My daughter loves matching things and has done well with simple pattern match activities like this one so I decided to make it a little more complicated. These animal print puzzles for kids are quick to make ( they honestly took one minute to make all four) but for young kids matching the patterns up so the prints line up can be a challenge. This is a great activity to develop attention and concentration but because there are only two pieces to each puzzle it shouldn’t create too great a challenge and end up frustrating your child.
- Gather your materials. We used animal print foam sheets but you could use scrap book paper instead just make sure that the pieces are sturdy enough for your child to handle. If they get crinkled or ripped it will be harder to match up . You will also need some scissors.
- Cut your foam into squares and then cut the squares into two halves using different cutting patterns. I made 4 puzzles for my daughter who is just 3. For older children try 2 in each pattern to create a bigger challenge.
- Present the puzzles to your child and ask them to put the squares back together. If they are struggling you can also make a square out of painter’s tape on the table to give them a guide. When I make puzzles like these I pop them on a tray and leave them out for a few days after our initial play and then pop them in a ziploc and into storage for a while. After a trip to the zoo or when we read one of our favorite books about the zoo I pull them out and we play again.
Books About The Zoo
Inside a Zoo in the City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a rebus read along , so children who can’t read words yet can help read this with pictures put right into the text! The story is repetitive and builds with one animal and page at a time. Preschoolers love these books and the repetitive nature of it makes it interactive and fun!
Peek-a-Zoo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a vibrant lift the flap book that goes through sounds different animals make while playing peek a boo with the reader. What I like about this book is that the flaps offer a chance for your baby or toddler to anticipate what animal it hiding as well as the sound , so it grows with them. Also the flaps are large enough that little hands can grab them and won’t get frustrated.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann is simply one of my favorite books ever. I love it and love that my daughter doesn’t fuss when I read it to her because it was a special book for my son when he was little and it’s a book he will still curl up and read quietly with us, making it fun cuddle time for all three of us. If you aren’t familiar with this book it’s all about a sneaky gorilla who unlocks all the animals at the zoo and they quietly follow the zoo keeper home and climb into bed with him, until his wife wakes up! I love this book cause I relate to the zoo keepers wife , when I wake up there is always a sneaky 3 year old gorilla in my bed!This post contains affiliate links.
Rainy days at our house always start with happy play but by early afternoon my kids have used up their patience with each other and mine isn’t far behind. This puzzle hunt took 2 minutes to set up and they played 3 times. More importantly the bad attitudes we were all developing were stopped in their tracks. It’s the perfect easy rainy day activity for kids. It’s also a great way to use puzzles. We used wooden puzzles but if you have older kids it would be fun to try a jigsaw puzzle instead. Another thing I love about puzzle hunts is you know if you forgot to find a piece because the puzzle won’t be complete.
- Gather your materials. You will need some puzzles . <— pretty easy right?
- Pop all the pieces our and start hiding them. I send my kids up to the playroom while I hid them. Hide some in tricky places and some in plain sight if you have younger kids.
- Time to search. They started out trying to beat each other and I reminded them that they are working as a team to beat me. If they find all the pieces then they win , if not I win. That did the trick and they were a team from then on.
- They took breaks every now and then to count how many we had already found and how many were still missing.
- Complete! If anything makes a parent burst with happiness it’s an unprompted hug between siblings that isn’t part of an apology.
Other ways to play include having your kids hide the pieces and you find them , take it outside ( you may want to pop the pieces in a Ziploc or 5 ) , and include words on each to create a secret message .
On long summer days especially if you are stuck inside for whatever reason simple play like this goes so far in improving moods, recharging a bad day and getting kids to work together. For more rainy day ideas ( and sunny day ones too ) check out our Pinterest boards !
While doing a purge of toys in our playroom I found 3 cheap puzzles I bought years ago that have never once been played with. I popped two into the donate box but kept one to make these easy word puzzles for my son. The unique thing about these word puzzles is that the shape of pieces help give the players clues to the correct word choice. This goes along with the question that we often ask new readers as they work on reading new words ” Does the word fit?” and this game helps work on those new reader skills.
- Gather your materials. Both of these games require almost nothing. Puzzle pieces, markers and paper.
- Write out a few pages with something along the lines of ” These words rhyme with ____.” Make sure to use words that your child can read for the main word on the paper. For the matching words you write on the puzzle pieces add one or two words that may challenge them a little. Trace the puzzle pieces on the paper for an added clue.
- After writing out a few pages and corresponding pieces with rhyming words add a few puzzle pieces that do not rhyme to add into the mix.
- Play. I set both games up and presented them to him at the same time – scroll down for the 2nd game instructions.
- Hmm does the word fit ? Yes! My son enjoyed this and understood that he could sound the words out to match the rhymes as well as check if he was correct with the shapes matching as well.
This activity was a huge hit. My son was in stitches and learning at the same time.
- Write out simple sentences that appeal to your child with some words missing. Leave large spaces. The ones I wrote for my son included sentences like ” I forgot to put the milk in the fridge and now it smells so gross.” and ” The enemy place dropped a bomb on the base but no one was injured.” Write what will interest your child, it will make all the difference. Make figuring out the sentence fun and worth it.
- Write the missing words on puzzle pieces and trace them on the paper.
- Make sure to add words on other puzzle pieces that don’t make sense but are in the same shape as the ones that do. This is what makes it funny. Funny is good, laughing while learning is a fantastic thing.
- Play. Start by reading it.
- Now find the right missing words.
- Read the whole thing when the puzzle is done.
- With the next sheet he was laughing so hard I was worried he was going to wake his sleeping sister. It would have been worth it.
Looking for a fun way to practice number recognition? Then look no further. Playing with these letter and number recognition puzzles is a fun way to get little fingers and mind active. This is an activity you will want to do ahead of time and have ready for the little ones.
Grab a piece of corrugated cardboard, a marker, and a pair of scissors. You can use posterboard or craft foam, but corrugated cardboard is so much thicker and it is easier for your child to see that they are matching the pieces up correctly.
Draw some leaves on the cardboard. Then draw a line through them. I like to do a squiggly line to help the pieces “lock” in together better. Now draw a number on one side of the leaf and dots corresponding to that number on the other side.
Cut out the leaves. This is the part where you will be glad you are not making these pieces with your children. Cutting the cardboard can be tricky because it is so thick.
You can also draw and cut out leaves with upper and lower case letters to match up.
*VARIATION- Math equations would offer a more challenging task for older siblings that want to join in the fun, too. For younger children (and ambitious caregivers) you could color the leaves for color matching.
Cut along the line you drew that divides the leaf.
Now divide your leaf pieces into two sections. One section with the numbers written on them and one section with the dots drawn on them, or upper case letters and lower case letters.
Watch your child match them up. It is fun to watch them match different ways each time. Sometimes my daughter would match by number recognition and then counting the dots. While other times she matched the shape of the leaves.
Any way they match is great practice for reasoning and logic skills. Putting the pieces together make great motor skill exercise, too.
Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.
I didn’t want it to be too easy for Sweet P so I created 10 mustaches and made some that looked similar to make it challenging for her. I used a variety of colors (but you could just use black), including some that we don’t talk about often so we could incorporate color recognition as well. I looked up a few of the styles (Charlie Chaplin, Fu Manchu, Handlebar, Lorax) so I could talk about the type of mustaches with her for fun. Sweet P loved this game and wanted to do it several times.
The Project: Mustache Match Game
What you need:
- 1 piece of construction paper
- various colors of felt
- black marker or Sharpie
- flat magnets
- hot glue gun/glue
Hot glue flat magnets to the back of each mustache. Place the puzzle mat on a baking sheet with your mustache magnets in a small bowl and you’re ready to go!