Monday, July 20, 2009

Easy Way to Make Puzzles

When M was old enough to do basic, very easy, puzzles, I started trying to make them myself. I tried every suggestion I could find online - glue pictures to foam, to cereal boxes, foam core board, laminate them... and on and on and on.

Well, after a lot of experimenting I came up with this way and have been happily making these great, easy little puzzles ever since. I'm sure others make puzzles this way too, but I haven't seen it online. It literally takes about 5 minutes to do the main part. You do have to wait a while for the drying and flattening, but if you are in that much of a hurry why are you making your own puzzles??! ;)

You will need:

  • Some newsprint, newspaper, or scrap paper to cover your work surface.
  • Some decoupage glue.
  • A foam paintbrush.
  • Your picture. This can be clipart, a photo, a magazine picture, etc. The one shown here is from an online free coloring page that I copied into my paint program and colored, then printed. *If you are printing a picture out, it MUST be printed on glossy photo paper.* Anything else will smear with the glue.
  • Some thin but sturdy cardboard from a food or cereal box - this one is from a box of crackers.

Paint a coat of glue onto the cardboard, stick the picture on, and paint a coat of glue over it. Done. :) Well, with the hard part anyway. If you are doing a small 4 x 6 like this one it will take you about 2 minutes, including set up. Sooo easy!

Next, put it somewhere to dry. I usually wait overnight, but you don't necessarily have to. Just wait till the glue is pretty much dry.

If it has bent a little as the glue dried, you can cover it with wax paper and set a heavy book on it for a day to flatten it back out.

Once it is lying flat like you want it, you can cut the excess cardboard off, draw your puzzle pieces on the back and cut them out:

And voila - a puzzle! I've made a lot of these, and they always turn out great.

Here's the first one I made (a little worse for wear), over 2 years ago. It is 8 1/2" x 11" and cut into 4 large pieces. I put magnets on the back and Tigger has been our fridge puzzle ever since. Every kid that comes into our house has to play with this - it's been a big hit!

Want a frame for your puzzle? For very small children, it's nice to have something they can set the pieces into. Make your puzzles with the thin cardboard described above, and use thicker corrugated cardboard for a frame. For example, if you are creating an 8x10 puzzle, cut an 8x10 rectangle out of a piece of corrugated cardboard. You may need to trim a tiny bit off of this to allow a little space for manipulation of the puzzle pieces. Then glue your frame to another piece of cardboard. The nice thing about this is if you are creating several puzzles the same size, you can use one frame for all of them.

Have some fun making puzzles. And have a beautiful day! :)

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