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Jigsaw puzzles fascinate young and old alike. The puzzle was invented in England in the 18th century and was initially used for educational purposes. It was the task of schoolchildren to put broken wooden maps together correctly so that they could better learn which countries could be found where.
Today, we mainly do puzzles for fun and relaxation. This pastime has a clearly positive effect on the brain and mind, as it trains concentration and short-term memory in a playful way. While we are looking for a matching piece in a puzzle, we not only have the finished motif in view, but also scan colors and shapes and memorize features. This sharpens our ability to recognize details and our spatial imagination. All ages can benefit from this type of brain training.
Interestingly, researchers have found that puzzling actually releases the happiness hormone dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is part of the so-called reward system. It is important for concentration and conveys positive feelings that make us happy and relaxed. When we take on the challenge of a jigsaw puzzle, we always have a small sense of achievement that puts us in a good mood in spurts until we can successfully look at the completed motif at the end.
Children and young people in particular can also learn to develop problem-solving strategies through puzzles. For example, the aim of a puzzle is to find out the best way to put the motif together. This requires perseverance and patience and also trains frustration tolerance. This characteristic plays an important role in all situations in life. With a high frustration tolerance, it is easier to deal constructively with setbacks and draw new motivation from them in a positive sense.
The level of difficulty of a puzzle is largely determined by the number of puzzle pieces. Puzzles for young children only consist of a few pieces. However, as they get older, they can solve increasingly complex puzzles, so the number of puzzle pieces can steadily increase. Most manufacturers state that puzzles with 500 pieces can be solved on their own from the age of around 10. Some puzzle-loving children may be able to do this at the age of 8-9. Especially in this age group, a jigsaw puzzle is a shared pastime that makes many a rainy Sunday pass quickly and relaxed. Together with parents, grandparents or siblings, a wide variety of motifs can be laid out in peace and quiet with a warm cup of cocoa. With practice, the child can soon move on to a puzzle with 1000 pieces.
According to Ravensburger, the puzzle size of 500 to 1000 pieces is also the most popular with most adults. In this size, the puzzle promises a relaxed pastime without testing patience too much. In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, Ravensburger press officer Janina Bücheler explains that experienced puzzlers can solve a 1000-piece puzzle in around 15 hours. For most people, it is important to create a distance from everyday worries and to find a way of slowing down. Putting many small individual pieces together to form a large whole seems to offer a fulfillment that runs through all levels.
From a size of over 1000 puzzle pieces, we move into the area for advanced puzzle enthusiasts. With 1500 pieces and 2000 pieces, the range initially continues in small steps so that everyone can slowly feel their way into the higher puzzle league. For puzzles with 3000 pieces or more, it is increasingly important to allow plenty of time. Such a motif cannot be completed over the weekend, but requires patience and perseverance as well as sufficient space, which should be planned for. If a table cannot be occupied with the puzzle for a longer period of time, rollable puzzle mats can help to tidily put the puzzle away in the meantime. Jigsaw puzzles with 4000 or even 5000 pieces also pose great challenges for puzzle fans. A huge step further are puzzles for real professionals. These puzzles consist of 10,000 pieces or even more and require enormous stamina and mental fitness. Anyone who has completed such a large puzzle can truly call themselves a master.
In addition to the number of puzzle pieces, the motif also determines the level of difficulty of a puzzle.
Large image sections in a constant color tone can make a puzzle just as difficult as motifs that show different color nuances but of one and the same color. Clear contours and rich contrasts simplify a puzzle, which is why beginners in particular should initially choose such motifs, even for puzzles with many pieces. For example, a photo of a sunset over the sea is a much more difficult motif than a row of colorful and clearly delineated houses. Ultimately, however, the motif must suit the person who wants to puzzle it. An individually appealing motif, which in itself triggers positive emotions when viewed, can be solved with significantly more enthusiasm.
The range of puzzle motifs is almost endless. Nature lovers will find a wide range of nature photographs from the world of flora and fauna. Travel enthusiasts will find famous sights, dream beaches or skylines of major cities. Art lovers can enjoy a wide range of jigsaw puzzles of real works of art. Classics such as Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” or van Gogh’s “Café Terrace in the Evening” can be found on the puzzle table at home, as can a Marilyn Monroe bursting with bright colors, staged by Andy Warhol. Motifs from films, fairy tales or fantasy worlds whisk the puzzler away to foreign climes and make them forget everyday life.
What could be more beautiful?