Make a Puzzle: Reuse Holiday Cards

Puzzles are super easy to make. Do you still have any valentines or old Christmas cards left at your house? We have a bunch leftover from our holiday season.

DIY puzzles 2

My son loves his valentines and won’t let me dump them into the recycling bin yet, so we’ve decided to reuse them in a variety of ways. Last week we made a Scrap Paper Rainbow (perfect for St. Patrick’s Day) and this week we created some kid-made puzzles!

When we first started, I cut puzzle pieces out of the cards and made them look exactly like jigsaw puzzle pieces. I thought they looked really cool… and then I thought, “Wait, my little guy can cut…” so I pretty much scrapped my pieces and had him start cutting his own. So much cuter and more fun!

Materials Needed to Make a Card Puzzle:

  • scissors
  • valentines or other holiday cards
  • marker (optional)

 

How to Make a Card Puzzle:

  1. Have your child draw lines on the back of the card to make puzzle pieces (I skipped this step, see why below)
  2. Have your child start cutting along the lines.
  3. Count the number of pieces cut while you are working together.
  4. Put the puzzle back together.

I encouraged my son to cut his valentines into four or five pieces, since that was pretty manageable for him. Sometimes he listened, and sometimes he didn’t. I should have had my son draw some lines first, then try to cut along the lines… but he got caught up in the excitement of cutting, so I just let him enjoy himself.

homemade puzzles

 

One of the reasons I love doing puzzles is because they are such great learning activities!

While you put your card puzzles together you can…

  • talk about the shapes your child cut
  • teach spatial concepts (next to, in front of, behind, around, near, etc.)
  • practice problem solving skills
  • discuss designs and pictures on the cards
  • introduce new vocabulary (we talked about the words diagonal, curved, rounded, pointy, etc.)

Another reason that kid-made puzzles are fabulous is because they can be adapted to fit your child’s individual needs/abilities. Younger children can just create 3-5 piece puzzles and older kids could cut their cards into 20+ pieces and make them really tricky to put together. You could even have an older sibling create a puzzle for a younger sibling.

In addition to using valentines, I also cut apart a few of my favorite Christmas cards and turned them into keepsake jigsaw puzzles showing favorite friends/family members. I did the cutting of these ones because I wanted the photos/designs to remain mostly intact. My son loved putting together the photo card puzzles of his friends!

DIY puzzles 2

In addition to playing pretend post office, I plan to laminate a few of our favorite card puzzles and add them to our puzzle shelf, this way my son can hold onto a few of his favorite valentines and cards… but they won’t be cluttering up my kitchen anymore! We may also need to try this with several of the birthday cards he just received!

Do you have any other favorite ways that you like to reuse valentines or other holiday cards?




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Kristina About Kristina

Kristina is a mom of two (a preschooler and a toddler) and a former Special Education teacher for children with communication disabilities. She writes about her creative explorations over at Toddler Approved. Her goal is to find ways to make life a little more fun and creative with her kids while embedding learning into everything that she does. Kristina tweets as @ToddlerApproved and can be found on FB and Pinterest.