Renew Your Child's Interest in Those Old Jigsaw Puzzles

Child putting jigsaw puzzle together
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Puzzles are a popular toy for children and have been for a few hundred years. What is it that makes puzzles so enjoyable for kids?  For one thing, kids (and adults) who work puzzles get a tremendous sense of accomplishment when they complete a puzzle. Toddlers can feel that accomplishment when they manage to put together a puzzle of five pieces. As they get older, the puzzles get more complicated and have more pieces.

Some jigsaw puzzles have as many as 6,000 pieces! Those are the ones for tenacious adults with a lot of patience.

While all children seem to enjoy working with puzzles, gifted children seem to gravitate toward puzzles as a favorite playtime activity. They move quickly, too, from the easy puzzles with just a few pieces to the harder ones with hundreds of pieces. Why is it that gifted kids enjoy puzzles so much? One reason is that they tend to be problem solvers and putting a puzzle together is like solving a problem. How do all those pieces fit together? What's the best way to approach putting a jigsaw puzzle together? Is it better to go section by section or to go from the outside edges to the middle? Gifted kids like more than jigsaw puzzles, too. They enjoy puzzles of all kinds, jigsaw puzzles or brainteaser manipulative puzzles, crossword puzzles, strategy puzzles, and just about any kind of puzzle possible.

Puzzles offer a challenge and gifted kids definitely love a challenge. If you are the parent of a gifted child who loves jigsaw puzzles, you probably noticed that your child quickly tires of the puzzles you buy. They eagerly attack a new puzzle, but after a couple times of putting it together, the challenge is gone.

Without the challenge, there is no mental stimulation, so your child loses interest.

If you have lots of old, easy jigsaw puzzles that your child is no longer interested in, don't throw them away! You can renew your child's interest in those old puzzles with a few simple tricks.

  • Combine Puzzles
    Chances are you have more than one puzzle made by the same company with the same number of pieces. Instead of having your child work with just one puzzle at a time, mix two of the puzzles pieces together. So if your child has two 24-piece puzzles, mix the pieces together! If the puzzles are by the same company, the pieces will be about the same size and have similar shapes. If that gets too easy, mix three 24-piece puzzles together, and so on. Your child isn't going to try to make one puzzle out of two or more puzzles. He'll still end up with separate completed puzzles. It will just be more challenging to find the right pieces when there are more pieces to look through.

    You can mix two 50-piece puzzles together, two 100-piece puzzles together and two of any same number puzzle piece puzzles together. And as you would do with the 24-piece puzzles, you can mix three of them together, four of them together, or however many puzzles you want to mix together. Each time you add another puzzle to the mix, the puzzles become more challenging to complete.
    • Turn Pieces Upside Down
      Instead of mixing the pieces of different puzzles together, just take the old puzzle pieces and turn them over. Your child will have only the shapes of the puzzle pieces as cues to determine which pieces fit together. Without the colors and picture, it's more challenging. If you don't think that's a challenge, try it yourself with one of the puzzles. Again, you can start with the puzzles that have fewer pieces and work your way up to the puzzles your child has with the most number of pieces.

    The puzzles won't be a challenge forever, but these tips will extend the time your child will play with his puzzles. You won't have to go spend a lot of money stocking up on puzzles that your child will play with.

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