Building Blocks for Problem Solving
- What: Wooden Cube Puzzle by Melissa and Doug
- When: 18 months and up
- Why: Multi-purpose, durable, affordable
- Where: Amazon
I ordered one of these wooden cube puzzles to donate to a toy drive. When the blocks showed up, I liked them so much I kept them and donated something else instead. That was more than five years ago, and all three of my kids still enjoy doing the puzzles.
They have used these 16 puzzle blocks for the puzzle as well as building creations, or to supplement other activities, like building train tracks. As they get older, I have to help less and less with the puzzle assembly. Before age two, I flipped all the pieces to the correct side for them and then let them handle the chunky blocks to try and make the picture. Now they can find all the pieces themselves and assemble the puzzle correctly.
I also like that the back of the sturdy wooden storage tray shows pictures of all six puzzles completed. My kids would point to the one they wanted to do even before they could talk, and we would work on that animal together. The puzzle comes in farm or pet versions.
As an added bonus, you can challenge adults with them as well. Since you have to figure out which of the six sides on each cube belong to the same puzzle, it can get tricky. I find it fun to watch adults figure it out. The border color along 12 of the 16 pieces helps clue you in, but it can take a few moments to reach that conclusion.
Our puzzle has lasted for years. It definitely shows some wear and tear, though that’s in part because we stored the pieces in a bin with lots of other hard blocks. It has survived three kids and two dogs that like to chew wooden things and you can still assemble all six puzzles with no guessing required.
It’s intended for ages three and up, but we’ve been playing happily with it since about 18 months. I could see younger kids chewing on the wooden blocks, but the non-toxic material doesn’t seem harmful even in that situation. They do have somewhat sharp corners, so if you have a kid prone to throwing toys, you might want to wait a few months to try this one out.