family fun

Family Activities: Creating Puzzles

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Most of the time when you think family traditions you think of vacations, holidays, or pumpkin carving, but in my family that wasn't' always true. What we always did was jigsaw puzzles. My first memory of putting together a jigsaw puzzle was with my grandmother when I was five or six. She had put them together since she was a little girl and there was a special table in the house denoted just for her thousand-piece puzzles. She would put each one together over the course of a week or two and then take it apart, put it back in its box, and donate the box to the local Salvation Army. Creating puzzles became a passion for her.


Creating Puzzles: A New Family Tradition

When we moved to another state, I was sure it was the end of puzzles but that year our grandmother sent me and my three sisters each a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas. I don’t remember what the pictures were of—other than one was a train—but we did these puzzles one at a time with our parents and finished them as a family on the kitchen table. Needless to say, it took a lot less time than my grandmother doing them by herself, and when we finished up our Christmas puzzles, we soon found ourselves buying new ones.

Now, it's become a family tradition equal to what could be game night for most families. Once a month we get together with a new jigsaw puzzle and put it together, just like we've done for years. And lucky for us, studies show that completing jigsaw puzzles isn't just a fun hobby—it's actually great for learning, memory retention, and keeps the brain active. We also get to spend time as a family solving what can be a pretty challenging puzzle, and as they say, hard times lead to bonding.

Doing Puzzles Together

With my parents, my sisters, and the third generation of kids all around the table it can get more than a little crowded, but we always have fun, and the kids are just as interested as we are in finding the right pieces. Probably the best thing about jigsaw puzzles is that we get to solve the problem as a family and nothing happens if we don't work together. If you want to incorporate puzzles as your own family tradition, try the following tips:

  • Let the kids help pick out the puzzles, they'll be more engaged
  • Make it family time with no phones and add in fun snacks or drinks that you only get when 'puzzling'
  • Assign each person a task or color, but make sure you mix it up a bit each time
  • Use a puzzle mat or plastic bag instead of making the puzzle on the floor or table

At the end of the day, your family traditions are what keep your family together, and ours is doing puzzles.

What activities do you like to do with your family?

Dina Ramon lives and works in the Washington, DC area and is the mother of a nine-year-old girl. She contributes to several websites including MotherhoodLater.

Photo by Tojosan via Flickr 

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