Puzzles and jigsaws

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Today toy market is filled with puzzles, connected with composition of pictures. Even adult people are fond of composing the most complicated ones among them - puzzles. Here a natural question arises: how necessary such games are for a baby? What is it - mere entertainment or developing activity?

Today toy market is filled with puzzles, connected with composition of pictures. Even adult people are fond of composing
the most complicated ones among them - puzzles. Here a natural question arises:
how necessary such games are for a baby? What is it - mere entertainment or developing

Step by step

Modern jigsaws represent numerous variations of puzzles, which essence is to assemble one picture
from separate pieces.
Before a child starts assembling, he should imagine what he is going to assemble,
in other words, he should have an image, which will direct his actions. And a
baby needs to keep this image in mind, recognizing a single whole in separate
parts. He also should correlate pieces with each other and whole picture, i.e.
finding a unique right place for each piece. Otherwise he won`t receive a picture.
Of course, all this requires serious work of brain, attention and concentration
from a little person. Psychologists call such thinking “visual-graphic”, as a
child operates with images, basing on visual material.
Gigsaws can be different as for level of complexity, and this level should rise with

There`re 4 types of jigsaws:
1.    insert pictures, which are inserted in a ready form;

2.    cut pictures;

3.    bricks with pictures on all sides;

4.    puzzles.
Insert pictures, bricks or cut pictures - are quite traditional games. But puzzles won toyshops`
counters just recently. Quantity, size and form of details, plot and artistic
design of compound pictures can be different and depend on the age a game is meant
for. If 2-year old babies can play with pictures-loose leaves, then puzzles are
meant for older children.

However, before we speak about their pluses and minuses, let`s examine each group.
Insert pictures
Insert picture represents a picture with incised parts. You need to find missing pieces and
put on their places to receive a whole picture. For example, a picture of vase
with fruits, where separate fruits are missed. This game is meant for children
from 2 to 4 years. You can express its task with a question: “Which parts are
missed here?” Usually 2-year old children cope with loose leaves quite easily,
for example, a series of vegetables and fruits or a series of dogs of same form,
but different size.
Thus, playing with insert pictures is very good for formation and development of a baby`s visual-graphic thinking.

You should choose insert pictures basing on a baby`s age: the younger he is, the fewer pieces and larger details
you should use.

In the simplest variant of this game a cut fragment has even edges, and a drawing
pictured on it is symmetric (for example, a symmetric chamomile on a piece-square).
Or form of a piece corresponds to a picture: incised cup, saucer, spoon etc. In
these cases a baby just needs to understand which part this element is from, and
then he will cope with the task. To complicate the task, you can offer a baby
a picture with uneven edges of cut, not coinciding with borders of a picture.

Dealing with a picture, which pieces have even edges, but an image, pictured
on them, is asymmetric, is even more difficult for a baby: for example, a bird
is pictured on a square - a baby has to watch so that not to put it upside down.
Or each piece represents not a separate image, but only a part of it, for example,
a fragment of vase or flower. Here a baby has to orient on a form of a cut and
appropriate piece (we insert circle into round cut, triangle - into three-cornered),
and also consider content of an image, correlate details of a picture, all lines,
colors and position of a picture.

These insert pictures are especially difficult for a baby, in connection with age peculiarities, and
an adult`s help will be necessary for him on some stage. However, such games prepare
a base for successful development of visual-graphic thinking. Received experience
will help a baby to cope with much more complicated puzzles more quickly.

Slit pictures

Slit picture is a picture, cut along straight (usually) lines. A baby should
not think about form of pieces, and he can concentrate himself on an image. This
game is very good for children from 2 to 5 years. The matter is that while a baby
is under 5, it`s rather difficult for him to orient right on two parameters -
form of pieces (the way a picture is cut) and content (what is pictured). However,
slit pictures contribute to development of visual-graphic thinking right in this

Pictures of separate objects known to a baby (bucket, house, butterfly), cut
in two symmetric parts, are the simplest slit pictures. Complexity of assembling
a picture grows with increase of quantity of parts and with appearance of a plot.
Babies like playing with slit pictures very much. For example, a baby can “build”
a house, divided into pieces (”roof”, “wall”, “base”). Such game develops a baby`s
concentration, observation, visual perception and forms complete ideas about an

No matter whether you buy or create slit pictures by yourself, you need to pay
attention to following moments: an image on a picture should be cognizable; used
colors should be bright, but not irritating; quantity of details should correspond
to age.


Compound pictures on bricks have their own peculiarity, connected with form of a brick. Fragment,
pictured on each side, - is not already just a part of flat image. A baby should
turn a brick with the right side to assemble a picture. Compound pictures on bricks
suppose presence of elementary idea about cube. This sort of compound pictures
executes its developing task for children of 3-4 to 6-7 years. Start acquaintance
with 4 bricks, where a picture of some separate object is placed (fruit, dog,
car). Offering a game, turn all bricks with one picture up - this simplifies a
task, a baby just has to place them in right order. As a baby masters this game,
you should complicate the task: firstly turn one brick with the wrong side and
ask a baby to find a missing part of a picture on it, then do the same with two
bricks, three. Little by little a baby will master this game too.

Now you can offer him a plotline image on pictures (for example, a scene from
a fairy-tale he knows).

What`s the use of bricks? Many of them are made in one style, for example, contain
scenes from fairy-tales on all sides, and events, happening in a house, are pictured
on 3 sides, and rest three sides contain scenes from forest; all sides are painted
in one color spectrum. That`s why even adult sometimes cannot determine the right
side of a brick at once. You should be very attentive and patient to avoid mistakes.

Important moments while choosing a brick: unity of style, color spectrum, similarity
of a plot and level of complicacy, appropriate for age. Such bricks execute their
developing task to the maximum.

Puzzles have curves, connecting details. This, it would seem, insignificant distinction
changes the whole character of a baby`s activity. While assembling puzzles, you
need to correlate form of each curved piece with complicated edges with form of
adjoining, same pieces, and receive a complete even surface of separate pieces.
This is quite difficult task for a baby. But, assembling such pictures, a baby
is learning to consider not only form of elements, but also their content. Up
to 4-5 age playing with puzzles has no attitude to work of visual thinking, as
it is difficult to consider two signs at the same time. For a baby, form - is
a simpler and more significant sign, than content. In other words, babies pay
attention to form of pieces, ignoring a picture itself. Nevertheless, starting
from 4 years, you can offer your baby puzzles with small quantity of details,
to acquaint him with this game.

Puzzles are very varied both in complexity and way of influence. Puzzles, containing
separate image, recognizable for a baby (fish, cloud, boy on a plane), on each
piece are the simplest. Usually these pictures have a frame with a “bottom”, a
peculiar support, with lines, repeating contour of a piece. As a complete image
is perceived easier, this simple variant is good for a child of 4-5 years.

In more complicated cases a picture is cut in big quantity of pieces. Details
are almost indistinguishable between each other often. Here an ability to orient
on form will help.

Assembling puzzles requires a new, more formal approach to a game. In more complicated
puzzles you need to specify a general form firstly, where numerous pieces will
be inserted.

Developing effect of puzzles. Many people note relaxation effect of puzzles. Adults like composing pictures
even more than children. They can assemble puzzles, consisting of thousands of
details, which “guide” one`s hand by themselves, offering a solution. Such collection
requires no intellectual tension and creative efforts.

Puzzles can have same influence upon children. This game allows relieving excessive
excitement, so it`s good to use it as a relaxing and calming method in work with
too active or just overexcited children. However, shy, closed and unsociable children
often use puzzles as a peculiar escape from surrounding world. For such children
you can organize collective assembling of a picture.

It`s important to note that adult should definitely take part in this game too.
You know, it is adult person who presents any toy to a baby, he tells about its
essence and all possible games with it. A child, who is left alone with a box
of puzzles, will most likely reduce a game to mechanical choice of details of
a picture.

Developing task of this game is in formation of a baby`s images and ideas. Adult`s
task is to help a baby to keep an assembled image in mind. Adult should accentuate
a baby`s attention on a picture`s plot, i.e. a picture a baby is assembling, not
frame of form of pieces, then puzzles will contribute to development of thinking.

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