Looking for a great toy for your child? Puzzles are fabulous toys for every child and every age. Be sure to look for puzzles made of good quality and try to find some with pictures that look as realistic as possible. There are a lot of developmental skills your child learns while playing with puzzles.
1. Fine Motor – Getting those puzzle pieces to fit exactly right takes a lot of concentration and fine motor skills. Holding the little knobs (if there is one) is a great way to work on using a pincer grasp. Bigger knobs work on holding objects with your palm and whole hand. Some puzzles are inset puzzles, others are interlocking puzzles. There are puzzles with fun textures and some with locks, latches and doors. All of these require different fine motor skills and problem solving skills.
2. Visual Processing – Looking at the puzzle pieces and trying to figure out how to make them fit takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and visual processing skills.
3. Cognitive – Puzzles are a great toy to work on matching pictures and following directions. You can also work on identifying, matching and naming colors, shapes, numbers and letters.
4. Speech and Language – Not only are puzzles great to work on naming pictures, but you can also encourage your child to request objects. Hold the puzzle pieces in your lap and encourage your child to request which piece they want by signing or saying, “more.” For older children, you can work on using the phrase, “I want + object name” (e.g. “I want cat, I want blue circle, etc”) to request the desired puzzle piece. Some puzzles make sounds when you place the pieces on the board – this is a great way to encourage your child to imitate sounds and talk about what they see and hear.
5. Gross Motor – You might be wondering how puzzles can work on gross motor skills, but they can be a great for encouraging motor skills. For younger kids, place the puzzle board on top of your couch, chair or coffee table. Then, place the puzzle pieces on the floor. Your child will have to bend and squat down to pick up the puzzle pieces and then place them in the correct spot. For older kids, place the puzzle pieces across the room. Encourage your child to walk, run, hop, jump, skip, crawl, etc. across the room to pick up the puzzle pieces one at a time and then bring them back. You could even develop an obstacle course for them to go through to bring back the pieces. These activities are great for encouraging gross motor movements and motor planning skills.
Puzzles can be a lot of fun and they work on so many great developmental skills. So, grab a puzzle and your child and have some fun!
Now It’s Your Turn: What’s your child’s favorite puzzle?