Making Puzzles, Toys, and Games

Puzzles are not only fun to make and to solve, they also make kids think, improve manual dexterity, and teach patience and tenacity. The following puzzle has probably the least number of materials of all – only two 60 penny nails.

Project: Nail Puzzle

There are many more ideas for making toys, games, and puzzles out of everyday objects such as wood, yarn, fabric, or just about anything you can think of. Here's a list of quick ideas:

  • Make a set of beanbags out of fabric (felt works well) and beans. Make the beanbags approximately the same weight and size. Use them for a beanbag toss game, or learn to juggle with them.

  • Make stuffed toys out of paper, newspaper, and a stapler. Cut two sheets of paper together in a shape. Decorate the back side of one piece and the front side of the other. Staple together with colored sides facing out, leaving a hole to stuff crumpled newspapers in. Fill and staple the rest up. (You can use paper towels or tissue instead of newspapers if that's what you have on hand.)

  • Small yarn dolls make adorable Christmas tree or package ornaments. Use straw-colored yarn to make cute scarecrows for Thanksgiving or Halloween. Use white yarn, add a lace skirt and white lace gathered and tacked on the back, and you have an angel.

  • Make a yarn doll. Wind yarn loosely around your hand. Tie at the top to secure the yarn bundle. Put a cotton ball or small Styrofoam ball at the top under the yarn. Tie under the neck. Cut open the bottom yarn and divide the yarn into legs and arms. Cut at the appropriate length or let the bottom hang loose for a skirt. You can glue on felt or fabric clothes, hats, or cutouts for features.

  • Make a parachute out of a square piece of cloth, some string, and a clothespin "aviator." Attach the string to the head of the aviator with a screw eye. Weight the aviator by wrapping copper wire around her.

  • Clothespins (the old-fashioned kind, without the spring) make great dolls. The top of the clothespin is a natural head, a pipe cleaner makes the arms, and you can use yarn for hair, fabric scraps for clothes, and decorate with ribbons and trims. Features can be applied with fine pens.

  • Thimbles can be used as finger puppets. Just glue on felt for features.

  • Whole peanuts can be made into marionettes. Use a large peanut for the body, a smaller one for the head, and longer-shaped ones for the arms and legs. Run a needle and thread (the needle must be longer than the longest peanut) through one leg, up through the body, and then through the head. Leave a string at the top of the head and clip. Do the same for the other leg. Do the arms from one arm to the other and through the body. Add felt hands and feet, and use felt-tip pens to make a face. Then make your marionette dance.

  • Create a pinwheel out of a square piece of paper, markers, rubber stamps and/or stickers, a pencil (with eraser), scissors, a straight pin, a small piece of clay, and a ruler.

  • Have your child draw, stamp and/or sticker one side of the paper. On the plain side, put a dot in the center and draw a line from each corner to 1/2-inch from the dot. Cut along each line and fold each corner to the center without creasing, holding them in place at the center. Put the pencil's eraser behind the pinwheel and push the straight pin through. If it comes out the other side, cover it with clay. These can be decorated in different colors to match a particular holiday – red, white, and blue for the 4th of July, for example.

Clothespin Aviator.
This is what your Clothespin Aviator should look like.


More on: Crafts for Kids


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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