Puzzles and games

They are the antithesis of open-ended play, the approach that we champion here at 100 Toys. And yet puzzles and board games have a unique magic that captivates children for long stretches of time. What’s their secret? 


What’s so special about puzzles? 

Why are they such a perennial classic, a winning gift that every child is happy to receive?

Quite simply, puzzles are good for you.

Read more about choosing the right puzzle.

Board games

Board games teach us to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, to meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same – and they’re great fun, too!

Learn how to choose the right board game for your child.

Non-competitive board games

Tired of all the bickering? Wish that your children would all just get along? With non-competitive board games the players unite against a common enemy. Everyone wins together.

Read more about non-competitive board games.

Closed-ended play

Open-ended play is good for your child. Everyone knows that, right? So closed-ended play must be bad. There’s nothing creative about puzzles or Ludo.

But playing games with no scope for creativity is vital.

Read how closed-ended play helps your child to persevere.

Games with rules

How we play games says a lot about our character. As children grow – and especially once school starts – they must learn to follow rules. Playing rule-based games helps them move away from the egocentric world view of their toddler years.

Read more about games with rules.

Card games

Is it the same, is it different? Snap!

I have a nine, you have a three. Mine is bigger. I win!

There’s a lot of maths that goes into playing card games. And because they’re fun, you learn.

Read more about card games for preschoolers.

Stacking toys

Before you could count, before the number names, even before ‘big’ and ‘small’, you knew whether something fit or not.

Nested and stacking toys are the first step on the road to counting. And from there it’s a short hop to board games and fun.

Read more about nested and stacking toys.

A set of three Grimm's wooden stacking rings

Develop the right skills

What do you need to play a game? Some players? Dice? A board?

If you’ve ever tried Monopoly with a three-year-old, you’ll know it’s more complicated than that. There are precursor skills, essential concepts your child must first understand before she can play. Can she count? Wait her turn? Follow rules? Manipulate objects in space? There’s a lot to learn!

A snakes and ladders board

Learn to count with Snakes and Ladders

How many early years skills can you fit onto one board? Addition, subtraction, games with rules and seriation? Cardinal, ordinal and nominal numbers? Subitising? One-to-one correspondence? Not to mention taking turns and learning how to win – and lose – with good grace.

Read more about the best board game of all time.

Sequencing activities

Before and after. What comes next? What comes after five? I rolled a three, which space do I land on?

Learning about the number system is the work of many years. Start early and get ahead with simple songs and games.

Read more about time and sequencing activities.

Spatial reasoning

Which way does the puzzle piece go? Will this one fit? How far must I rotate it? These are important questions and they demand sophisticated understanding.

Learn how to improve your child’s spatial reasoning.

The posting schema

Toddlers like to post. They post your keys behind the radiator. They post food into their shoes.

They are learning to position, a key skill when they come to place puzzle pieces in later years.

Read more about the posting schema.

The connecting schema

Children make sense of the world through schema play. One of the most important schemas is ‘connecting’.

How do I join this puzzle piece? It’s not as easy as it looks!

Read more about the connecting schema.

Taking it further

What comes after puzzles and games?

Puzzles and games are fun, and worthwhile in their own right. But they also lead somewhere. They teach the kinds of skills that every child needs in order to thrive at school.

10 games to get set for school

Did you know that many of the classic games you played as a child can help lay the foundations for reading, writing and maths?

Help your child build a solid foundation before school starts without resorting to boring workbooks or the perils of apps.

Read more about starting school games.

Make your own board game

Put all your school-ready skills to work in one fun project – making your own game. What will you include? Will you make the pieces? Use a die or a spinner? There’s so much to decide!

Learn how to make your own game.

Are you ready for school?

Do you have a preschooler? Would you like them to develop some key skills before starting school? How wonderful to go into school on that first day feeling like you belong.

Get Set Five is a year-long course full of fun and free activities to do with your child.