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December 04, 2020

Montessori First Puzzles

Puzzles are a great toy option for young children for a variety of reasons. Not only do many children find them interesting, they speak to a young child's need for order, are self-correcting, and promote logical thinking skills. Puzzles help children learn to concentrate and teach language. But, there are a lot of different puzzles on the market. It can be difficult to know what will work for your child and where to start.

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In Montessori we always want to isolate concepts as much as possible when introducing things to our children. We want to start as simple as possible and then add additional information or skills. This includes puzzles. First we need to introduce what a puzzle is and how it is completed. But, we need to do it in a way that allows a child to be successful. So, with babies and young toddlers we start with simple single-shape puzzles. With just a single piece, babies can learn the object of in and out without needing to also sort between multiple shapes. 

Single Shape Puzzles: Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3

In our house, single shape puzzles are introduced around 10 months. I start with the simplest piece to take in and out - the circle. Then, once that was mastered, I introduced a square and then the triangle. These were all done in isolation - so one at a time - so that Teddy could get used to each shape. 

The second type of puzzle is the kind that Teddy has in these pictures - a simple 3 shape puzzle. Ours happens to be a vintage one I found at a thrift sale, but there are lots of similar Montessori options on the market. I move to this one next for three reasons. One, it's the same shapes as the single shape puzzles. Two, the color matching aspect helps to make this puzzle just a bit easier as a young toddler is sorting shapes. Three, it's easier to sort when all the shapes are right next to each other on the same board.

3-piece Shape Puzzle: Option 1 | Option 2 | Option 3

However, many of the more traditional Montessori options will not have the additional "help" of the color matching. For those puzzles, though, the pieces stay the same color as the single shape option. The other benefits remain the same. 

At 14-months, Teddy is just starting to really understand and enjoy this puzzle. He can get the shapes some of the time, isn't too frustrated with it, and returns to it often. I anticipate that he will use this puzzle for a little while longer before I take out the single shape puzzles again. 

Thats, right! The third puzzle I will introduce for him will be the single shapes, but this time mixed together. So he will have to lay the bases out, and sort through the shapes. It will be just that one more little added step in his puzzle journey. I bet that will happen sometime in the next few weeks. I'll start with two shapes and work up to 4 as he shows interest and readiness. 

And, that's it! Those two puzzles will take Teddy up to 15-16 months, depending on his interest. Beyond that, I have additional chunky knobbed puzzles with 3 or 5 pieces that we will rotate in once he has figured these simple shapes out. 

A look at the first puzzles to introduce to Montessori babies and toddlers. These simple, fun options are perfect to support a child's development.

Does your baby or toddler enjoy puzzles? Which do you start with?

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Dee said…
Thank you for the post, I have been really confused about how to introduce puzzles. Please do share when you move on the chunky knobbed puzzles.