Puzzles that teach kids a hands-on approach to problem solving

When raising a toddler or young child, it’s important to fill their toy collection with a mix of entertaining and educational toys. Some toys, like puzzles, give kids the best of both worlds: they’re super colorful to grab and hold your little one’s attention, and are made with chunky pieces so little hands can easily grab them and put them together without mom or dad’s help. So turn off the TV, hide your iPad and watch them develop their fine motor skills and try to maneuver the pieces, making sense of what goes where.

The best puzzles aren’t just a compilation of pieces that fit together to create a pretty picture; they teach your little one about problem solving, expand their knowledge of shapes and colors, and strengthen their hand-eye coordination. From the jaw-dropping solar system floor puzzle to the Tetris-inspired set, here are our top picks for the best puzzles below.

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1. Melissa & Doug Solar System Floor Puzzle

This colorful and lively puzzle will captivate your child for hours. They will need to pay close attention to the activity to determine where each of the 48 pieces fits correctly. Perfect for ages 3-6, the puzzle’s chunky cardboard pieces help develop your child’s hand-eye coordination, so it’s as educational as it is beautiful.

Image: Melissa &  Doug

Image: Melissa and Doug

Buy: Melissa & Doug Solar System Sol Puzzle

2. SainSmart Jr. Tetris Puzzle

This innovative set of the popular tile-matching video game features 40 colorful building blocks made from beech wood and decorated with natural, non-toxic maple paints. The hope is that by maneuvering the blocks to fit in different ways, your child will hone their hand-eye coordination, color shape recognition, and problem-solving skills. This puzzle is suitable for children from 3 to 8 years old.

Image: Sain Smart Jr.

Image: Sain Smart Jr.

Buy: SainSmart Jr. Tetris Puzzle

3. CHAFIN Puzzle Set for Preschoolers

Puzzles for beginners really are the best because there’s very little cleanup on your end, and you can watch your little one light up once they figure out which piece goes where. This puzzle game is made up of six safari-themed puzzles. Cartoon images are bright, colorful and contain a ton of detail in the finished masterpiece. Designed for ages 2-5, the set helps develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and problem-solving skills while having fun.

Image: CHAFIN

Image: CHAFIN

Buy: CHAFIN puzzle set for preschoolers

4. QUOKKA US Map Puzzle

This puzzle is perfect for any age. It’s a bright and bold take on the map of the United States and the world. Spend quality time with your little one discovering state animals or finding out which continent corresponds to which ocean. Aimed at ages 3-5, this modern puzzle encourages children to learn their capitals, animals, and even fruits. The best part is that the wooden pieces are waterproof, so it’s okay to have a glass of juice nearby!

Image: QUOKKA

Image: QUOKKA

Buy: QUOKKA US Map Puzzle

5. Ravensburger Toy Story Puzzle

You and your little one can put together pieces of beloved characters Buzz, Woody and other classics with this 100 piece jigsaw puzzle. This puzzle encourages cognitive thinking by learning which colors correspond to which character. The puzzle is also made of cardboard, perfect for easy gluing when complete.

Picture: Ravensburg

Picture: Ravensburg

Buy: Ravensburger Toy Story Puzzle

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