Learning should be fun at all ages, so by introducing puzzle games for kids early, you’re helping them find entertaining ways to exercise their brains. Puzzles come in all shapes, sizes, and levels. Children can start loving puzzles well before they start Kindergarten, and it’s an activity that can keep you engaged well into your senior years. We’ve put together a list of the best puzzle games for kids to help you get your family engaged and interested early on. As adults, you might find yourself enjoying the challenge alongside your kids!
Prioritize fun with your family.
The back-to-school time of year can be hectic with everyone readjusting to their school year routine, but it’s important to continue prioritizing family time. Whether it’s enjoying these puzzle games for kids or planning a family dinner night out, it’s important to soak in the moments when you can all be together. Grab a copy of the Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition if you’re looking for new and unique ideas to get your whole family excited! You’ll find dozens of activities that will help you break the mold of your typical family fun nights, and each one is a surprise until you scratch it off.
Why Puzzle Games Are Great for Kids
Educational games help children learn in unique ways that don’t just involve a teacher and a classroom. Puzzle games offer incredible benefits for children of all ages, so they are a perfect way to introduce additional fun learning in your home. Before we dive into the fun game options, check out these important benefits your family will enjoy.
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
With really young children, it’s important to introduce them to different activities that help them practice grabbing things, moving around, and using their muscles. With puzzles, kids are required to use their fingers to pick up small pieces and move them around. It helps them practice small movements. With larger floor puzzles, kids have to get up and move around. It’s not the most active for the larger muscles, but it does work wonders for the smaller ones, which helps immensely with hand-eye coordination.
Puzzles require a lot of creative thinking and problem-solving to figure them out. Even the simplest jigsaw puzzle needs some kind of strategy implemented to get organized. Puzzle games provide kids with a fun way to flex their problem-solving skills and practice in unique situations that don’t have serious consequences. The more skills they develop, the easier it will be for them to solve problems as they grow up.
Math and Pattern Practice
Puzzles have numbers and patterns hidden in the pieces that must be recognized to solve. It’s a great way to have fun with math topics, like geometry, and introduce them to counting and sorting in a fun way. There are even number-specific puzzles on our list, like Sudoku, that can provide additional exposure to more numbers.
Promotes Learning About Different Topics
Each puzzle game has a different topic featured on the puzzle. Many focus on patterns and shapes, but some puzzles introduce animals, plants, or other fun science objects for children. Toddlers can practice their first words by recognizing and fitting the puzzle pieces into a wooden puzzle board. It’s a great way to maximize multiple learning opportunities with one game.
Memory and Visual Perception
Putting together a puzzle requires the brain to remember what the final product should look like and work to find the necessary pieces. With most puzzles, you get a sneak peek at what it will look like in the end, and then the object is to complete it in a minimal amount of time. The brain will have to match pieces with their location in the bigger picture.
Attention Span and Independent Play
Puzzles take patience, which can be a challenge for children. Finding a puzzle game that holds their attention is a great way to have them practice sitting still. Kids need to run around and use up energy, but it’s also important to practice playing on their own and focusing on something for a certain amount of time. Once children reach elementary school, they are expected to be able to pay attention to the teacher for periods of time, and it helps if they have practiced that at home.
The feeling of completing a challenging puzzle is extremely rewarding for people of all ages. It builds confidence when you slide that final piece into place or solve the final clue in the puzzle. Children love being able to accomplish new things on their own and feel great about themselves. Each time a puzzle game is completed and won, children get a healthy self-esteem boost and are ready to try again with the next option.
Best Puzzle Games for Kids
Now that you fully understand the benefits of introducing these fun activities to your children, let’s dive into the full list of the best puzzle games for kids of all ages.
Classic Jigsaw Puzzles
The most classic type of puzzle game for kids is the jigsaw puzzle. Wooden puzzles are great for toddlers and really young children. Once they get a little older, you can find some really fun and colorful jigsaw puzzles for kids that come in a range of number of pieces. If you have a playspace, you can get a 100-piece puzzle and encourage your child to work on it little by little.
The fun doesn’t stop after elementary school. Many adults find jigsaw puzzles to be incredibly soothing and relaxing. It’s a great activity to focus on and put something together that’s beautiful and can be done repeatedly. This can be a great activity for the entire family. Put on a playlist of your favorite songs and gather around the table while you work together to put the puzzle together and catch up with one another.
Little ones love a block puzzle. Instead of having specific spots where the pieces fit in, the object is to fit all the pieces into an opening. It can be done in different patterns. It gives young children the ability to practice picking up the pieces and fitting them together. They come in various shapes and difficulties so that you can find the perfect fit for your young child.
This logic-based game utilizes numbers one through nine. The object of the puzzle is to fill a nine-by-nine grid with numbers without repeating a number within a smaller square or in the same row or column. The puzzle typically has a few numbers placed at the beginning, so you have to work with those. The game originated as a game featured in French newspapers in the 19th century, but a Japanese puzzle company printed the first Sudoku puzzle. The word sudoku means “single number.”
Modern technology allows computer programs to build games, and you can find tons of free apps and online versions. Plus, the games are still typically printed in the newspaper section with crosswords. Different variations are available as well, some that give additional clues about math equations or even larger puzzle boards.
One of the oldest strategy games known to man is Mancala. This game has been played since the ancient eras. Players take turns moving stones or seeds through pits on the board. At the beginning of each turn, you choose a pit, grab all the pieces, and then spread the pieces out one by one in each pit until you run out. On each side of the board is a player’s bank, and the game’s idea is to get as many pieces in your bank as possible.
The rules may differ depending on who is playing and how they were taught, but the general idea is the same. Players can work out the counts in their heads before beginning their turn to maximize the amount of pieces that they will end up with. It’s easy to set up and learn, so it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular puzzle games for kids.
Online Puzzles and Games
The internet offers some great websites featuring jigsaw puzzle games where you race against opponents to combine all the pieces the fastest. You can find free puzzles that just one person can do as well. Websites constantly refresh their options, so if you find a few sites your child enjoys, they can visit them whenever they want to get their puzzle fix. It’s a great way to provide entertainment while traveling or patiently waiting at a restaurant.
Tetris is a classic video game that was created in 1985 and has been published by several companies. Players move around different shapes to fit them into a puzzle below as quickly as possible. You’ll remove a row of tiles if you fit them together perfectly. The board moves up as the timer continues, so it’s important to clear as many rows as possible. The player loses when the tiles reach the top of the screen.
Multiplayer games are available where players compete to see who can last in the game longer, or you can just play the original version where you’re playing against the timer. The game has appeared on over 65 platforms, so there are many ways to play the classic puzzle game.
Studies have been conducted on the game of Tetris and the benefits of playing. It allows the brain to perform more optimally and has even increased the thickness of the cerebral cortex. Research shows that playing Tetris actually improves the brain’s ability to recognize patterns more easily and with less effort.
A word search is a puzzle game that is great for practicing language and reading. Whether you’re learning English or a second language, word searches help kids learn to spot letters and put them together into words. Most word search puzzles are grids filled with letters, and hidden in the grid are a few specific words. They are easy to make, or you can find entire books filled with pre-populated puzzles.
A great puzzle game for kids that is available on both the iPhone and the Android is 2048. The game involves numbered tiles that you can slide around using your finger. It’s a single-player game that was released in 2014. The game starts with tiles that have the numbers 2 and 4 on them. You can slide your fingers, and tiles with the same number will combine. The object of the game is to slide enough tiles together to add up to 2048. The grid is only 4×4, so if you aren’t able to make enough matches, the grid will fill up, and you will lose. The game is relaxing and simple and can be played anywhere.
An escape room is a fun puzzle and family activity for older age groups, which is essentially a life-sized puzzle that you are dropped into. It’s a themed room where a team of people enters and has to work together to solve puzzles and find clues to help them escape. There’s typically a time limit that you are racing against. Go as a family or schedule time for your children and their friends to try and escape. There are typically different themed rooms with varying difficulty levels, so you can try multiple times with unique experiences.
There are tons of puzzle adventures available as video games. Unravel is a popular option. It’s available on Playstation, Xbox, and other gaming systems. The game features a character named Yarny, who is made up of yarn. Yarny needs to utilize the unraveling yarn they are made of to solve puzzles and move through the environment of the game. Yarn is used to make bridges, pull items towards them, and swing from one spot to another. The game gets high scores and fantastic reviews, so it’s a perfect introduction to puzzle games for kids that are played as video games.
The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D puzzle that was created in the 1970s. It’s been so popular for the last few decades that it earned a spot in the US National Toy Hall of Fame in 2014. The cube is covered with six colors on the face of cubes, and each cube can turn independently. The object is to have each side only show one color.
This puzzle game helps with hand-eye coordination and dexterity. It requires focus and problem-solving skills. There are many different strategies to practice solving the cube, and it’s important to use your memory to track what moves you’ve completed and which ones you have yet to do. Once you’ve practiced the puzzle for a while, there are competitions you can join where you race against other puzzle solvers.
Brain teasers and riddles are great puzzle games for kids of all ages. Braingle is a great website packed with these types of activities, games, and trivia. There are options to practice encryption and codes. You can check out optical illusions that will challenge your mind and your eye when they play tricks on each other. The website is completely free. You can create an account for anyone in your family and access their full library of puzzles and activities. There are some social games you can also challenge your family members.
Eye Found It
One of the most loved puzzle board games for children is Eye Found It. It’s a game where there are hidden objects that players need to locate within a picture. It comes in a few different variations, including Disney characters, Marvel, and more. The game board is six feet long and covered with beautiful artwork. Players race along the board and search for specific items. It’s easy enough to play for younger children, but adults will also enjoy the game.
Camelot Jr. and Building Games
Building blocks, like legos, are another brilliant puzzle challenge. Camelot Jr. is perfect for young children. The game comes with a booklet, and each page is a unique challenge. Players will need to use the blocks shown to create a path to connect the princess with the knight. It challenges children to use the materials they have to build something.
As children get older, they can advance to more complicated building challenges. Many Lego sets come with books that feature a collection of unique designs. These building blocks help develop spatial skills and problem-solving. Three-dimensional building blocks are a great learning tool.
This isn’t the stressful traffic jam in real life—it’s a fun puzzle game made for children. Rush Hour is a sliding-block game. The game comes with 40 challenge cards, so you set up the game board and then move cars and trucks one at a time until you figure out how to escape the gridlock. It’s a fantastic game to work on logic. Voted as one of the Parents’ Choice Best Toys, it’s a great way to get younger children into puzzle games.
Checkers is a strategy board game that is played with two people on a checkered board. One player has dark pieces, and the other has light. They take turns diagonally moving around the board and jumping over other pieces to capture and remove them from the board. It requires focus and attention on how each move will impact the next few moves, so it helps with logic and problem-solving. The game is over when someone either loses all their pieces or is completely blocked and cannot move any piece.
The game of chess dates back to at least the seventh century in India. It’s a strategy game played with two people and uses the same game board as checkers. Each player has 16 pieces, and they each have their own rules on how they move around the board. The object of the game is to checkmate your opponent, which means you have their king in a position they cannot get out of. Players use their other pieces to protect this piece while capturing the other player’s pawns and pieces.
Not only is chess a fun game to play at home, but once children understand the rules, they can join chess clubs and turn it into a social activity. There are tournaments and competitions to participate in, some of which are timed, so you only have so long to make decisions on the next move. This is a great puzzle game that can be a lifelong hobby.
Final Thoughts on the Puzzle Games for Kids
Puzzle games for kids come in so many varieties. Introducing children to different options will help them find their favorites and ask them to play them over and over. It’s a fun way to work the brain even when they aren’t at school. So many of these options are fun for the whole family and can be played at home whenever you have some time for fun. Help your kids fall in love with learning through the magic of puzzles!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are puzzle games for kids as young as two years old. Each game has a suggested age range, so you can find the options that are best for your child.
Puzzle games for kids can develop and hone their problem-solving and logic skills. They also help with hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, independent play, and focus.
The most loved puzzle games for kids include Legos, jigsaw puzzles, Rush Hour, and the Rubik’s Cube. Find a huge variety of puzzles for different ages and skill levels.
Plan for a family fun time and try unique activities with your kids. Use the Adventures from Scratch: Family Edition for dozens of fun ideas that are all a surprise until you scratch them off.
Dozens of fantastic websites publish online games and free puzzle games for kids, like Braingle. You can also download free apps, like 2048, to enjoy puzzles on the go.