TOYplay Tips: Sea Life Jigsaw Puzzles In a Box


In lieu of letting my daughter watch a show while I was folding clothes one morning, I pulled out Melissa & Doug’s Sea Life Jigsaw Puzzles In a Box. She loves dolphins, so the dolphin puzzle immediately caught her interest and she was excited to get started.

There are four puzzles total, each contain 12 pieces. What makes these puzzles a little more challenging are the details – the images are very bright, colorful, and sometimes the colors and details blend together.

She was able to put the dolphin puzzle back together pretty quickly. Then she moved onto the shark puzzle. This one was a little more difficult because there were not a lot of contrasting colors, so she had to pay closer attention to the details. This puzzle took her a little longer, and she became a little frustrated at times. As a parent, my instinct (when I noticed her getting frustrated) was to step in and give her a hint or help her. But, I went against my instincts and did not interfere. I was thrilled to see her figure it out all on her own without my assistance!

While putting the puzzle pieces together, she noticed the difference in the shade of the water. The lighter water was on top and the darker water was on the bottom. This opened up the door for a great teaching opportunity, so I asked her why she thought the water was darker on the bottom. She thought about it, and her conclusion was, “that’s where the fish live.” I confirmed her answer that some fish do live at the bottom and then I explained that the water on the bottom of the ocean is dark because the sunlight can’t reach that deep into the ocean. Just asking simple questions and seeing what kind of answers she came up with was a fun activity!

There are many conversations we could have had about the sea life in each of these four puzzles – I look forward to doing it with her again. Maybe next time we’ll talk more about the dolphins and why they need to come up to the surface for air!

Developmental areas: Spatial reasoning, critical thinking skills, motor development.

Recommended ages: 3-5 years

Play time: 20-30 minutes

Extension activities:

1. Go to the library and find books about sea life – specifically dolphins, sharks, sea horses, and tropical fish.

2. Make up a story using the sea animals in each puzzle. Write it down and draw pictures to illustrate the story.

Tested and review written by:

Shannon McAfee (Founder/Owner of TOYconomy), 3-year-old daughter

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