Puzzling Over Puzzles?


Puzzling Over Puzzles?

Jigsaw puzzles are a great tool for supporting learning but do you know why? It is not just because they create great opportunities for problem solving.

It is because there are so many puzzles to choose from. Puzzles with small pieces, large pieces, small knobs, large knobs, or no knobs, raised, insert, interlocking!

You can find the right puzzle for your child to start with, and build level by level to increase the difficulty step by step. This will keep your child motivated to keep trying as it won’t be too hard.

This is why a toy library is great as we have every type of puzzle.

Look for puzzles that appeal to your child’s interests.  Is your child crazy about airplanes?  Obsessed with princesses or animals?  Find puzzles that incorporate those interests!

Novelty puzzles, such as those that make a noise when you place the piece in correctly, or perhaps related to a favourite TV show can also motivate the less enthusiastic puzzler.


Make sure the puzzle is developmentally appropriate for your child. This means finding a puzzle that matches your child’s visual perception level as well matching their fine motor abilities. Too easy may not be motivating and if the puzzle is too challenging it could be frustrating.

If you need help knowing where to start ask the Cubby House Toy library Team.

Which puzzle should I choose for my child? Types of puzzles and their benefits:



  • matching: match the picture on the puzzle piece to the picture underneath
  • fine motor: pincer grasp practice when grabbing the knobbed puzzle pieces
  • problem solving: when turning the puzzle piece to make it fit just right

One to three piece large-knobbed matching puzzles are a great starting point. Starting with a one piece might be what you need to do.   Children need to experience success to get involved. After your child has mastered the 3-piece puzzle, try one with more pieces and smaller knobs.


  • matching: match the picture on the puzzle piece to the picture underneath
  • fine motor: pincer grasp practice when grabbing the puzzle pieces
  • task completion: some non-knobbed matching puzzles have more pieces, therefore they take more time and attention to finish the task

These matching puzzles are similar to the knobbed puzzles, but are missing the knobs.  Puzzle pieces without knobs use different muscles to slide and turn, practicing another group of fine motor muscles.


  • shape recognition: children match the picture puzzle piece to shaped outline
  • fine motor: pincer grasp practice when grabbing the non-knobbed or small knobbed puzzle pieces
  • problem solving: by not being able to use the picture to match the puzzle piece, children must look closely at the shape and turn the piece until it fits

These puzzles usually have small or no knobs and do not have a picture to match underneath.  Children must look at the outline of the hole on the shape sorter and the actual shape to make it fit.

Interlocking PUZZLES

  • problem solving: children are figuring out what shaped pieces fit together and how to turn the pieces to make the picture come together
  • fine motor and motor planning: selecting and fitting together the pieces
  • task completion: jigsaws encourage your child to work on the puzzle until it is finished and not give up

When starting children on interlocking puzzles, it is ideal to begin with simpler puzzles that have only 2 or 4 pieces.

You can even make your own by cutting up a picture mounted on cardboard.

FLOOR PUZZLES               

  • social: working with a friend, sibling or parent promotes great teamwork skills
  • gross motor: skill development such as rotation and balance

Floor puzzles also offer children the opportunity to build muscle tone and strength in their shoulders, arms and hands when leaning on their arms to complete a puzzle Try completing an easier puzzle with your child while they lay on their stomach to work their core muscles.


  • Sound puzzles
  • 3D puzzles
  • Puzzles with magnets

Novelty puzzles can be great for motivating children who find puzzles hard work. Sound puzzles make a noise once the piece is inserted correctly. Puzzle with magnets can make puzzles a fun game and 3D puzzles offer new problem solving opportunities.

The Cubby House Toy Library has many to suit a wide variety of interests.

All these puzzles, and many more, are available to borrow from EarlyEd’s Cubby House Toy Library.  Visit to learn more about joining benefits, fees, hours and explore the online catalogue. Speak to our staff if you would like help choosing the most appropriate puzzle or toy for your child.
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