Challenge Yourself: Keeping your Brain Active

We already know that puzzling has multiple benefits—it’s relaxing, fun, and a good way to keep your brain in tip top shape. In fact, puzzles (and the variations of puzzles from Sudoku to Scrabble) are second on Wiki’s list of things to do to exercise that big mass of nerves inside your cranium.

The more you challenge your brain, the more new nerve pathways you form. The benefit of this has some amazingly positive benefits: namely, it can help you avert cognitive decline.

So here’s some things (easy things!) you can start doing in your daily life to make things a little more interesting, and make your brain work just a little bit harder.

1. Get strategizing! Play strategy games like chess or bridge, Poker or Scrabble.

2. Do new things to perk up your brain. Brush your teeth with your eyes closed or use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth (or build a puzzle)! Take a new route to work and stop living life on autopilot.

3. Read more. Books, magazines, blogs (this one counts!) or the newspaper. Set little goals: ten pages of your novel a day before bed, an article with your lunch break meal, whatever—just fit in some reading time!

4. Start memorizing more. Stop relying on your cell phone and try to learn a new friend’s phone number. Or your grocery list. Or how about the US presidents in order?

5. Listen to classical music because it increases brain activity more positively and helps with spatial intelligence.

How about trying something new with your puzzles? Creative Crafthouse has a huge selection of brain teasers that will push you in entirely new ways! For instance, check out this brain puzzle:

Brainwave. Ages 10+. Difficulty: 4 out of 6.

From the info page: This fellow really has a lot on his mind. Can you help him organize his thoughts? You must insert the 10 pegs into his mind such that no color is repeated on any of the rows, columns, or diagonals of the triangle on BOTH sides at the same time. Each peg has a different color combination on its ends.

11 Fun Brain Activities for Children

Puzzles and brainteasers are great for helping young brains develop and grow. They teach problem solving skills, hand-eye coordination, sorting, pattern recognition and more! The best part? There are so many different types of puzzles and images on puzzles that they are certain to entertain as much as they educate. While puzzles will help develop reading, math and logic skills – they also provide a feeling of accomplishment and achievement when the puzzle is solved – which is why kid’s love to do them over and over – and might just give them a confidence boost too!

Putting together jigsaw puzzles and other types of puzzle brainteasers can also be a great family or group play activity, along with individual play. But how do you pick a good puzzle for your youngster? Here are few tips from an article in a Young Children periodical.

1. Small knobs for toddlers. Knobs or chunky puzzles help small fingers with coordination and strengthen the grips used for writing. These are the first puzzle children 2-3 year’s old will enjoy putting together over and over.

2. Children like puzzles of things they know, animals, shapes, story scenes and bright colors.

3. Well designed, sturdy pieces that will withstand some wear and tear are a must. Wooden puzzles from Melissa and Doug, for example, make great starter puzzles for younger puzzlers.

4. When they get bored – it just means they need a step up in challenge – find a puzzle with more pieces, without frames, knobs or trays, or with new topics like letters, numbers or anatomy.

Here are 11 Great Kid’s Puzzles and Games for Brain Development

Five progressive puzzles from 2 to 5 pieces. The pieces are larger, thicker and easier to handle, stimulating attention, curiosity and imagination in children 12 months and older.

Getting dressed won't be such a puzzle once zipping, buckling, snapping, lacing and tying, and other dressing skills are mastered. Each skill is contained on a separate, wooden puzzle piece for easy practice. Develop fine motor and life skills with this great activity. For ages 3+.

Hear the sounds of six favorite vehicles when the two wooden cubes are properly placed in the wooden tray! Find the halves that match and hear six different, realistic sounds. Develops visual perception and fine motor skills. For ages 2+

Easy to grasp, thick chunky pieces fit perfectly into a background tray and help teach kids as young as two about life under the sea! For ages 2 and up.

From Acrobatic Alligator all the way to Zigzag Zebra, this colorful wooden alphabet puzzle has beautifully detailed pictures. When the piece is removed, a full color illustration with a matching image helps children find every letter its home. For ages 3 and up.

 

Ideal for travel, this wooden magnetic board includes three interchangeable animal habitat cards, farm, sea and savanna, and 26 magnetic, wooden play pieces for educational and creative play. For ages 3 and up.

Designed for hours of play and ideal for travel, this wooden magnetic board includes 120 colorful geometric magnets. Younger children (3+) will enjoy using the shapes to replicate the 12 geometric pictures included, while older children will enjoy creating mosaic patterns and pictures directly on the magnetic board.

Fun and fact filled card games for kids of all ages! Features great topics like Lost Civilizations, The Human Body, Earth Science, Sports and more! For ages 8 and up.

PlaySmart Digits in a Box Puzzle Game. First, spill the ten digits (0-9) from the box and give them a scramble. Then, place the pieces back in the box so that the lid closes flat. There are over 4000 possible solutions. For ages 6-8.

The incredible inner workings of the human body are beautifully portrayed in this double - sided educational floor puzzle. One side of this 100 - piece cardboard puzzle features the skeletal structure, and the other side shows internal organs and the circulatory system. For ages 8+.

Cardboard or Wooden Puzzles? Pros and Cons

Jigsaw puzzles come in different sizes, shapes, colors and, of course, different materials. Materials are the greatest divide there is when it comes to jigsaw puzzles, an epic battle between wood and cardboard. If we take a closer look at the statistics, we will probably find out that the divide does not only have a technical nature, but also a sociological one, and that puzzle lovers can be divided among these same lines.

If we look at it from a historical perspective, wood is the older, more traditional material. If wooden puzzles are handmade, it becomes even more “traditional,” and the craftsmanship adds more value. Cardboard puzzles are modern, manufactured by thousands, designed and cut with the latest technologies. They are products of modernity.

From an ecological perspective, things change a little bit. Neither cardboard nor wood are truly eco-friendly, but there are jigsaw puzzles made out of recycled cardboard, and soy-based inks.

As far as the price is concerned, wood loses the race. It’s the more expensive material, but also the one where quality can take a much better shape.

Cardboard jigsaw puzzles, besides the attractive price, have some more appealing features. They require less storage space, can be framed and hanged on your wall, and there’s no real limit concerning the image displayed, the size or the number of pieces. For those who really like challenges and constructing puzzles frequently, these are the puzzles to get.

Wooden puzzles are more for traditional jigsaw puzzle lovers, and those who simply like puzzles for their beauty and the effort put into them by the designer, artist or puzzle maker.

Custom Jigsaw Puzzles

Would you like to have at least one unique item in your house? If you can’t get a limited edition car from the ’40s, we suggest you to take a look at our line of custom jigsaw puzzles. They are made of wood and come in various sizes and shapes. From a 6″ 90 pieces square puzzle to a 854 pieces (including 47 whimsies) 16″x 22″ jigsaw puzzle, the possibilities are endless.

All you need to do is choose a shape and a size and email a high resolution photo of your choice. To make it even more unique and personal, you can engrave a message on the back of your puzzle. And the best thing about it is that it will be ready in no time. Once the image is received and approved, it usually takes a week to manufacture the puzzle, which is really fast for such a complex product.

Our custom jigsaw puzzles, crafted by our friends at Peaceful Wooden, can be the perfect gift for your loved ones, and maybe even for some good friends. A beautiful custom wooden puzzle is a unique and thoughtful way of remembering the good old times or a special event in someone’s life, and it will last forever.

Take a picture of a special moment with that special someone in your life, and make a puzzle out of it. You can even have a special message engraved on the back. Offer it as a present and let your friend or loved one (or fiance to be, even) assemble the picture to discover a fun or sweet moment from your past together. Tears might be shed, smiles might be seen and happiness might be felt.

All of this with a simple jigsaw puzzle that you can turn into a unique everlasting memory.

Putting the Jigsaw in Jigsaw Puzzles

The puzzle and the saw are not exactly the most appropriate word association out there. The puzzle, an object for the mind, and the jigsaw, a raw cutting tool used with the body, make an unusual pair. Did you ever wonder where jigsaw puzzles got their name?

You could hardly imagine anyone cutting a cardboard puzzle, today, with a jigsaw. And yet, that was the only way to do it back in the days. Puzzles were not made out of cardboard but out of wood, and designing a puzzle was a lot more complicated and time consuming than it is today.

A picture was painted on a flat and rectangular piece of wood. It was manually painted, of course, so there weren’t really any mass production techniques available. In order to transform that piece of wood into a puzzle, it had to be cut into small pieces with a jigsaw. The cutting technique was crucial, and the final result depended on it.

While most of today’s jigsaw puzzles are made of cardboard, this traditional puzzle making method still exists, hence the name. Wooden puzzles are a lot more expensive than cardboard puzzles, but the technology developments enabled laser-cutting of the wooden jigsaw puzzles, instead of the expensive and uncertain traditional method.

Of course, there are still people out there that do everything by hand, from the painting to the cutting, but the unique puzzles they design have corresponding prices and have become collector’s items. So if you want to purchase a unique item, you have to seek one of these jigsaw puzzle makers. Peaceful Wooden is one example that you can find right here at Puzzle Warehouse.