Gifts for Puzzles and Games Lovers

If you have puzzles or games lovers on your gift-giving list, check out some of these great gift ideas that are sure to bring a smile to their faces.

According to those in the know, origins of the jigsaw puzzle date to the 1760's, when European mapmakers attached maps onto wood and cut them into small pieces. The original purpose of these map puzzles was as an educational tool for British school children.

Cardboard puzzles were introduced as an alternative in the late 1800's, and not until the early 1900's were puzzles die-cut rather than hand-cut. During the Great Depression they were an extremely popular form of entertainment for adults as well as children, possibly due to their ability to be taken apart and reworked over and again.

Puzzles have even moved into the electronic age, as evidenced by the fact that most adults have probably spent hours staring at colored blocks dropping down computer screens while bosses thought all that typing was going into something more productive.

Most of us can attest to that addictive, just one more piece allure of puzzles. But at least it is a relatively harmless addiction (maybe not from the company's standpoint), and certainly a positive alternative to mindless electronic entertainment. It is an addiction that can, to a young brain, develop visual perception and shape recognition, increase spatial skills and fine motor skills, and be actively engaging. Even if puzzles are purely for entertainment, one could argue that they are a better choice than television shows or mind-numbing video games.

This holiday season, if you find yourself searching for a gift for a young person, consider a puzzle. It is a gift that will be well-received by both parent and child, and you will have the peace of mind in knowing that at least you are not contributing to the delinquency of a minor. It is a gift that can fit almost any budget and any age.

When looking for a puzzle that will be a fit for the recipient, it is important to consider the most important aspect: the age of the receiver. Will the child try to eat the puzzle? If so, you may want to consider a puzzle made of a studier material such as wood or foam. Also, make sure the pieces are large enough so that little Billy does not get Thomas the Train lodged in his throat. A relatively new added feature of puzzles for young children is the peg that is attached to each piece to make it easier to manipulate the pieces. Younger children may also be more comfortable doing framed puzzles because the pieces are better held in position.

If you are searching for a puzzle that is more than simply entertaining, for pre-school aged children look to alphabet, number, and animal puzzles. One exceptionally good brand for the youngest puzzle completer is Melissa & Doug. They even have new types that make sounds when the puzzle is fully assembled.

As children get older, they are ready for cardboard puzzles with more and smaller pieces. The Melissa & Doug brand still offers high quality puzzles for the young school-aged child. Pieces are of sturdy cardboard, graphics and pictures are bright and captivating, and themes are of high interest to children. Popular topics are dinosaurs, the solar system, presidents, and safari animals.

Another excellent puzzle brand is Ravensburger. They too offer high quality construction, and popular themes like wildlife, ocean scenes, and maps. Ravensburger has an enormous range in level of difficulty, having puzzles with as few as five pieces and as many as 18,000. Be sure to match carefully not only the theme, but also the suggested age range for the recipient.

Maps, which served as the original purpose of puzzles, are probably the most educational puzzles available. There are numerous map puzzles available, so you really have to consider your purpose when purchasing. A great choice for teaching United States geography to young school-aged children is the USA Foam Map Puzzle by Educational Insights. It is a 2 X 3 foot foam floor puzzle that has fifty-four interlocking pieces, and its sturdy pieces will hold up well for any younger siblings that may follow.

If world geography and true learning of countries, their borders, their relative sizes, and their capitals is your goal, one of the best gifts may be The Global Puzzle by Broader View. It is the ultimate geography lesson, a puzzle with 600 pieces actually shaped like their respective countries. The only problem users may encounter is that pieces do not interlock, and therefore a bump or a sneeze could wreak havoc on Europe.

Finally, for that gift giver who is looking for a truly unique gift, you may want to try www.mgcpuzzles.com/ index.html. This site offers custom-made puzzles from your photos or other personally chosen art. Puzzles are made to last on ¼-inch thick wood pieces. They also make magnetic puzzles. Prices are based upon size and number of pieces, but because of the handcrafted quality of the puzzle, prices are considerably more than your standard puzzle.

Article by Homesteader.

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