Puzzles are good for you!

Jigsaw puzzles are a great learning tool for kids, from preschool age on up. They help to build fine motor skills, reasoning, patience, hand-eye coordination, problem solving, memory, shape and pattern recognition, and organizational skills. When my daughter started attending preschool at age 3 she got really into puzzles, and we have enjoyed doing them ever since, working our way up from 25- to 100- to 200-piece projects.

This is our puzzle corner of the "activity closet." Ravensburger are especially good!

It occurs to me that jigsaw puzzles probably offer the same benefits for grown ups as for little kids. I have done two larger jigsaws this week with family and found them to be deeply satisfying. For example, doing a puzzle is much better than fiddling with my smartphone because there are dimensions. Also it's lovely to have someone do a puzzle with you. You can give each other little assignments: "You work on the penguin and I'll do the turkey," or "Let me know if you find pieces of this orange guy." It's a way to be together that's simpler than face-to-face conversation and a relief from the ubiquitous screen time.

Christmas Day diversion: "Alexander the Great Enthroned at Persepolis," a Springbok puzzle, 500 pieces (the actual manuscript folio is housed at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore)

Boxing Day diversion: "Birds of the World," a Cobble Hill puzzle, 400 pieces (Cobble Hill puzzles have very large pieces grading to very small pieces so young and experienced can both partake)

The Springbok puzzle of Alexander happened to be from the 70s or 80s, and the box contained a useful brochure on how to host a PUZZLE PARTY. I hope if you click on each image you can get more detail, because the suggestions are very useful.

On Christmas Day I reminisced with my elder relation about the REAL puzzle parties back in the day. I remember observing the very particular gestures of the women as they chatted (women seemed to be the main jigsaw champs). She would confidently pick up a piece, try it out in a few ways, then if it didn't match, toss it down without breaking focus and move on to another likely piece. It was that singular trying-it-out-while-talking-about-something-else motion that I found myself making again and again some 30 years later. It felt right. I want to have a puzzle party!

What are your jigsaw experiences? Isn't the yellow puzzle brochure full of great puzzle party ideas?


Anonymous said...

Beautiful puzzles! Do you save your completed puzzles? Or do you just break them up and put them back in the box after photographing?

"Prof. Kitty" said...

We don't save them--we don't have the room! We break them up after admiring or a few days and put them away until next time.