July 21st, 2008
The last few times we’ve been to In-N-Out, Annalie has loved doing these little sticker puzzles they hand out for free to kids. They have a numbered grid of squares on one side, and on the other side are numbered stickers, all mixed up. When you place the stickers in the correct spots on the grid you’re rewarded with a picture of a rocketship in space.
One of Annalie’s friends had a book of similar sticker puzzles, except the pictures were of Disney princesses. I figured such a thing couldn’t be too hard to find, but I looked at several different stores and even searched online with no luck. Maybe they’re sold at a Disney Store, but that isn’t a shop I find myself in very often. I decided I’d just have to make my own! Annalie thought that was a great idea.
My first thought was that I would find a picture in a magazine to use, but we didn’t have any magazines lying around for once. Then I thought I could print out a photo, but our printer isn’t hooked up yet. I suggested to Annalie that I could draw a picture and use that, and she requested that the picture have “hearts and stars and circles and lots and lots of colors!”
Annalie and I sat at the table together while I drew the puzzle picture. I propped up a book between her and my paper, warning her not to look so she would be surprised when the puzzle was finished. She made a game out of trying to sneak peeks and I pretended to get mad at her each time she tried. There was a lot of giggling.
When the picture was done, I planned to use a ruler to create a grid, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and get the ruler. Instead, I just folded and creased the paper the appropriate number of times to create six columns and four rows of squares and numbered them from 1 to 24. Then I cut on the creases and mixed the squares all up. Next I drew the same grid on a second piece of paper (using the same method of folding and then using a piece of cardboard as a straight edge to keep the lines straight) and numbered those squares.
The beauty of this project is that it’s totally customizable to your needs. You can choose the picture and the number and size of the squares. You can have your child draw his own picture, or enlist an older sibling to draw one and do the cutting and grid-making. You can change the number and the size of the squares according to the age and ability of your child. You could even draw the picture on adhesive paper and skip the glue. And of course in addition to being fun, this is a sneaky way of teaching your kids their numbers or getting them to practice counting. (Bonus!)
Annalie needed a little bit of help with the glue, and I had to remind her which one was the 6 and which was the 9. Otherwise she did a great job matching the numbers and lining the squares up on the grid. She beamed with pride as she glued the last square in place, then hugged me and said, “Thanks for making me a puzzle, Mommy!” before running outside to play catch with Troy.