Puzzles are one of the best toys for kids, but which puzzles for kids top all the rest? This comprehensive list breaks down the best puzzles for kids: from chunky puzzles to jigsaws to logic games. This puzzle list spans all ages of childhood.
What are the best puzzles for kids?
Puzzles happens to be one of my favorite gifts to give kids. It’s my favorite kind of a toy, kind of not a toy present.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of all toys – but I have long called puzzles the most perfect toy. Puzzles (and puzzle games) enrich our kids’ lives so much…I’ll happily surround them in all the puzzles we can find.
But often when we think of puzzles, we limit our thought to jigsaw or chunky puzzles. Puzzles are those, but they’re also brain teasers, logic games, and mazes. These all fit under the umbrella category puzzles.
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What do kids learn from puzzles?
Puzzles are invaluable in the way they help our children and give them so much learning goodness in just a little bitty box.
When a child is doing a puzzle, that child is:
- Using spatial awareness to rotate pieces
- Problem solving
- Improving visual discrimination by looking for details
- Concentration / independent work / Patience
- Fine motor skills to pick up small pieces
- Hand-eye coordination to turn the pieces
- Intrinsic motivation and the desire to accomplish a task for your own personal gratification
So yeah, puzzles are REALLY great for kids.
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When can kids start working on puzzles?
Puzzles are an on going part of childhood and one that they will start naturally.
Around age one, I typically begin introducing puzzles because I want this to be a life long love – these are the most basic puzzles like a shape sorter or 3-5 piece chunky puzzle.
There was nothing I loved more as a teacher than watching a group of first graders work their behinds off trying to put together a 100 piece floor puzzle before the bell rang.
Kids love puzzles and we need to encourage this.
Start a puzzle collection for kids to grow with
I love having a variety of puzzles, and yes – some might be “young” for my older kids but they still love them, they still play with them, and the puzzles are still good for them.
I usually buy my kids a puzzle or a board game at every holiday/birthday to keep growing our collections of these. Sometimes I pair the puzzle with a non-toy gift or with a fun book to round out the gift in a theme.
Wire Puzzle Storage Rack
I would be lost without my puzzle racks as storage – I love this one so much, we have two of them.
Busy Toddler’s List of the Best Puzzles for Kids (of all ages)
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NOTE: I have attempted to put this list in order of difficulty (from easiest to most challenging).
Color and Shape Wooden Block Sorter
It’s an oldie, it’s a goodie, it’s such a fantastic puzzle for tabies and toddlers.
Big Knob Puzzles
They’re a classic and the first step in kids learning to do puzzles. I loved this one for my daughter – she’s been an animal loving kid since day 1.
Chunky Clock Puzzle
Shapes. Colors. Clock. Puzzle. This one literally check every box.
Magnetic “Fishing” Puzzle
These are some of my favorite “kinds” – a magnetic fishing pole lifts the pieces in and out of the puzzle. It’s a little added challenge and I am here for it.
Transportation Chunky Puzzle
Bless and long live the chunky puzzle forever. These are a staple of toddlerhood and pair great with books for a beautiful gift.
Wooden Peg Puzzle
A peg puzzle has been a family favorite since 2015 – there’s something so soothing about this one with animals.
Instrument Sound Puzzle
I’m a huge hater of any toy that makes sounds but not this one. There’s something about it that doesn’t bother me, the kids love the tones of the instruments, it works.
Wooden Latches Board
It’s a puzzle with door twist and it’s just the absolute coolest.
Wooden Alphabet Puzzle
This is a great first alphabet puzzle with chunky letters that make it easy for little ones to grab.
This is the sweetest little maze puzzle with the cute moving elements and sorting, too. It’s really a perfect little magnetic wand puzzle – we love owning this.
Long Floor Puzzle
This 2 in 1 puzzle set is awesome: it’s just challenging enough to make it really something special.
See & Spell Learning Toy
A really really cool letter puzzle for kids working on reading.
This sweet magnetic maze is so perfect for ages 3+. It’s so sweet, even my “big kids” still play with this often.
Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles
A wooden jigsaw puzzle in a frame is a great “next step” puzzle AFTER the chunky ones have been mastered. This 3-pack holds three of our favorites.
Solar System Floor Puzzles (48 pieces)
This was always a favorite puzzle in my kindergarten and first grade classrooms so no surprises it was also a favorite at home with my kids, too.
Animal Magic 100 Piece Puzzle
As kids age, large floor puzzles are where it’s at!
When my kids were newly 5 and 7, they fell in love with these 300 piece “adult” puzzles. They’re a great place to go after children have “mastered” all the kid-level puzzles.
Oh this is the best: an old fashioned labyrinth game. This has been a hit at our house from 5 year olds up to 65 year olds. I cannot believe how universally loved this has been.
IQ Twist (logic game)
This solo player puzzle game says 6 to adult on the package. That is 100% accurate. My husband LOVES sitting with this puzzle game.
My husband had this puzzle in the 1980s and my kids LOVE it at Grandma’s house. The box says 8+, but I put it more at 6+.
It’s not exactly a puzzle, but it’s all about spatial awareness, problem solving, and critical thinking. This ball maze is TOUGH – ages 8+ is what the box says. It’s been a 5+ here (and an equal obsession for my husband).
Other Ball Mazes We Love
Frequently Asked Question
Three years are very capable puzzle solver. I would start with the chunky puzzle and hang their for a while before moving to jigsaw and floor puzzles.
Whatever you believe is the right number. It’s the truth. You will have to decide this for your family based on your space, home, and interest levels.
That depends on the child. For elementary age, I would start with 100 piece puzzles and move on to jigsaw and floor puzzles now. My kids began 300 piece puzzles at age 5 and 7 years old.