There’s still a blanket of snow outside, and on weekends it’s often difficult to muster the energy to get the kiddos suited up for outdoor play. That’s when puzzles come to mind: they’re a parent’s screen-free lifesaver.
That’s when puzzles come to mind: they’re a parent’s screen-free lifesaver.
They’re quiet, thought-provoking, and they play a critical role in a child’s development. For little ones, puzzles hone in on skills like hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, fine and gross motor skills, attention and patience. For older children, puzzles sharpen skills like abstract thinking and problem solving. Even for adults they’re often a source of relaxation and reflection.
So, whether you’re looking for the ultimate boredom buster or perhaps a gift that everyone can appreciate, here’s a handful of our favorite puzzles worth a second look.
Baby & Toddler Age
Hape Toy’s Geometry Puzzle ($9.99) is two separate puzzles in one (i.e. two different difficulty levels). On one side of the puzzle, little ones can arrange pieces based on colors and simple shapes like a circle and square, and other side of the puzzle it focuses more on complicated shapes.
Tender Leaf Toys’ Touchy Feely Animal Puzzle ($19.99) is unlike other chunky wood puzzles; lift the shapes and feel the different textures under each of these five different animals. It’s like having a chunky puzzle and a touch-and-feel book in one.
Wee Gallery’s Safari Animals Wooden Tray Puzzle ($24.95) Perhaps one of the simplest and prettiest wooden tray puzzles we’ve seen, Wee Gallery’s beautiful puzzle features six pieces that fit into the sturdy tray base. For more educational fun, teach your child to recognize and find each creature in the artwork on the back of each puzzle tray.
MudPuppy’s Forest Friends My First Touch & Feel Puzzle ($12.99) is a set of four puzzles (fox, rabbit, squirrel and an owl), each comprised of three textured pieces. This tactile feature adds a unique and fun sensory experience for toddlers.
Plan Toys Marine Puzzle ($20) features a shell, crab, turtle and whale that match with corresponding puzzle tiles, which help children develop their ability to match and recognize colors animals and various marine life environments.
MudPuppy’s Superheroes Secret Picture Puzzle ($14.99) is actually two activities in one. Match the pieces of this 42-piece puzzle to see the colorful illustrations of animal superheros, but the puzzle also includes a revealing wand to place over parts of the puzzle image to view secret images.
Hape Toys’ Chunky Alphabet Puzzle ($19.99) teaches the alphabet and is great fun! This colorful puzzle provides children with an introduction to capital letters to take their first steps towards reading and writing.
Wee Gallery Nightlife Floor Puzzle ($24.95) is a 24-piece puzzle that celebrates the diversity of nature while encouraging learning through play. See a sloth, fox, owl, and more. The large pieces of this puzzle are suited to developing cognitive and motor skills in growing children.
Crocodile Creek Barnyard Puzzle ($21) is a 36-piece floor jigsaw puzzle that will delight all ages, particularly those who love the farm or barns! Featured in this observational puzzle are all things that live in a barn or on a farm. A graphic around the outside of the puzzle with numbers and animals engages children to look for 2 horses, 3 chickens, etc.
Wooden Tetris Puzzle Game ($7.99) by Coogam is a very different brain teaser puzzle, perfect for ages 3+. Fit the different-shaped pieces back into the frame or use the pieces to create your own shapes and designs.
MudPuppy’s Map of the USA Map Puzzle ($16.99) teaches all 50 states by name, capital city, shape, location, and even state nickname. This double-sided 70-piece puzzle includes puzzle pieces that are shaped like each state, and the state nickname is on the back. This is a fun puzzle guaranteed to spark conversation.
EeBoo’s Animal Counting Puzzle ($18.99) is a numbers-based puzzle game that will teach your little one the numbers 1 to 10 and how to spell each number. There are 10 counting puzzles, each with 3 puzzle pieces bearing letters that makes up the number, with corresponding illustrations to guide the way. Only the correct pieces will fit together so the puzzles are self-correcting.
Ravensburger’s Outer Space Puzzle ($13.99) reveals a cool outer space scene in 60 pieces. Little ones will enjoy identifying the planets (parents, do your research!) while putting this together.
Floss & Rock’s Fantasy Butterfly Puzzle ($19.99) is a beautifully shaped 80-piece puzzle that also features foil embellishments on the box and the puzzle. When completed, the puzzle will be in the shape of a butterfly. Unicorns, mermaids, and butterflies abound, this puzzle is sure to be a favorite!
MudPuppy’s Doodle Dogs & Other Mixed Breeds Puzzle ($13.99) is the ultimate puzzle for dog lovers. Featuring illustrations of 22 different mixed breeds like a Goldendoodle, a Chug, and even a Puggle. This 500-piece puzzle is perfect for older children to complete on their own, or gather together for family game night and make it a group effort!
Einstein Atom Puzzle ($15.99) is a tiny puzzle for curious kids. Split this atom puzzle, then take apart the nucleus puzzle within before rebuilding the nucleus sphere and reconstructing the atom around it - easy, right?
Thinkfun's Minecraft Magnetic Travel Puzzle ($14.99) taps into the ever-popular game of Minecraft. Following the clues for each challenge, players must place different Minecraft items into the proper arrangements while developing their critical thinking and problem solving skills. As players progress, the challenges get harder and harder, making the solutions that much more difficult.
Check out the puzzles for all ages in our Bicycle Pie shop!
Photo credit: iStock.com/skynesher