Puzzles are very interesting and educational toys. If you have a kid that needs to develop patience and learn to deal with frustration, stay on this page, because puzzles will help a lot.
Personally I enjoy 3D puzzles more than 2D, but my wife is a master at putting puzzles together with thousands of pieces.
She has the patience this task needs. In fact, I should say, she developed the patience this task needs.
But that is not all. She has some strategies for doing this, and that was the first thing that caught my attention when I first saw her doing a puzzle.
Probably this is basic stuff for people who love to put together puzzles, but for me it was completely new.
Just like everyone, she does the corners and the edges. But then, and this is what got my attention, she classifies pieces according to colors and images. She also classifies pieces by shape.
All of these classifications help her assemble everything faster and in a more efficient way. At the same time, she relaxes herself and practices focusing and concentrating to accomplish something.
I have to say that before meeting her, I was not a big fan of puzzles. I’m still not, but I find the challenge a bit more interesting thanks to her approach.
Why are puzzles beneficial to your kids?
Your kids can benefit from puzzles a lot. Not only will they practice their focus and concentration, but patience as well.
Do you see your kid frustrating easily? Lots of kids experience frustration and never train their mind to deal with it.
You may see adults, even professionals who know a lot about science and math, but are helpless when things don’t go the way they want. This is frustration at its core.
Puzzles teach your kid to deal with frustration with very measured doses. It happens like this: you try a piece, it doesn’t fit, frustration shows up, but immediately you can try another piece somewhere else, so frustration goes away very fast as well.
This happens continuously, and those measured and small doses teach your mind a valuable lesson: frustration is temporary, and you can determine how long it lasts.
These are not all the benefits from assembling puzzles
I already mentioned that my wife uses some strategies for assembling puzzles, and I want to share this in more detail.
She developed these strategies and tactics with the years, and this equals to developing strategic thinking.
This is the process she uses and I want to describe it while relating it to what happens in the brain. All that I will share here, was developed in her brain with the years, and only thanks to fitting puzzle pieces.
For instance, with a puzzle that has part of an image that is the same color and very homogeneous tone, she grabs all the pieces of such color and tone and puts them apart.
At that moment she is dividing the whole problem (the puzzle) into smaller parts, and instead of having to deal with 1000 puzzle pieces, she only has 200 that are blue and form the sky of the picture.
This is a great strategy to solve big problems. Cut it into chunks and tackle them one by one.
Another interesting thing she does is assemble the corners and edges, and then go from the outside to the inside. From the big picture to the small details.
This is another clever move when you are solving a problem. Asking yourself what the end state will look like, can save a lot of time, money and energy when dealing with a problem.
The last trick I want to share is when she classifies not by color or tone, but by the image of the puzzle piece.
For instance, if the image is a tiger, she will segregate all the pieces with the tiger or part of it. She’ll try to fit each one with those that look related to each other, until she finishes the tiger.
If she has issues putting the tiger together, she stops building the tiger and does another part of the puzzle.
Again, this is strategic thinking, but the part where she starts with the tiger and moves to something else if the tiger is difficult, tells me that she knows when to let go and not engage in vicious circles.
I can tell you she is exactly like that, not only with puzzles, but when we disagree about something, she is the first to step out of an unproductive discussion.
If you ask me, this is a valuable skill for everything in life, and the tool to develop this is 10 USD or less.
Which puzzles are best for my kid?
All of them.
However, if your kid has a particular preference for specific images, it could work best. Star Wars themed puzzles, or maybe colorful images of flowers, architecture, or butterflies.
Whatever the case is, just make sure your kid will enjoy the final image.
How many pieces should a puzzle have to be educative?
It could be 10 or 5000. This is more a question of the age and skill of your kid.
You want to make sure you challenge him or her in the right way. This largely depends on the age and skill.
Very young kids will enjoy puzzles with low count and big pieces. This helps them get familiar with the dynamic of a puzzle and how it works.
They learn that each piece has these features that make them fit with others, and, even if the features are the same, the image printed on the piece must make sense with the other pieces around.
All of this is important when selecting a puzzle depending on the amount of pieces, and you must be sure your kid understands the overall dynamic of assembling the puzzle.
As your kid develops the muscle to assemble puzzles, you can increase the number of pieces of the puzzles she or he builds.
How to find the best puzzles?
Just like with other products, I don’t think this is a conversation about brands, but about features.
Many people like certain brands, myself included, but sometimes brands charge for the name they have built as well. Nobody can blame them, but there are always others trying to build a name and willing to give you better deals for great quality products.
Now, if you want to know about brands, then Ravensburger is a sure bet here. Their puzzles are not cheap, but the quality you’ll find is superb.
Back to our features discussion. Here are a few things you want to check when purchasing a puzzle.
This is quite obvious, but you or your kids have to like the final image when the puzzle is complete.
Quality of cut
This is crucial and it is what separates good from great puzzles. As you try to fit the pieces, they suffer wear. Eventually some reach their limit and the edges start to split.
This has to do both with the material used to make the puzzle (we’ll talk about this next), and the quality of the cut or the technology used to cut the pieces.
Research to find the technology used to cut the pieces and see if the manufacturer says anything special about it.
The best puzzles will be cut using lasers to ensure high precision and defined edges.
Again, Ravensburger does a great job here.
The best puzzles are made of high quality cardboard and some even combine plastic. This ensures that clicking sound we all love when a piece fits.
In order to have a high quality cut, the material must be right. This is why the material plays a huge role in the selection of a puzzle.
Amount of pieces
The more pieces, the more interesting it is to assemble the puzzle. Yet as discussed before, it is important to measure the challenge and select the appropriate amount of pieces, depending on the age and skill of the kid assembling the puzzle.
The challenge will increase with the number of pieces, so be mindful about this when selecting your puzzle.
I like to read comments and reviews a lot. I find these very interesting and educational. You can find a lot of interesting and valuable information from current owners.
You have to be careful when reading these comments, since some could be biased. I like to scan these and try to find patterns.
Also, the more comments the better, since this means a lot of people are purchasing this product and that makes it popular.
You’ll find that a bad product never has thousands of reviews. People don’t complain that much, and if they do, the seller removes the product because it impacts their business.
So reviews in ecommerce stores like Amazon can tell you a lot. Be sure to read these and buy a puzzle with lots of good comments.
Finally, you want to make sure the price is right. Like I said, you could buy something that is expensive because of the name of the brand selling it.
I think if you like it, the comments look good, and the budget is right, then go for it.
If you want to talk about brands… Why is Ravensburger the brand of choice here?
I know I said I don’t see brand names when buying puzzles, yet that doesn’t mean I’m blind about who is who in the world of puzzles.
The puzzles from Ravensburger deserve a special mention because they do have pretty high standards (and actually set them) when creating puzzles.
There is a vast variety of options from them, and their designs are truly fantastic. You’ll find these tend to be a bit pricey compared to others, but I like their puzzles a lot, and you notice these are built using the highest quality materials right when you start fitting pieces.
Try any of their puzzles and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Also, should you have any problem with their puzzles, make sure to reach them using the same channel you used to buy from them.
This means that if you buy using Amazon, then use Amazon to reach them should you need something from them.
Last comments about jigsaw puzzles
This has been an educational and interesting view of puzzles. But nothing replaces experience. I invite you to get started with these amazing and cheap learning tools and see how you enjoy them.
Also, if you are thinking of puzzles as gifts, make sure to go through the features I mentioned to find the best puzzle as gifts.