Many children enjoy and learn from doing puzzles, and there are a number of types of age-appropriate puzzles for children. Some puzzles for children require physical manipulation, while others rely on vision or thought for solutions.
Puzzles for children that require manipulation include jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles usually consist of a base and pieces of wood or some other material that fit into an indented area of the base. Young children’s jigsaw puzzles commonly show scenes from nursery rhymes or stories, food, numbers, the alphabet, animals, and people in different occupations. Favorite television characters may also be depicted.
Jigsaw puzzles for older children include scenes from popular movies, various places from around the world, historical events, and famous people. There are also jigsaw puzzles involved in a game context, such as those that give clues for solving a mystery.
Sliding puzzles are small plastic cases that holds pieces of a picture that has been divided into squares, often 8 pieces, with one empty space. One piece can be moved at a time, and the child tries to move the pieces into the proper relationship to show the picture whole. A Rubik’s Cube® is another puzzle in which the puzzler slides pieces around to move them into a different juxtaposition, in this case to get the colors organized.
Puzzles for children that rely on vision include word searches. Depending on the age that is being aimed at, words are embedded in an array of letters with the letters arranged in one or more directions. For the youngest children, words only appear going left to right, but for older children, words may be arranged vertically, horizontally, or diagonally and in either direction.
There are a number of hidden picture puzzles available, from the coyly hiding mouse in the book A Mouse in the House to the Where’s Waldo? series of books. Puzzles in which two pictures with subtle differences must be compared to discover what has changed from one to the other are a third kind of puzzle that relies on sight. A fourth type of visual puzzle—sometimes called “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” — shows a scene in which nonsensical or inappropriate things are shown, like animals wearing clothes, items upside-down, or items placed in silly situations.
Rebuses require both vision and thought, as children have to figure out what the pictures stand for and combine that with the meaning of words to make sense of the puzzle. Other thought puzzles for children include riddles, simple codes that they can solve, and brain twisters.