Funny Alphabet letters with googly eyes and smiling faces stand out on a black background. Giant puzzle pieces make this right for younger kids who will be amused as they put these playful letters together to form the alphabet. A good choice for kids who are working on the names and sounds of letters. This comes in a handsome carrying case that will hold the puzzles pieces for safe keeping between times. Remember, kids like to do their puzzles over and over again until they master them. This one has no frame for finding the outside pieces, so the letter names are going to be important clues. There is also a chart that can be used for reference clues. It's still a good idea to show beginners how to use the straight sided pieces for making a frame of their own. 4-7
Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
One of six puzzles based on 19th Century chromolithographs. This one has 36 insects in various states of flying, creeping, and metamorphing. Also our favorites in the series, Wildlife of North America, and Wildlife of Africa. These are not simple with 200+ pieces and will challenge older and experienced puzzle builders. That said, these will be fun to do as a cooperative project and the creatures are labeled on the box, for identifying the assembled creatures. 8 and up.
Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
For kids learning their way around maps, this company has a series of attractive 100-piece puzzles that come in eye-catching globe-shaped containers. We tested the USA map and putting it together is challenging since the pieces are small. But there are lots of clues such as state names that are broken in two and the frame with flat sides. Marked for 6-99, we suspect this is a better bet for slightly older school aged kids, say 8 & up. If you like this one you will also want to consider the World Map, Solar System, and Europe.
Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015.
Dominoes move over! Colorfall is a set of wooden playing pieces that look like dominoes without the dots. Matching is done by color, if matching is what you want to do. However, there is so much more to do with these handsome playing pieces. Have kids create their own patterns or play a pattern game of what comes next. Then, for real challenges, use the cards to build colorful "pictures" of creatures. The cards tell how many dominoes of each color are needed to make the picture. So there is counting and sorting. But arranging them calls for problem solving and spatial visual skills. There are designs that will fall with a tap if the pieces are put close enough to fall on each other as they drop. All the pieces can be stored in the big canvas drawstring bag it comes in. A good cooperative or solo game that invites planning, dexterity, and patience. 8 & up
Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Our testers gave high marks to this new collection of puzzles from Nat Geo Wild. We tested three different types of puzzles in the line: Panorama Puzzles that feature Penguins, Lions or Ring-Tailed Lemurs. This particular puzzle comes with three separate puzzles that you then connect to create a satisfying 34" x 15" puzzle. The fact that you're working on separate puzzles makes this more accessible to younger children. We also recommend the African Lion - contains 100 pieces that creates a 12" x 9" puzzle. We found the lion particularly challenging-- there are many dark pieces that take some time to figure out. In otherwords, these are perfect for doing together-- but will likely be too frustrating to most younger school-aged kids. Even more gifty, are the two tin sets that come with three puzzles, each with 150 pieces. We tested the Big Cats Deluxe Puzzle collection, but there is also a Majestic Mamals set as well that features a Gorilla, Dolphin, and Elephant.
Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012.
A relatively easy brainteaser with 40 challenges. The two sided blue and white hexagon disks are connected to bend and twist into a variety of forms. You flip, fold and rotate them to match the images of progressively challenging puzzles. A good travel toy to keep hands and mind occupied when sitting still is part of the day's activity. 8 & up.
Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Designed for those with patience for fine details. Putting this together calls for fine motor skills as well as good eyes. Each piece has a numeral on the back and you must put it is put together in numerical order. There are 216 pieces--all very small! Get it all together and you have an 18-inch tall 3-D model of the Empire State Building to display on a shelf. However, only those with a great deal of patience will stay with this detailed project. We suspect most kids will walk away before it is complete. That said, it will appeal to some and the finished structure is neat.
Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
If you have seen news stories that show how many young adults cannot name common geographic facts, you know that maps skills are not a high priority in too many schools. Happily, learning the names of the states, their locations on the map and their capitals just got easier with this map/puzzle. A colorful map with the shapes and capitals printed on it has a slick finish. It comes with reusable stickers that are labeled with the state name, a small icon of a landmark or product, and the state capital. So, itís a self-correcting puzzle that reinforces all the elements. In an age when geography often gets little attention, this is a small investment for some basic information kids should know.
Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010.
This will take some doing since the pieces are small and there are lots of vehicles of the 50's pictured here. For many boys who don't love puzzles, but do love vehicles, this will be motivation enough to hold their interest. Encourage kids to use the image of the car lot shown on the lid of the storage tin to help them figure it out. They say 6 plus, but we think this will be better for 8 & up.The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
This isn't your father's pattern parquetry blocks! Lokulus is a super duper challenging puzzle that comes with 14 plastic piece (of varying shapes and colors). There are 73 combinations that you're asked to create within the confines of the black puzzle board. If you like to stretch your brainteaser muscle--this one is for you. Marked 6 & up, we'd say would be most enjoyed by older kids, teens and their parents.
The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
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