Jigsaw puzzles develop skills, improve stress levels and encourage social interaction. They provide hours of entertainment and fun for adults as well as for children. Research shows that assembling a jigsaw puzzle is good for brains of all ages.
The photo shows my grandchildren, Alexander and Louise and a friend, Kirstin who called in for morning tea and spotted the puzzle on the coffee table.
John’s daughter, Susan, recently gave him a 1000-piece puzzle. I set it up quickly, delighted with the gift.
Not only was it fun, but it also helped soothe the stress while he convalesced after the emergency insertion of a pacemaker which did not go smoothly.
We received two more as Christmas gifts. We’re now on number four since the end of November. With 750-pieces, the one in progress demands as much attention and concentration as some of those of 1000-pieces because of the complexity of the design and similarity of the colours.
Our puzzles move regularly on the light, stable board John made, from dining room table to the coffee table. We often work them together, sometimes alone. Other times one of us will pop in a piece that we notice will fit as we pass by.
We also love it when visitors like my adult grandchildren (and sometimes their partners) gather around the board and work on the puzzle while we talk.
I can’t imagine why I didn’t put it on my list of Twenty fun things to do in 2020.
Why I love jigsaw puzzles
Jigsaw puzzles have been part of my life since my childhood and I’ve introduced them to my children and grandchildren and now to John.
- I love the challenge of creating order (and a picture) from the initial pile of random pieces.
- There’s a dopamine rush when the last piece is put in place, and a complex task is finished. There’s a minor rush, also, when a particularly elusive piece suddenly fits.
- Assembling a jigsaw puzzle is a peaceful occupation that reduces stress.
- It can be done satisfactorily alone or with others or in a mixture of both.
- It’s a fitting occupation for summer and winter.
- Many children enjoy the activity, especially when it’s shared with an adult or competent older kids.
- Putting an age-appropriate jigsaw puzzle together creates special grandparent-grandchild bonds.
My first puzzle was a gift from Father Christmas. Made from wooden pieces, the picture showed a vase of pale blue, white and pink flowers in a deep blue vase.
At first it seemed impossibly difficult, but my parents helped me put it together. Jigsaws are recyclable. Kids can do them over and over. And I did!
Many of my grandchildren share memories of being with me on short or long visits and getting out the puzzles. One time, on a holiday in Dongara, we found a puzzle in a garage sale. We didn’t finish it, so carefully loaded it in the car and brought it home with not one piece out of place.
The frequent family and other visitors to my house in Albany on the south coast of Western Australia enjoyed the jigsaws always set up ready to go.
When they were finished, we glued them to three-ply and hung them to decorate the studio room where everyone slept, creating memories for all of us. There were nine or ten in place after my two-year stint in the town.
In one school where I went as a school nurse, the principal had set up a puzzle in the waiting room outside her office. Her secretary invited children and adult visitors to contribute by adding a piece or two while they waited for the principal.
In some aged care facilities that I visited as an advocate for residents in aged care, couples and groups of residents gathered regularly around jigsaws in the sitting room. Those places usually scored highly on all other values at accreditation!
Random facts about jigsaws
- John Spilsbury, an engraver and mapmaker, is credited with inventing the first jigsaw puzzle in 1767.
- Bill Gates his wife Melinda are passionate about jigsaw puzzles. You can read more here.
- People who enjoy assembling jigsaw puzzles are called dissectologists. There is a worldwide club for lovers of jigsaw puzzles called, would you believe, the Benevolent Confraternity of Dissectologists.
- Jigsaw puzzles come in sizes from six or eight pieces to 64,000 pieces and some are three dimensional.
People fall into two distinct groups in relationship to jigsaw puzzles. On one hand there are the addicts. On the other, people who are indifferent, or worse.
I’d love to know which camp are you in? Please leave a comment about where you fit and why.