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How to put together a 54-piece puzzle in 75 seconds

Let me tell you right now, putting together a 54-piece puzzle is no easy task for a three-year-old. It generally takes the two of us 45 minutes or more.

For Christmas, I gave Noah this amazing pack of wooden puzzles since puzzles are our “thing to do” together right now. After doing the same jigsaw puzzle for several weeks, he started begging for more, and let’s be honest… Dad needed a change in scenery as well.

It’s amazing how good he’s getting at these things. When we first started doing them about six weeks ago, he had a really hard time comprehending most aspects of puzzle building.

At first he couldn’t grasp the concept of turning a puzzle piece 90 or 180 degrees to make it fit. He also couldn’t understand that each piece was part of a bigger picture, and that each connection had a purpose. But, with each puzzle we put together, he’s slowly started putting all the pieces together (pun intended).

He still struggles sorting out the “straight edge” pieces, but on this last go-around he seemed to be picking up on the idea.

I think the biggest reason I like doing puzzles with him so much is that it’s really fun to see his hand-eye coordination build, as well as his ability to understand the overall complexity of such a concept. It’s fun to watch him learn that instead of getting frustrated, he has the ability to try another piece and make it work.

Plus, puzzles were my thing when I was a kid, and by doing them with Noah, I’m realizing they still are.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

What is your current favorite thing to do with your children?

PS, I videoed an entire puzzle building with Noah for my own keepsake. I thought about playing it for you here, but then I thought that watching an hour long video might get a little boring, so, I condensed it into 75 seconds, just for fun, just for you. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you want to get some of these specific puzzles for yourself, it took me a while to find them online, but they’re made by Learning Journey, and they are incredible. They’re thick wood, and four of them come in a real nice box with a slide-close top. Here’s the link on Amazon if you want to check them out.

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95 comments
SexyScienceGal
SexyScienceGal

Love it, I've always been a huge puzzle fan.  Btw what flavour are red M&M's? We don't get them in Ireland.

Sharelle
Sharelle

@SexyScienceGal those m&ms are the peanut butter filled ones. Thanks to this cute video...I'm craving them now ha ha

MiriamJane
MiriamJane

that was amazing! rock the puzzles! i have the biggest smile! my son and i also enjoy puzzles together! we make snacks together and make our plates "pertiful!" and then sit down and do them. we also enjoy reading! sometime i read to him sometimes he reads to me and sometimes we just curl up on the couch together and read our own books! which is amazing considering hes and 8 yr old boy! but we both love to read! time spent together is a gift! and i cherish every minute!

justlittlecajunme
justlittlecajunme

I loved puzzles. My mom and I would do the 1000 pieces. It would take us a while but great to spend time together! Great Job!

MichelleHaines
MichelleHaines

Puzzles are my eldests daughter's (now 4) (love knowing that I have an eldest and a youngest now...can't stop bragging!) :). oh back to the subject. My oldest Alora loves putting together puzzles. Her most recent accomplishment was a 100 peice tinkerbell puzzle, she was so proud of herself. She too has complications understanding the concept of the corner and edge peices.

Jenn
Jenn

I have a friend who, when we need "girl" time, we'll hang out at her house for a couple of hours putting a puzzle together and maybe say 10 words that entire time. It's great!!
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Jeannie
Jeannie

My 4 year old got those same puzzles for christmas! He got a ton of puzzles, and I was amazed at how much he could get together by himself. It is amazing to see their little minds at work!

Samantha
Samantha

That was adorable! I forgot how much I love puzzles until the other day my sister called to tell me she was putting a 1000 piece puzzle together. Tell Noah good job!
P.S. I love reading your blog, it almost always puts a smile on my face! Thanks Dan!

Mahmee (and j)
Mahmee (and j)

right now, working on our colors. when i have a sweet craving for my reeses or m&ms or even sixlets, i get a big bag and i ask him his colors...for every one he gets right, he gets to eat it....and when his cheeks are as full as a chipmunks...i get to stuff my face : )

we also like learning spanish terms together, reading books, and playing cars.

ive forgotten how much fun it is to just use my IMAGINATION.

why, as adults, do we not get to use it anymore? video games imagine things for us...movies give us a plot to think about....work is not fun... but to sit and pretend cars are hovercrafts and belong to the blazers....thats just plain FUN.

i love hanging out with my kid. basketbal especially since he loves it so much.

while he was sick today though...there was LOTS of snuggling, and photographs being taken of said snuggles. and blog posts being written. love lazy vacation days. even if bugga is sick.
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Amber
Amber

lol the video was adorable it reminded me of my little boys how they work so hard to do something but keep having to get up and do stuff. He's a smart little guy.

Lynet
Lynet

that video is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE! Way to go Dan! I love that you had your M&M's on hand.

redtalk
redtalk

Don't know what I enjoyed more, the M&M consumption, the times he left and came back, your patience, or the kiss at the end. Fabulous. My son is 17 and we still do puzzles together. We don't even talk much, but I love the feel of having him next to me and apparently he likes that, too.

Brett
Brett

That was cool!
My recent post A Few Thoughts That Arent My Own

Guest
Guest

I went to the link to the puzzles. I went a little nuts there. Those are some of the BEST ones I've seen. I bought a couple that I know will be for just me right now (too many pieces for a 4 yr old).

Thanks Bunches!!

Kristi
Kristi

It is great you share things with your son. My mother read me stories. I at a young age learned the great appreciation of a well written story. It transports you to another time and place. It can pull you in and almost transform the world around you while you are reading. I tried to read to my daughter when she was a child. She cried. She would throw a fit if anyone read to her. She still doesn't like to read and she is 20. My son on the other hand said he did not like to read, but has discovered it depends on what he is reading. So I am hoping one day they pass it down. My son wants to design computer games. Live story telling he says. He is 13.

monkeymom
monkeymom

When my son was 2, he was doing 24 piece puzzles in about 15 mins, and when he was 3, he graduated to 48 piece puzzles. Kinda scared me a bit to tell you the truth......

Amy
Amy

This was cute, the video was ADORABLE, nice M&M reward post border finish :-p Did I see a couple of potty stops too? :) Other great wood puzzles are from Melissa and Doug. Some truly challenging puzzles are from Ravensburger. The last family I nannied for had both. The Ravensburger puzzles aren't cut like a standard jigsaw, they are ALL different sizes and shapes, curved, sharp, squiggle sides, etc. They sometimes have unique ones with a different picture under the puzzle. The four and five year old I just finished nannying for LOVED the Ravensburger puzzles, but if you come into it after it's been taken apart it can be a challenge!

teachinfourth
teachinfourth

Now that, my friend, was awesome.
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Jillian Leigh
Jillian Leigh

wow, he stuck it out for the whole thing!! great determination and focus!!
My recent post How I met Mike

Elisa O'Brien
Elisa O'Brien

I never thought that would comment, but after watching the video.. Love the kiss at the end! It's so good to see the display of affection between father and son. Those puzzles look so awesome, thanks for letting us know where we can get them.

My two-year-old and I like drawing together, and making music, and kicking balls around (inside and outside!). And she spends time with her dad playing with blocks, which is HIS big thing.

Rudy-Ru
Rudy-Ru

My son would have wanted to dump out the bag of M&Ms and line THEM up in rows on the box (eating any that dared to roll)!

Tiffani
Tiffani

Love it!!!
My recent post Before its too late

Rebecca in Texas
Rebecca in Texas

Ha!! Puzzles require too much parental umm what is the word I am looking for here... control? In my case, I wind up taking over and doing the entire puzzle by myself and not really letting the boys help!! Sorry, control freak, thing have to be done my way or the highway!! I am glad you were able to sit back and let Noah do it himself! I do not have that self-control! Happy Friday!!

Jenn
Jenn

I love watching the M & Ms disappearing and reappearing in front of Noah--how adorable is that? I also enjoyed the affection at the end--my family is full of kissers, and it's weird to a lot of people, but it's our family culture.
My mom, my sister, and I used to put together 1000-piece puzzles while listening to the Seattle Mariners broadcast. My cat was famous for lying in the box of pieces and/or stealing a piece to play with and lose under the dishwasher.
Since I don't have children, I have two cats, Grynne & Bearrett; our playtime with them often includes laser pointers...

Kaliko Reed
Kaliko Reed

I love that!! I'm going to get some for my little guy right now. Thanks!! PS: Noah is a dollbaby.

Alexis
Alexis

My daughter is in a 3 yr old puzzle craze too. THis video was great. I also love the product placement :)

Naila Moon
Naila Moon

Loved the video! Pass me some M&M's please!

Adrienne
Adrienne

I think I see the 10 Second Rule applies in your house too!

katrina Garcia
katrina Garcia

freaking awesome video! my son and I also love doing puzzles. Christmas of 2009 I bout him Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles which had 8 or so pieces to them (one with shapes, the other with transportation vehicles), a month and half later he mastered them in about 10 seconds. Yeah so we donated those!
This past Christmas of 2010, his aunt gave him a 24 piece large floor puzzle of Thomas and Friends. At first he wanted me to help...lately he started to do it all alone. He can put together about 6 or 7 pieces together! I am very proud of my 2 and half year old!
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Jess
Jess

My DD has a set of puzzles like this that are Curious George themed! She loves them and so do I!! :) I love how much time you spend with your son!
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Anne
Anne

Thanks for the puzzle link! DS and I...and his grandma enjoy putting together puzzles. We've been doing it for a year now (he's 3/1/2); except DS doesn't care about the "outsides first" rule. He simply chooses a detail of the puzzle that interests him most; builds that and then out from there. Since it's his enjoyment, I haven't pushed the matter. Now, he's really excited about Candy Land, Bingo, Checkers and whatever age-appropriate board game we can find. Turn-taking has finally clicked and he can follow the correct flow on the board, but he doesn't give two flips to the wind about how far a die tells him to move.

Jodi
Jodi

That was awesome! Definately the best movie I've seen in awhile as my husband has been into the war movies again. :(
My little man and I play what I call Peek-a-boo-hide-and-seek. I will start in the bathroom and hide behind the door and call out peek-a-boo. He comes to find me and I dart into the next room down the hallway and so it goes. There are four rooms before you reach the living room where we end up on the couch, snuggling and giggling. I started this with him when he first started crawling and now he's 14 months and walking (not quite running yet). It is a blast!

Holly
Holly

Just wait until he gets older! I rediscovered my love for puzzles with my son and we've graduated to the big league puzzles. 1000 pieces with WWII war planes! Too much fun :)

Share Hammer
Share Hammer

Puzzles are fun and good for the mind! But I couldnt help but notice one thing that made me smile. The M&M's. Now I know you two LOVE M&M's but I smiled when I noticed he didn't get free reign over them and that you spread a small amount over time..Looked like good parenting to me! Im due in 3 week with my first child so right now the only bonding we get is what I call the poking game. I poke where his feet are and normally he kicks right back :-)!

Deidre
Deidre

so cool! My little man loves puzzles, but is still quite young at 2.5 year old to actually get them.

lynsey
lynsey

We have those puzzles, my 4yo loves them! We LOVE to do puzzles at our house. I love puzzles and I love how all of the different kinds of thinking come together...what a way to stretch their growing brains!

Dawn
Dawn

Love it! So cute - and you are right, it will be a wonderful keepsake.
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Rebekah C.
Rebekah C.

Ooooh, I do love puzzles. They are so much fun. When I was a teenager I had a bunch of those 3000+ puzzles.

Today, I'm baking cookies with my 3yo. We're having a good time. :)

Sheryl
Sheryl

We LOVE puzzles! Cute video...and now I'm just craving M&M's enough to go and get some right...NOW.

Krikit
Krikit

Ahhh . . . a very important life-lesson has begun. ~:) Teaching your son the understanding of how much in his life will be a series of puzzle pieces; that as he understands which end is up, which direction to turn, which piece goes where and when, he gains the bigger picture view and is not lost in the pile of pieces.

Life can make good sense when seen from the bigger picture view.

Krikit ~:)

freemom
freemom

Too fun! Those puzzles have got to make it into my toy cupboard.
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Buttahfly
Buttahfly

"At first he couldn't grasp the concept of turning a puzzle piece 90 or 180 degrees to make it fit. He also couldn't understand that each piece was part of a bigger picture, and that each connection had a purpose."

I just love how you've made the puzzle an analogy for life ... this idea will be a great lesson for him ... and for all of us!!
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Regina
Regina

Ah...what a sweet video. You look like an amazing Dad, by the way. I love your patience and endurance till the end when I know you really just wanted to finish the thing and get it over with. :) Puzzles were most definitely my thing when I was a kid. My 8 yr. old daughter enjoys them but not as much as me. There are too many other distractions for her. One thing we love to do together is play word games. She's a real word nerd. Hangman is her favorite. We play it with every category imaginable. I'm here to say that she beats her mom on many occassions and her spelling is almost always perfect. :)

Becky
Becky

Haha! I love it!! I love puzzles, I have spent many years doing puzzles, I would even glue them together and hang em up, frame them and so on. I always loved doing puzzles with my kids too. It's a great activity to do with them, second best to reading with them as far as I'm concerned. Course as my kids got older, they stopped working at the beginning with me, then when I got near the end they would jump in to be the one to finish it.

Jani
Jani

Our thing is traveling around - local, statewide, further afield, whatever. We pick a location, pack the food and water, movies and books, and load all six of us up in the van, and off we go. We've seen some amazing places and we all love it. Winter makes it harder to get out, but that makes finding indoor venues (especially free ones) that much more interesting.

tatiferguson
tatiferguson

That was really a joy to watch. Especially loved the sweet congratulatory kiss :) Great job, guys!

Robert McAllister
Robert McAllister

My ten-year-old son is in Chess Club at school, and wants to play against me every day. My grandma taught me when I was around his age, and I love watching his strategic skills develop. He beat me for the first time a couple weeks ago; I was (and still am) so proud of how fast he's getting to be a good player. He's already gotten me beyond the watching-him-play phase and into the trying-to-win mental state that it took me years to achieve for myself...not that I was ever great, myself, but I still remember the first time I won against my grandma. She was smiling, with tears in her eyes, just as I was when I lost to my son.

Tina from Arkansas
Tina from Arkansas

Very cute....My kid wouldn't do the "straight pieces" first, she did the inside out....to each it's own!

Tracy
Tracy

What a great moment to share with us. I also have a giant bag of m&m's (or two like peanut and plain ones mixed) when we play together. Puzzles are awesome, but my monsters are getting bigger and don't like to just sit there and work on them, so, we lay one out on a table and we all work on it as we go through the weekend sometimes together, sometimes not.