Bigjigs #PlayPatrol - The Importance of JigsawsJigsaws are a reliable old faithful in our house and, since Bud started taking an interest in them as a toddler we have amassed quite a collection. When our very exciting Play Patrol parcel arrived this month we were really excited to see two puzzles from the extensive Bigjigs range of puzzles, one for Agent Bud and one for Agent LM.
Jigsaws are the type of toy that every child should have the ability to play with and enjoy. They are great for developing key skills and improving them over time. Focused activity which has a clear end - the completion of the puzzle - allows a child to sit at a task and work through it, challenging their abilities and with a clear sense of achievement when the puzzle is completed.
There are two clear areas which jigsaw puzzles can help with - physical skills, and cognitive development.
Physically children benefit from picking up the pieces of the puzzle, holding them against various sections of it and turning them to fit. They then use their hand eye coordination to ensure that the piece is lined up correctly with the interlocking pieces before pressing it into place. As children get older and puzzle pieces get smaller their fine motor skills come into play as they hold pieces between two fingers, these are the building blocks for handwriting skills.
Cognitively there are a range of skills enhanced by puzzles, from simple shape recognition beginning with toddler puzzles, through to the more complex shapes in more advanced puzzles Beginning to talk about corners and straight sides too. Memory skills are developed by the picking up and putting down of pieces and the realisation that a previously discarded piece may now fit. Problem solving is at the root of any puzzle. How do you get that pile of pieces to look like the picture on the box?
With older children you can encourage them to follow certain processes to make completing the puzzle easier - connecting all of the edges up to build a frame for the puzzle before completing the inner section. Bud refuses to do this though and just fits pieces where he can.
Another essential skill for jigsaw completion is patience and tenacity. As long as the puzzle is appopriate for the child's skill levels then they should be able to work through it, encouraging them to focus on the task and know that they can do it with concentration and working through it.
Lately Agent LM has been really taking an interest in puzzles and I had actually identified a couple on the Bigjigs site that I liked the look of so her being sent the Bigjigs First Farm Puzzles was very timely. This is a set of four, four piece puzzles themed around a different farm animal for each one. The four puzzles all have different shaped pieces, which is great for young children to share. The sheep is four triangles, the pig four squares, horse four 'jigsaw' pieces and cow four curved shapes. All of the puzzles are completed by fitting the four pieces into a wooden board with a recess for the pieces which shows a line drawn image of that on the puzzle for reference.
I wasn't really sure if LM would know what to do with the puzzles as she hasn't really had anything other than the peg puzzles to play with before but she took to it straight away. Her big brother got involved helping her to complete them but, as soon as she saw what to do she understood how to play with them quite quickly. It was nice to see them sharing the puzzles and playing together with them as, at first she watched him fit the pieces into the boards and then copied him and did it by herself. I'm amazed at how much she has loved these, she has played with them on a daily basis since she received them and often cries when they are put away. They have been a huge, huge hit here. They are really good quality with beauitiful designs and nicely finished edges and, at £11:99 for all four represent excellent value for money.
Agent Bud received the Bigjigs Dinosaur Floor Puzzle in 48 pieces, the perfect job for my little dino obsessive. When I spotted that the puzzles was 48 pieces I was a little unsure what Bud would make of it. Prior to this he has a range of puzzles and he had never attempted more than 35 pieces solo, although he can complete those puzzles competently. We just haven't got around to getting him any bigger puzzles yet. I chose LM's nap time and we got to work on the puzzle. I was hands off but his interest was piqued straight away by the dinosaurs pictured and he got to work talking about them all and discussing which were close to each other. The puzzle includes a drawn image of the jigsaw with all of the names of the different dinosaurs on it, perfect for me when Bud asks 'what type of dinosaur is this one I am building Mummy?', having that to refer to easily was fantastic.
The pieces of this puzzle are all solid wood. They are really chunky and perfect for smaller hands. Another thing I noticed was that they are very easy to fit together, sometimes Bud can get frustrated with jigsaws if he can't line up the pieces effectively, these slotted together brilliantly. I didn't really have to help Bud with any of the puzzle beyond making a few suggestions for what the next piece might look like when he needed it and I was impressed with how well he handled this jigsaw. It's the usual high Bigjigs quality, if I had any complaint it would be for the box, which has a hinged lid so it's quite easy for it to fall open if you hold it the wrong way. The box is nice and sturdy though and should last well (a pet hate of mine is flimsy jigsaw and games boxes). The puzzle took Bud around an hour to complete, with a few breaks to do other things and the design and subject kept him really interested. I love how educational the puzzle is, it features the names of three geological periods and the dinosaurs are associated with each one. It's great and builds into a really good sized puzzle.
At £14:49 this is a really high quality puzzle and I'd recommend it highly, if 48 pieces isn't the right number for you then the same design is also available in 24, 96 and 192 pieces, a very clever idea!
Bigjigs tasked us with sharing our toys this month and jigsaws really are the perfect toy for this. Bud and Little Miss worked together on her puzzles and since then she has shared them with her cousins and us too. Bud will enlist the help of cousins and grandparents on his puzzle and, as his is so big, it's great for two people to work on at the same time. They are definitely made for sharing!
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Disclosure: We received these puzzles for review purposes.