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My kids love when I volunteer at their class parties but I often struggle while planning activities for the class. Every idea I come up with either involves food (not allowed), a super messy craft (nope) or requires more space and time than allowed. I get so frustrated – and a little anxious! Will the kids think my ideas are dumb? I can’t believe I’m actually worried about what 6 year olds think – but there it is!
A couple years ago I was asked to come up with a “back up” activity for the kindergarten class. Basically something for them to do while they were waiting their turn to play games. I thought and thought and thought and finally came up with the idea that they could create valentines for their parents. But, I didn’t want to make ordinary valentines. Wouldn’t secret Valentines be so much more fun!!
How to make Secret Valentines
We started with blank puzzles and let our imaginations take over. We wrote messages to mom and drew pictures. The kids had so much fun that several wanted to keep drawing instead of playing games!
It is such a simple project. Once the kids were done with their puzzles I gave them the option of taking them home intact in a Ziploc bag. Or we could separate the pieces and hand Mom a bag of puzzle pieces to put together. Almost everyone was totally into surprising Mom with their secret message so we pulled all those puzzles apart and put them in pretty little bags. The puzzles themselves were sealed in Ziploc bags.
Tips for Designing Puzzles with Young Kids
If you are working with young kids number the pieces on the back of the puzzle so they aren’t too frustrated if they can’t figure out how to put it back together.
Encourage the kids to have their drawings/designs cross pieces. A design that is completely on one puzzle piece won’t help you figure out the solution.
The more the puzzle is filled with color the easier it will be to put it back together.
Don’t color each puzzle piece its own color – it just doesn’t work. Trust me on that one.
A pattern along the edge will help kids put the outside border back together.
Words that cross from one piece to another are helpful when putting the puzzle back together.
Have fun and just let the kids create – you’ll be amazed at what they come up with!!
I am not a super crafty person and get frustrated with complicated art projects so this was perfect for me and a bunch of kindergarteners.
Treasure Hunts – Another Fun Puzzle Activity
There are so many fun activities you can do with blank puzzles – another one of my favorites is creating a treasure map for the kids with a hidden prize at the end. I love watching them work together to complete the puzzle and find the treasure. If you want to prolong a treasure hunt you can hide the puzzle pieces in leftover Easter eggs and have them find the pieces before they construct the puzzle.
Have fun with this project and I hope someone sends you a secret Valentine this year!