In my life before kids, I was an avid gamer. I love(d) computer games, card games, board games, all games.
As a Freshman in college, I broke up with my boyfriend when he gave me an ultimatum – him or Counterstrike (a popular PC game back in the day) – I chose Counterstrike. (In fairness, it was the ultimatum itself that I found to be unacceptable more than anything else but it makes for a good story.) However, just a few years later, I (in)famously told my parents while we were out dining at a nice steakhouse that I wanted to drop out of college and become a professional poker player. Yes, yes I did. And, no, thankfully, I did not pursue those foolish dreams. I also know, with certainty, that the only reason I made it through law school is because Mr. C banned me from playing World of Warcraft (another popular PC game).
Suffice it to say, I really was a gamer and will always be one at heart.
As such, I would love nothing more than to instill and share my passion for games with my children. I already envision daily – potentially forced – game nights playing card and board games. After all, I have a captive audience now – HA!
Max just turned two and I recently introduced him to jigsaw puzzles because I’m sure that a love of doing jigsaw puzzles is the gateway to… more games! The good news for other parents is that jigsaw puzzles also enhance a whole host of skills for toddlers which include: spatial, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, attention, concentration, matching, sorting, logic, etc., etc., etc. It’s really great for their overall development. But I just like it because, you know, puzzles!
Mudpuppy Puzzle Review
Max received a Mudpuppy 12-piece pouch puzzle as a gift. I immediately noticed the excellent quality of the puzzle. Mudpuppy puzzles are printed on 90% recycled paper with non-toxic soy based inks. Each piece is jumbo-sized and the cardboard stock is extra, extra thick. The 12-piece puzzle is a good size and measures 11″ x 14″.
It is very easy for Max to handle and rotate each piece and it provides a very satisfying snap when it locks in place. I think due to the picture and quality of the puzzle, Max was able to master it pretty quickly. The knobs on each piece are also cut distinctly enough that Max was able to start doing the puzzle picture-side down. (No, I am not some crazy mom pushing my son to do puzzles face down, he just naturally did it of his own accord.)
Anyway, when I saw how much he enjoyed completing the pouch puzzle, I quickly went and bought more. But, this time, it was a Mudpuppy 25-piece jumbo puzzle. Go big or go home right?
And, let me tell you, jumbo puzzle is right. This thing is a beast. The puzzle measures 22″ x 22″. The size of each piece is also a tad larger than the pieces in the pouch puzzle. I think that, at 25 pieces, it could definitely afford to be smaller. We have to clear off the whole table so that Max has enough room to lay out all of the pieces. This might make a great floor puzzle but I prefer doing puzzles on a table.
The 25-piece puzzle was definitely more challenging for Max. He was able to complete it with verbal prompting and/or actual assistance. However, it’s now been a couple of weeks since we bought the Mudpuppy Pirates Ahoy! Jumbo Puzzle and he can finish it by himself with ease. I also bought a Mudpuppy The Little Prince Jumbo Puzzle, which I would not recommend. I love The Little Prince but it fails as a puzzle due to the simple illustration and lack of variation in colors. There just isn’t enough going on to give Max sufficient visual cues or keep his interest.
Djeco Puzzle Review
Djeco is a French toy company that also makes high quality jigsaw puzzles. I wanted something different so I bought Max a Djeco The Three Little Pigs Silhouette Box Puzzle ($15.99). Each piece is made from extra thick cardboard stock (equally thick to Mudpuppy) and, although large, is smaller than Mudpuppy’s jumbo puzzles pieces, making them more manageable.
The 24-piece puzzle measures 24″ wide x 8″ high. I absolutely love the long rectangular shape. This way, the puzzle is able to showcase the beautifully illustrated story of The Three Little Pigs from one end to the other.
My only critique is that the knobs on each piece are cut somewhat similarly. They can all roughly fit into one another so Max has to draw more heavily on the cues in the illustration. This is definitely NOT a puzzle he can do face down. There is the same satisfying snap when it locks into place but, due to the similarity of the knobs, has a tendency to get stuck when incorrectly placed.
Nevertheless, it is quickly becoming Max’s favorite puzzle because he enjoys the image and it is so well illustrated that he can easily figure out where each piece goes.
I really love both Mudpuppy and Djeco for their excellent quality toddler puzzles. I think the Mudpuppy 12-piece pouch puzzle is a great way to introduce a toddler to jigsaw puzzles in general. However, for the two dozen piece range, I would have to give the slightest edge to the Djeco silhouette box puzzle for making such a wonderfully drawn and well-proportioned puzzle. Djeco also wins a few extra points for its uniquely shaped storage box.
Either way, you truly can’t go wrong with either brand. As for me, I’m banned from buying more puzzles for awhile. We currently have a few 40+ piece puzzles from Mudpuppy and Djeco that I’m waiting for Max to work up to. What can I say, I love puzzles so Max has to too!
What are other great jigsaw puzzle brands for toddlers that you’ve tried?
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