Preschool + Toddler Puzzle Craft & Buying Guide
Do your children love puzzles? What about a toddler puzzle craft? At my house it would be a big yes to both from both of my kids!
Starting with simple baby ones matching a shape to its spot on the board, kids will start enjoying puzzles at a very early age. When those are no problem, toddlers graduate to simple jigsaw puzzles with only a few pieces. Finally, your preschooler may become a whiz at them, easily putting together a cute 48+ piece puzzle masterpiece!
Puzzles are so much fun for little kids, and us moms should love them for our kiddos too. There are so many developmental benefits of puzzles for toddlers and preschooler:
- Gross & Fine Motor Skills – The actions of picking up pieces big and small, turning pieces, hitting them into place (usually with a satisfying Bam! at our house) or that slight movement to twist it in are all fantastic opportunities to practice controlled movements.
- Hand-eye Coordination & Spatial Awareness – Your child learns how to move their hand holding the piece exactly where they see it goes and learn to analyze shapes to know if something fits or not.
- Cognitive Skills – Your little one is analyzing the picture and the pieces to problem solve and complete the puzzle. They are also developing memory skills knowing not to try a piece again or, like my kids, doing a puzzle enough kids remember exactly where all the pieces go!)
- Emotional Development – Patience & Perseverance: Trying multiple pieces, same piece different places, keeping going until the reward of seeing it done!
Oh and don’t forget the mom benefit: A few minutes of chill, independent play – priceless!!!!
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Types of Jigsaw Puzzles
There are lots of choices when it comes to puzzles! Here’s my suggested progression based on my experience with my 2 kiddos – one who is careful with things and one who is definitely not! Here are some tips for choosing each type and links for great ones to try – they’ve all been very popular around here for a couple years now! Just click the pictures for all the info.
Baby Board Puzzles:
Happy Mom Tips:
- Make sure things have definite shapes, not just squares with a letter or picture on it. They need to have pieces that truly only fit in one spot!
- A little knob on the pieces is great for this age, but not necessary! Personally, I love the ones without becasue when they’re left out and I step on them it doesn’t hurt as much!
- Ignore the ones with sounds! Puzzles get done over and over. Do you really want to hear those noises over and over?? There are enough loud sound toys in your toddler’s world already where they make more sense. A puzzle is fun without it so save your money!
Some of our personal favourites at my house are these:
Two Piece Match:
Perfect for little hands to first learn how pieces fit together! Look for ones that complete a picture on both sides, not a picture and word match. Toddlers can’t read!! To be honest, we skipped this stage by accident. I didn’t know they existed and my sister gave us some hand-me down puzzles from my nephews! I really like these dinosaur ones I found on Amazon though!
These are a favourite around here for sure! Tricky enough to grow with, easy enough to start with. Wooden pieces that cant be destroyed. An all around toddler/preschool puzzle win! I’m a big fan of the Melissa & Doug sets like the ones shown here – perfect size pieces and a great wooden box to keep them sorted! We also have a couple from Walmart that are great too and are characters like Mickey Mouse and Frozen.
These are ones I wish you could find more of with not too many pieces! The big size of the pieces makes them perfect for little hands, but most have at least 24-48 pieces so can be tricky for little ones without help from you. You can help pretty easily though by breaking it down into chunks and doing parts of the picture at a time.
They are a a great way of keeping older puzzle masters into the puzzle fun without it getting too frustrating by going more difficult. My 4 year old rotates which one gets left together by her bed. We basically treat it like a rug now.
We got this farm one for my son’s 2nd birthday and he loves it! It’s great because although it’s got 35 pieces, the picture is a few different scenes. It’s easy to break it down and say “Let’s do the pond first” or “Where are all the barn pieces” so it’s like doing multiple smaller puzzles that fit together to create the cool big one.
If your child would love the space puzzle, check out these EASY SPACE CRAFTS
DIY Toddler Puzzle Craft
If your kids are like mine and just love puzzles then you know they’ve done the same ones over and over so many times they’ve basically memorized where everything goes! The solution for this? New puzzles! Except really, that can totally add up even if you buy second hand.
So here’s the solution to that problem: Make toddler and preschool puzzles yourself!!! And by yourself I mean with your kids as a fun craft time activity with very little effort from you. No fancy supplies needed either! Perfect!!!
What You Need:
- Crayons or markers
- Colouring Book – Any will do, but I lovethis Crayola one because it has some big, simple pictures for little toddlers and some more detailed ones for preschoolers. The Melissa & Doug Jumbo ones like this one are also a favourite at our house for the size and paper quality!
You can probably tell where I’m going with this just from the materials list – it’s that easy!
Step 1: Kids Colouring Time!
Pick a page out of a favourite colouring book and have fun! Colouring is often an activity I use to be able to cook or clean in the kitchen since my kids sit at the table to do it. Today though, I took the time to sit and colour with them and we had so much fun! The teacher in me also knows it helps to take the time and model things like colouring all the little details and taking your time to do your best. Kids are always watching and learning!!
Step 2: Glue Picture on Cardstock
Put the glue all over the cardstock if the little kids are doing this step – colouring book paper is often flimsier and could rip. No one wants that – or the potential tears that’ll come with the tear (see what I did there? hehe). My daughter was so excited to glue the whole page – something that usually I’m saying doesn’t need to happen!
If you don’t have cardstock, no worries. Skip this step. It’ll still work, just won’t be quite as sturdy so the puzzle may not last as long. Not really a big deal – you can make another new one in minutes!
Step 3: Cut Picture Into Puzzle Pieces
You’ve got options for how to do this, just like the options for types of store-bought puzzles. Pick whatever makes sense for the picture and your child’s age.
Toddler Puzzle Craft 1: Picture Shapes
Cut along the lines of the picture to put the parts of the animal or object back together. This works well for a younger toddler puzzle. It is also great for pictures with clear parts like this bug that was my colouring project with the kids today!
Toddler Puzzle Craft 2: Straight Puzzle Pieces
Cut straight lines across the picture to make more of a jigsaw puzzle. The cuts have nothing to do with the picture itself, just straight across at different spots. Do try to get them where there will be obvious things to line up though!
Toddler Puzzle Craft 3: Jigsaw Pieces
Cut jigsaw puzzle pieces complete with notches like a real puzzle. This one takes a couple minutes more, but adds to the fun or older kids!
Whether you pick up some new puzzles to add to your existing drawer or are just starting out at the next level for your toddler, puzzles are so much fun! Add in some craft time and you can have an endless supply of new puzzles to entertain and challenge your little one!
Like simple fun ideas like this? Check out these easy ice cream crafts for some summer fun!