The Global Puzzle is a 600-piece cardboard puzzle of the world, using the Robinson Projection with the Atlantic Ocean in the center. The finished puzzle is three feet long by a foot and a half wide. All 192 countries, 50 United States, and 13 provinces and territories of Canada are represented.
The first step in making the puzzle is building the frame. This frame shows the degrees of latitude and longitude to make it easier. My eight-year-old son delighted in figuring out where the numbers belonged. (The north/south, east/west notations helped quite a bit.)
Next come the oceans and seas. Better than plain blue, these pieces are printed with all the countries listed in alphabetical order, along with each capital, population, and area. This makes the oceans MUCH easier to assemble, and increases the educational value of the puzzle.
Now it is time to put the countries together. Many, but not all, countries are separate country-shaped pieces. Bigger countries (China, Russia, Brazil) are broken into separate pieces that lock together, and smaller countries (Spain/Portugal, Panama/Costa Rice) are grouped together on one piece. Some of the pieces are tiny, so beware.
Not all the pieces interlock. Most of the frame and the oceans are conventional, interlocking puzzle pieces, but most of the country pieces, because they are divided by border, are not. A few countries were a bit difficult for my younger children; some shifted when bumped, and others bulged at times.
I was a little disappointed with the quality of the puzzle pieces. The top layer of cardboard was peeling up on more than a couple of pieces. My husband said that for a puzzle that has so much potential for use, the quality will not allow it to endure. I would rather pay more and get a better product, especially if it were made of wood.
We set the puzzle up on the coffee table and worked on it over the next five days whenever we felt like it. We estimated the time we actually worked on it to be about four or five hours total. I am sure we will be faster next time. Every one of us felt it greatly increased our geographic literacy. I think all the geography songs we have memorized over the years helped quite a bit. I caught my children singing while sorting the African countries, "Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Mali..."
Overall, I would say that this is a great product for the price. You will be amazed at how much you will learn the first time you put the puzzle together. Happy learning!