Make Your Own Puzzles for Kids
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Completing a puzzle gives a child a sense of accomplishment and a chance to develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and problem-solving skills. Knowing how to make puzzles helps parents keep little hands active and engaged—and even slips a little learning in under the guise of fun!
If your toybox includes Lego or Duplex blocks, you can make quick block puzzles for children. For very young children, draw the outline of individual blocks on paper and ask them to match the block to the drawing. As the child progresses, you can trace around larger groupings of blocks, so the child has to fit multiple blocks into the tracing.
Another quick puzzle, all this involves is cutting a photo or picture into squares and asking the child to put them in order. The fronts of old cereal boxes are ideal for this, or you can print a photo of the child, paste it to cardboard, and then cut it into squares. Have a small box or bag on hand to keep all the puzzle parts in the same place—no one wants to almost finish a picture of their own face only to be missing a nose or eye!
When you’re a child, the most important word in the world is your own name—it’s a driving force behind the popularity of our own personalized puzzles. Name puzzles take advantage of this fascination to teach letter recognition and early reading skills. To make a name puzzle you’ll need:
- A long piece of construction paper long enough to write the child’s name in large letters
- Wallpaper samples
How to make puzzles from your child’s name? Just write each letter of the name on its own wallpaper sample, cut the letters out, and paste them to the construction paper. You could skip this step and just use a marker to spell the child’s name, but the wallpaper samples provide a nice texture, increasing the puzzle’s sensory stimulation.
When glue dries, cut the puzzle into individual letters. Ideally, each letter should be four or five inches high, making them easy for little hands to manipulate, so you need a large piece of construction paper for the puzzle base.
Tangrams are a brain-teasing puzzle from China with a history going back centuries. A square is cut into a pre-set collection of squares, triangles, and shapes, which can be used to make hundreds of different patterns, including shapes of animals and people.
A quick search for tangrams online will provide you with a template for the tangram pieces. Print it out on firm paper and cut out the shapes. You’ll also find hundreds of shapes to make with the tangrams online. Even getting the pieces to re-form a square can be challenging, so tangrams are best suited for older children.
How to Make Puzzles with Jigsaw Templates
Speaking of the internet, you can find DIY jigsaw puzzle templates online, many of which are simple enough for children. Learning how to make puzzles with these templates is easy.
Print the puzzle template on a piece of paper, and paste it to a piece of firm cardboard. Paste a photo on the other side of the cardboard and let it all dry. Using sharp scissors or a craft knife, carefully cut the puzzle into pieces by following the template.