I call these my “Upcycled Puzzles.” Upcycling is “the practice of converting waste materials into products of greater value.“ Or, as I say, turning junk into art. Similar to recycling, except that the idea is to take a material and use it to create a greater product (i.e. art). So, in this case…I took an old, broken book, which was beyond repair and turned it into a series of puzzles that tell a story. In this case, the book was “Twas the Night Before Christmas”
I ended up making ten of these in one night (while sipping tea & listening to NPR on the radio). They were popular at the Craft Fair and make a great little advent calendar gift or stocking stuffer.
The idea is simple and while the steps take a bit of time — I would say this is a very easy project. It’s particularly easy if you’re just making ONE or TWO puzzles…versus making ten puzzles, like I was.
I don’t have a photo tutorial of each step…but here are the basics:
- Old book pages
- Cardboard (I used cereal boxes)
- Glue stick or similar
- Pencil & ruler
- Crafting scissors (or exacto-knife)
- Ribbon (for wrapping)
- Cut out a piece of cardboard the same size as your storybook page (it can be a bit bigger and trimmed down later)
- Glue the storybook page in one piece (right-side up) onto the cardboard. I glue this onto the image-side of the cereal box (i.e. onto the side that says “GRANOLA”), so the back is just blank cardboard.
- Cut around the puzzle/cardboard to make the edges even.
- Turn the puzzle right-side up and, using a thick permanent marker, draw a border around whole the page (this creates an “edge” which helps kids figure out where the pieces go). I forgot to do this the first time (as you’ll notice on the images that follow), so had to do each piece after it was cut.
- Now turn the puzzle right-side down (blank cardboard facing up). Use a pencil and ruler to divide the page into large squares (I made 9 squares). Using a pencil (lightly) draw horizontal columns and vertical columns (I had 3 horizontal & 3 vertical).
- Using light pencil marks, create the puzzle shapes/slots. I decided to create triangles, squares and circles. I liked the uniqueness of using all three shapes, but you can easily just stick to one if you prefer.
- Once each edge (except the borders) have puzzle shapes/slots drawn on them, begin cutting out the puzzle pieces. Be careful not to cut over the shapes/slots as you go.
- Once the piece are cut, go through the pieces to make sure the glue is holding (and edges aren’t lifting up).
- Stack the pieces on top of each other, connect with a ribbon and add a little tag.
As a lifetime lover of books (&words&images&authors&binding&…), I can’t stomach the thought of ruining a perfectly good book to create a puzzle — so be sure to use books that are already coming apart or old favorites found at 2nd hand stores or the like.