Teach Your Toddler To Do Puzzles

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Use these fun puzzle activities to help teach your toddler to do puzzles! Learning to do simple toddler puzzles will help your child develop vital visual perceptual skills in preparation for learning.

If you have a preschool child who can't do puzzles yet, then try these activities to help your child!

Sometimes, however, it can be confusing to know where to start with all the educational toys on the market. The steps below will show you which resources are most helpful.

This page contains affiliate links (#Ad) to products similar to the resources I use. I receive a small commission if you purchase something through the links below, which helps support this site. However, you are under no obligation to purchase anything!

1. Starting Off: One Piece Puzzles & Shape Sorters

For toddlers who have no idea what building a puzzle is about, or for children from deprived backgrounds, you often need to first introduce them to the concept of fitting things together.

Here are some ways you can do this:

One piece puzzles are a good introduction to the concept of fitting things together.

Look out for simple puzzles where a shape or animal is placed into a hole. Or try these simple wooden Montessori shape puzzles #Ad.

one piece puzzle for toddlersAn example of a one piece puzzle

Making use of a Shape Sorter #Ad can also help your toddler learn to perceive and match shapes as well as learning the concept of things fitting together.

If your child is overwhelmed by all the shapes, place just a few shapes at a time and make it "easy" for your child!

shape sorters can teach toddlers to do puzzlesStart with just a few shapes

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2. Peg Puzzles

Wooden Peg Puzzles#Ad are also excellent at helping toddlers develop the concept of fitting things together.

Start by showing just one piece at a time, placing it next to the correct hole and helping your toddler place it in.

Wooden peg puzzles are great for toddlers!A wooden peg puzzle

Putting the shapes next to the correct holes initially can help a toddler gain confidence with this activity.

With my own toddlers, I would leave a few peg puzzles all around the living room, with pieces next to the correct hole, like this, and they took great joy in putting all the pieces in!

wooden peg puzzles teach toddlers to do puzzlesPut the pieces next to the correct hole.

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3. Two Piece Puzzles

Once your child understands the concept of fitting things together, the next step is introducing the concept of completing a picture.

Simple two-piece puzzles are the next logical step to teach your toddler how to do puzzles.

In front of your toddler, show how a picture is completed by fitting pieces together.

You can even use pictures out of magazines and then cut them into two pieces - you don't need to have expensive puzzles to show this concept!

two piece puzzles for toddlersShow how a picture is put together

Have your child complete a variety of 2 piece puzzles in this way. Perhaps you and your friends can each buy or make a different set of two piece puzzles and take turns sharing them for variety? These simple food themed#Ad, vehicle themed#Ad, and toy themed#Ad puzzles on Amazon are ideal.

I know a mom who pasted pictured from magazines on the back of her existing set of two piece puzzles, to make a whole new set of pictures!

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4. Four Piece Puzzles

This is a picture of a toddler attempting a 4 piece puzzle. He has had lots and lots of practice with peg puzzles and two piece puzzles, so he understood how puzzles worked, and enjoyed the challenge of four piece puzzles.

toddler doing a 4 piece puzzle

I would usually orientate the pieces for him before he started, and then he just pushed them together to make the picture (see step 4 below).

Below are the steps you can follow to teach your toddler to do puzzles. Every child develops at his/her own pace, and each step may take lots of practice. Your toddler's temperament, visual perceptual abilities and concentration will determine how quickly this skill will be mastered.

Enjoy the process and don't rush your child!

Steps To Teach Your Toddler To Do Puzzles

Step 1
Show how the puzzle makes a picture:
Build the puzzle in front of your child and show
your child how the puzzle makes a picture when completed.

Teach your toddler to do puzzles - step 11) Show how the puzzle makes a picture

Step 2
Take away one piece
, and then ask your toddler to fit that piece back in to complete the picture.

Repeat with a different piece.

Teach your toddler to do puzzles - step 22) Take away one piece at a time

Step 3
Upgrade to taking away 2 pieces.

Repeat this step often, by taking away 2 pieces from different places each time.

Teach your toddler to do puzzles - step 33) Take away two pieces

Step 4:
Do a whole puzzle with orientated pieces.
Once your child can place 2 missing pieces correctly, break the 4-piece puzzle up in front of your child, keeping pieces correctly orientated, and ask your child to build the puzzle.

Teach your toddler to do puzzles - step 44) Put together 4 correctly orientated pieces

Step 5:
Do a whole puzzle with mixed up pieces.
Once your child has mastered step 4, mix the pieces up completely so your child has to orientate them as well as place them.

Teach your toddler to do puzzles - step 55) Put together mixed up pieces

Your child may take many attempts to master this step, so be patient and give lots of encouragement and praise!

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Tips And Resources To Teach Your Toddler To Do Puzzles

  • I used to leave peg puzzles lying all over the house for my toddlers, with the pieces close to the correct hole, so all they had to do was slide them in. They soon grasped the concept!

  • Once you have spent some time doing puzzles with your toddler, leave the puzzles out so he/she can enjoy working it out alone in a quiet moment.

  • Give lots of praise and encouragement each step of the way, and remember, you do NOT have to accomplish all of the steps above in one day or even one week. 

  • Once your child has mastered 4 piece puzzles in the way described above, introduce puzzles with more pieces. Pop over to see my guidelines to help you teach your child harder puzzles.

You can also help your toddler master puzzles by strengthening other visual perceptual skills like the ones below:

why are visual perceptual skills important

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Puzzles for Toddlers

Toddler Puzzle Sets#Ad often come with a 4-piece, a 6-piece, and a 9- or 12-piece in one box.

Mastering a single 4 piece puzzle does not mean your child will be ready to move on to the 6 and 12 piece puzzles in the same box (although some kids learn quickly.

It is better to try a few different 4 piece puzzles to teach your toddler to do puzzles, before moving on to puzzles that are more challenging.

There are a variety of lovely toddler puzzles out there - here is a page of my recommended toddler puzzles.

best puzzles for toddlers!

Thank you for visiting my site!

I truly hope you found it useful and that you now feel empowered to teach your toddler to do puzzles!

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