My New Favorite Puzzles for Preschool : Begetter's Log
Katie Foth

My New Favorite Puzzles for Preschool

by Katie Foth on 02/19/20

Puzzles, anyone? This Melissa and Doug barn puzzle has long been one of my favorite toys for children ages 1-2:

One day at Park Place, this puzzle entranced a whole handful of one-year-olds. They loved knocking on a door, identifying the animal, making the animal sound, feeding the animal, and then putting it back for a rest. 

"Knock, knock! Hello, horse! Neigh! Eat some fresh hay. Now it's time to rest. Back inside you go. Good night, horse!"

After the initial charm wore off, the details in the puzzle added another layer of interest--the spider web, the bluebirds, the mother hen searching for her chicks (who show up somewhere behind each door). This puzzle is such a great tool!

I found a few new favorites puzzles while preparing to work childcare abroad. For the past few months, I have enjoyed the awesome opportunity of volunteering to work childcare at a few missionary conferences overseas. By caring for young children, I free their parents to worship, train, fellowship, attend counseling, or simply re-charge. I feel very blessed by being able to serve those who focused on sharing the love of Jesus with others.

Often, those parents don't have a lot of back-up help on the field. Sometimes their children have rarely left their parents' presence. One's ability to engage children in interesting activities then becomes a crucial skill in making childcare a pleasant experience for the children. Tools for doing so are crucial too.

Good that I like to collect fun things to do, geared for that certain age group. Where does one find puzzles for toddlers? Most toy stores (like Hollipops in Greenville, SC) carry wooden puzzles for toddlers, the kind where child matches the animal to an inset shape with the animal's picture. But wood puzzles are heavy when packing for an overseas trip; also, finding an actual puzzle with three to ten pieces can be difficult.

Enter Mudpuppy puzzles, which I discovered on They're sturdy cardboard, much easier to lug across continents than wood is. Check out this cool jungle animal set with sensory insets:

Jungle Animals

Mudpuppy also makes some graduated puzzle sets. For example their transportation puzzles are super for helping children tackle increasingly difficult puzzles. Children can start with a four-piece puzzle, then try a slightly harder six-piece puzzle, then the nine-piece puzzle, and finally the twelve-piece puzzle.

While overseas, I bought small plastic boxes so that my children could easily grab one puzzle and see what it was (I cut pictures out of the cardboard box and taped the picture to the plastic box that became its new home). The children had so much fun putting one puzzle together and then switching with a friend.

Puzzles made a great table-top activity, wonderful for pick-up time because the children are calm, orderly, and engaged. They're one of my "tools of the trade."

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