Jigsaw Puzzles = Good Family Fun
The boys and I put a jigsaw puzzle together yesterday. I had forgotten how much fun they are and the immense sense of satisfaction I get from the completion of one. Up until now the only puzzles the boys have built have been a variety of awesome Melissa and Doug brand puzzles, the ones with the giant pieces that are complicated for kids but super boring for anybody over 6 years old. Don’t get me wrong, I love Melissa and Doug puzzles. We’ve simply outgrown them. A few days ago Neil put the Solar System one together (most parents know the puzzle I’m talking about) and said, “Daddy, this is boring. We need new puzzles.” And I said, “Okay, let’s go get some.” We hopped in the car and went to the toy store for a few puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles, it turns out, are quite reasonably priced family fun. I got two 550 piece puzzles on sale for 12 dollars. My concern, though, was whether the boys were ready for a real puzzle. I don’t know at what age most kids graduate from kiddie puzzles (size and shape of pieces, not art) to the more complicated varieties.
Age 7 or 8 is About Right
The photo here (to the right) is of the puzzle we assembled yesterday. Yes, it’s a Super Mario puzzle. But, it does have 550 pieces and there is quite a bit of sky. This level of complexity was borderline for my 6 year old but just about right for my 8 year old. My kids are smart, but they aren’t prodigies. Thus, my guess is that 7 or 8 years old is the perfect age to switch from kiddie, giant sized pieces, to something the whole family can have fun with. Neil and Alan worked together on the characters while I built the sky and the in-between, harder parts. It took us most of the day (on and off), but the feverish pace of the last 50 pieces gave all of us that fun, anticipatory feeling that jigsaw puzzles are so good at eliciting. When Neil stuck in the last piece (as was his right because the puzzle was his idea in the first place) we treated ourselves to high fives and Popsicles in celebration. Video games are great, and TV is relaxing entertainment, but it doesn’t get much more wholesome than jigsaw puzzles. I’m glad we did it.