Puzzle Types – How to Choose the Right Puzzle

Puzzles provide your child with lots of great benefits: fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, improved memory, improved attention span, and more. At ExploraToy, we know that high-quality puzzles are an asset for aiding your child’s development.

To help you choose the right puzzles for your child, we’ve compiled a list of eight different types of puzzles. You’ll learn a little bit about each type and how that type of puzzle can benefit your child.


Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are puzzles with interlocking pieces, most often square shaped with tabs pointing inward or outward from the edges. When pieced together correctly, jigsaw puzzles reveal an image.

Benefits: Jigsaw puzzles are great for developing fine motor skills and helping develop problem-solving skills. Since they are often a little more advanced than chunky puzzles, they’re best suited for elementary children. Puzzles with more pieces are good for older children.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s 4-in-1 Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

Maze Puzzles

Maze puzzles aren’t pieced together like jigsaw puzzles. Instead, your child guides an object (often a ball) through a maze to get to a particular destination.

Benefits: Maze puzzles are ideal for helping your child develop fine motor skills. Since these puzzles are often contained in a single object, they’re also good for keeping your child entertained in the car or waiting rooms.

Sequential Puzzles

Sequential puzzles are 3-D puzzles that require your child to follow certain steps in a particular order in order to solve the puzzle. Unlike jigsaw puzzles, which can be put together in any order, sequential puzzles can only be put together in one particular order. Otherwise the pieces won’t fit together.

Benefits: These puzzles are great for older children who need a challenge. Since they can only be solved in one way, they’re great for helping your child develop stronger problem-solving skills.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s Wooden Brain Teaser – Magic Cube Puzzle

3-D Puzzles

3-D puzzles are puzzles that don’t lay flat when completed. There are a wide variety of 3-D puzzles, including sequential puzzles (described above) and brain teaser puzzles (described last on this list). Some 3-D jigsaw puzzles also exist, creating small sculptures when completed.

Benefits: Since 3-D puzzles are often more challenging, they are great for older children who have outgrown their easier puzzles. They often require better fine motor skills and problem-solving skills, things your child will need to succeed in school.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s Wooden Brain Teaser – Magic Cube Puzzle

Chunky Puzzles

Chunky puzzles are simple puzzles designed for toddlers and preschoolers to enjoy. These puzzles have a series of related images (such as farm animals or fish) on a background. Each image has a cutout that the child places in its spot to complete the puzzle.

Benefits: Chunky puzzles are great for younger children who haven’t done puzzles before. Since they often have fun images like animals or shapes, they’re good for helping your child learn the names for things.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s Chunky Wooden Puzzles (Set of 3)

Magnetic Puzzles

Magnetic puzzles use magnets to move pieces and hold them into place. They often come with an attached wand children can use to move the puzzle pieces.

Benefits: Magnetic puzzles are great for children of all ages, since they can both solve the puzzle and learn a little bit about how magnets work. Using the wand to move the puzzle pieces can help them develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s Magnetic Chunky Puzzle (Set of 2) – Fishing and Engineering

Sound Puzzles

Sound puzzles are puzzles that make sounds when the pieces are put onto the puzzle board. For example, a puzzle with vehicles might make vehicle sounds when the corresponding pieces are put into place.

Benefits: These puzzles are great for young children, since they can learn the sounds that go with each piece they’re putting into place. These puzzles provide a great multi-sensory experience for children, helping them build their attention spans and train for more challenging puzzles down the road.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s Pet Wooden Puzzle with Sound Effects – Farm Animals

Brain Teaser Puzzles

Brain teaser puzzles (often called “brain teasers”) are puzzles that require creative thinking to solve. Instead of piecing together parts to reveal an image, these puzzles require your child to come up with a solution to solve the puzzle.

Benefits: Brain teasers are great for developing lateral thinking, which is a type of “outside the box” thinking your child will need to solve problems and find solutions. While you can find brain teasers of different difficulty levels, most brain teasers are best suited for older children.

Product Suggestion: ExploraToy’s Wooden Brain Teaser – Magic Cube Puzzle


Although the different types of puzzles have different benefits for your child, puzzles of all kinds can help your child’s development. If you’re looking for high-quality wooden puzzles to entertain and challenge your child, check out ExploraToy’s full selection of great products here.