This is all very puzzling to me
March 15, 2017 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Turns out my toddler is really into puzzles. I'd like to get him something more challenging. Puzzle-lovers, what is out there?

My two year old is tearing through puzzles. He's moved from 2 piece, to 20 piece, to 64 piece. Really, this is his thing. I've never liked puzzles. Since he is so into it though, I thought I'd try to expand his horizon a bit - but to what? 3-D puzzles? Those shape toys that fit into other shapes? What sort of spatial/puzzle toys are there are out there that I could try out?
posted by Toddles to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Tangrams? He can arrange the shapes to match those in the little book that usually comes with a set.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:25 PM on March 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

This may be less touchy-feely and more screentime than you'd like, but there are a number of apps that simulate puzzles for iOS and Android. You can select the pictures to use, how many pieces to divide it up as, whether to rotate the pieces or have them all properly aligned, etc. It might give you the opportunity to play with the difficulty level without constantly buying new physical objects. My niece has been playing these with her grandma since she was about 2, and she still likes them.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:36 PM on March 15, 2017

The Soma Cube is pretty cool! it's a classic..
(also, not a puzzle per se but..chess?)
posted by The_Auditor at 8:38 PM on March 15, 2017

I got a set of these when I was about 13, and they're challenging and fun. They might be a bit too difficult for him yet, but I bet he'd like them by the time he's 5 or 5.
posted by hydra77 at 8:55 PM on March 15, 2017

Marble Run- a 3-d freeform building set that makes complex ramps for marbles- is super popular with some 3 year olds I know.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:58 PM on March 15, 2017 [3 favorites]


These were my favorite toy as a kid, to the point where I recently bought my 29-year-old self a new set for nostalgia's sake. They are completely freeform, but they teach you all kinds of stuff about spatial relationships and art and etc, and I will be giving them to every single childhaving friend who doesn't tell me to please not bring 100-odd small pieces of pointy wood into their house.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:32 PM on March 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This KEVA Contraptions kit is 7+ but my kids loved it at a much earlier age. The ball goes down and around. Now change the track to make it end up over here, or plink in the cup of water, or roll past the cat...

Expand the set with Structures.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:30 PM on March 15, 2017

Magnatiles are great. And can build out in many directions. Match with a bucket of toy animals, cars, small balls, etc. and your kid can build out worlds.
posted by anya32 at 1:18 AM on March 16, 2017

As a slightly more structured version of what showbiz_liz linked to, my kids enjoy what are the same blocks, but with a magnetic board and pictures for them to build on: Magnetic Pattern Block Kit.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 3:12 AM on March 16, 2017

Best answer: They're spendy, but Grimm's puzzles are gorgeous and double as very cool building blocks. Check the size in case your kid likes to put things in his mouth, because some of their puzzles are small.

Another pricey option is Tegu magnetic blocks - they are extremely well-made. I prefer the triangles/parallelograms/cubes to the long stick pieces (I may buy gifts for my kid depending on how much I want to play with them).

Gear toys are hecking cool because when you put them together right, they move!

Does he like trains? Brio sets (and their many knockoffs) are great for open-ended building, and when you throw more complex pieces like bridges, intersections, etc. into the mix it can get challenging to make a closed track. (And if he doesn't already have Duplos or Mega Bloks, not a bad idea to try those out.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:47 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Boy, do I ever see Legos in your future. But begin with Duplos which are a better size for the little ones.

I have a grandson who did a 48 piece close to his 3rd birthday. I'm not sure he was ever challenged with anything larger. He and his twin sister have a couple different building sets including Magnatiles. I forget the brand, but one came with a book illustrating a whole bunch of different cars, etc to build, but I think that working off a picture in a book is major cognitive leap from just putting the pieces together. Although too advanced for solo work, it's great for Grandparent & child joint projects.

The twins helped their Grandmother do a jigsaw puzzle on her iPad.

Enjoy the short periods of calm while your son is busy with a puzzle.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:52 AM on March 16, 2017

Hey what about this 3D Perplexus ball - Perplexus Rookie
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2017

Best answer: I feel like this is obvious, but Duplos? (Which my son calls "uppercase Legos.") It's basically a freeform puzzle that has endless configurations.
posted by Liesl at 6:18 AM on March 16, 2017

He's probably a little young for it - it's recommended for 8 and up, and I'd be concerned about potential choking hazard for the pieces - but definitely for when he's older: Mosaic Mysteries. It's something that I would have loved as a kid - and I absolutely go to all the time as an adult puzzle-lover.
posted by okayokayigive at 6:44 AM on March 16, 2017

Have you done floor puzzles? The Solar system one is a particular favorite of ours because we also learn about planets.

Seconding trains/brio sets and duplos.

There's also a duplo compatible marble run that I've considered getting.
posted by typecloud at 7:05 AM on March 16, 2017

Best answer: My sister was a real puzzle lover. She also loved our Duplos and playing with Brio trains when she could. She also enjoyed working on "grown-up puzzles" (250-1000 pieces) with an adult from a young age--this might be fun for him and an adult, especially if it can be saved on a puzzle mat between sessions.
posted by epj at 4:15 PM on March 16, 2017

Beleduc, Lauri, and Magformers were all favourites here -- well, Magformers aren't quite a puzzle, but. Still recommended for the puzzle-like aspect, and because they've been in regular use for maybe six years now.
posted by kmennie at 2:30 PM on March 17, 2017

Response by poster: Turns out Duplo was the answer. He loves them. Thanks everyone!
posted by Toddles at 10:09 PM on April 15, 2017

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