From the iPad to the Real World: Puzzles

When it comes to getting Beth to do puzzles, we have tried it all. Small puzzles, big floor puzzles, wood puzzles, jigsaws, puzzles that make noise, puzzles with favorite characters, cube puzzles, foam puzzles, progressive puzzles (starting at 3-4 pieces), and on and on. We bribed her with all her favorite edibles, we tried working very slowly from baby puzzles to  multi-piece puzzles, and we tried using sound puzzles since she liked them the best. We saw some progress, but in the end Beth still hated puzzles.

Since Beth had a distaste for puzzles in the “real world,” we were shocked that she LOVED the Disney puzzle books on the iPad.  Disney Puzzle Books were the perfect puzzles for Beth, because they had a small number of jigsaw pieces, had characters she liked, and there was a faint background image so that she could match the pieces.  The iPad puzzles are much easier for Beth to navigate compared to the 3-dimensional world, because the pieces are already oriented correctly and all Beth has to do is drag them into place and get close to the right spot.  Look at Beth go doing a Minnie Mouse puzzle on the iPad (1):

Converting a Puzzle on the iPad into a Real World Puzzle

Beth loved the iPad Disney puzzles so much, I decided to convert one of the puzzles into a 3-dimensional version.  She immediately liked it!  I still have to take out only 3-4 pieces at a time and orient the puzzle pieces correctly so that she doesn’t get frustrated.  But at least Beth was happy to do the puzzle and did not protest or flee the scene, as she does with other puzzles!

Here are step-by-step instructions for turning an iPad puzzle into a foam puzzle:

1.  Take a screen shot of the puzzle (I actually had to take two pictures and put them together, because when the puzzle is completed, the outline of the puzzle pieces disappears and the iPad app immediately goes to video).  Here is how you can take a screen shot of anything on the iPad, and save it in your camera roll:

2. Print out the puzzle image.  Either e-mail the picture to your computer for printing if you don’t have a wireless printer.  Otherwise, you can download an app, such as iCan-Print ( to print from the iPad to your wireless printer.

3. Put the image on adhesive foam ( and cover with contact paper (

5.  Cut out the puzzle with an X-Acto knife (  Make sure to press straight down when you are cutting and trim any rough edges.

Minnie Mouse Puzzle on Self-Adhesive Foam Board

Minnie Mouse Puzzle on Self-Adhesive Foam Board

An unexpected bonus is that the foam puzzle pieces make a very satisfying “pop” sound when they go in, which seems to motivate Beth even more.  Here is Beth popping two puzzle pieces into the foam puzzle:

We still have some work to do, but I hope this is the beginning of the end of Beth’s puzzling puzzle problem!




4 thoughts on “From the iPad to the Real World: Puzzles

  1. Again, love the modifications! Puzzles can be frustrating to my kids, too. I’ve found that my kids can keep at it more when there is a match-up sheet underneath. “Crocodile Creek” makes puzzles like this- a poster sits underneath the puzzle, so it takes some frustration out it. I like your idea with the foam board. I’m going to try this and take one step out- printing the puzzle. Dollar Tree has $1 Disney puzzles, I can glue those down to a foam board and x-acto them back out from there. Easy!

    • grahamta says:

      There is something about that foam board that my kid just loves…the pop sound, the thickness, the pictures…she is really moving on the puzzles finally! I tried a picture underneath and it seemed to visually confuse her for some reason. You would think it would help, but for some reason it didn’t. That is why I had to resort to this approach. Good luck in your glue down and cutting…great idea!

  2. jjay says:

    Yayyyyyy!!! 🙂

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