Preschoolers love doing puzzles but some puzzles don’t love them back. I have watched dozens of 3 and 4 year olds eagerly tackle puzzles in my classroom and I can say without exception that some puzzles are better than others. A few just need to be thrown away!
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There is one puzzle that, if it were not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles puzzle, would have been gone a long time ago! My kids love TMNT so I don’t have the heart to part with it – yet. I bought the puzzle from a discount store for one dollar. Typically the puzzles at that store are great but this one is for the birds! It is one of those flat puzzles that you make on its own board, which is a style that is very good for young children. This particular puzzle’s design, though, was very poorly done. The edges of the puzzle do not match the body of the puzzle at all. There is no way to find clues to which piece goes where. It does have the shapes etched out on the cardboard but it is so frustrating that few of my children stick with it to the end.
A similar puzzle in my collection did hit the “circular file” – i.e. the garbage can! It had the design lightly printed on the cardboard base, which is perfect for preschoolers, except they printed the WRONG PICTURE on it! My kids are smart. Whenever one of them would grab this puzzle from the cupboard and recognized that it was the one with the misprint, it got pushed aside. I don’t like throwing anything away but it was time for this one to go.
My preschoolers love the 24 piece puzzles that you just pour out onto the table and look at the picture on the box. I have at least a dozen of them featuring all sorts of popular characters like Princess Sophia, Winnie the Pooh and Toy Story. By the end of the school year, nearly everybody can make them without help. The beginning of the school year is a different story. My class includes 3 and 4 year olds. Three year olds are at various levels of development. Some are just not ready for a 24 piece challenge. Wanting everyone to have frustration-free fun making puzzles, I ordered some new simpler ones that I love …. and so do they! Some were from The Learning Journey and some were made by Galt.
Both brands of puzzles have large pieces, which are easy for little hands to work with. I love the adorable cartoony pictures! The colors are vibrant and the pieces are very durable.
In each case, all four puzzles come mixed together in the same box. There are puzzles of very few pieces – 2 or 4 pieces – on up to 8 piece puzzles. Perfect! What I love about The Learning Journey’s puzzles is that there are numbers on the back of the puzzle pieces that correspond to the number of pieces in the puzzle.
So, if you are making the 2-piece Ocean theme puzzle (which is this adorable sea turtle) you just look on the backs and find the two pieces with the number “2” on them. It helps my little kiddos learn to identify numbers, too. I bought the Ocean set and the four Dinosaurs puzzles, too.
The Galt brand puzzles do not have that, which is really too bad, however the pictures on the puzzles are so distinctive that it is simple to sort through to find which ones go together. [For instance, in the Farm set you just look for cows or pigs or lambs or chickens on the pieces. It is quick.] I bought both the Farm set which includes puzzles with 4, 6, 8 and 12 pieces and so does their 4 in a box Vehicles puzzles.
Picking Out The Right Puzzles For Preschoolers
Types of puzzles for young children vary. Here a some of the most popular styles:
- 24 cardboard pieces in a box
- Cardboard jigsaw puzzles
- Wooden jigsaw puzzles
- Large piece 4 in a Box The Learning Journey puzzles
- Large piece Galt Brand puzzles for preschoolers
- Floor puzzles
Do your children like puzzles? What are their favorites?
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