Evolution of Puzzles Age 1 to 2: Part One 12 to 18 Months

Nora (26-months) is suddenly intensely in love with puzzles. I mean she is suddenly spending hours each day doing a variety of different puzzles with ease, concentration and joy. This, for me, is 100 percent completely uncharted territory. Henry never got into puzzles. It may be his own personality, it may be related to the special needs he is working through, or it may be related to the sort of haphazard way we introduced puzzles in his non-Montessori early toddlerhood. Whatever it is, I've never had a kid love puzzles before.

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This change has been very welcomed and so incredible to watch. By offering a wide variety of puzzles slowly over the last year, Nora has had the time to really master each stage of puzzle and repeat it until her interest wains. 

Before I forget, I want to make sure to take a look back at where we started and how we got to where we are now. Before I do that, however, I want to just add a word about following the child. At its core Montessori is about allowing a child to take his or her own path to the world. It's about meeting the child where the child and accepting that.

So, this means that just because this is the path that Nora took during this time, it may not be the path that your child takes. And, that's OK. You're child may be quicker than Nora, or slower, or show no interest at all. Your child may spend months on one type of puzzle then ignore another type. Observe your child and follow his/her path. Use this as inspiration, but not as a month-by-month guide. 

Knobbed Puzzles {Simple then Larger}

The very first puzzles I introduced to Nora were simple 3-piece knobbed puzzles when she was about 10 months old. Traditionally, Montessori would start with single piece puzzles but I used what I had. I'm hoping to get some for baby 3.0. I started with shapes then moved to realistic images. As she mastered these, I introduced the larger knobbed puzzles around 14 months.

Pictured: Vintage fruits/vegetable puzzle {alternative 1; alternative 2}; Vintage 3-piece puzzles {similar animals alternative; similar shapes alternative}; Shape Puzzle

Tiny Knobs -- exact picture ~ Size Comparison Puzzles

Once Nora was starting to show proficiency in larger knobbed puzzles, I started to introduce size comparison puzzles, where an image repeats but changes only in size. We only have a couple of these because they are harder to find, but one had larger knobs and one smaller.

Pictured: Vintage tractor puzzle {alternative}; Circle Puzzle {larger alternative; circle alternative}; Rainbow

Shortly after introducing the size comparison puzzles, I introduced small knobbed puzzles to Nora. She was probably around 15 months at the time. These were great for forcing a pincer grip and added a great element of challenge with the smaller pieces. At this time she was still doing the larger knobbed puzzles as well. However, I made sure these all had exact picture matches so it was also a great picture-to-picture matching exercise.

Pictured: vintage transportation puzzle {alternative}

I think that is about it for this age range. However, the age ranges here are broad and approximate. Nora was very much on a hurry up and stop track with puzzles. She would be intensely interested for awhile then show no interest at all. In fact, there were large chunks of time between 1 and 2 where she had no interest in shelf work at all. She was too busy doing gross motor tasks to slow down for anything else, and that was perfectly fine with me!

I intentionally kept thing on the shelves for long periods of time so she would have the opportunity to not only perfect and master the work but to repeat it for as long as she was interested. So, just because she could do a certain type of puzzle, doesn't mean I removed it right away. I let her enjoy it for as long as she showed interest.

In Part 2: Montessori Puzzles Age 1 to 2: 18 to 24 Months, I'll go into detail about the puzzles we have used more recently -- from 18 to 24ish months! I'll also have some tips in what I look for when purchasing puzzles for my family!


  1. Love this especially since Cara is so much into puzzles right now, too! Looking for the ones you listed in Part 2. :-) Thanks!

  2. with cv the help of our child coped with all the logical problems that we gave him

  3. Puzzles are the best learning tools for small children. Children need to place the puzzles on exact place because they fit in only when placed properly. Kids have to place each puzzle, turn them and make sure they fit in properly before proceeding to another piece of the puzzle.


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