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Why Are Wooden Puzzles Good For Kids?

Why Are Wooden Puzzles Good For Kids?

Did you know that the first toy we ever made was a wooden puzzle? Back almost 40 years ago in 1985, Bigjigs’ founders Liz and Peter Ireland started their journey into the toy-making business by crafting kids jigsaw puzzles from old wooden floorboards. This entrepreneurial pair used to work from their small garden shed in Kent, selling their creations to local customers, but now you can find their popular puzzles and playthings all over the world

Wooden Puzzles: The Benefits 

Designing and crafting wooden puzzles that stand the test of time is our speciality, so we wanted to share some of the benefits your pocket-sized puzzlers can yield from these timeless toys.

Boy completing our wooden dinosaur floor puzzle

Why are wooden puzzles good for kids?

Wooden jigsaw puzzles are fantastic for developing kids' fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving abilities, logical thinking, language, shape and colour recognition, patience and perseverance, self-esteem, social intelligence, and creativity. Let’s find out how

How do puzzles help a child's development?
  1. Fine motor skills: Grasping, picking up, and connecting wood puzzle pieces will help to boost children’s dexterity and motor development.
  2. Hand-eye coordination: Aligning wooden jigsaw pieces with the corresponding spaces is excellent for kids’ hand-eye coordination.
  3. Cognitive development: Wood puzzles foster children’s logical thinking and problem-solving skills as they learn to analyse different patterns and sizes.
  4. Language: Discussing the subject matter of their wooden puzzle will help to enhance kids’ vocabulary and language skills.
  5. Shape and colour recognition: Kids puzzles are a brilliant tool for teaching tots how to identify different colours and shapes.
  6. Patience and perseverance: Puzzle play promotes resilience and determination as youngsters learn how to focus, concentrate, and persist in the face of challenges.
  7. Self-esteem: Successfully completing a wooden jigsaw is a fabulous confidence booster and can give kids a sense of pride in their abilities.
  8. Social intelligence: Children’s puzzles are perfectly tailored to group play, teaching kids how to work as a team, share ideas, and communicate with others. 
  9. Creativity: Every puzzle picture has the potential to spark youngsters’ imaginations and storytelling skills as they engage with the jigsaw’s colourful illustrations.
  10. Mindfulness: Kiddies puzzles are marvellous for calm and mindful screen-free fun, inviting little minds to enjoy hands-on, present-moment play. 
Girl piecing together two wooden map puzzles

What age is good for wooden puzzles?

A good age to introduce a wooden jigsaw puzzle to your little one is around 18 months to 2 years old. As toddlers grow and develop, their puzzle-solving skills will evolve and they’ll be ready for more challenging jigsaws suited to their age and skill level. Here’s a general guide to the types of puzzles kids can do by age:

  • 18-24 months: Peg puzzles, block puzzles, and chunky wood puzzles 
  • 2-3 years: Simple toddler puzzles of 2 to 6 large pieces featuring familiar animals or objects
  • 3-4 years: 8 to 10-piece puzzles with recognisable scenes
  • 4-5 years: 12 to 20-piece puzzles with added detail and intricacy

From 5+ years, the number of pieces and complexity level of the puzzle should increase as your child’s skills do. Many jigsaws feature difficulty ratings on the puzzle box, which can be a handy guideline if you’re unsure. 

Kids age range for wooden puzzles infographic

How do you explain puzzles to a child?

Follow these 4 simple steps to teach your child how to do puzzles:

Step 1: Explain - Place the puzzle picture beside the pieces (face up), then tell your child that the aim is to connect the puzzle pieces together to match the picture in front of them. 

Step 2: Demonstrate - Show your littlen how to solve the puzzle, explaining each step as you go. 

Step 3: Participate - Encourage participation by taking one piece away of the completed puzzle, then asking your child to slot it back in place. Repeat this until they’ve replaced all the pieces, praising their efforts and offering gentle guidance if needed. 

Step 4: Excite - Keep the experience fun and lighthearted, offering a variety of puzzles for your tots to try and celebrating their progress! 

Best Wooden Puzzles By Age

We have shared some of our favourite puzzles for kids aged 1 to 5+ years to help you pick the perfect one for your child’s interests and abilities

Puzzles For 1 Year Olds

1 year old playing with a wooden sensory puzzle

At 12 months old, babies and young toddlers are just beginning to explore the world around them and develop their fine motor skills. Simple wooden puzzles with chunky, easy-to-grasp pieces are ideal for this age group. Here are a few options for you to consider:

  • Wooden peg puzzles: A peg puzzle features small wooden pegs on each piece, making them easy for tiny hands to grasp, lift, and replace.
  • Sensory touch & feel puzzles: These puzzles invite tiny ones to explore different textures and materials, stimulating their senses.
  • Chunky puzzles: Puzzles that are made up of thick wooden pieces are perfect for toddlers who are still developing their grasp and hand-eye coordination.
  • Lift & match puzzles: These puzzles feature individual pieces that lift out of a wooden base and usually match the picture beneath them, enhancing kids’ shape and pattern recognition. 

Puzzles For 2 Year Olds

Toddler completing wooden Lifecycle Layer Puzzles
By the age of 2, toddlers have become more dexterous and are ready to tackle slightly more complex puzzles with additional pieces. Here are some wooden puzzles for toddlers to give you an idea:
  • 6-piece puzzles: Traditional jigsaw puzzles with up to 6 large pieces are a great next step. Look for themes that interest your child, such as animals or construction vehicles. 
  • Block puzzles: A wooden block puzzle typically has pictures on each side of the cube, encouraging exploration and discovery. 
  • Alphabet puzzles: An alphabet puzzle is a brilliant way to introduce toddlers to letters and sounds in a fun and interactive way!
  • Lifecycle puzzles: These 6-piece layer puzzles illustrate the lifecycle of different animals, teaching young ones all about nature and biology. 

Puzzles For 3 Year Olds

Toddler playing with wooden 1-10 number puzzle
At 3 years old, children are becoming more independent and their problem-solving skills are developing, so they can begin to piece together slightly more detailed scenes and shapes. Some of our super cool jigsaw puzzles for this age range include: 
  • 9-piece tray puzzles: Tray puzzles include a puzzle board which matches the puzzle picture, helping to guide kids as they figure out where each piece belongs.
  • 1-10 number puzzles: A number puzzle is a fun tool for strengthening children’s number recognition and counting skills.
  • Magnetic fishing puzzles: These wooden puzzle toys are excellent for progressing older toddlers’ hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. 

Puzzles For 4 Year Olds

16-piece wooden Rabbit & Bunny puzzle

By the age of 4, children are emerging out of toddlerhood and are ready for wooden jigsaws with more pieces and greater detail. Our 16-piece animal puzzles are ideal for this age and they come with a wooden puzzle board featuring the picture on the base, to give kids a guide to follow. These puzzles each feature a baby animal and its mummy, such as a rabbit and bunny, sheep and lamb, and horse and foal.

Puzzles For 5+ Year Olds

Boy completing wooden Space Explorer floor puzzle

From 5 years old and beyond, kids will be ready for more complicated puzzles that require increased concentration and problem-solving skills. They could try one of our 24-piece transport puzzles, featuring vehicles such as tractors, diggers, fire engines, and trains, then move onto a larger 48-piece floor puzzle as they develop. For space fans, our 50-piece Solar System Floor Puzzle is a must! 

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