My kids won't let me get rid of any of their puzzles, yet. At almost 6 and 8 years old, they still love even their earliest 4 piece puzzles. I am not a saver. I always look very forward to having a few things to donate each time the truck comes through our neighborhood. However, anytime I bring up disposing of a puzzle, either one or both of them objects.
On the contrary, my daughter tries to save everything from lollipop wrappers to toy packaging material to dried up flowers from our yard. Now that it is summer break, I tried once again to bequeath some items including one puzzle I hoped she would agree she had really outgrown. To this her response was, “Mommy you should save this for when I have a little girl and you are a grandma". My thoughts quickly switched from encouraging her to grow out of something to trying to figure out how I can make her stay 5 years old forever!
So, I have come to terms with this and decided to pick my battles. I realize that it is great that they do still enjoy them. Although, I have made it a little more challenging for them these days as I have a bin full of mixed up pieces from all of the simpler ones for them to sift through. It makes me feel as if I have gotten more than my money's worth from such purchases. Plus, they take up very little room, especially since we have a neat little puzzle shelf. (By neat I mean that it's nifty and it helps keep the playroom tidy!) While watching them play, I also enjoy the opportunity to reminisce about the days when these puzzles were a true challenge for them. How their little brains would work so hard to fit it back together. I would be thinking just turn it, just turn it. It was so hard to stop myself from “helping". On the other hand, upon completion it was so nice to see how victorious they felt.
Puzzles are so much more than just toys. I enjoy the bonding time while working on them with my children. Not to mention all of the developmental benefits and educational value.
Toy puzzles including jumbo knob, floor, chunky and jigsaw puzzles provide an opportunity to exercise eye hand coordination and promote visual spatial awareness. Then there is the social component. Doing them encourages children to work together and share. Next, problem solving skills are utilized. Where there was once a picture, there are now several parts of a picture. How can that picture come back? Last, but certainly not at all least, there is the fine motor aspect of manipulating the pieces in order to get them into their respective positions. I especially value the puzzles that are developmentally appropriate for the child yet have a theme that encourages higher level thinking. These types of puzzles have proven to have even more value in our home. They often lead to discussions about multiple subjects. Be it farms, animal sounds, weather, transportation, getting dressed, counting, the alphabet, the human body, dinosaurs and so on, puzzles provide opportunities to engage the child's wonder in a very casual manner.
Alycia Shapiro is Vice President in charge of product development for SensoryEdge. A Full time mom and business owner, she loves to find great products for customers. Take a look, you'll find great gifts including puzzles and outdoor toys.