Wooden puzzles for toddlers, jigsaw puzzles for kids, and tricky puzzle games for kids remain eternal favorites of children everywhere. And it turns out that — despite a vast, glittering array of new-fangled toys that promise to get your toddler on a bioengineering career track before kindergarten starts — puzzles are still some of the the best way to boost STEM skills, such as abstract thinking, logical reasoning, problem-solving, and spatial and math skills.
In fact, according to the child development pros at Zero to Three, puzzles help older toddlers develop their problem-solving skills, as they figure out what pieces in a puzzle go where.
Puzzles for kids are affordable, widely available, and diverse, ranging from simple wooden puzzles for toddlers to more complex jigsaw puzzles for older kids to thousand-piece floor puzzles that the whole family can put together over days or weeks. That’s the other essential thing about puzzles: They bring people together and give kids a chance to practice their social skills, while also learning and having fun.
See more: Best Toys for 4-Year-Olds
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that when kids work on puzzles, their fine-motor skills, vocabulary, and cognitive development all grow. Children who play with puzzles also have stronger spatial and early mathematics skills and perform better on tasks that evaluate their ability to rotate and translate shapes. And those are big predictors of course-taking, degrees, and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Whether your child is brand-new to puzzles or an old hand, we’ve got some great picks for all ages. Some help with spelling, while others sharpen spatial and math skills. Some allow creativity to run amok, giving kids a blank canvas on which they can explore.
Wooden Puzzles for Toddlers
This wood puzzle for toddlers help them learn to spell three and four letter words.
Kids get wood letters that fit into two-sided cutout boards to spell beginner three and four letter words like bus and fish. This puzzle helps them develop vocabulary, spelling, and fine motor skills.
So your two year old fights with you about dressing weather-appropriate? Get him or her this wood puzzle, which has 12 pieces and teaches kids the four seasons.
If they flip it over, they can trace it for an added element of creative play. Like all Plan toys, it’s made from sustainable materials.
Kids 3 and older can build this wooden puzzle, featuring 24 durable wooden jigsaw pieces that fit together smoothly and display gorgeously detailed African animal scenes.
Ideal for preschoolers, this puzzle is made up of 24 wooden pieces and introduces kids to the majesty of Mother Nature and her animals.
This wooden puzzle, from one of our go-to brands, teaches your kids the alphabet, and takes a beating while doing it.
This Hape alphabet puzzle is made up of sturdy, chunky pieces perfect for little hands. It’s ideal for toddlers, who discover which letters go into which slots on the board.
For dinosaur-loving kids, the DinoPuzzle features bright creatures that are easy for little hands to grab and move around.
Great for kids ages 3 and up, the DinoPuzzle promotes shape recognition. Kids figure out where each piece fits and watch the dino design come to life.
A puzzle that's a world of possibilities. Each animal piece has the first letter of its name on it — in lowercase on one side, and uppercase on the other — and is handcrafted from birch and rubberwood, and colored with child-safe, non-toxic stains.
This 26-piece puzzle offers kids 2 and up endless opportunities for fun and challenging play, from learning the alphabet by puzzling together friendly animals from Alligator to Zebra — to honing their wild and woolly storytelling skills.
You pretty much can't go wrong with anything from Melissa & Doug. And that includes this barnyard-themed 32-piece big floor puzzle. It's fun. It's educational. It's durable. Sold.
With only 32 pieces, this barnyard puzzle is relatively easy for young kids to put together. Ideal for kids ages 3 to 5, this puzzle is made from durable, extra-thick cardboard pieces that have an easy-to-clean surface.
Puzzle Games for Kids
Not only is this a standout magnetic puzzle, but it's a biology and anatomy lesson as well.
Kids seven and up pick a card, and then build the muscular, skeleton, or organ to match what it has on it. Or kids can use their imagination and create bodies and skeletal systems on their own.
This is a great puzzle game because kids connect the same-colored dots by creating same-colored paths of the putty without crossing different colors.
A fantastic STEM toy for kids eight and up, this puzzle game encourages critical thinking. Plus, it gets increasingly difficult as kids become more proficient at it.
This gorgeous Ravensburger puzzle teaches kids to love ocean creatures, while also building skills such as concentration and encouraging creativity.
Ravensburger puzzles have precision-cut corners, which means every piece fits together seamlessly. This puzzle is ideal for kids 6 and older, and lets them play for hours as they build and explore. And when they put it together, what a great sense of accomplishment!
Aspiring astronauts, or anyone who loves outer space, will dig this puzzle of the solar system. The puzzle can be built directly on top of a helpful diagram, or separately using the diagram as a visual reference.
We love that this puzzle has 48 thick wooden pieces, which makes it easier for younger kids to manage and put together. It’s great for older toddlers and really, kids of any age.
For budding engineers, this colorful marble run offers endless opportunities to build and problem-solve.
Beautifully constructed of natural wood, this is a superlative version of a classic skill-building, imagination-boosting game and infinitely expandable.
Kids eight and up will be challenged by this logic-based puzzle. But it also builds spatial reasoning and planning skills while offering a Mousetrap-like payoff when he or she gets it right.
Kids select one of 60 progressively challenging cards, which detail the end pattern that will allow a marble inserted into the topmost point to make it to the bottom. They must then fill in the middle, following light hints, to complete the task. At its end, the marble either makes it or not, teaching concrete problem solving within clear constraints. While it will challenge him or her, your brain might get a workout of its own.
Remember the old, beloved Tetris game? Here's the puzzle version, which encourages problem-solving and creativity since all the pieces have to somehow fit.
Each time, the puzzle has a different challenge, because you have to fit the pieces back in, in various ways. The possibilities are endless. And it makes kids’ brains work. It’s good for kids 3 and older.
Geography is a valuable skill for any age, and the Melissa & Doug map floor puzzle helps your child to learn it while you get a refresher. With plenty of space, you and your kiddo will know the states and their capitols in no time.
Fully assembled, its 2-by-3-foot size allows your son or daughter to more accurately understand the expanse of the United States. But for children ages 6 and up, it helps them visualize where each state is located while also exposing them to respective capitals. The 51-piece kit is coated with a spill-proof finish, which makes cleaning up after accidents fast and easy.
For children 7 and up looking for a challenge, Educational Insights’ Kanoodle delivers, providing 3-dimensional puzzles that captivate for hours.
Including 200 2- and 3-dimensional puzzles, kids must navigate through hundreds of combination of the 12 pieces, only one of which is the correct solution. The puzzles themselves become progressively harder, which keeps kids coming back for more. Sell this to your child as a real-life Minecraft.
Building a 3-D model of the Magic Kingdom truly is magical, thanks to Ravensburger's 3-D puzzle kit.
Just, wow. This 3-D jigsaw puzzle has precision-fit pieces, so that click together perfectly. This puzzle is meant to be displayed after it’s built, so make sure you have the space ready. This puzzle features the most popular Disney characters including Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Tiana, Aurora, and Merida, and is meant for kids 12 and older.
Kids can create marble maze sculptures in the shapes of animals, robots, towers, geometric shapes — whatever they can imagine! Configurations are unlimited, routes are unpredictable, and marbles travel different routes each time, keeping play full of surprises.
Designed by an architect, we love that this challenging but rewarding puzzle game that helps kids hone their problem-solving skills, while building a real foundation for basic physics, 3-dimensional planning, and art-making.
If you're not into Disney but into architecture, you'll love this 3-D puzzle featuring the Eiffel Tower.
You get the full Parisian experience with this 216-piece puzzle of the Eiffel Tower, which even include led lights to light it up.
Take puzzles to the next level with this GeoMagic set, which features 250 blocks in eight geometric shapes that connect to let kids build endless designs.
Once you’re done with a standard puzzle, you’re, well, done. But these GeoMagic mosaics give kids limitless options to build whatever they dream up, using geometric puzzle-like shapes. They’re meant for kids 3 and up.
This puzzle sure beats having an actual cat at home. It's 1,000 pieces, and great for kids ages 8 and up. The puzzle features 23 cat breeds, with each representing a different letter of the alphabet.
Your kids hone their spelling skills and fulfill their feline dreams. Plus, they get to see the whimsically cool art of Carolyn Gavin.
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