Do you know what makes for a fabulously simple quiet time activity? Puzzles. For an activity that is excellent for strengthening little hands and fine motor skills? Puzzles. For increasing attention and concentration? Puzzles. For problem solving and spatial awareness? Puzzles. For sleepless nights and early mornings? Coffee (while little ones do puzzles.)
I adore puzzles! When I was growing up puzzles signified a holiday. A puzzle out on the coffee table at the cottage, or a winter scene that we would all pick away at over the winter break.
Puzzles are so full of learning as well. We try hard to get a few puzzles going every week or two. If you would like to know more about the fabulous benefits of doing puzzles, I wrote a post all about that! You can find it right here: The Incredible Benefits of Puzzles
And if you’d rather just get straight to the goods, I completely understand. Grab a coffee (and give the kids a puzzle) and let’s dive in!
So without further delay (and tales from my childhood puzzle memories), here are 8 fun ways to play with puzzles:
Name Puzzles – If you have been following How Wee Learn for some time, you know how much I love name puzzles. They can be such a rich and meaningful learning experience for your little one.
Here is a simple and engaging name puzzle that you can make using the back of a wooden puzzle you already have at home!
If your child’s favourite holiday or season is fast-approaching, we have you covered with a year full of name puzzles, here.
Popsicle Stick Puzzles – If you’re in a pinch for a learning game, grab a handful of popsicles sticks and a few permanent markers and you’ll have a simple puzzle in no-time. Toddler at Play shows us how we can make these puzzles to review shapes, numbers and letters.
I can even see myself packing these on-the-go for long waits at appointments where my kiddos may have a table or chair to lay these on. How useful!
Popsicle Stick Puzzle 2.0 – Make, Take & Teach shows us how to create these durable puzzles that can easily be used in a Quiet Time bin for independent play. These puzzles are self-correcting as well. Whether your child is more comfortable creating the correct image or placing numbers in the right order, this design will guide them in knowing if something is off before they are done. What a fun way to build their confidence and increase independence!
Kitchen Puzzle – Growing Play has shown us how to create a quick puzzle from every day kitchen items that is also easy to fold up and tuck away for future play. If your child outgrows this puzzle or theme, add more items to the search, create a new puzzle with items from multiple rooms / toy bins, or simply trace items in a theme you may want to review such as animals, shapes, numbers etc.
Sensory Puzzle Hunt – Here is a great way to make a familiar puzzle new again. Place your child’s favourite – or least favourite? – puzzle into a sensory bin and watch your time for tea and reading expand before your eyes!
Additional sensory bin fillers include quinoa, pasta, water beads, cotton balls, grass or leaves, sand, corks or torn up tissue paper (Find a whole ton of ideas here: Non-food sensory bin fillers) .
Printable Number and Letter Puzzles – This Reading Mama has created two sets of free, printable (read: already made!) number and letter puzzles that you can print at home and use for years to come. Playing with the puzzle not only teaches your child how the number or letter is formed, each piece also has an image associated with the number or letter which takes their learning that much deeper.
Puzzle Scavenger Hunt – Turn any puzzle into a game that gets them moving with a puzzle scavenger hunt! Ultimately you can hide the puzzle pieces to any puzzle, but using bold, colourful, chunky puzzles makes it easier to prop up and find.
Encouraging your child to shout out their new find each time can also be a great way to review numbers, letters, shapes, animals and more! Hands on as we Grow shows us how she modified her scavenger hunt for her two littles with different levels of number awareness.
Outdoor Puzzle Race – Puzzles don’t need to be an indoor or rainy day activity. Take the fun of puzzles outside with an outdoor puzzle race. Create a simple puzzle on cardstock by tracing a few familiar household items. Have your child select one item from the bucket of puzzle pieces and race to the puzzle base to place the item correctly on the puzzle.
There you have them! Loads of ways to play with puzzles. I hope you found a puzzle activity just perfect for you and yours.
I don’t know about you, but I’m digging out a big old puzzle for our coffee table tomorrow!
Thank you so much for reading!