After I wrote about taking garden photos for making your own personalized jigsaw puzzles, I went ahead and ordered a couple of blank puzzle boards from Cobble Hill. I wanted to see what quality they were. Then, it came time for my grandson’s 2 year old birthday party and I was struggling for a gift idea. Since I had not put the blank puzzle boards away, they ended up being considered, but I originally thought they would be too complicated for that age. As things simmered in my mind, I remembered how he had sat on my living room floor just a couple days prior with his Aunt Natalie and had her slavishly trace handprint after handprint on scrap paper. She was a willing slave. Thus, the idea was born to take the blank jigsaw puzzle board to the party and have it be an activity, or craft. (click on any photo to enlarge)
Approval from his mother was obtained, our stock of crayons was located, and we were off. I was pleased to see that it was enjoyed just as much as I thought it might be. Here are some hints based on our experience.
1. Stick to darker colored crayons for tracing. The brighter and lighter ones can be used later for coloring in, but they are hard to see in just an outline.
2. You could think about using markers, but the younger kids tended to let the crayons fall and accidentally mark here and there. With crayons, this did not end up leaving any noticeable marks on the blank puzzle board… or rug. I think it would have been messier with markers.
3. Go ahead and overlap the hand prints.
4. Have people signature and/or add special effects to their handprints as they are inspired. This will also provide puzzle clues, especially if these marks cross individual pieces.
5. Draw some of the prints so that they go over the border. This will make it easier to put the puzzle together later.
6. Let the kids use other shapes, too. There is bound to be something laying around, or cookie cutters available, or they might want to put their cute little feet on the puzzle.
7. Go back later and help color in spaces and fill in border colors. The kids tend to draw lightly, which is great at the time, but the puzzle will be more brilliant if someone colors in darker in some places. In our case, it was again Aunt Natalie who willing did this, as she is the main artist at our home, and a graphics art major…
8. Spray the finished puzzle with a fixative spray. Aunt Natalie has the Prismacolor fixative on hand that is supposed to work on pastels, which she says crayons are similar to. It sprays on very lightly and does not make the pieces stick together.