Are you up for a challenge? We don’t mean a physical challenge. We’re talking about a mental challenge. It’s time to give your brain a workout!

How can you do that? Well, you could read or study or do homework. But you do plenty of that already. One of the best ways to give your brain a workout is by doing puzzles.

Do you love puzzles? Today, there are thousands and thousands of different types of puzzles. From jigsaw puzzles and Sudoku to crossword puzzles and anagrams, there’s no shortage of brain benders out there to fill your time.

Most kids love a variety of different kinds of puzzles. They’re just fun to do in your spare time. But they can also be very educational. In fact, puzzles may seem like they’re just for fun, but they got their start as educational tools.

Way back in 1760, a mapmaker from London named John Spilsbury created the first jigsaw puzzle. He mounted one of his handmade maps onto a thin sheet of wood and cut around the borders of the countries with a saw.

The result was an educational tool that he used to help children learn geography. His invention caught on and, for the next 60 years or so, jigsaw puzzles were mainly used as educational tools. If you’ve ever done a puzzle of the United States where you had to fit all the states into their proper spots, you’ve done a puzzle similar to the first puzzles invented hundreds of years ago.

Over time, jigsaw puzzles developed into a fun pastime that went beyond just educational value. In the late 1800s, cardboard puzzles were developed. Wooden puzzles continued to be more popular for a time, but cheaper cardboard puzzles eventually grew in popularity.

In the 1920s and 1930s, many companies began to manufacture a wide variety of jigsaw puzzles with interesting artwork. More difficult puzzles were created to appeal to adults as well as children. Puzzles also began to be used as giveaways to introduce people to new products.

In 1932, some companies began to produce weekly jigsaw puzzles. What began with a small initial supply soon grew to hundreds of thousands of new puzzles each week.

Although it was during the Great Depression, these puzzles sold well, perhaps because they provided a lot of entertainment for a small price. In addition, they could be shared with friends and family members. Some experts believe the process of solving a puzzle may have helped reduce some of the stress of the Great Depression, too.

Today, people enjoy puzzles just as much as they did decades ago. Modern technology has evolved and, with it, so have puzzles. You can now do all sorts of puzzles on smartphones and tablet computers!

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    • That’s great news, Wonder Friend Shimoly! We are so happy to hear that you enjoy puzzles as much as we do! HOORAY for cool ways to use our imagination! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Crystal! Jigsaw puzzles were made using a special type of saw– a jigsaw! We are glad you’ve been WONDERing about puzzles of all kinds today! :)

  1. I did not know it would be this I thought it would be how much gold is left in the world. I thought that was the one. Anyway I still did like the video. I think tomorrow’s would be something like this: How do you make pizza? Well it was fun posting these comments.

    • We like your guess for our Wonder, Pedro! We’re so happy that you shared it with us, and even though today’s Wonder is about puzzles, we’re so glad you like it! We are getting hungry thinking about your guess for tomorrow! YUM! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend James! We’re sorry to hear today’s Wonder is not your favorite, but we appreciate your comment. We Wonder what your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder is? :)

  2. I am in Mrs.Hess’s class right now and my classmates, too! WoW! How did the puzzles work? Who invited puzzles? who is the first person playing puzzles? I think this video is nice to see the picture of a person!

    I think tomorrow’s WONDER would be about… Who is the great cooker? Who is the first person eating foods and drinks? Who is the first person mading foods? Do they have contests for eating and drinks?

    P.S. I LOVE YOUR WONDERFUL WEBSITE IS http://WWW.WONDEROPOLIS.ORG! :0 :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Kathy! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment with us today! Have you tried your hand at a puzzle before? We bet you and some Wonder Friends would have a great time! We learned about the man who created the very first puzzle, Mr. John Spilsbury, but we’re not certain who the first person to use it was.

      Thanks for sharing all your WONDERful guesses for tomorrow! We are so happy you’re here! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Jaaron! We’re sorry to hear that today’s Wonder video wasn’t your favorite, but we’re glad you visited us today! We sure hope to see you soon! :)

  3. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for the awesome wonder and challenge. We have a wooden puzzle like the one in the picture for today’s wonder. We are currently trying to solve it, without much luck yet!

    We think tomorrow’s wonder might be about fruit, Valentines, or even Fat Tuesday.

    Thanks for the wonder,
    Mrs. Tillman’s 4th graders

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us this morning, Mrs. Tillmans’s 4th grade class! We bet you are becoming puzzle masters with all your practice! It sounds like you’ll be able to solve that puzzle as a team in no time! Keep up the great work, we’re proud of you! :)

  4. WOW! Thanks for sharing this wonder with us this morning, Wonderopolis! We learned so much about the development of puzzles. We have lots of educational puzzles in our classroom and we have lots of fun completing them during centers and spare time!
    Until tomorrow,
    Miss Hobson’s Kinders :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment with us this morning, Miss Hobson’s Kinders! We think the best kinds of puzzles are fun AND educational, just like the one you described! We look forward to WONDERing with you tomorrow! See you then! :)

  5. This is our first day wondering. We like puzzles, especially Aunt Birdie Fish Puzzles. We think tomorrow’s wonder will be popcorn, bubblegum, dark chocolate, or cinnamon.

    • Hello to our new Wonder Friends from Jarrettown 3rd grade! Thanks for visiting us today! Your Auntie Birdie Fish puzzles sound SUPER cool, thanks for telling us about them!

      Tomorrow you are in for a treat… we’re getting hungry just thinking about it! Have a WONDERful Wednesday! :)

    • We learned that puzzles, from the very beginning, had been made of wood, Wonder Friends! Then, as cardboard became a less expensive option, puzzles made of cardboard become available! We Wonder if you have seen puzzles made of anything other than wood or cardboard? :)

  6. Thoughts: We think today’s wonder was really cool because we learned how some puzzles can be different. In this wonder we learned about the inventor of the first puzzle. It was interesting learning how at first puzzles were used as educational tools and now they’re mainly for fun (but they’re also brain workouts as well). We are interested in learning more about John Spilsbury (we like the name). We wonder what the most popular puzzle is.

    Predictions: Have you ever had peanut butter and crackers? Where did candy come from? What candy has the least amount of sugar? How does candy get its sweetness? What is the most popular food containing cheese? What is most famous kind of syrup? Who was the first person to consume food and/or drinks? What gives you a sugar high (rush)? What are cocoa beans? What would be an appropriate candy to eat? Have you made pizza? How is honey made? What is healthy candy? What makes treats so sweet? What is the sweetest candy in the world? What makes people like candy? What is frozen yogurt?

    We’re already HUNGRY.

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed today’s puzzling Wonder, Mrs. Hess’ Class! We like the challenge of a good puzzle- it’s fun to try something new! We want to try a 3-D puzzle in the future– they look super cool! Our guess for the most popular puzzle is the original– the United States! :)

      All your guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder have us licking our lips! YUM! We can’t wait to get creative in the kitchen tomorrow! See you then! :)

  7. Hello! Thank you for the brain benders! A brain a bender is when you use your mind thinking to solve the puzzle or problem.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Mrs. Utter’s Kindergarten Class! We are so glad you’re here today; you taught us a new phrase: brain benders! :-)

  8. That is an awesome way to do a puzzle. I’m home sick and bored so was wondering what was on wonderopolis. I think that puzzles are fun so I’m doing one right now, it is a picture of a dog.

    • We hope you’re feeling better soon, Baconator! We are glad your using your awesome imagination to complete that dog puzzle! Nice work! :)

  9. We know that the first puzzle was made from a map glued to wood. Why did puzzles change from wood to cardboard?

    • You’re right, Wonder Friends in Mrs. T’s Third Grade Class- wooden puzzles were around from the very beginning! However, wood is more expensive than other materials, such as cardboard. Cardboard does not cost very much and money was tight during the Great Depression. Cardboard puzzles became popular because they were inexpensive and provided lots of fun for many hours! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment with us today! :)

  10. Puzzles on electronic devices are not ideal for educational purposes and even for fun. The act of touching a puzzle piece, or a pencil to paper, is great for children, especially those who have a kinestetic learning style. However, smartphone and tablet versions of the classic puzzles are quite different. Physical jigsaw puzzles can help children with their fine motor skills, but dragging a “puzzle piece” across a touchscreen does not.

    I think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about a type of fruit.

    • Hey there, Tori, thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment! We are so glad you pointed out the different benefits of all types of puzzles- from physical puzzles to those used with electronics. We think it’s important to remember that different age groups will learn in different ways, as you mentioned children learning from the act of touching a puzzle piece. Older folks may enjoy playing sudoku with pencil and paper or on an electronic tablet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will be! :)

  11. Hi Wonderopolis,
    What really puzzles us today, is how you come up with each new impossible Wonder?
    We are wondering who invented that virtual puzzle? That must have been hard to invent. That was cool. Where could we get one?
    We never realized how many puzzles there were that are good for your brain. We brainstormed and come up with about 15 different “kinds” of puzzles that we have at school and/or home.

    Our Predictions: dark chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, granola bars, fruit, oatmeal or cupcakes.

    • Hello to our awesome Wonder Friends, the PinkPanthers! We’re smiling as we read your comment today– we keep WONDERing thanks to great friends like you! We always enjoy when you visit!

      We aren’t sure where to buy a virtual puzzle right now, but perhaps you can do some more research on your own! A local college or university may be working on a project similar to the one in the Wonder video! Thanks for brainstorming about different types of puzzles– there are so many that we can’t wait to try them all!

      We love your guesses… and we’re getting hungry just thinking about chocolate, fruit and cupcakes! Y-U-M! :-)

  12. I am home sick and we do wonderopolis in Mrs. Gardner’s 4th grade class so I thought this wouldn’t be a bad idea what other ones do you recommend?

  13. Cool puzzle!! I was wondering if you could make the world’s biggest puzzle with that. I think you could because it is digital, but I want to know for sure. Thanks for the great wonder!!

    • That is a SUPER idea, Dimitri! We like your idea about creating the largest virtual puzzle– that way, anyone who is interested can be a part of it! We know that the largest puzzle is 24,000 pieces, so we’ll have to get started with this one! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment and idea! :)

  14. Hey Wonderopolis,
    Happy world wide digital learning day! Did you that there is only a month until the playoffs starts in my hockey league? I learned a lot about puzzles in this wonder. I love puzzles.
    I have to go so bye.
    From
    Mushkale

    • Happy Digital Learning Day to you, too, Mushkale! What a nice way to say hello! We Wonder how your class is celebrating today’s awesome digital day? We are so excited about all the new things we’re learning!

      Thanks for sharing your comment about puzzles today- we’re glad to hear you enjoy them as much as we do! HOORAY!

      We bet you’re getting excited for hockey playoffs– keep practicing and having fun on the ice! We’ll be cheering for you all the way from Wonderopolis! Good luck! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your awesome guesses for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®, Mr. Grundy’s class! We look forward to tomorrow’s culinary Wonder! YUM! :)

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us, Diva! We bet you can do some research of your own about guinea pigs- they are pretty cool animals! We are glad you asked about puzzles, too! Wonder Friends in Mrs. T’s class asked about wood and cardboard puzzles, too! Cardboard is a less expensive material than wood, so it was easier to make lots of puzzles for less than the cost of wooden puzzles! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends from Ms. Fulenwider’s Class! We’re so glad you’re here today! We don’t have the game available, but it looks cool in the Wonder video! Perhaps this will be a new way to try puzzles– through virtual means! Thanks for sharing your comment today! :)

  15. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Our class loves to do word searches. Last year we made a puzzle with the Map of Canada on it – it had 100 pieces. We wonder what the map for the first puzzle was a map of? We also wonder how many pieces it had? We wonder how many different puzzles are being sold in stores today – we think there is a million. We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about fruit, gummies, juice, candy apples or caramel apples!

    • We’re so happy our Wonder Friends from Mrs. Chevalier’s Class are here today! HOORAY! Puzzles are great fun, and good for your brain, too! We think your Canada puzzle sounds AWESOME! We’re so proud of you!

      We bet you can do some more research about the different puzzles being sold in the world, we’d love to know, too! Thanks for using your imaginations to Wonder with us today, you ROCK! See you tomorrow! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Crystal! We are so happy you’re here today! The largest puzzle is 24,000 pieces- WOW! We know there are lots of different materials used when it comes to making puzzles, and plastic is one of them! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • We hope you can try a virtual puzzle some day, Wonder Friends in Miss Beidler’s Class! Keep up the great WONDERing! :)

  16. Hi wonderopolis I have a question do jigsaw puzzles have to be 5,000 puzzle pieces? Oh great wonder I wonder if tomorrow’s wonder will be about jewels.

    • Puzzles can be puzzles in lots of ways, and they don’t have to be 5,000 pieces, Wonder Friend! From simpler puzzles with 10-12 pieces all the way to 24,000 piece puzzles, there are lots of ways to exercise your brain! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

    • YUM, we’re getting hungry just thinking about tomorrow’s Wonder, Crystal! Thanks for being a great Wonder Friend, we’re so happy you visited us today! :)

    • What a great way to describe what puzzles are like, Nikolas! We like your simile,”…Because they are like exercise for your head.” Thank you for visiting us today- you ROCK! :)

  17. Hey Wonderopolis! I just wanted to say a few things today. Our class has been doing homework about Wonderopolis. Our teacher, Mrs. Hess, gives us a passage about a Wonder. Then we write down what we learned, what was the main idea of this text, would you do more reasearch on this topic, and if you were to make tomorrow’s wonder what would it be. After we finish that we pick 1 Wonder Word and then we make a poster of this Wonder Word. After that we turn it into school and Mrs. Hess looks at them. We have a mini economy so if she thinks we did a great job on a wonder we get to hang in up in the back of the room. We have about 20 hung up by now.

    Also I was WONDERing if you have a skype! I also am trying to make my own WONDER from my dad’s recorder thing. Sorry I don’t know what it’s called. But again if you do have a skype it would be well appreciated! :) :) :)

    • WOW, thanks for sharing all your cool homework information with us, Andrew! It sounds like a LOT of fun, and it reminds us of how we begin our research for Wonders of the Day! You’ll be a SUPER journalist with all this practice!

      We are picturing your awesome Wonder wall in the back of the room- it sounds like a SUPER place to display what you learned!

      Thank you for asking about Skype– it would be awesome to connect with all our Wonder Friends in the world! While we don’t have Skype, but we are so glad we can communicate on this site! We hope your recording goes well… please keep us posted! Great job, Andrew! :)

  18. WoW a lot of my classmates are here today! By the way, can’t wait for tomorrow. You guys must love your job working on wonderopolis. I always wonder how we create websites for free. Wonderopolis. You ALWAYS trick us in every guesses. So I’m not sure if tomorrow is about sugar or candy! :D

    • Hey there, Ky Duyen Quang, we’re so glad you and your Wonder classmates have been visiting us today! HOORAY! We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® will be… we’re getting hungry just thinking about it! We like to use our awesome imaginations when we guess the next Wonder… sometimes it’s tougher than it seems! Thanks for being a SUPER Wonder Friend- we love when you visit! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your enthusiastic comment, Wonder Friend Andrew! We’re so glad you’re here! Thanks for being a super Wonder Friend! :)

    • We are thrilled to share our Wonders with your awesome classroom, Mrs. Goneau! Thank you for sharing the Wonder with your students- we are so happy to be a part of your class! Keep up the great work– you are all amazing WONDERers! :)

    • Hey there, Megan! Thanks for sharing your comment! We hope you’ll Wonder on your own and look for the answer to your awesome question! Try asking your librarian for help, or do some WONDERing on the Internet! We look forward to hearing what you find! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Anna! We are so glad you shared your awesome Wonder with us! Perhaps you can do some research of your own to find out more! :)

    • We LOVE math, Jackson, and sometimes we don’t even know we’re using it! Thanks so much for sharing your WONDERful comment with us today! :)

    • That sounds like a puzzle alright, Joel! It must be tough to decide what to wear every morning! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! :)

  19. Once I have watched a video it almost made me start to cry. :) Have you ever heard about ANY of these games? Animal Jam, Wolfhome, Wolfquest, Free Realms, Wizard101???? Sorry that I changed the subject the video had a soft ending.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Luna! Thanks for sharing your comment about puzzles and games of all sorts! We are going to have to check out the games you mentioned… we aren’t familiar with those games YET! :)

      Have a SUPER day! :)

  20. PUZZLES ARE REALLY INTERESTING AND FUN TO DO. I LOVE PUZZLES AND THEY ARE A GOOD EXERCISE TO OUR BRAIN. THIS WAS A GREAT WONDER!

    • Great point, Lauren, we’re so glad you’ve been WONDERing about puzzles of all kinds with us today! HOORAY for using your WONDERful brain! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What puzzles you?
  • Who invented the jigsaw puzzle?
  • What was the purpose of the first jigsaw puzzles?

Wonder Gallery

PuzzleVimeo Video

Try It Out

So what puzzles you? Do you have a friend or family member who is a puzzle master? If so, recruit that person to help you explore one or more of the following activities.

  • Test your skill at putting together a puzzle! Find a puzzle that you and a friend or family member can put together at the kitchen table. You can check local discount stores for a wide variety of inexpensive puzzles that will provide hours and hours of fun. You can even turn it into a challenge. Get two puzzles of the same size and difficulty and have a race to see who can finish first!
  • If you don’t have any puzzles around the house, you can jump online instead and try one of these fun jigsaw puzzles:

For an even bigger challenge, try this fascinating online puzzle:

If you’re up for a real challenge, make your own jigsaw puzzle. You can color or paint your own design, or use the computer for a fun creative activity.  Design something that you think would make a challenging puzzle. Can your friends solve your puzzle? Bring your puzzle to school and challenge them to put it together while you watch!

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ Finding Satisfactory Solutions lesson, children explore aspects of problem-solving and practice creative problem-solving strategies in the context of a story problem.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s sweet Wonder of the Day is tasty and just might be good for you, too!

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