Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle Review – the Human Abdomen

Tell me you’re a homeschooler without telling me you’re a homeschooler. I’ll go first: we just completed an intestine puzzle. There are some activities which just scream “homeschooler”, you know what I mean? Assembling the internal organs of the human abdomen in jigsaw form is definitely one of those moments.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle – the Human Abdomen from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions β€” and photographs! ;) β€” are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

The Timberdoodle Curriculum Company is a great source for hands-on science enrichment and supplemental science activities

I love hands-on science enrichment, but I’m not huge fan of setting up science experiments. (It’s okay if you don’t enjoy that either. You’re not going to lose your homeschooler card.)

While labs are obviously essential for a lot of higher-level science courses, here are still tons of other ways — like detailed medical puzzles! — to supplement science without adding in more experiments.

Timberdoodle offers super fun science curriculum that’s different than what you see in most homeschool catalogs.

Timberdoodle does a great job sourcing truly engaging material from all sorts of unique vendors — like this massive, anatomically-correct, highly detailed jigsaw puzzle of intestines and other abdominal organs!

These seven medically-accurate human anatomy puzzles link together to create a 10-foot body

This abdomen puzzle is actually one in a series of seven giant Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles created by Genius Games:

Each volume is a complete, stand-alone puzzle. The abdomen alone is two feet tall and nearly two feet across at its widest point. And if you collect and assemble all seven, you can push them together to create a super cadaver that’s ten feet long!

Can you imagine all seven Dr. Livingston anatomy puzzles together?! We don’t even have space for that many puzzles — a single 24×22″ abdomen was a challenge for us — but if you scroll down toward the end of this link, you’ll see some images of the ten-foot set-up. Isn’t it insane?

Yes, that’s an old medical poster of the gastrointestinal tract in the background. It’s how we roll.

What ages are the Dr. Livingston Anatomy Puzzles recommended for?

First off, a spoiler alert: this puzzle was not easy. It’s large, incredibly detailed, and not easy.

The product listing indicates it’s best for students age 14+. Timberdoodle places Volume 1: The Human Head in its 6th Grade Curriculum Kit, and Volume II: the Human Thorax in its 11th Grade Curriculum Kit.

How difficult is the abdomen puzzle?

Aveline, who will begin fifth grade next month and is “crazy about anatomy” found it very challenging, so by the end of the puzzle, it had evolved into a whole-family project.

It’s a complex puzzle! Particularly with the abdomen, there are a lot of fleshy-hued pieces, and even the edge pieces are all extraordinarily similar. Almost all of the 500+ pieces are the same color, with the exception of the gallbladder, and a flash of blue and red for the arteries and veins. This is a delight for serious puzzlers, but may quickly cause frustration for less-enthused participants.

Do you actually learn anatomy as you assemble the puzzle?

Yes, absolutely! There’s a small picture of the completed abdomen on the front, but when you open the box — it snaps shut with a magnetic closure — you can view a much larger image. This larger reference image is labeled, not just with basic organ names like pancreas, stomach, and small intestine, but with anatomical details such as

  • superior mesenteric vein,
  • internal oblique muscle,
  • jejunum,
  • right colic hepatic flexure of the large intestine, and
  • so many more.

Especially since we worked on this as a group, we heard ourselves saying things like “I’m looking for the little white pieces that are the falciform ligament,” or, “Put all the intestinal pink ones over here”. Aveline really enjoyed seeing the magnified details come to life on the puzzle itself as we assembled it.

It’s definitely educational, not just gimmicky. In fact, the Dr. Livingston series of puzzles are all illustrated by Mesa Schumacher, a Johns Hopkins-educated and board-certified medical illustrator. These puzzles are the real deal.

We also were amused to find a little bit of medical humor hidden in the puzzle — kind of like an easter egg in a video game. See the gallbladder here? It’s the only organ in this abdomen puzzle that’s totally removable in its entirety.

Dr. Livingston’s complex 500+ piece human anatomy puzzles are great way to add meaningful, accurate hands-on enrichment for upper-level biology students, or younger kids who are exceptionally obsessed with puzzles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is web_anatomy-jigsaw-puzzle-57-2.jpg

While I’ve seen a lot of educational biology puzzles, even oversized ones, they’ve all been quite basic: heart, liver, brain, rib cage, femur, and so on. I’ve never seen one so incredibly detailed, or so accurate as the Dr. Livingston Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles.

The accuracy means these puzzles would be right at home alongside a bonafide high school or college-level anatomy and physiology course. And the complexity means they’d make a great match for serious puzzlers, even those who aren’t studying biology right now.

Click through to shop the entire line of Dr. Livingston Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzles from Timberdoodle!

If you enjoyed this review, why not check out some more of our favorite hands-on learning tools and homeschool curriculum from Timberdoodle?

Check back soon, too! I’ll be reviewing Code Rocket next month, from Timberdoodle’s excellent collection of STEM homeschool curriculum.


4 thoughts on “Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle Review – the Human Abdomen”

  1. It’s so rewarding to see a child take such an interest in the incredible workings of the human body. Truly a wonder of creation! The artwork in these puzzles is so wonderful, too.


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