For National Puzzle Day today, I’m going to show you some fun and easy homemade puzzles for toddlers and preschoolers, and we’ll talk a bit about why puzzles are so good for a child’s mental and physical development.
Most young children love doing puzzles. As toddlers they usually start out with wooden shape puzzles. Then they graduate to letter and number puzzles, and soon enough, your preschooler is doing 25 and 50 piece jigsaw puzzles.
Kids just love the challenge of a puzzle, and that’s great because there are so many developmental benefits to doing puzzles in the early years.
How puzzles benefit a child’s development
Putting together a puzzle helps children develop problem-solving skills and memory skill. Puzzles help kids to understand shapes, forms, space and negative space. Manipulating puzzle pieces is great for strengthening fine motor skills and co-ordination. And puzzles require determination, patience and perseverance.
Beginner puzzles for babies and toddlers
For all of those reasons, toddlers and preschoolers should always have a variety of simple puzzles they can help themselves to during play time or quiet time. Chunky, wooden puzzles are great for babies and toddlers, and sturdy interlocking puzzles appeal to preschoolers. Life-size floor puzzles can be a lot of fun for kids to do too.
Homemade puzzle ideas
In addition to having store-bought puzzles on hand, I love to make homemade puzzles for he hooligans! You can make a puzzle out of almost anything – greeting cards, photographs, colouring pages etc. and you can tailor a homemade puzzle to your child’s age and abilities. I’ve made a number of homemade puzzles over the years, and with today being National Puzzle Day, I’ve rounded up several of my favourites for you.
Made with things you have around the house
All of these puzzles can be made with common materials and objects that you have around your home – toys, cardboard, packaging inserts etc. Some are matching puzzles, some help with name and letter identification, and some are just the “make it fit together” kind of puzzles.
Whether you choose to make just one of these puzzles for your child or whether you make them all, I hope your kids have as much fun putting them together as the hooligans do.
5 Homemade Puzzles for Toddlers and Preschoolers:
DIY Matching Puzzle – Toddlers and preschoolers LOVE this simple matching puzzle. As long as you have a pen, a piece of paper and a few random objects, you can make this puzzle almost anywhere.
Homemade Name Puzzle – This name puzzle is such a fun way to introduce kids to the spelling of their name. I like to use textured wall paper samples to make the letters. That way theres a sensory element to the activity as well. At the beginning of each new daycare season, I make a name puzzle for each of the preschoolers knowing they’ll need to be able to spell their names the following fall when they head off to Kindergarten.
Building Block Puzzle Challenge – this homemade puzzle is a bit like a real-life game of Tetris! All ages will enjoy the challenge of making the blocks fit perfectly into a set amount of space, be it a wooden tray, a box lid, or an area marked off on the floor.
Homemade Letter Puzzle – The kids helped make this colourful name puzzle. They enjoyed painting their letters, and then I cut them out and chopped them up into pieces the had to match back together. This was another great activity for the preschoolers in the spring before they headed off to school. Recognizing the letters in their name, and furthermore, recognizing pieces and parts of the letters that made up up their name was a great exercise.
Cereal Box Puzzles – And finally, the old stand by – our cereal box puzzles. These puzzles, you can make quickly and easily whenever you need a quiet activity for your child. Make a variety of them to keep on hand at home, or keep several in your purse or backpack for when you’re out and about!
Edited to Add: Since publishing this post, we’ve discovered another terrific way to make a homemade puzzle.
Check out the homemade, interlocking puzzles the hooligans made recently! They had a blast designing and decorating them, and ended up with a fully interlocking personalized jigsaw puzzle.
Happy National Puzzle Day, Lovelies!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.