My children absolutely love jigsaw puzzles! In the past I have purchased puzzles brand new, mostly on recommendation by others, but now I try hard to only purchase second hand puzzles. The only down side is on occasion there may be missing pieces, which has happened to two of our puzzles that we picked up from an op shop. You also need to keep a continual eye out for quality puzzles as they don’t last long in these stores. Sometimes we also do puzzle swaps with other families.
At almost 3.5 years, my son is working on jigsaw puzzles up to approx 38 pieces. I have a 50 piece puzzle put aside, but it is too much of a challenge at this point. I guess the hardest part if you want to keep Montessori in mind is finding puzzles with real-to-life images and that are of good quality. If you are happy to buy brand new, maybe you have heard of Ravensburger puzzles which I have seen on Ebay and Amazon and lots of other places. These puzzles seem to be of good quality, lots of choice with puzzle images and they seem to have, 100, 200, 300 and 400 piece puzzles available. The downside is all the plastic packaging and the fact that these puzzles are expensive to purchase.
You can take a look my son’s Toddler Puzzle Shelf in June 2015 to see some of the puzzles he worked on when he was younger. We no longer have a designated ‘puzzle shelf’ but keep my children’s puzzles where they can reach them anytime they want to do a puzzle. I think by the end of this year my son will likely be able to work through a 50+ piece puzzle. Luckily my daughter’s no longer used puzzles can go straight to her brother to then use. Any puzzles my son no longer uses goes to his younger cousins. A couple of our Montessori puzzles/materials went to my children’s former Montessori School- Nido classroom (for 0-3 year age group), which will gets lots of use by the other children.
What my daughter is working on at almost 5.5 years;
Overall the 100 piece puzzles we have are creating an ideal amount of challenge (not too easy, not too hard) for my daughter, but I can also see that by the end of the year she may want to work with a 200 piece puzzle. I always loved jigsaw puzzles as a child, and still like to do them as an adult.
I will keep you posted as time goes on, so you can see how my children continue on with jigsaw puzzles if they continue to show an interest in them.