The Best Jigsaw Puzzles for Kids – Our Choices for 2017

The best thing about jigsaw puzzles is their entertainment and educational values, as well as the fact that both kids and adults can enjoy them together. The colorful theme in each jigsaw puzzle is also part of the attraction, the themes of which can range from popular cartoon characters to landscapes.

The fact that jigsaw puzzles come in a wide range of difficulties, from a few pieces for toddlers to thousands of pieces for adults, is a selling point too, because you can find something for everyone.

Our Handpicked List of Jigsaw Puzzles for Kids

Here are 15 of the best jigsaw puzzles that we found during our research. Keep in mind that your final choices will be determined by your children’s age, interests and preferences. You can get a 1,000 piece puzzle if you have older kids while your friend would choose a 12 piece wooden puzzle because she has a toddler.

1. White Mountain 1000-Piece Candy Wrappers Jigsaw Puzzle

Suitable for: 12 years old and up

Pre-teens, teenagers and parents alike will find the Candy Wrappers puzzle a very challenging one, mainly because there are a thousand pieces. Just imagine the task of finding the border pieces first in the 24×30 inch puzzle before proceeding to the middle pieces - it will be sweet success when you get there.

Designed by Charlie Gerard, an artist known for his contemporary pieces, the puzzle depicts the popular candies of your childhood in their full glory. You should be able to tell your kids about your enjoyment of the candies depicted – what they tasted like, how much they cost, and what chores you did just to be able to buy them.

You can also just let the kids have a go at the puzzle without giving them a history lesson and see how they fare on their own.

What's Great About It: We like that there’s a certain sense of nostalgia involved in its theme. Kids like to hear about their parents’ childhood years, especially when it involves their food adventures. Parents will do well to tell them know about these things as a way of exchanging stories as a way to spend time together.

2. Melissa & Doug 12-Piece Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box – Vehicles

Suitable for: 3 to 6 years old

Preschoolers will appreciate the colorful images of the 4-panel puzzle set, namely, a school bus, a race car, a fire engine, and a steam engine. These are also familiar vehicles, thanks to educational television shows, so their interest will be piqued.

There are four basic puzzles in the set while each puzzle has its own compartment in the wooden box. Each of the puzzles has 12 pieces so there are 48 pieces in total for the set. This is a manageable number for children aged 3 to 6 years old to build, thus encouraging them to actually complete the set.

What's Great About It: We like that the puzzle depicts familiar things that toddlers and preschoolers will immediately recognize. The 12-piece puzzles are also easy for them to complete, which will give them a sense of accomplishment in their abilities. When played with other children, your kid will also develop their language skills and fine motor skills as they build.

3. White Mountain 1000-Piece The Games We Played Jigsaw Puzzle

Suitable for: 12 years old and up

With teens engrossed in video games, the opportunity to become engaged in a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle will be welcome. This puzzle isn’t just any puzzle, however, as it depicts the games that our generation played, such as hopscotch, which kids today may be unfamiliar with.

The 24×30-inch masterpiece is then a great way to spend quality time together as a family, providing you with the opportunity to share a part of your history with your children, and possibly introduce a few games that they may be interested in.

Designed by Lois B. Sutton, you will like the attention to detail in the puzzle, especially since it evokes feelings of nostalgia. You and your kids will have a great time assembling the pieces and, once completed, in admiring your work.

What's Great About It: We like that the puzzle depicts a wide range of games that were popular in the 19th century to the 20th century, including various board games. You can treat it as a learning experience for your kids in the sense that you can give a little historical background about the games. You can even tell them about your own experiences with the games.

​4. Ceaco 500-Piece Thomas Kinkade Disney Dreams Collection 4-in-1 Jigsaw Puzzle Set

Suitable for: 5 to 15 years old

Disney characters are among the most popular themes used for jigsaw puzzles because kids and adults love them. This 2,000 piece 4-in-1 puzzle set is a great gift for kids and teens as it depicts four popular Disney characters and scenes.

These are Winnie the Pooh, Fantasia, Tangled, and Lady and the Tramp. The mix of classic, like Fantasia, and contemporary cartoons, such as Tangled starring Rapunzel, is a big selling point.

Designed by Thomas Kincade, the images in the four panels appear to come alive, thanks to their vibrant colors, fine details, and realistic expressions. Each puzzle panel measures 14×18 inches and consists of 500 pieces, the perfect number for your older kids. When assembled, you can have the panels framed and displayed as wall décor in their bedrooms.

What's Great About It: We like that it depicts many of the most beloved Disney characters including Winnie the Pooh, Rapunzel, and Lady, each one of which has had adventures of their own. You and your kids can tell stories about their own adventures while completing the panels too.

​5. The Learning Journey 30-Piece Match It! Mathematics

Suitable for: 3 years old and up

Learning basic math starting with counting numbers can be fun for toddlers. The trick is in letting them learn through fun ways – and this 30 piece puzzle can do the trick. As your child completes the puzzle, they are also learning the different numbers as well as counting, addition and subtraction.

The puzzle has 30 card pieces in total – 10 pieces for counting numbers, 10 for addition, and 10 for subtraction. There are also two interlocking units. Each piece can only be connected with a specific piece, which adds to the challenge of completing the puzzle.

What's Great About It: We like that the puzzle addresses several developmental needs particularly learning the numbers and their operations, as well as fine motor skills and cognitive function. The colorful theme is icing on the cake that your little one will love.

​6. Ravensburger 1000-Piece Kitchen Cupboard Jigsaw Puzzle

Suitable for: 12 to 15 years old

Yet another great 1,000 piece puzzle is the Kitchen Cupboard set, which depicts the contents of a kitchen cupboard in slight disarray. This is a more challenging puzzle than the other 1,000 piece puzzles on my list because of the smaller pieces.

The panel is also smaller, measuring 27×20 inches. Plus, the disorganized way that the kitchen cupboard items are presented demands a keener eye for detail from your teens, and you if you are helping them.

We suggest this puzzle for your older kids and teenagers. The level of concentration needed will be at the same level as this age group, and will present a suitable challenge for them.

What's Great About It: We like the fact that it has a thousand pieces, a challenging task to complete even for experienced adults. You will like that the image depicts everyday objects too.

7. A Broader View 55-Piece Kids’ Puzzle of the USA

Suitable for: 4 years old and up

Americans take great pride in their country, but not everybody can actually name the states when presented with a blank map of the United States and its territories.

This 55 piece puzzle of the country can contribute to addressing the educational deficiency, as well as let your kids enjoy completing it.

Instead of the map being made up of a hundred or so pieces, each state is the actual piece. But there’s a twist – each piece already contains the state’s landmarks, state capital, and state symbols such as flowers, birds, and trees. Your child will then be able to learn the country’s geography at a glance.

What's Great About It: We like that it can actually be used in a classroom setting for teaching students, from preschoolers to middle-grade school pupils. The kids learn the lessons including the things that separate each state from the others. The completed puzzle itself can be a handy reference point when framed and placed on the wall.

​8. Melissa & Doug 24-Piece Under the Sea Jigsaw Puzzle

Suitable for: 3 to 5 years old

The undersea world appeals to younger kids because it has fascinating creatures, not to mention that their interest factor has been reinforced by movies - Finding Nemo and Finding Dory comes to mind as favorites.

If your child is a fan of these movies, then they will love this Under the Sea puzzle. When completed, the 24-piece puzzle depicts a gray shark, a red crab, an orange octopus, a blue whale, a violet sea anemone, a brown starfish, a pink jellyfish, and a yellow seahorse, among other marine creatures.

The pieces are also relatively large so that even your younger kids will find it easy to know which pieces go together, making it fun for the whole family to get involved.

What's Great About It: We like that the pieces are made from durable wood, instead of the normal cardboard pieces that most puzzles use. Even the wooden tray for the pieces has a double purpose – you can make it into a mounting board for framing the completed puzzle.

​9. Cardinal 60-Piece Disney Frozen 4-Puzzle Pack

Suitable for: 4 to 15 years old

Frozen is certainly still a hot commodity among children from toddlers to pre-teens. With this 240 piece puzzle set, you can let your children relive their days as a Frozen fan, as well as develop their attention to detail.

There are actually four panels in the puzzle set. Each panel depicts a different scene from the Frozen franchise, such as a panel with all four major characters, Princess Elsa, Princess Anna, Olaf, and Kristof. Each panel is made up of 60 pieces and measures 11×15 inches.

What's Great About It: We like the Frozen theme as presented in the four different scenes. Your child will like that each panel has a manageable number of pieces, and once all four panels are completed, the scenes blend well together. You may even want to frame the completed puzzle to display in your little one's bedroom.

​10. Melissa & Doug 45-Piece Deluxe Wooden USA Map Puzzle

Suitable for: 5 to 10 years old

Yet another fantastic map-and-puzzle combo is the 45 piece wooden puzzle from Melissa & Doug, a well-known maker of educational materials for kids. Think of it as a more enjoyable approach to teaching elementary school students about the different states that make up the United States.

Each piece in the 45 piece puzzle is made from durable wood, as is the case for the game board. Every piece also represents a state and comes with interesting trivia about it, such as its state bird, flag, and motto, among others.

This puzzle is a great way to introduce the states to your younger kids without the pressure of memorizing the information straight away.

What's Great About It: We commend the makers for actually making it fun for kids to learn U.S. geography while also developing their cognitive skills. You can also use it for other non-educational purposes, such as letting your kids know about your planned destination for a road trip or for relocation. Besides, you can also use it to reinforce their sense of pride about the nation they live in.

​11. EuroGraphics 100-Piece The Solar System Jigsaw Puzzle

Suitable for: 6 to 15 years old

The solar system is just as fascinating for kids as the underwater world and the make-believe world of Disney. This 100 piece puzzle depicting the sun and the planets around it is then a great gift, especially for kids with an interest in outer space.

You, as the parent, will love the fine workmanship that has very obviously been poured into the puzzle. The pieces, which are made of high-quality blueboard, fit perfectly together, while the ink used is kid-friendly and made from 100% vegetable-based dyes. The 13×19 inch puzzle is as colorful as the solar system too.

What's Great About It: We recommend this solar system-inspired puzzle as a teaching tool for students. Your child will be able to learn the planets and their order around the sun, as well as their distinctive characteristics. You will be surprised by how much your child will be able to learn using this fun puzzle.

12. SainSmart Jr. 40-Piece CB-23 Wooden Tangram Jigsaw Tetris Puzzle Toy

Suitable for: 3 to 10 years old

The Tetris game was among the most popular games for handheld game consoles in the 1990's. But since it isn’t widely available now, it feels good to know that you can introduce it to your kids with this 40 piece puzzle.

This is a unique puzzle in the sense that the player has more control over where the different “blocks” can be positioned inside the frame. Just be sure that there are neither extra blocks nor empty spaces on the frame once you’ve finished building it. Once assembled, the puzzle really evokes the look and feel of the Tetris game, including the screen.

What's Great About It: We like that it actually encourages kids to exercise their problem-solving skills and creativity since there’s no template. Plus, the blocks and the frame are made from 100% natural maple while the paints and dyes are definitely kid-friendly.

​13. Melissa & Doug 24-Piece Construction Jigsaw

Suitable for: 3 to 5 years old

Puzzles are also about building albeit not with wood and nails, but with pieces and to a picture. This 24 piece construction jigsaw puzzle is a great way to build your child’s fine motor skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.

Due to the popularity of construction-oriented kids’ shows, such as Bob the Builder, even toddlers are familiar with the heavy equipment depicted on it. The vehicles included on this puzzle are an excavator, dump truck and pay loader, all of which your child will be familiar with.

Each of the pieces fits well into the others so there are no misaligned pieces and frayed edges from regular use. Every piece is also made from premium-grade wood, as is the wooden tray.

What's Great About It: We recommend this puzzle for toddlers and preschoolers, since it helps in their language development, cognitive function, and social interaction. The colorful images are a definite plus that your little one is going to love.

​14. Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Shark Jigsaw Puzzle

Suitable for: 6 to 12 years

Fearsome and fearless - these are the words most often used to describe the great white shark - the alpha predator of the seas. While people should avoid swimming in shark-infested waters, kids can still be exposed to them in a safe way – and a puzzle is a great way to do so.

The great white shark is the star of the show in this puzzle. You can use it to teach your kids about this marine animal’s appearance, habits, and habitat, as well as point out the animals that live with it. On the puzzle, these include small reef fish in various colors.

What's Great About It: We like that the bright colors and vivid details on the puzzle make the underwater scene feel so real. You can frame the completed puzzle too, as part of a nautical-inspired bedroom.

​15. Ravensburger 24-Piece Thomas & Friends Floor Puzzle

Suitable for: 3 to 6 years old

Thomas the Tank Engine is such a popular character that it has dozens of toys with its image on them. This large 36×24 inch puzzle is one of the best because of its durable construction and engaging theme.

Since the puzzle pieces are large, your toddler should have an easy time completing the puzzle. The super-thick cardboard coupled with the glossy finish make it a striking puzzle that your little one is bound to appreciate.

What's Great About It: Parents love the large and thick puzzle pieces that allow their toddlers to put the pieces together almost unaided. The image provides toddlers with a certain level of difficulty while completing the puzzle, which is great for cognitive development.

The Criteria We Followed in Choosing the Best Jigsaw Puzzles

Choosing the best jigsaw puzzles can be a puzzling activity, pun intended. We encountered hundreds of thousands of choices when scouring online shops. We then made a shortlist of the jigsaw puzzles that we considered as the best for kids according to their age and interests, as well as the popular choices for different age groups.

We also considered the consumer reviews from parents since these provide great insight into the pulse of target consumers, so to speak.

We used the following criteria in choosing the best jigsaw puzzles.

Age-appropriate theme

These puzzles were chosen because of their appeal for a wide age range, such as from 5 to 15 years. Even the adults in the family will have a fun time completing the puzzles alongside their children. We chose themes that kids can actually relate to at their age, such as Disney characters.

Size and number of the pieces

These puzzles must have a manageable number of pieces depending on the age range they are aimed at. The simplest has 12 pieces while the most complex has 1,000 pieces. We chose puzzles that can appeal to as many children as possible, such as the 100 piece great white shark puzzle, which most kids will love.

Type of material

These puzzles are made from durable materials, such as thick cardboard, blueboard, and wood. We wanted to ensure that the pieces can withstand repeated handling by kids and adults alike.

Of course, we chose only the family-friendly puzzles since we anticipate that these will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike and wanted these puzzles to appeal to the whole family.

Child Development in Relation to Jigsaw Puzzles

Did you know that assembling jigsaw puzzles engages both hemispheres of the brain? The right lobe is the emotional side and, thus it’s more intuitive and creative. The left lobe is the logical side so it works in a linear manner.

When your children are working on a jigsaw puzzle, they are actually harnessing the capacity of both lobes of the brain for many reasons.

First, they must exercise their virtues of patience and perseverance in putting the pieces together lest they become frustrated with it. They learn that there are several ways to deal with a problem and that the trick is in finding the best way without getting frustrated, which is a valuable life lesson too.

Second, they have to use logic in deciding which puzzle piece fits in what part of the entire puzzle. They learn that logical reasoning is often the best way to deal with problems, even in solving a puzzle. Their capacity for logical reasoning can be honed each time they complete yet another puzzle.

In general, the psychological benefits of completing jig saw puzzles include:

  • Enhance problem-solving skills. The builder must recognize the patterns, colors and shapes of the pieces followed by making decisions about their position on the board.
  • Improve the capacity for self-evaluation. A child learns to assess and reassess their choices in picking up and placing the pieces on the board. By constant reassessment of choices made, a child learns patience and perseverance.
  • Increase overall perspective of situations. A child learns that, oftentimes, the bigger picture is the more important thing in looking at the pieces, a valuable lesson about life itself.

Of course, jigsaw puzzles also enhance your child's learning capabilities in terms of their physical, mental and emotional skills. It's no wonder then that these are still popular toys for children, even in the age of video games.

Conclusion

The best jigsaw puzzles appeal to both kids and kids-at-heart. You are making a wise investment in the education and entertainment of the entire family when you buy these products, and by using our list above, you are bound to find something for everyone.

    Sandra Cobain
     

    Sandra is the head of content for BestForTheKids. When she’s not busy crafting posts & researching about compelling content ideas, she can be spotted playing outdoors with her two adorable children.

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