Teach Your Toddler To Do Puzzles

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.

Most importantly, have fun with your child!

  1. Starting Off: One Piece Puzzles and Shape Sorters
  2. Peg Puzzles
  3. Two Piece Puzzles
  4. Four Piece Puzzles
  5. Tips And Related Pages

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This page: steps to teach your toddler to do puzzles

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.

These wooden set of matching toys by Guidecraft#Ad can also be used as lovely one piece puzzles for toddlers. Or try these simple wooden shapes#Ad instead.
An 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!

Start 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.

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!

Put the pieces next to the correct hole.

A personalized wooden name puzzle is a really lovely gift idea - my own toddlers loved their wooden name puzzles, which came from a local craft market years ago.

They get a lot of joy from putting their name together in a peg-puzzle!

You can order these directly from Crawoo #Ad, who ship worldwide!

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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 2 piece puzzles#Ad are the next logical step to teach your toddler 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!

Show 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?

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.

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).

Remember that children develop at their own pace, and there is no rush to have your toddler complete 4 piece puzzles perfectly. However, 4 piece puzzles are the next logical step in the progression of teaching your toddler to do puzzles.

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.

The steps below are not meant to be done all in one sitting! Your toddler's temperament, visual perceptual abilities and concentration will determine how quickly this skill will be mastered.

Progress at your child's pace and keep it fun!

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

1) Show how the puzzle makes a picture

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.

How to teach toddler to do a puzzle2) Take away one piece at a time

3) Upgrade to taking away 2 pieces.

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

3) Take away two pieces

4) 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.

4) Put together 4 correctly orientated pieces

5) Once your child has mastered this, mix the pieces up completely so your child has to orientate them as well as place them.

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

5) Put together mixed up pieces

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.

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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 toddler, with the pieces close to the correct hole, so all he had to do was slide them in. He soon grasped the concept!
  • Don't rush your child onto the larger puzzles - leave a partially completed one lying out and let your child gain confidence in completing it.
  • 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.

You may want to visit these other pages on my site. You can actually help teach your toddler to do puzzles by strengthening these other visual perceptual skills!


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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