As usual, this was entirely child led. Cian (2 years and 5 months) invented these jigsaw games himself and will play them for hours, either by himself or with company.


  • Number jigsaw (although you can use any numbers for this)


Hiding jigsaw pieces

For his first game, Cian hides the numbers behind his back, one at a time. He asks, “Where’s nine?’ before finding the number and putting it back in the jigsaw. For some reason, he always counts backwards from nine to zero for this game, whereas in any other game he invents, he counts upwards.

He loves playing this repeatedly and will happily go and find Pilli (our dog) and play alongside her.

Spotting the missing number

Cian made up this game with Finny. He would ask Finn to close his eyes, then Cian would hide a jigsaw piece. Finny had to spot which number Cici had hidden.

Now Cian likes to spot the missing number himself and always finds the game funny.

Sometimes he will just cover his eyes with his hands, other times he hides his eyes behind a cushion.

They now take it in turns hiding a number (or three!) for the other to identify. Luckily, Finny’s very patient and will play this on loop with his little brother.

Matching numbers

Cian brought the wooden numbers over and was pointing them out to me, so I asked him if he could match them to the numbers in the jigsaw. This was quite difficult as the number 4 and 9 look very different.

Afterwards, Cici chose to line the numbers up in order, rather than just matching one number at a time. Finn asked him to look closely at his number 3 and 5, which were facing the wrong way. Finny also showed him that if you put the numbers above or below the jigsaw, depending on which side the number was closest to, it split the numbers into even numbers (above) and odd numbers (below).

DfES Early Years Outcomes (2013)


Number – 16 to 26 months

  • Knows that things exist, even when out of sight.
  • Beginning to organise and categorise objects, e.g. putting all the teddy bears together or teddies and cars in separate piles.
  • Says some counting words randomly.

Number – 22 to 36 months

  • Selects a small number of objects from a group when asked, for example, ‘please give me one’, ‘please give me two’.
  • Recites some number names in sequence.
  • Creates and experiments with symbols and marks representing ideas of number.
  • Begins to make comparisons between quantities.

Shape, space and measures – 16 to 26 months

  • Attempts, sometimes successfully, to fit shapes into spaces on inset boards or jigsaw puzzles.
  • Uses blocks to create their own simple structures and arrangements.

Shape, space and measures – 22 to 36 months

  • Notices simple shapes and patterns in patterns.
  • Beginning to categorise objects according to properties such as shape or size.
  • Begins to use the language of size.