Puzzles are a great way to build important skills, and they have a place in every playroom and classroom, from preschool through high school. Here are our favorite puzzles for kids from age 2 through high school. You may even find a few that end up on your puzzle board.
- Importance of Puzzles
- How To Buy Puzzles According to Age
- Best Puzzle Manufacturers
- Best Puzzles for Preschoolers
- Best Puzzles for Elementary School
- Best Puzzles for Middle and High School
The Importance of Puzzles
Puzzles are more than just creating a picture out of tiny cardboard pieces. They’re great for kids’ development. Working on a puzzle:
- Develops children’s problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
- Develops hand-eye coordination
- Helps children with pattern recognition
- Helps children develop fine motor skills
- Helps children with memory
- Reinforces that we scan left-to-right, for younger children
- Teaches kids not to give up
How To Buy Puzzles According to Age
Kids progress from “chunky” puzzles to 100-piece, 500-piece, and more puzzle pieces. Here are general guidelines:
- Ages 2 and 3: Start with puzzles that have just a few pieces and build from there. By age 3, kids may be able to do 20-piece puzzles on their own or with some help.
- Ages 4 and 5: Kids this age can do jigsaw puzzles with up to 50 pieces by themselves or with support.
- Ages 6 and 7: In early elementary school, kids can start working on puzzles of up to 120 pieces.
- Ages 8 and 9: Older elementary students can work on puzzles from 250 to 500 pieces, depending on their development.
- Age 10 and over: With enough patience and persistence, and maybe some help, kids 10 and over should be able to solve any puzzle.
Who Makes the Best Puzzles?
There are lots of companies that make puzzles, but when it comes to puzzles for kids, there are four companies to start with:
Melissa & Doug
Melissa & Doug, the #1 kids puzzle brand, designs puzzles for kids from age 2 through elementary school. Their puzzles are bright, developmentally appropriate, and come in all kinds of topics that are of high-interest to kids.
Buy it: Melissa & Doug Puzzles at Amazon
Ravensburger is master of the jigsaw puzzle, with puzzles that attract every kid (pink horses, dinosaurs, construction sites!) and high-quality pieces that will last through multiple puzzle sessions.
Buy it: Ravensburger Puzzles at Amazon
Think2Master is all about the super-detailed puzzles, with jigsaw puzzles that double as a search-and-find and puzzles that depict photo-realistic scenes.
Buy it: Think2Master Puzzles at Amazon
MudPuppy is a toy company that also makes jigsaw puzzles. Their puzzles have beautiful, modern designs and focus on science and educational topics, from geography to biology and more.
Buy it: MudPuppy Puzzles at Amazon
Puzzles for Preschoolers
When kids are first discovering puzzles, they’re learning the basics and practicing fine motor coordination. Start with peg puzzles and work up to 48-piece jigsaws.
1. Chunky Pet Puzzle
Chunky puzzles with large pieces for little hands are a good first puzzle experience. Choose a puzzle that interests your child, like this pet-themed Melissa & Doug puzzle.
Buy it: Chunky puzzle at Amazon
2. Two-Piece-Matching Puzzle
Two- and three-piece puzzles help kids learn how to match one part of a picture with another and how to click those pieces into place.
Buy it: Liron Wild Animal Puzzle at Amazon
3. Individual Puzzles
Puzzle sets that include small puzzles with a few pieces, like this farm animal set from Skillmatics, allow kids to try more difficult puzzles without getting overwhelmed.
Buy it: Step-by-Step Puzzles at Amazon
4. 12-Piece Jigsaw
Your child’s first jigsaw puzzle will probably be 12 pieces, like this Mudpuppy dinosaur puzzle. We love that this one has its own case that makes it easy to keep all the pieces together and store a bunch of 12-piece puzzles in the same bin.
Buy it: Mudpuppy puzzle at Amazon
5. Floor Puzzle
A floor puzzle—a puzzle with extra-large pieces that children do on the floor—is a great way for kids to collaborate and move around while building it.
Buy it: Ocean floor puzzle at Amazon
6. Unconventional Floor Puzzle
A floor puzzle that has an unconventional shape, like this train puzzle, is a fun way for kids to experiment with puzzles.
Buy it: Train floor puzzle at Smyths Toys
7. Magnetic Puzzles
Puzzles with magnetic backs are helpful to keep pieces together, which minimizes frustration as kids learn how to put puzzles together.
Buy it: Magnetic Puzzles at Amazon
8. Floor Puzzle Game
This puzzle is a floor puzzle and a game. When the puzzle is finished, kids can use a deck of cards to find different things in the puzzle or listen to clues about what to look for.
Buy it: Floor puzzle game at Amazon
9. Puzzle Track
When this puzzle is put together, it creates a track for a boat. There are other tracks in this set for cars and other vehicles.
Buy it: Track Puzzle at Amazon
10. Find-It Puzzle
When this puzzle is finished, kids can use cards to search for different things like a kangaroo in Australia or a polar bear in the Arctic.
Buy it: Where in the Wonderful World puzzle at Amazon
Puzzles for Elementary School
Elementary school–age kids can handle 60-, 100-, and even 250- and 500-piece puzzles. Their options for puzzles are ever-expanding. These puzzles are great options for kids as they move through elementary school.
11. 60-Piece Puzzle
When kids are ready for more than a 48-piece but not quite ready for a 100-piece puzzle, a 60-piece puzzle is just the ticket.
Buy it: Race car puzzle at Amazon
12. United States Map Puzzle
Puzzles like this one of the United States with pieces for each state reinforce geography skills as well as hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and the other puzzle skills.
Buy it: United States puzzle at Amazon
13. Search-and-Find Puzzle
This puzzle has a built-in search-and-find game with images around the border that kids can find in the puzzle—great for elementary schoolers.
Buy it: Mudpuppy Search-and-Find puzzle at Amazon
14. Solar System Spy Puzzle
Another take on the search-and-find puzzle, this solar system puzzle comes with a magnifying glass and cards with images that kids can find once they finish the puzzle.
Buy it: Solar System puzzle at Amazon
15. Glow in the Dark Puzzle
A glow-in-the-dark puzzle is perfect for a sleepover or quiet nighttime activity where kids can finish it and turn off the light to see the image light up in the dark.
Buy it: Mudpuppy Glow in the Dark puzzle at Amazon
16. Sea Turtle–Shaped Puzzle
A puzzle shaped like an animal is fun and more challenging to put together.
Buy it: Sea turtle puzzle at Amazon
17. Puzzles That Come to Life
These puzzles come with an app that kids can use to learn more about the dinosaurs that they put together piece by piece.
Buy it: Animated puzzles by ANI Puzzle at Amazon
18. Just for Fun Puzzle
Yes, kids love to learn by putting together puzzles. But there’s also a time and place for puzzles that are just about fun images, like this donut puzzle.
Buy it: Donut puzzle at Amazon
19. World Tour Puzzle
Another fun twist on a geography puzzle, this one becomes 3D when kids place animals on each continent they’ve put together.
Buy it: World Tour puzzle at Amazon
20. Globe Puzzle
Once kids have mastered flat puzzles, they can try a globe puzzle like this one from Ravensburger.
Buy it: Globe puzzle from Ravensburger
Puzzles for Middle School and High School
In middle and high school, kids can do most any puzzle. The trick is finding a puzzle that’s just the right balance of challenge and fun.
21. New Perspectives
Puzzles of the world are still popular with older kids, but this time give them puzzles that present the world, or any topic they’re interested in, in a new way.
Buy it: 1,000-piece world puzzle at Amazon
22. Detailed Puzzle
Older kids can do puzzles with lots of details, like this 1,000-piece bird puzzle.
Buy it: Think2Master bird puzzle at Amazon
23. 3D Puzzle
Three-dimensional puzzles are an awesome next step in puzzling, especially this 3D rendition of Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series.
Buy it: Diagon Alley 3D puzzle at Amazon
24. Another 3D Puzzle
Just because 3D puzzles are so cool, here’s another one. This Empire State building puzzle is a more advanced 3D puzzle.
Buy it: Ravensburger 3D Empire State Building puzzle at Amazon
25. LEGO Puzzles
Puzzles that build on a child’s interests are the most engaging, and there are LEGO puzzles for every interest.
Buy it: LEGO puzzles at Amazon
26. Mandala Puzzle
Putting together a mandala puzzle can be as soothing as staring at the mandala when it’s finished.
Buy it: Mandala puzzle at Amazon
27. 2,000-Piece Puzzle
It doesn’t matter what the picture is, a 2,000-piece puzzle is going to be difficult.
Buy it: 2,000-piece Ravensburger puzzle at Amazon
28. All-White Puzzle
And for the most committed puzzle enthusiasts, the all-white puzzle.
Buy it: All-white puzzle at Amazon