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My 2 year old absolutely loves jigsaw puzzles. He is now doing 200 piece puzzles alone.

What part of the brain this is related to, and what other children's activities stimulate the same areas of the brain?

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    This has nothing to do with parenting; repharase the question and emphasize the "other stimuli" (activities?) part. – Dariusz Feb 16 '15 at 6:52
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All parts. There are number of reactions that happen in the brain when solving puzzles. We are talking about shape recognition, color recognition, object orientation, memory from past experiences. If he's doing this good on jig saws I would move him up to more complicated puzzles, maybe see if there is a simplified 3d puzzle for him to take a whack at.

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    I would add that they improve fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. So, there are physical benefits as well as mental. – user11394 Feb 17 '15 at 4:11
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Most research I can find regarding the benefit of jigsaw puzzles is actually centered around senior citizens and Alzheimer's prevention. However, we can still use that research to see how it benefits children.

Jigsaw puzzles engage the brain to retain information on shapes and colors in order to choose pieces that will fit together properly. This hunt for pieces requires your brain to memorize what each piece looks like or should look like and what kinds of pieces you are searching for in order to complete the picture. Doing this repeatedly reinforces short-term memory.

From Intentional Caregiver

Jigsaw puzzles are excellent brain training and co-ordination improvement tools and are quite fun! In particular, they develop your abilities to reason, analyze, sequence, deduce, logical thought processes and problem solving skills. These types of puzzles also improve hand-eye co-ordination and develop a good working sense of spatial arrangements. In schools and other training establishments, jigsaw puzzles are extensively used as learning aids.

From Brain and Health Puzzles

In adults, usually the memory-training aspects of jigsaw puzzles are emphasized. In children, we see that there's also the benefit of coordination and a variety of other thinking and reasoning skills.

My personal favorite type of activity that also engages these skills is toy blocks! That article from Parenting Science suggests that toy blocks have the following benefits:

  • Improving spatial skills
  • Increasing math skills
  • Improving creative, divergent problem solving
  • Improving social play
  • Possibly increase language skills
  • Encourage creativity

Educators Technology has a list of 7 benefits to toy blocks.

If you compare the various benefits of toy construction sets to jigsaw puzzles, you'll see that construction sets improve not only the same skills as jigsaw puzzles, but added areas such as creativity and literacy.

I can't suggest toy blocks without recommending LEGO products. (As an AFOL and a former LEGO Customer Service rep, it's my duty.)

LEGO products are the highest-quality of any block-based construction system on the market. Not only do they use the highest quality plastic ABS, but they have the most accurate injection molds (accurate to 5 micrometers, and only 18 pieces in 1,000,000 fail to meet the specs).

LEGO also has products geared specifically for toddlers. Their DUPLO products feature larger-scale bricks (exactly double each dimension of LEGO bricks) which are easy for small hands to manipulate.

From personal experience, DUPLO bricks are also great for teaching colors and sorting. As your child gets older they can also be used to teach counting. If you happen to get LEGO and DUPLO sized bricks, they're compatible!

Building and construction toys are one of the larger sections of the total global toy market. As such, they're available at almost every price range in a variety of formats. For instance, K'NEX has a unique rod & gear building style, Little Tikes Waffle blocks have a waffle-like design, and TinkerToy now makes plastic building toys.

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