I love puzzles, gentle readers. Both for me, and as a great quiet activity for the kids. Walter enjoys puzzles during his quiet time while the daycare children in my home nap, and its a really great way for both Walter and Audrey to wind down after dinner before they go to bed.
But I don't like puzzle boxes. Those flimsy cardboard things don't last two days in this house before there is a rip along the side rendering the whole box useless in any puzzle piece holding capacity.
A while back I thought I was pretty smart. I figured I would but the puzzles in bags! Well....plastic bags wouldn't work. Not with having a daycare and therefor always young children around. Unless I kept the bags out of their reach at all times. But that wasn't what I wanted to do. I think its a great thing to let the little ones explore puzzles and other cognitive games before they are dexterous enough to complete them.
After more thinking I decided I would go the way of mesh laundry bags- the little ones intended for dedicates in the washing machine. Those should be perfectly fine for the kids. So I had gone out and invested in a number of these bags from the local dollar store. (This was in my pre-sewing days. Now I simply would have whipped up a few mesh bags on my sewing machine. But I digress.)
For the most part the mesh laundry bags worked. I cut out the picture of the completed puzzle from the front of the box and included in the bag with all the pieces.
I found I had two issues with my mesh bag "solution".
Problem one was that these bags did not stack. In all my frustration over the torn boxes I had forgotten to appreciate their stack-ability. The bags really just ended up tossed in the bottom of the toy box for lack of a better, on hand, bag storage solution.
Problem two, although not unique to mesh bags, is that several puzzles would often be played with at any given time. This meant a very high likelihood that I would have to assemble each puzzle at clean up time to be sure that I had all the pieces there, and only pieces for that puzzle went into that bag.
One day while changing the diaper of a day care child a light bulb came on in my head. These baby wipes boxes....they were sturdy....and stack able....easy for children to open....and posed no immediate danger to children. I could store my puzzles and games in old baby wipes containers! I was brilliant! Except we only have two baby wipes containers. One for upstairs and one for the main floor. We only buy the refills, not the new tubs every time.
So, I reached out to some friends on http://www.frugalmommy.org/ and asked if anyone had wipes containers kicking around that they would be willing to part with. The response was awesome. I needed about a dozen containers, and my need was filled in under a day.
Next I took the image of the completed puzzle from the front of the puzzle box and super glued it to the front of wipes box. Using clear packing tape would work pretty well too. I also wrote the number of puzzle pieces on the top of the container with permanent marker.
Here is where I stepped up my brilliance. I assembled the puzzles to make sure all pieces were there. Then I flipped over each piece and wrote a symbol on the back of each. I used a dot for all pieces of one puzzle, a star for another, a square for another and so on. Then I added this symbol to the top of the wipes box beside the number of pieces.
Now I knew not only that 48 pieces of puzzle should go in this tub, but which 48 pieces without having to assemble the whole puzzle.
Happy Monday, gentle readers.