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Homemade puzzles

November 27th, 2005 (04:14 pm)
Tags: ,

current song: Kids chanting

The kids have started playing with puzzles; they have a 48-piece jigsaw puzzle of dinosaurs and a 38-piece framed puzzle of a construction scene. Today we were working the construction puzzle, and they asked (as they have before) how puzzles were made; I explained (as I have before), and then cvirtue demonstrated by taking a printout of a family picture and cutting it into a puzzle.

This gave me an idea. The kids had worked the construction puzzle several times in a couple of days, and they were clearly getting to the point of just recognizing the individual pieces instead of having to think about them. So, we needed more puzzles. So, I went to Flickr and found some animal scenes. I printed them out, glued them on to cardboard, and started cutting.

It worked pretty well; the kids had fun with them, at least. Lessons learned:

  • Pick pictures with lots of variety, so that there are plenty of cues on the pieces. A picture of Wallace & Gromit at breakfast worked well, with lots of little items to fit together (faces, arms, picture frames, salt & pepper); a picture of a tiger taking a drink had large areas with little clear differentiation (water, plants).
  • Cut significant items in recognizable places—say, between Wallace's big googly eyes.
  • Try to avoid straight cuts, so that it's clear that straight lines are edges of the puzzle. With the corrugated cardboard I was using, curves were tricky—admittedly, I was cutting with little kid scissors. Either I need to try thin cardboard (which won't produce pieces that fit as well) or I need to cut with something better—maybe an X-Acto knife.
  • In the absence of a frame, it was really hard for the kids to avoid messing up the pieces they'd already fit together. Maybe if I try an X-Acto knife, I can cut something more jigsawy, so that the pieces interlock.
  • Make sure there's glue all over. In theory, it'd be enough to have glue at the edges of pieces, but you don't know in advance where the edges will be.


Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: November 27th, 2005 09:36 pm (UTC)
Kids silly nose

"Make sure there's glue all over"

Have the kids help. There'll be glue all over, I guarantee you. Or did you want it only on the puzzle?

Posted by: Ursula Messerschmitt (snobahr)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 12:20 am (UTC)

I might recommend matte-board and a good X-acto... Hmmm... I like that idea...

Posted by: Pat Siobhan (patsmor)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 12:33 am (UTC)

Yes, that's my recommendation. When I was a kid we used shirt cardboard, but I doubt you have your shirts drycleaned regularly ;-)

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC)

I don't think I've ever had a shirt drycleaned...wait, maybe one: a silk one that got some kind of stain on it.

And I don't think it came back with cardboard in it. :-)

Posted by: Pat Siobhan (patsmor)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 01:54 am (UTC)
Re: Drycleaning

Ah. You must have had it come back on a hanger, rather than folded. Shirt cardboard is the stuff that comes in a shirt when you buy it folded, that keeps it in shape.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 01:27 am (UTC)

Yeah, matte board sounds good. That, and the X-Acto knife, would solve the problem of shreds of cardboard at the edges.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 02:53 am (UTC)
Re: Ooh

Takes a lot of pressure to cut mat-board. Maybe oat-tag (like from file folders.)

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Ooh

But then it'll be too thin; the pieces won't stay in place when the puzzle is assembled.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: November 28th, 2005 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Ooh

Art foam?

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: November 30th, 2005 10:56 pm (UTC)
OT: mail messed up by Norton again
Bird Brain

Hi Sweetie, I turned off Mozilla before I tried to fix the Norton quarantine, but I must have missed some step in your explaination, because when I turned Mozilla on again, it just went nuts with the duplicate inbox problem. so I turned it off again, having done nothing, and hope you can help me when you get home late tonight.

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