Thursday, July 22, 2010
We pulled out our homemade puzzles this week, and my boys are getting more interested in them now, especially my five year old. I know this may not be a new idea for some, but it was such a clever and budget-friendly activity that I learned about when I started teaching, that I had to share it. The dollar stores always have calendars around the holidays, and you can get nicer ones after January at regular department stores as well.
You will need:
2 identical calendars
glue (rubber cement works best, but you can use a glue stick as well)
cardstock or construction paper to back your puzzles
laminator (optional, but this will really make your puzzles last)
dark permanent marker
paper cutter or ruler and scissors
You may need to cut down your calendar pictures to fit them on your backing paper. Make sure if you do this, that you cut both pictures the same. Glue one of the two identical pictures to the front of a large manilla envelope. Back the other calendar picture with your cardstock or construction paper. IMPORTANT: You need to really coat the back of your calendar with your adhesive, don't just glue down the edges. If you don't get the whole surface glued, when you cut your puzzle, it will fall apart.
Next, you need to laminate your folder and your puzzle. I prefer to laminate the whole puzzle before cutting the pieces so that you have a nice clean edge. If you really want to seal the edges, cut the puzzle first and laminate the pieces, but it's not necessary. My puzzles were used for several years and are still in good shape.
Next, measure your puzzle and cut into twelve equal sized squares. (I found this to be the best number of pieces for younger children- preschool to first grade, but you could make more squares if you had older kids who need more of a challenge) You may wonder why to cut identical squares, and not unique shapes. I had a good educating mentor tell me that this forces children to pay attention to the picture and helps with visual-spatial learning. They are forced to focus on the details of the picture and orient the squares in order to form the picture themselves. This is more challenging than it seems. Another bonus is that it is much easier to cut simple straight lines with a paper cutter than to form jigsaw pieces by hand...
If you are making multiple puzzles, label your envelope with a number or letter of the alphabet and label each piece with the same number or letter. When I taught, I had 26 puzzles, one for each letter of the alphabet. This made for easy clean up when they were in a center with multiple children.
Place your pieces into the corresponding envelope. Now, for just a few dollars, you can have twelve new puzzles for your kiddos!
Linking to ABCs and 123s.