How to Choose a Puzzle for a Child

How To

The puzzle is a game, the essence of which is to put together a picture from its many parts of a complex shape. Such a puzzle, in addition to entertainment, develops the child’s logical and imaginative thinking, fine motor skills, attention, perseverance, patience, forms the perception of the relationship between the whole and the part.

Assembling a puzzle broadens the outlook, such assets with historical paintings or 3D puzzles with masterpieces of world architecture.

How to Choose Puzzle

Types of puzzles

A classic puzzle is a set of picture fragments that make up a flat picture. Classic puzzles are most common and have the widest range of themes: animals, cartoon characters, maps, sports, landscape, architecture, and more.

  • A Three-dimensional (3D-puzzle) is a three-dimensional picture or figure, reminiscent of a construction set. A 3D puzzle can be used to create architectural structures (for example, the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower), cars, trains, ships, and much more. This puzzle develops the spatial thinking of a child.
  • Four-dimensional (4D-puzzle) – in such a puzzle, along with the three spatial dimensions, there is a fourth dimension – time. The figure consists of different layers, reflecting its historical development. For example, a model of a city, which, during assembly, undergoes evolution from a small settlement to the world’s megalopolis.
  • Soft puzzle – a set of large and soft blocks that make up, for example, a puzzle mat is an interesting and practical option. The main theme – heroes of fairy tales and cartoons, animals.

Important: the classic puzzle is most often a rectangular format, less common are square and shaped models. Three-dimensional puzzles are shaped.

Number of Sides in a Puzzle

  • One-sided puzzle – the image is applied to one side of the puzzle.
  • Two-sided puzzle – the image is applied to both sides of the puzzle. For example, on one side is a colored picture, and on the back side is a black and white version of the same picture, or on one side is a picture, and on the other side is an alphabet.
  • The three-dimensional puzzle is a three-dimensional image or figure, consisting of three-dimensional elements.

Types of puzzles

Holographic puzzle – the image changes depending on the angle of view. As a result, the picture is given the illusion of volume. The holographic puzzle looks much more spectacular than the usual one, but it is also much harder to collect, as the image of each fragment changes with different angles of view.

Magnetic – a puzzle, consisting of magnetic elements. The collected picture is placed on any metal surface, such as a refrigerator.

With sound – a puzzle, which produces a certain sound in the case of the correct assembly of the picture. The sounds may be different, depending on the theme of the puzzle (for “farm” puzzle – the sounds of animals, for “steam train” – the sound of the steam engine). A sound puzzle develops a child’s associative connection between the image and the sound.

The glowing puzzle is a picture that begins to glow in the dark, creating a festive and magical atmosphere. Pictures with the image of the solar system or stories from fairy tales look especially spectacular.

With a textured surface – the elements of the puzzle are covered with a special material (natural or corkwood, Japanese silk paper), which gives the collected picture a spectacular look. And to collect such a puzzle is much more pleasant than usual, because the elements with such a surface are very pleasant to the touch.

Puzzle Details

Puzzle Shape

The elements of the classic puzzles come in different shapes. The most common are rectangular elements with notches and protrusions.

Number of puzzles

The more parts in a puzzle, the more difficult it is to assemble. The child should start with simple variations consisting of a small number of elements, and then move on to more complex designs. Also, the number of parts depends on the size and price of the puzzle – the more parts it has, the more expensive it is.

Models designed for the youngest (up to 2 years) consist of 3-9 pieces (it is better to pick up a puzzle with 4 pieces).

If the kid is 2 years old, you can offer him a puzzle with 20-30 pieces. As the child develops skills in assembling pictures, the number of puzzle pieces grows.

Important: children under 3 years old should choose puzzles with large pieces for two reasons: first, at this age, the baby often pulls small objects into his mouth, and second, it will be difficult for a child to put small pieces together.

Puzzles, consisting of 500 pieces, are designed for children 10-11 years of age, and the kids who are 12 years old can buy sets of 1000 pieces or more. Over time, the child will be able to master the assembly of puzzles of 3000-4000 pieces.

Puzzle material

Most classic puzzles are made of thick cardboard. When buying a set, it is worth remembering that the cardboard pieces should not bend. The sides and cuts of wooden puzzles should be smooth and have no burrs, which can hurt the baby. In addition, rough joints will not connect well together.

Soft puzzles are made from isolation, a special environmentally friendly material. To develop a tactile perception in children, suitable puzzles with elements of different textures, such as a combination of soft plastic and fluffy fur.

3D and 4D puzzle pieces are made of plastic. It must be of high quality and non-toxic.


One of the important factors in choosing a puzzle is its picture.

For the youngest children (1-3 years) the best choice would be puzzled with animals, toys, letters, and numbers. It is good if the puzzle will be laid out in a frame to simplify the task of assembling the picture.

Older kids (4-6 years) are interested in puzzles with cartoon and fairy tale characters, pirates and cars. At this age, you can buy educational puzzles, such as traffic rules.

For kids 7-11 years old puzzles with landscapes, city views, 3D puzzles with images of military equipment are the best option.

For kids from 12 years old the best option would be complex puzzles, such as paintings by famous artists, geographic maps, 3D sets, from which you can collect architectural monuments and even models of cities.

Important: the design of the puzzle should be kind, not scary, and make your child happy.

Players with extensive assembly experience can offer a puzzle with an oil painting, especially one written in the style of impressionism. To assemble a puzzle with a large monochrome space, where there are many light and shade transitions (e.g., the sky area) is quite difficult.

Tips for choosing a puzzle

  • It is desirable to buy a puzzle together with your baby. Let him choose a toy to his liking.
  • For boys, traditionally buy sets dedicated to technology (cars, tanks, planes), architecture, puzzles with fantastic stories. Girls suit the pictures with fairy tale themes (princesses, elves, unicorns), with dolls and animals.
  • It is very convenient to keep all the puzzles in one place, for example, in a closet on a separate shelf.
  • If a child does not like a puzzle or does not show interest in it, postpone the set for one to two months. Over time, the baby’s attitude toward the puzzle may change, especially if parents will help in its assembly.

Additional Questions

How many piece puzzle should a 5 year old be able to do?

Children aged between 4 and 5 years can successfully complete puzzles of up to 50 Pieces. At this stage of development, they become more capable of recognising contrasting colours, which aids them in piecing together the puzzles. My experiences as a child development expert have shown that children’s fine motor skills improve significantly at this age, enabling them to manipulate smaller puzzle pieces with ease.

How many pieces should a 3-year-old have in a puzzle?

A child aged 3 years is usually still interested in simple shapes and peg puzzles but should be starting to transition to more complex puzzles. Based on my expertise with children’s psychology and development stages, the most suitable multi-piece puzzles for this age range would contain around 9 to 12 pieces.

How many piece puzzle should a 6 year old do?

Children between the ages of 6 and 7 possess the dexterity and understanding necessary for tackling puzzles with up to 120 pieces. As a child psychologist, I’ve observed a notable shift in children’s abilities at this age. They begin to leave behind larger-block puzzles, indicating a further enhancement in their fine motor skill development.

At what age can a child do a 100 piece puzzle?

From my professional experience, I recommend 100-piece puzzles to children aged between 4 and 7 years old. These puzzles are designed to be challenging enough to engage children without overwhelming them, allowing them to develop a wide range of skills independently. The skills developed by completing these kinds of puzzles echo those incorporated in toddler puzzles, but with increased complexity.

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