Got a stack of puzzles your kids seem to have outgrown? Check out this collection of ideas for “breathing new life” into your puzzles by using them for storytelling, art projects, scavenger hunts, and much more!
Read on for a hefty roundup of 17 clever ways to re-purpose your child’s favorite puzzles…
(HINT: If after reading this post you still decide you need some new puzzles for your little ones, check out our handy Age-by-Age Puzzle Guide Infographic to get our experts’ puzzle recommendations for everyone from babies to big kids!)
Guest Blogger Julie Kieras (Happy Strong Home) shares her quick and clever tips for how to use puzzles to build children’s story-telling skills. You’ll get sample questions to ask as you lead your kids to use their favorite puzzles to CREATE STORIES containing the five narrative elements of Characters, Setting, Dialogue, Action, and Conflict. HINT: Start by recreating a familiar story that your kids already know (Julie recommends Click, Clack, Moo). Peg or chunky puzzles work especially well, as each piece becomes a handy kid-sized manipulative to bring your child’s story to life. What a great way to refresh and reuse puzzles your kids have outgrown! Get Julie’s tips in her full post “Storytelling with Peg Puzzles.”
If your child has outgrown Knob Puzzles, extend their life by using a label maker to spell the words associated with each picture on or under each piece. Now your puzzles are READING and SPELLING tools for your growing little one, too! Or use puzzles for ART TIME and FINE-MOTOR PRACTICE by having children trace around the pieces and color them in to try to replicate the piece. Get more great tips for re-purposing your Knob Puzzles in “4 More Ways to Play (and Learn!) with Jumbo Knob Puzzles.”
Guest Blogger Joyce (Childhood Beckons) shares her tips for creating magnetic puzzles using easy adhesive magnets. Imagine cooking dinner while just steps away your child happily puts together a favorite puzzle RIGHT ON THE REFRIGERATOR DOOR! How cool of a surprise would that be for your child to re-use puzzles in this way? It’s genius, right? Read about Joyce’s great puzzle idea in her full post: “Magnetic Puzzle Play.”
Once children have done a puzzle a number of times — or as they get older — you might need to spruce up Puzzle Time. Blog Ambassador Amy Mascott (Teach Mama) offers up ideas like a PUZZLE MASH-UP (combining pieces from several puzzles together in a pile on the floor and having kids work together or race to complete all the puzzles at once. Read Amy’s full post for 4 other inspirational ideas for BIGTIME puzzle fun.
Here’s a puzzle roundup within a puzzle roundup! Earlier this year we compiled five tips into a post celebrating National Puzzle Day (January 29). You can use these puzzle ideas year-round, though. In the full post, Blog Ambassador Amy Mascott (Teach Mama) offers her 3 tips for using FLOOR PUZZLES to work on skills like counting, categorizing, pattern recognition, story-telling, research, and more! See the roundup in its entirety by clicking here.
Use puzzles depicting different occupations as a conversation starter to ask your little one: “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?” Have children dress up, act out, or draw what they hope to be when they get older. Snap a picture of them dressed up or keep your child’s drawing, and write your child’s age on the back to see how their ideas change as they age. (Remember to tell them what YOU wanted to be when you grew up and how that did — or didn’t — change as you became a grown-up.) More on talking to your kids about different occupations can be found in our full post here.
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As you can see, puzzles are extremely versatile toys.
Blog Ambassador Zina Harrington (Lasso the Moon) shared some of her girls’ favorite Melissa & Doug puzzle toys in her post “Foster Imagination with Battery-Free Toys.” A few of her top picks (with corresponding links in a bulleted list to follow) are shown below:
- House Pets Jumbo Knob Puzzle – 3 Pieces
- Jumbo Stacking Train Wooden Playset
- Wooden USA Map Puzzle
- Stack & Sort Board
- The Infinite Cosmos Cardboard Jigsaw Puzzle – 300 Pieces
- Underwater Floor Puzzle – 48 Pieces
- Farm Cube Puzzle
If these favorite puzzles don’t match your children’s interests or abilities, check out our entire selection of puzzles, including Jumbo Knob, Chunky, Peg, Sound, Counting, Matching Peg, Self-Correcting, Jigsaw, Floor, Map, Cube, Maze puzzles, and more — as well as puzzle racks, puzzle cards, and other puzzle-related items — by clicking here.
Or, you can always make your own puzzle with our FREE Puzzle Template.
Do you have other toys that you’ve created a clever new use for? Let us know in the Comments, on our Facebook page, or share a photo via Instagram. Parents and teachers alike love to learn new ways to use old favorites.
Keep your clever ideas coming so we can all enjoy more Creative Play – Every Day!