In this age of electronic games and cell phones, it may seem like puzzles are old hat but I can assure they are not. It’s hard to make eye contact and initiate conversations when kids are texting. If you’re looking for ways to bridge the gap and build relationships with your kids, consider stocking up on puzzles. I can’t tell you how many good conversations my kids and I have had over a puzzle. Puzzles work for kids of all ages but when purchasing them, do observe the age suggestions on the box. Follow these tips for puzzle work and maximize the time you have with your kids.
1. Color code the back of the puzzle pieces before you distribute them. I use a marker to draw a line on the back of each piece. That way if they get mixed up, I can easily separate them. (Do of course, use different marker colors for different puzzles.)
2. Transfer puzzles to large, zippered bags. Put one puzzle in each bag and mark the outside of the bag with the name of the puzzle.
3. Limit how many puzzles are out at once. Five bags of puzzles means an extra hour in class after the kids leave. Ask kids to put one puzzle back before getting another.
4. Pick Bible story puzzles. Use them to coincide with the teachings. It’s a fun way to reinforce what kids have just heard and they make great lesson openers.
5. Pair kids up who aren’t besties to work on a puzzle. Kids need to socialize and learn how to work in peace and unity. If you leave best friends to work on stuff together all the time you may invite clique behavior. Help kids get to know one another with puzzle work.
6. Initiate conversations with kids over a puzzle. Working on a puzzle together is very non-threatening. Use this time to engage kids in conversations. Say something like, “Hey, did you see that movie that’s coming out?” or “I love candy. What’s your favorite flavor.” When they feel comfortable kids will lead the conversation.
7. Sitting together and working a puzzle is a great way to spend time with kids. When your group gets tired of the puzzles you have pass them on to another class!
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.