difficult jigsaw puzzles on their own.

For preschool kids there are a number of puzzle types each with different ways to challenge the child.

  • Peg Puzzles– like those above but with more pieces so that they are more of a challenge to the child.
  • Tray Puzzles– which have outlines of puzzle pieces in the tray aiding the child in recognising the shapes as well as colours of the pieces when putting the puzzle together. Generally made from thick cardboard or wood. Suitable for 3-6 year olds.
  • Wooden Puzzles– are available that do not have any instruction. Inspired by Waldorf and Steiner philosophies they require more contemplation on the part of the child. These puzzles come with interlocking pieces that the child has to work out, some have extra thick wooden pieces so that they stand when completed. Suitable for 3-8 year olds. 
  • Standard Puzzles– like those undertaken by adults. They will have a picture on the front of the box but no other instruction as to how the pieces fit together. They are available for 4 year olds with 50-60 pieces, but usually start at 100+ pieces and are better suited to 6+ year old children as they have smaller pieces which require sharper skills visually to match pieces, and in concentration to complete the task.

Word Puzzles for Kids

Word puzzles can involve riddles where a number of clues may be given before an answer can be deducted. These are definitely suited to older kids as they are required to use logic.

There are also word puzzles for preschoolers who are just learning to read which are aimed at word and letter recognition, counting and simple problem solving. Once children start school and gain confidence in spelling, they can start on simple crossword puzzles or playing word games like Scrabble or Boggle.

See Board Games for more ideas…

Magnetic puzzles for kids

Children’s magnetic toys have grown in popularity over recent years. Without there being any right or wrong way to play, they encourge creative and artistic talents as your child builds projects of various shapes and sizes.

Kits are available in a range of sizes and they challenge kids in a way that is fun and stimulating.  Kids can piece together intricate structures, faces, or something they simply find appealing visually. They can also be used to teach science and physics concepts- the attraction and repelling of magnets will fascinate most children, and adults alike!

Mazes for kids

Mazes themselves come in two or three-dimensional forms.

The mazes I most remember as a child are those done on paper, in coloring books, along with dot-the-dots and other similar activities. 

Mazes that focus more on hand manipulation are great for concentration as you try to direct a ball (or several) through the maze using tiny movements of the base so that they weave their way though the maze or to reach a desired final position. From my experience adults love these mazes as much as kids!

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