Bring Puzzles off the Floor and Onto the Wall
With four little children who love puzzles, floor space can be at a premium. Stepping over four-feet floor puzzles featuring dinosaurs or safari animals, crawling to find a missing piece, or asking the kids to take apart and put away their latest accomplishments are all less-than-ideal realities.
When a friend mentioned magnetizing the puzzles to use on a wall, I jumped at the idea. Magnetizing puzzles is surprisingly easy and insanely practical, especially for busy households. All of the pieces stay neatly on the wall, the completed puzzles can be quite beautiful, and the whole thing can be slid around fairly easily. Even better, the kids remain occupied in a constructive way with no mess!
What You'll Need
- Adhesive Magnetic Sheets
- Sharp Craft Knife or Blade
Which puzzles should I make magnetic?
There are many different types of puzzles, but we will limit ourselves to creating a magnetic floor puzzle and a magnetic wooden puzzle. Because kids love magnets, these two types make excellent choices. They are thick, and large-pieced varieties can be found. Whatever you choose needs to be durable enough to withstand repeated play.
Other good candidates are wooden-peg puzzles or shape sorters, especially those that involve numbers and alphabets. The downside of using peg puzzles of this nature is that the shape-sorting functionality is lost on the wall. However, it is a terrific way to make your puzzles multi-task:
- Use them as puzzles for little ones.
- Use the pieces as magnetic toys as the child develops.
- Use them for pretend play or to teach counting and spelling for older children. You may need to add a chalkboard layer to your wall for this option.
Floor puzzles are very simple to make magnetic.
- Simply cut your adhesive magnetic sheets into strips about the length of the puzzle pieces.
- Peel off the backing.
- Stick the magnet strip on each puzzle piece.
- Trim off any excess sheeting that overhangs the puzzle piece.
You can also cut squares or circles if you'd rather disperse the magnet to each corner of the individual puzzle pieces. I chose to use a single strip to make it less interesting to my youngest, who is at the age where peeling stickers is quite necessary.
Why should I make my puzzles magnetic?
Magnetic puzzles are real space savers. Even though the kids occasionally drop a piece or two, the floor area remains clean and safe for walking. The children play happily and can enjoy a lasting sense of accomplishment when they're finished (instead of having to destroy what they put together).
How to Make Wooden Puzzles Magnetic
Wooden puzzles are great toys in their own right, but magnetize them and watch the attention to them grow! Because wooden puzzle pieces are thick, they adhere best to magnetic walls if they are completely backed by the magnet sheet.
Making wooden puzzles magnetic takes a bit more time.
- Trace each puzzle piece, keeping them in order to waste as little of the magnetic sheet as possible.
- Cut out the shapes.
- Peel and stick on the sheet.
- Because tracings tend to be a hair larger than the actual pieces, you will need to trim each piece. Holding the craft knife at an angle, slide the blade around the puzzle piece, removing the soft magnetic backing which overlaps the edge.
5. Check each piece for rough edges by fitting the puzzle pieces together twice. For example, place the first piece on the wall and attach the second piece. Then, place just the second piece on the wall, and attach the first piece. This will reveal any areas that need more trimming. If the pieces are properly trimmed, you should see a thin line of wood showing from the back, as seen below.
A Few Words on Magnetic Walls
Magnetic walls are very easy to make and can be done in any color. The wall you see here has been treated with two top coats of chalkboard paint as well. A bit of a misnomer, "magnetic walls" are not actually magnetic. The magnetic paint in fact contains a high concentration of fine metal particles, to which magnets are attracted.
So essentially, you are creating a metal wall, not a magnetic wall. Because of this, you can paint over the magnetic primer with any color you choose. You could even match your existing wall color.
There are many uses for magnetic walls.
- Bulletin boards
- Photo galleries
- Kids' play areas
- Artwork display
- Trip memento board
- Storytelling with felt-covered magnets
Making magnetic puzzles is easy and fun! The results provide hours of enjoyment without the inconvenience and mess associated with lost puzzle pieces or puzzles taking over the floor.
Puzzles, Animals, Dinosaurs, Oh My!
gidea on July 03, 2011:
my bb loves assembling it
John on January 04, 2011:
this is a great idea, you should check out Heads Up Puzzles they have magnetic puzzles and stands that are portable, we purchased them for Christmas and they work great, they even do custom family puzzles as well!
sweet7MTC on July 31, 2010:
I loved the idea of the magnetic paint that makes a wall or any paintable surface into a place you can put magnets.
Thanks for the pictures to show how it works. I am working on a book with puzzles and this is an idea that might work for keeping the pieces with the book.
VarietyIsle (author) from Virginia on October 01, 2009:
Liberty there is the friend who suggested making the puzzles magnetic- it really was a good idea!
LibertyUnchained from Earth. on October 01, 2009:
Excellent! You took that idea and really brought it to life.
I cannot wait to make one for my daughters as I'm sure they will love it.