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Extending the Life of Your Puzzles

I think we all have likely experienced buying a toy for our child and having them outgrow it quickly. And when that happens, it's always sort of disappointing and frustrating that you spent money and now the toy sits around. But, sometimes if we are creative we can extend the life of the toy with a little creativity. Here's one way to extend the life of a puzzle - tracing! 

Extend the life of your puzzles with tracing - this Montessori inspired activity is a hit with many preschoolers

If you have a child in a Montessori school, this idea is likely not new to you! Montessori children do this all the time - especially with the geography maps. But, there's no reason this idea needs to stay in the classroom. Using a puzzle in a new and creative way helps your child work on the skills he/she needs without needing to buy a new material.

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Extend the life of your puzzles with tracing - this Montessori inspired activity is a hit with many preschoolers

Nora, for example, is working on building the hand strength she needs to write. She needs those fine motor experiences. But, a simple knobbed puzzle isn't going to be enough anymore. By tracing the puzzle she is working on precision, and accuracy, but still getting a little more support than just drawing a picture of the image. This works best with chunky or knobbed puzzles that can be easily traced to create an image. Now, we happen to be using an image of a human, but this would work with shapes, animals, maps, vehicles, or whatever.  

Before introducing this work, however, you may want to consider introducing your child to a stencil or metal inset. Nora has seen both. This gives your child time to learn what tracing is and how to do it. Now that could be learned with an actual puzzle, but know that they are likely to draw on the puzzle some then. If you're ok with that, then go for it with the actual puzzle. 

Once Nora has traced the puzzle, she uses these colored pencils to color it. These erase super easily with a little water, so I encourage them in case any gets on the puzzle. She has made a bunch of these and it gives her the creative space to design the outfits however she likes. Then she can add details to the picture. Again, this is all more fine motor practice, but it's also social-emotional as she decides how the person is feeling, it's creativity as she designs the outfit, and total confidence and pride boost when she sees the completed work. 

Extend the life of your puzzles with tracing - this Montessori inspired activity is a hit with many preschoolers

If you wanted to extend this work even further, you could have your child trace and cut the items out of paper then arrange them. Your child could also trace and pin-punch out the pieces. The sky is really the limit here on what you can do! 

Extend the life of your puzzles with tracing - this Montessori inspired activity is a hit with many preschoolers
Have you ever extended the use of a toy like this? Have you done puzzle tracings? 


Unknown said…
Hi Nicole! Great ideas as always! May I ask where this puzzle is from? I have been looking for a wood human body puzzle, but I have not seen this one before! Not a fan of the other options that I have seen though.

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