The 10 Best Puzzles For Kids

Updated October 26, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Looking for a way to keep your children quiet and entertained at the same time? Try one of these puzzles for kids. Coming in a variety of designs suitable for different age ranges, they are not only a great way to keep children busy on a rainy day, but can also help develop concentration, focus, hand-eye coordination, and shape and color recognition. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best puzzle for kids on Amazon.

10. Ravensburger Pirate Battle

From one of the most trusted names in the world of puzzles comes the Ravensburger Pirate Battle. It's a great choice for your young swashbuckler aged six years or older. Once finished, it can be framed and hung to create a unique decoration for your child's room.
  • good value for a 100-piece puzzle
  • challenging but not frustrating
  • pieces can fray on the edges
Brand Ravensburger
Model 10666
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Learning Journey: Glow in The Dark Space

The Learning Journey: Glow in The Dark Space is like two puzzles in one. When the lights are on, it's a colorful, whimsical artist's representation of all the planets in our solar system. In the dark, the planets glow in a bright ethereal yellow against a black sky.
  • reinforces object recognition
  • pieces snap together tightly
  • kids may require parental help
Brand The Learning Journey
Model 782545
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Frozen 4-Pack

Considering it's based on one of the most popular Disney cartoons in years, it's almost a no-brainer that kids will love the Frozen 4-Pack. As the name implies, it comes as a set of four puzzles, for roughly the same price as most parents normally pay for just one.
  • each puzzle has 60 pieces
  • shows classic scenes from the movie
  • pieces don't come in reusable bags
Brand Frozen
Model 6029933
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Bepuzzled 3D Deluxe T-Rex

Take puzzle building to a whole new level with the Bepuzzled 3D Deluxe T-Rex. It is comprised of 49 interlocking, crystalline pieces and is not only enjoyable to work on, but exquisite to display as well. It is sure to please any budding paleontologists.
  • stays together well once assembled
  • vibrant green color
  • best for kids 10 and older
Brand Bepuzzled
Model 30968
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. SainSmart Jr. HeaUp

SainSmart Jr. HeaUp is essentially a physical version of the all-time classic game Tetris. Unlike most other puzzles this one allows for multiple configurations, all of which can be correct, as long as children can make all of the pieces fit within the wooden frame.
  • improves spatial reasoning
  • challenging for adults too
  • stands up well to regular use
Brand SainSmart Jr.
Model Jr. Sparkle CB-23
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Mudpuppy Construction

The 25-piece Mudpuppy Construction measures 22" square, and is comprised of jumbo-sized pieces that are easy for small fingers to maneuver as they improve their motor skills. When not in use, the pieces can be stored in the box, which has a sturdy rope handle for toting.
  • child-safe soy-based inks
  • made from recycled paper
  • holds together well on carpet
Brand Mudpuppy
Model 9780735333055
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Melissa & Doug USA Map

The Melissa & Doug USA Map is a great choice for kids aged six years and older. Its large size makes it both easy and fun, and the more a child plays with the puzzle, the better they will come to know United States geography, including state capitals.
  • also shows hawaii and alaska
  • coated with an easy-to-clean surface
  • illustrated with state hallmarks
Brand Melissa & Doug
Model 440
Weight 2.9 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Matney Mat

With the gigantic Matney Mat your kids can enjoy learning their letters, studying numbers, and creating a massive puzzle all at once. The pieces are made from a thick, soft foam, so once it's assembled, it doubles as a play area mat.
  • can be used to spell words
  • pieces also assemble into cubes
  • water and mold-resistant
Brand MatneyÃ'®
Weight 5.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. The Learning Journey Match It! Mathematics

Intended for kids three years of age and older, The Learning Journey Match It! Mathematics will teach them the basics of counting, addition, and subtraction using 30 puzzle cards. There are also similar sets available for everything from spelling to sequencing.
  • designed to be self-correcting
  • brightly colored illustrations
  • promotes multiple types of learning
Brand The Learning Journey
Model 288528
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. BeginAgain Animal Parade

The BeginAgain Animal Parade is not only fun and engaging, but it's educational, too. While assembling the puzzle, kids can learn about different animals and their names, the letters of the alphabet, and colors. The pieces can also be used as play figures.
  • handcrafted from sustainable wood
  • made with all non-toxic stains
  • has uppercase and lowercase letters
Brand BeginAgain
Model I1301
Weight 8.6 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

The Cognitive And Practical Benefits Of Puzzling

If your child is liable to find puzzles frustrating enough to literally bang his or her head against the wall when presented with them, then you’ve encountered the only situation in which puzzles are not good for the development of the human brain. For the rest of the world’s children, puzzles are captivating, mysterious games that activate our centers of imagination and critical thinking simultaneously.

The most basic of children’s puzzles may not seem like much of a puzzle to adults, but it lays the foundation for all subsequent puzzling, and it’s also indicative of the benefits thereof. We’re talking about the old geometric pegboard, a toy that asks toddlers to match the shapes of objects with correspondingly shaped holes in a small table.

The purpose of the game is to develop a child’s physical motor skills in addition to a mental system of taxonomy that separates objects by appearance and other sensory data. In infancy, this system is pre-linguistic, but children can actively discern shapes among triangles, squares, and circles, as well as their individual colors. This cognitive development, when language eventually layers on top of it, allows the brain to build an expansive and nuanced catalogue of object relationships.

Any puzzle your child plays as he or she grows out of this much simpler stage will have some similar cognitive benefits, but it’d be a mistake to think that these benefits level off when the child grows into adulthood. To begin with, children who engage in puzzles at a young age are more likely to do so as they age. Since there is a vast continuum of puzzles available for any age range and intelligence set, it’s a hobby that can grow with them for the rest of their lives. What that can do for the adult brain is particularly special, as active mental engagement in puzzles like crosswords has been shown to combat the onset of certain forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

On a more practical level, puzzling can have a communal aspect to it. Many of the most popular puzzle types for kids resemble the classic jigsaw puzzle. Not only can these games pass tremendous amounts of time on rainy days, they also invite multiple participants to join in the search for the missing pieces and their partners. With a little puzzle glue, you can cement a success for posterity, frame it, and let your child begin a poster collection consisting of all their favorite puzzles. In this instance, each puzzle hanging on the wall will remind them — whenever they look at it — of both their achievement and of their interaction with whoever helped them solve it.

How To Choose A Kids' Puzzle

Unlike your choice of car seat or crib, the selection of a good puzzle for your kid can be pretty worry-free. They’re inexpensive toys, to be sure, but they’re also so numerous on the market that if you take one home and your child want’s nothing to do with it, it’s a simple thing to try another style. That said, decreasing even the smallest hassles is a big blessing for parents, and there are some things you can take into account to increase your chance of success with a given puzzle.

If your kids have developed any kind of aversion to educational toys in their first few years, it might be wise to stay away from these. Remember, the cognitive and practical benefits of these toys extend beyond their being exact replicas of the solar system or their ability to overtly teach your children math. The process of solving almost any puzzle will work wonders for their brain development, so don’t stress out if you can’t get your three-year-old to assemble a scale model of the New York City subway system.

Should your children not balk at educational materials, then by all means load up on puzzles that tickle their understanding of numbers and geography as much as they do their sense of geometry, color, and association. There are puzzles out there that they can assemble with no knowledge of their greater educational goals, and then return to to help reinforce lessons taught to them in their first few years of schooling.

If your child is young enough that all they’re really going to do with their puzzle is put its pieces in their mouth and slowly erode them with drool, then the only thing you really have to think about is piece size. Make sure you get a puzzle the components of which are not choking hazards, and hopefully that are also easy to clean.

A Brief History Of Toys And Kids' Playtime

Toys and puzzles for children don’t play as large a role in the history of humankind as you might initially believe. Puzzles have been a part of our history since at least the 2nd century B.C.E., but these were notoriously difficult to solve, and were made from materials that might not have been safe for young children.

Educational philosophers from the 17th to 19th centuries theorized that toys with an educational bent could stimulate children to higher states of learning. Up until that point, kids played with little more than toy dolls. John Locke first posed the idea that letter blocks could potentially give children an edge in learning the alphabet, and assembling words with these blocks could be considered a kind of puzzle.

It was Friedrich Frobel who made the biggest contribution to this area of play, however. When he created his famous Frobel’s Gifts, a collection of wooden toys with puzzling aspects designed to engage the minds of young children. Many of his toy designs continue to inform manufacturers and innovators in the industry today.

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Last updated on October 26, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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