It's great playing with noisy toys that do exciting things but it's also good – and brilliant for fine-finger and logical thinking skills – to sit down to an old-school puzzle and have a go at piecing all the bits together.


We've tested a whole heap of puzzles and jigsaws for children aged 2 to 10 years, and, with the help of our tester families, pulled together the best...

Here's our pick of the best jigsaws and puzzles for toddlers, preschoolers and schoolchildren, as tested by kids and rated by parents

1. Fiesta Crafts 3D Construction Model, £14.99

– Great for dexterity and concentration

Fiesta Crafts 3D Construction Model

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A kit contains everything required to build a castle, fire station, hospital or a train station out of numbered parts made of sturdy foam board. No glue, scissors or tools required. The front of the model is the facade of the building and the back is the inside and includes furniture and accessories. Model sizes vary but, when complete, are roughly 45cm x 32cm x 26 cm.

More like this

Why we love it: Unlike most puzzles, making it is only half the fun – as you get to play with it afterwards. The attention to detail – such as opening doors, sliding windows and lots of furniture and other accessories – is impressive and the open-backed design gives children easy access for maximum play value. Maggie, mum to Jessica, 8, said, "This is is original – I personally haven't seen this sort of thing before for kids – and Jessica really enjoyed putting it together. She was able to build it with very little help from me – the numbering system is great – and it took her just over 2 hours. She was really absorbed in the process and enjoyed seeing how all the bits fitted together."

Available at: Fiesta Crafts and Booghe

2. Smart Games Apple Twist, £14.99

– Great for problem solving

Smart Games Apple Twist

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5 | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A 3-D challenge in which you have to work out a way that to bend the 3 plastic caterpillars so that they can all eat from the same 24cm apple, which itself is divided into 5 horizontal segments each of which can be rotated 180° . There are 60 challenges (from easy to expert) to solve. Comes with a challenge booklet.

Why we love it: This is a great game for stimulating a range of cognitive skills including spatial insight, problem solving and logic – but in a fun and engaging way. Amanda, mum to Frankie, 5, said, "This is definitely worth the price, as it provides hours of fun. I like how this gets more challenging as you go along. It’s definitely not going to become boring for him!" Frankie himself added, "I like that you can twist the caterpillars and there’s lots of puzzles to do."

Available at: Smart Games and Dotty Hippo

3. Dodo Observation Puzzle World of Animals, £7.99

– Great for recognition and facts

Dodo Observation Puzzle World of Animals

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: An 80-piece jigsaw that fits together to make a map of the world with different animal on it in the geographical region they come from. More animals run round the border of the finished puzzle.

Why we love it: The jigsaw’s a good challenge for a 5 or 6-year-old and the finished picture is bright and appealing. We like the border, which you could use as a spotting game, matching the animals there to the ones on the map. Our child tester Elijah, 7, said: “The jigsaw was a bit tricky at first but I finished it in the end and it made me happy that I had done it by myself. I liked looking for the animals on the map – some of them were in more than one place!”

Available at: Amazon and Halilit

4. Trixie Counting Puzzle, £10.50

– Great for early number skills

counting puzzle

Age suitability: 2+ | Best for age: 2+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 20-piece 17cm x 17cm FSC-certified cardboard jigsaw featuring colourful numbers and animals, painted in soy-based ink.

Why we love it: This is a lovely puzzle for learning and reinforcing numbers and colours, and the pieces are big and chunky and easy for little hands to fit together. Our child tester was particularly delighted by the crabs with their pointy pincers.

Available at: Kidly

5. Usborne In the Jungle Puzzle Book & Jigsaw, £9.99

– Great for animal fun

Usborne’s In the Jungle - Puzzle Book & Jigsaw

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A colourful 100+ piece jigsaw for a school-aged child with a jolly jungle theme. Comes with a 24-page picture puzzle book.

Why we love it: This is a really engaging puzzle: the illustrations are bright and clever, with funny or interesting things to spot, like a sloth wearing slippers or toucans with identical beaks. Our child testers felt nicely challenged by the number of pieces and really enjoyed reading the puzzle book, too. Edyta, mum of 5-year-old child tester Ayaan, said: "This is really entertaining and excellent value for money. My son loved it."

Available at: Usborne, Amazon and Wordery

6. Classic World Geometric Puzzle, £18.95

– Great for shape matching skills


Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 28-piece collection of wooden geometric blocks in a variety of colours and shapes that can be arranged in different ways.

Why we love it: This is a simple and beautifully made puzzle toy that will also fascinate toddlers under 3 (as long as you carefully supervise the play with small parts). The blocks are smooth, chunky and colourful and our child testers' parents loved that there is no set way to play with the them: you can place them – in loads of different ways – in the wooden base or stack them up like building blocks or line them up like dominoes.

Available at: Kidly and Hippy Chick

7. Orchard Toys Number Street Jigsaw Puzzle, £11

– Great for colour, animal and number recognition


Age suitability: 2+| Best for age: 2+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 20-piece toddler jigsaw where you order the houses by number and add the animals that match in colour and number on top. Come with a full-size poster.

Why we love it: The colours are vibrant and engaging and the sturdy pieces are lovely and big. Aimee, mum of our child tester Dexter, 2, said: "I never knew that a child could gain so much from one puzzle! My son was able to identify the different animals, numbers and colours, as well as problem solve to figure out where the pieces went. When he'd done once, he went on to complete it a further 5 times! He finds something new to talk about and explore each time."

Available at: Amazon and Orchard Toys

8. Schleich A Day at the Farm Puzzle, £10.49

– Great for added extras


Age suitability: 4+| Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 40-piece preschooler puzzle of a busy farmyard scene,. Comes with 2 farm animal figures.

Why we love it: We like just how much there is to spot in this jigsaw once it's completed: that farmyard is a veritable hive of activity! Our child testers loved counting the cows and pigs and describing what the farmers are up to. And those animal figures are an awesome touch.

Available at: Amazon

9. Milly & Flynn 3D Foam Giraffe Puzzle, £7.99

– Great for logical thinking

Hacche 3D Foam Giraffe Puzzle

Age suitability: 5+| Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A 17-piece, 15-step 3D puzzle of a giraffe which you make by pushing together pre-cut foam pieces. Also available as a lion, elephant, crocodile and panda.

Why we love it: What we like about this little kit is that a 5 or 6-year-old could manage it all on their own: there aren't too many pieces and the instructions are nice and clear. Our child testers felt very proud at having found each piece in the right order and followed the diagrams to fit them together. A great stocking filler or birthday-party gift.

Available at: Amazon

10. Tidlo ABC Chunky Puzzle, £18.99

– Great for letter recognition and association

tildo abc puzzle

Age suitability: 3+| Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: None

What it is: A chunky wooden board puzzle, with 26 removable upper-case wooden letters. Under each letter is a picture that matches the letter – an zebra for Z, for example..

Why we love it: It's strong and well-made with nice small-fist-sized chunky letters that slot very satisfactorily into place. All our child testers' parents were wowed by the quality of this puzzle. We do wish the letters were lower-case, though (as children often tend to learn these first in nursery and school).

Available from: Amazon and Mulberry Bush


About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

We've more top-rated toys here...


Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.