From Melissa: The Story Behind Our Passion for Puzzles!

January kicks off our series From Melissa, a special corner of The Playtime Press where Melissa shares the stories behind some of our most beloved toys! This month, Melissa tells us how she and Doug created Melissa & Doug’s first fuzzy puzzle.

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January is National Puzzle Month, which brings me back to the early days of puzzles and why puzzles were not only our VERY FIRST category of wooden products, but the dearest to my heart!!!

I am convinced that EVERY CHILD needs puzzles in their young lives for proper development, as puzzles are one of the key building blocks to early learning.  Here are a few reasons why:

  • Manipulating the pieces of a puzzle develops the small hand muscles of children.  Fine motor skills are so important to young children, yet take lots of practice and repetition to properly develop, which puzzles encourage!
  • Puzzles are also crucial for helping build eye-hand coordination.  The need to use visual clues like color, shape, or pattern in order to fit pieces together helps develop this skill.
  • Puzzles can also help teach and reinforce early identification and recognition of objects such as letters, numbers, shapes, colors, and animals, and help build vocabulary and descriptive skills.
  • Finally, puzzles help  build the important skills of memory and confidence.  Children love to master completing the puzzle, and then engage in the repetition of putting the puzzle together faster and faster, since puzzles are self correcting and only fit together one way.  Completing the puzzle again and again gives children a tremendous sense of accomplishment and builds their confidence!

Our first puzzle was a brainstorm based on one of Doug’s and my favorite childhood books, Pat the Bunny.  We loved the tactile, sensory aspect of the book, and believed that incorporating texture into a puzzle would be appealing to young children.  Thus our first two puzzles, the Farm and Jungle fuzzy puzzles were born!

Bit of trivia: At one point, we had over a dozen fuzzy puzzles, including fuzzy faces and shapes puzzles!!! Twenty-five (yes we are OLD!!!) years later, we have freshened up the graphics, but our two original themed farm and jungle (safari) tactile puzzles are still in the line!!!

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In honor of National Puzzle Month, we will be sharing your favorite puzzle photos on our blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages! Send your submission to socialmedia@melissaanddoug.com, or hashtag #MDPUZZLEPARTY.