Standard wood puzzles for toddlers and preschoolers are available in beautiful colors, shapes, and levels of difficulty. Do the puzzles with your child, one at a time. If several are dumped out at the same time, you will have your work cut out for you! Your young toddler may need some explanation of the object of puzzle play, and don’t be surprised if she enjoys putting them together face down or upside down. A toddler’s worldview is quite different from yours!
Make Your Own Puzzles
To make a beginner’s puzzle, cut several holes of different sizes into the top and sides of a shoebox so your toddler can fit blocks, small cars and other geometric shaped toys inside.
To make an intermediate board puzzle, cut a large circle from the center of a heavy-duty cardboard box with an X-ACTO knife (using every precaution around both young fingers and your own). Glue the piece of cardboard from which the circle was cut onto another square of cardboard, which will create the backing. Show your child how to fit the circle into the puzzle. Using other pieces of cardboard, make more puzzles in the shape of a square, a diamond, an arrow, and a cone. Paint them bright colors to add to their eye-catching appeal.
To make more advanced puzzles, cut the front of a cereal box into three pieces and show your toddler how to put them together. Or glue a colorful picture from a magazine like National Geographic onto a piece of cardboard. Cut it into three to five pieces. Rubber cement is preferable to white glue, as the pictures will lie flat. Don’t let your child breathe the fumes, though.