The Benefit of Puzzles

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” Fred Rogers

Jigsaw Map Puzzle

Learning through puzzle play

5 Benefits of Jigsaw Puzzles

1. Fine motor skills and coordination
Manipulating puzzle pieces helps with fine motor skills and improves hand strength. Thus, children in the early grades will benefit from practicing jigsaw puzzles regularly. It may even improve their handwriting.

2. Spatial reasoning
Another one of the benefits of jigsaw puzzles is that they help the brain develop a sense of where objects are in space.
Increase spatial reasoning by using spatial language (next to, on top, above, beside, to the left or right, etc.)

letter word puzzles
Wooden letter puzzles

3. Problem-solving skills
In solving a jigsaw puzzle, you first think about the big picture and then try to solve it by looking at the individual components. This can be a good challenge to children who tend to solve problems in ascending order. Some concepts are reinforced through the use of puzzles. Alphabet puzzles teach letter recognition and alphabetical order. Likewise, number puzzles bolster number recognition and counting. Reading and spelling can be reinforced through the use of word puzzles. While geography skills can be strengthened through the use of map puzzles.

Self-correcting Contraction Puzzles

4. Critical thinking skills
Puzzles help hone critical thinking skills by the child examining pieces, making a hypothesis, and using trial and error. Puzzles are typically self-correcting so children have the added benefit of finding the correct solution.

5. Relieve stress and improve mood
Working on a puzzle can relieve stress by allowing the person to focus on the task at hand rather than their issues. Puzzles have the added benefit of releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is associated with movement and alertness. One of the best benefits of jigsaw puzzles is that it gives you the feeling of accomplishment and can improve your overall self-confidence.


Did you know…
Puzzles can be utilized to teach geography, history, religion, art, the alphabet, arithmetic, science, etc…
Puzzles were created around 1762 by a London mapmaker named John Spilsbury. The first puzzles were dissected maps and were intended for teaching geography. *

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*Reference: Williams, A. D. (1997). Jigsaw puzzles. Early American Homes, 28(6), 28. Retrieved from


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