With nearly everyone staying home, people are looking for ways to pass the time. Some are picking up new skills, others are diving into video games, and, more than usual, people are putting together puzzles.
Puzzles, particularly jigsaws, were an incredibly popular form of education for a long time. Recently, though, with the rise of electronics, streaming, audiobooks, etc., puzzles have lost some of their luster. People usually have tons of other options to entertain themselves, but now, with hundreds of millions of Americans quarantining inside, puzzles are picking up steam again.
In fact, they’re in such high demand that there’s a puzzle shortage in the U.S. Manufacturers are seeing record demand for their puzzles, but what made them so popular in the first place?
A Brief History of Puzzles
People have been playing with puzzles for a looooooooong time. Ancient puzzles dating back to 2300 BC have been discovered in Greece, and other forms of puzzles came out of ancient India, China, Egpyt and Rome.
Jigsaw puzzles, the most common kind, emerged in the 1700s in Europe. Painters and map makers would take illustrations and cut them with a jigsaw, splitting them into smaller pieces to be reconstructed for educational or entertainment purposes. Since then, the formula hasn’t changed but the puzzles have become more complicated and widely used.
While most experts agree that puzzles don’t actually make people smarter, they’re intellectually stimulating and engaging. People love overcoming a challenge, and piecing together 1,000 pieces of cardboard to form a beautiful painting is a rewarding achievement. Our love for puzzles is why things like escape rooms are so popular today, and why most newspapers dedicate a page to brain benders in every paper.
The Best Puzzles You Can Buy Online
If you’re looking for an engaging, family-friendly activity to pass some time while in quarantine, here are some great puzzles you can purchase today.
With designs of the Coliseum, White House, Taj Mahal, and London Bridge, these 27.56 x 19.69 inch puzzles come together as beautiful pictures of some of the most famous buildings on earth. While they’re a little complex, with 1,000 pieces each, these can be a fun challenge to work on as a family. “Travel” to all these places from your home!
Some of the first puzzles were cut up maps used to teach kids geography, and this colorful USA map puzzle is an homage to that. If you’re home with kids, this puzzle can be a fun activity that can also serve as a lesson. Plus, each state has some fun landmarks, animals, or flowers, so your kids can learn more than just their name and location.
A blend between legos and puzzles, these three-dimensional puzzles from HSN let you build some of the most famous landmarks, both from the real world and fiction. You can recreate the New York City skyline, construct the White House, or build the Red Keep from Game of Thrones. These puzzles can be a serious challenge, but will help pass a few hours while you work.
This foam puzzle is perfect for younger kids, as it’s recommended for ages four and up. It makes a fun craft project, and also creates a picture of two of the most popular Disney characters today. It’s a must if your kids are Frozen fans!
While it might be a nice idea to try picking up painting while in quarantine, a good alternative is this puzzle of one of the most famous pieces of art ever. Starry Night’s blended colors and unique design make it a fun challenge, and the manufacturer recommends that anyone 12 or older can take a shot at this.
Buyer beware: this puzzle is designed to be an extreme challenge. Although it may look simple, this gradient puzzle is so difficult because of how subtle the differences between each piece are. If you’re willing to really twist your brain, give this unique puzzle a shot.
By the time you finish this crystal elephant puzzle, it’ll seem like you’ve created a work of art. This sleek puzzle is a bit more simple than it looks too. It’s comprised of just 46 pieces that easily interlock, so without too much work you can have two beautiful crystal elephants on display in your home.