Seven Puzzle Hacks for All Ages!

Ah puzzles. They've been around for ever and kids still love them - plus they're great for early learning. Shape, rotation, transformation, spatial awareness are the foundations for more advanced mathematical concepts learnt later on.

To be honest, Miss M doesn't play with puzzles all that often, so I'm always looking for new ideas for how to make a standard simple puzzle more interesting and turn it into a fun and inviting play activity. Some of my favourite Instagrammers/Bloggers have shared some of their ideas lately, so we wanted to try some ourselves.

Peekaboo Puzzle

I made this one for Miss M when she was around 1, and she really loved it (I first saw this idea at Nurture Store). All you need to do is trace around each puzzle piece onto a photo of a familiar family member, cut them out, stick them in the base of the puzzle and then play! Little bubbas love to see their faces, and will probably put the pieces in and take them out over and over again! Must do one for the Little Man :)

Puzzle Piece Presents

I originally saw this idea from Brianna (@Notes From a Home Educator) and it just transforms an ordinary puzzle into something so much more exciting! It's like playing pass the parcel at a birthday party. Use alfoil or wrapping paper to wrap up each piece and let your little one unwrap and place in the right spot. Genius!

Everyone's always asking me where I got this number puzzle from (I honestly can't remember) - but I know they have them at Daisy & Hen in the Barossa.

Puzzle Search

Thanks to Olivia (@A Crafty LIVing) for this one. We used shredded paper to create a sensory bin and popped all the puzzle pieces in there for Miss M to find (although I must admit she claims "This is too easy for me!" LOL! You could also bury them in kinetic sand, rainbow rice or any other sensory material!

Puzzle Piece Sort

You need two (or more to make it trickier) puzzles for this activity. Take out all the pieces from both puzzles and pop them in a basket or container. Your child's first job is to sort them out first, then to complete each puzzle.

Paint Your Puzzle

We did this one just the other day! IKEA sell these awesome raw wooden number 1-9 puzzles (don't they remind you of mini Sum Blox?) and they are perfect for painting and decorating! So much fun and it really gives your child ownership of the puzzle they created and will be more likely to want to play with it. This one's great too because the numbers are outlined on the bottom so you know where each number goes. Blank puzzles are also a good idea because older children can draw their own pictures. 

Puzzle Tracing

This is a great one for older kids (tracing can be tricky because you have to hold the puzzle piece still with one hand and trace with the other). But Miss M still loved it with a little bit of help from me. We traced each one, coloured them in, and then put them all in the right places.

Name Puzzles

Image credit - Platypus Puzzles

Miss M has one of these, so does her cousin, and Little Man will be getting one for his first birthday. I just love them and think they are a fantastic way for children to begin learning the letters of their name. We got ours from Platypus Puzzles (not gifted, just love - they have the number puzzles too).


Have you got any other ideas to turn the humble puzzle into a more exciting activity? Please share!

Lauren xx


  1. Miss L was given a cool wooden fish puzzle complete with magnetic fishing rod to pick pieces up and drop them in with, she still loves it!

  2. I love the peekaboo puzzle. Such great ideas - thanks

  3. Many puzzles require other individuals and can encourage people to work and play together. Trying to solve puzzles as a group can help kids understand patience, teamwork and taking turns.

  4. ok I have never thought of spicing up puzzles like this!! how fun!! xx

  5. Great ideas, and I like the idea of painting the Ikea number puzzle

  6. Thanks for this useful post. Really love to read this post and its seems like a great blog i have ever seen. I recognized that they were deal woodcarvings. Every mile or so I passed by groups of men selling compact animal carvings from head to footside with a whale of a wooden giraffes standing from one end to the other five feet tall. I am really enjoyed to read this article and still waiting for the next :) crossword puzzle

  7. What great ideas! I've seen someone hide the puzzle pieces around the house and made it into a game of 'hide and seek' or 'warmer and cooler'. (I can't remember whose blog it was that I saw this great idea!!)


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