Sometimes it feels as if I’ve spent more time watching my sisters’ children than I have doing anything else in life. This is mostly because time spent watching Sponge Bob is time that drags mercilessly, and because time spent listening to children of differing ages argue about whether to watch Sponge Bob or Hannah Montana is time that seems to come to a complete halt. The solution that works best for me is to turn the television set off altogether, and make them play instead, which in my house means working a jigsaw puzzle.
Most board games require skills like counting or reading, and if the kids you’re trying to entertain aren’t the exact same age, they’re unlikely to be able to do these things at the same level. That means some of them will be bored, while others will feel over their head. Add in the element of competition, and that board game can turn into something that makes the battle for the remote control look good by comparison.
The advantages of jigsaw puzzles for kids include that they involve no reading, no math, and no competition: everybody can go at their own pace, and when the puzzle is completed, it isn’t one person’s victory, but everybody’s.
Jigsaw puzzles for kids range between those with only a dozen pieces, to those with hundreds, and come in every type of design imaginable. Models vary between those smaller than a dinner plate to those that cover the living room floor. And when the kids get tired of pulling one apart and reassembling it, they can glue a backing to the completed puzzle and hang it as wall art.
Best of all, it’s a quiet activity. So quiet you can actually hear yourself think, and maybe even carry on a conversation with the little boogers and get to know them. Try that when you have to compete for their attention with Sponge Bob.