Despite my best intentions of keeping life at home moderated when it comes to screen time, there is no point pretending that You tube, Roblox and Netflix haven’t featured way more heavily than I’m comfortable with. But there is one trump card that engages the girls without fail, makes us all put down our screens, and sets us to a challenge in which we are all focused and present together; the humble jigsaw.
Both girls have been through their favourite jigsaw phases in our home; some of which could eventually be completed with their eyes closed. The memories will remain with us always as we think back to the hours spent recreating the man on the moon, paddington bear, the map of the world and of course, the disney collection.
Sadly, some of the kids favourites have long been passed along; to friends, to nurseries or to passers by, as the kids have outgrown them or to make way for new jigsaws.
Jigsaw puzzles have been a godsend during home schooling when particularly for The Mouse, learning through play has had to take priority over worksheets or learning apps.
With so many benefits to children, jigsaw puzzling can enhance both cognitive skills, hand to eye coordination, team work, problem solving, spatial awareness and one of my favourites; self esteem. Plus of course, they are great fun.
At five years old, our youngest is easily pulled in to doing a puzzle, and it’s been one of the things we go to to allow her older sister to work quietly without feeling any screen time FOMO. The sense of peace and quiet, and mindful play is a welcome piece of calm in a sometimes over stimulating environment. I know she responds well to the 1:1 play with me, or sometimes with her sister, and together we share a sense of achievement when we place those final pieces.
I was kindly gifted two wooden hand cut jigsaws from British jigsaw makers, Just Jigsaws. Based in Derbyshire, England, this third generation family run business have been crafting thick cut jigsaws since 1973 and know a thing or two about creating the timeless toy that brings children and adults alike joy, all over the world.
From peg boards to floor puzzles, the range of jigsaws caters for all ages, abilities and interests – and with a fantastic environmental ethos too.
“All of our jigsaws are made using materials from sustainable resources grown in managed forests. Where possible we support companies in the UK and source our components locally, most of our suppliers are in the East Midlands, many in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. We keep packaging to a minimum and take our environmental and ethical responsibilities very seriously.”– Just Jigsaws
From the vast collection we picked out the ‘Countryside’ (JJ080) jigsaw puzzle in the ‘Beneath our world’ collection. At 40 pieces and size 400 x 300mm it’s the perfect next step up for our daughter and she can manage this independently.
The puzzle is made from amazing quality solid block pieces – there won’t be any bending or tearing, and definitely no cheeky forcing pieces in the wrong place.
As expected, the girls loved spending time quietly squirrelling away at the puzzle – learning about the British countryside at the same time. The perfect way to while away a rainy afternoon with hot chocolate.
It’s always so nice to see them work together, instead of the moments they squabble over a piece of plastic tat that 30 seconds before the other one touched it, had no value at all? That’s sisters I guess.
Before I exited the Just Jigsaw website, I spotted something very special which John and the team very kindly threw in as a thank you.
Because when your jigsaw loving child is named Coral, you cannot just pass by a Coral Jigsaw, can you?
Now this one was definitely a stretch challenge for her, but it made it even more important for me to get stuck in with her. Despite initially being disheartened by it being too hard, as soon as I sat on the floor and started building the picture she was immediately drawn back in.
And sometimes, the harder the mountain is to climb, all the better it feels to stand on the peak. This is a jigsaw that will long outlast the Disney princess jigsaws for many reasons, not least quality.
Like many others, jigsaws in 2020 have been a happy escape, time filler and respite from the craziness of life outside the four walls. A love of jigsaws will last way beyond childhood, and that’s something I’m more than happy to instill into our daughters from a young age. Because whether you are five or forty five, you can’t ever beat the sensation of slotting in that last piece of the jigsaw puzzle.