And especially in the wintertime–or on a hot, hot day in the summer–puzzles are a fab way of getting kids to slow down, breathe, flex those fine-motor muscles, and think a bit.
But what to do when you’ve done the puzzles dozens and dozens of times?
When the kids could almost do them with their eyes closed and hands tied behind their backs?
Then, it’s time to mix those puzzles up, my friends!
Today, we’ve got five cool, new ways to play with puzzles–the puzzles you have had in your house for the last five or ten years, the puzzles your kids have done a million times over.
We’re a puzzle family over here, so lately we’ve been stretching our brains and trying new things and reaching new heights with the puzzles we have. And not-so-surprisingly, Maddy, Owen, and Cora have been totally game–wondering what else we can do to have a little puzzle fun with their favorite puzzles.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- 5 New Ways to Play With Puzzles You Already Have: Get out the ole puzzle boxes. Even the ones that you think your kids are over, because you’ll be surprised at how much fun–and learning!–can be had with a few good puzzles.
1. Puzzle Mash-Up: Using all of our ‘baby’ –or peg puzzles and easy jigsaws, empty the pieces and put them all in a big ole pile on the floor.
Make it a mash-up of puzzles–easier ones, more difficult ones, and everything in between. On the floor, and it’s a puzzle free-for-all.
Goal: Be the first to put as many puzzles together as possible.
No need for a timer because everyone starts when someone says ‘Go!’ and the winner is the man with the biggest pile o’ puzzles.
Maddy and Owen seem to dig this more than Cora, maybe because of their ages, but even Cora gets in on the action some days. . .
2. Speed Puzzle: Set the timer and start puzzling. But with a quickness.
We’ve done this with wooden chunky puzzles, with medium-sized jigsaws, and with 100-piece jigsaws. And really, as long as the kids are up for a challenge–and at least two of mine usually are–Speed Puzzle is a ton of fun.
Add a parent into the mix, and kids get crazy excited about it: Will Owen beat Daddy’s time? Can Mommy beat Daddy’s time? Who will rein as the Speed Puzzle Master?
Making it a semi-regular thing in your house to pull out the timers and puzzles is a fab way of bringing the familia together, working those fine motor skills, and helping kids develop strategy.
3. Puzzle Hunt: Get the kids up and moving with a Puzzle Hunt!
Hide the pieces of chunky puzzles around the room and then scramble to put the puzzle together!
Especially for days when the kids are stuck inside, Puzzle Hunt raises little heartbeats and adds an unusual twist to a usually relaxing activity.
We haven’t tried this with our bigger jigsaws, or we’d probably all be nuts by puzzle completion, but with the chunky’s, with the smaller jigsaws, this activity is always a fave.
4. Puzzle Races: Best done with puzzles that are a similar make or model, like the Melissa & Doug Vehicles in a Box which has four very similarly-shaped puzzles or one person does the Jumbo Numbers Chunky and another does the Jumbo Letters Chunky, Puzzle Races are just that: races.
We like to race head-to-head, facing our opponent with a judge in the middle to make any last-second calls.
The minute someone finishes, he or she yells, DONE! and the judge declares a winner.
We sometimes mix it up by:
- starting with all pieces face up (or down);
- doing double puzzles (if you have two that each person could do);
- sitting back-to-back so that only the judge knows how each person is doing.
5. Puzzle Challenge: Your kids think the baby puzzles are too babyish? Bring out a blindfold and see if they can really put those peg pieces in the correct places with their eyes closed.
And if they can actually do it with their eyes covered? Try it with a blindfold and a hand tied behind their backs. They will love–and I mean love–the challenge.
And they’ll love to prove how far they have come from their days of baby-ish puzzles.
This is far from an exclusive list of cool ways to play with puzzles–it’s five of I’m sure 100. How do you prolong the life of puzzles? How does your family continue to play, learn, and test those puzzlin’ skills with puzzles you’ve had for a good long time?
Yes, I’m a fan of passing good toys along–and we sure do!–just ask my sister! But I also feel like oftentimes kids don’t really use what they have to the max anymore because there’s always something new. So until we’re officially ready to pass on the puzzle boxes, we’ll play, thankyouverymuch.
fyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program. I’m thankful for Melissa & Doug for always creating great, smart products for children of all ages. Products that last a good, long time and can stand some good, hard playin’.
Please note: make sure all of these activities are supervised and make judgements on the crazy-coolness of your puzzle fun based on your child’s abilities.
fyi: affiliate links are used in this post