Jigsaw Puzzles for Teens

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These tips on doing jigsaw puzzles for teens may help your teenager to work on visual perception, spatial perception and planning skills while still having lots of fun!

Jigsaw puzzles can be fun, yet challenging activities for older kids and teens. The question is, just how do puzzles help develop your child's skills? It really does depend on the picture on which the puzzle is based.

Keep on reading find out more about how to approach different kinds of jigsaw puzzles, and tips to help your older child and teen to enjoy doing them. Hopefully this will be the start of a new family tradition!

"Busy" Puzzles - Figure-Ground Perception and Scanning

Some puzzles are "busy" - filled with lots and lots of small objects. For example, the puzzle may show a library filled with books, or a bustling city street... these puzzles mostly use figure-ground perception and visual scanning skills.

To do a "busy" puzzle, you pick up a piece, see what colors and objects are on your piece, and then you visually scan the picture on the box until you spot the color and/object that matches your piece.

Then you place your piece in approximately the right spot and repeat with the next piece until you start getting pieces that fit together!

A jigsaw puzzle with a very busy picture can help develop figure-ground perception and visual scanning skillsA busy puzzle with lots of small objects

Sometimes "busy puzzles" feel like they take a while to get going. It takes a little while to scan the picture and match up your piece to the picture. And then to find another piece that joins it! So it often takes a few sessions to feel like you are moving forward.

But it does get quicker and more satisfying as you progress.

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Puzzles With Fewer Objects - Visual and Spatial Perception

Some puzzles are more "peaceful" (for lack of a better word) - the picture contains a few specific objects with a fairly quiet background.

When you do these puzzles, you are able to sort out the pieces into the various objects - for example, to complete the safari puzzle pictured here, you would be able to sort out the pieces into the different animals and the sky pieces.

Then you build one animal/section at a time, until you have completed the whole puzzle.

A jigsaw puzzle with a few larger objects in the picture, can help your child sort and organize the pieces and build one section at a time.A puzzle with fewer, larger objects

This kind of puzzle has more of a visual discrimination and spatial orientation demand, as well as figure-ground perception. Although you may know from the color that you are working on, say, the elephant, you still need to figure how to orientate the pieces to complete the picture.

Depending on your child's visual perceptual and organizational skills, one type of puzzle may be more challenging than the other. The hardest type of puzzles are those with only a few large objects, with similar coloring, such as 2 elephants on a savanna backdrop.

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Tips To Help Your Teen

  • Invest in good quality puzzles. I really recommend Ravensburger puzzles for teens #Ad. They have lasted much longer than any other type of puzzle we have used. In most of their puzzles, the pieces are unique, which means they only fit correctly into one place. You want a puzzle that will stand up to being enjoyed every year, so get a good quality puzzle. Cloudberries are another fantastic company that focus on beautiful, sturdy puzzles for teens and adults. They ship internationally from the UK - well worth a look.
  • Do the puzzles as a family. Or make it YOUR puzzle, that you invite your kids to help you with! Set the puzzle out somewhere that everyone can sit down and pop a piece in every now and then, with no pressure. We build our puzzles on a large piece of hard board that can be moved between the dining room table and the coffee table. This reduces the pressure on your child to feel that they have to tackle this mammoth project all by themselves - it is a team effort.
  • Take time to sort before you start building. First sort the pieces into edge pieces and non-edge pieces. If your puzzle has larger, defined objects on it, then sort the pieces into groups of similar colors - eg sky, water, buildings, to make it easier to start putting pieces together. Work together to sort - it does not need to be one person's task.
jigsaw pieces all jumbled upMixed pieces
help your child to sort jigsaw pieces into similarly colored pieces before starting to build the puzzleSorted pieces
  • Making it a team effort means that if your older child/teen finds puzzles challenging, it is more fun to sit down and work on it if everyone in the family is involved. From looking out the edge pieces, to building the edge, to sorting pieces into the different objects, to building each object... everyone can get involved at some point.
  • Almost every aspect of building a puzzle uses visual perceptual skills, so invite your child to join you as YOU do the puzzle, and let them see your enjoyment, and you should see their skills improve as they take part.
help your older child to do jigsaw puzzles by coming alongside and doing it together
  • Last tip - choose your puzzle wisely to make sure it is doable for a child who experiences visual perception challenges. For example, make sure there are enough different colors in the puzzle that you can differentiate the objects! A 1000 piece puzzle of a blue-grey dolphin jumping out of a blue sea, against a blue sky is really hard - ask me how I know - LOL!

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Suggested Puzzles for Teens

Tweens may enjoy a 300 piece puzzle, progressing to 500 pieces as they improve their skills. Personally, our family of 3 teens enjoys 500-1000 piece puzzles - they take a few days for us to do as a family during a relaxed holiday week.

I really recommend Ravensburger#Ad and Cloudberries for their jigsaw puzzles - they stock a wide range of beautiful puzzles, and their pieces are sturdy and well made. Perhaps consider choosing a puzzle that can be framed when it is complete - this can make a beautiful addition to any room in the home!

My links above are simply for your convenience - you should be able to find suitable puzzles for teens in your local department store, in a thrift shop or maybe even borrow them from a friend! Some public libraries also loan out jigsaw puzzles.

I hope this page has helped to inspire you to help your older child and teenager get interested in puzzles to help develop their visual perception and organization skills.

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