A friend of mine recently contacted me about needing a new way to reveal the cover for her next book. She’s a busy writer, so she puts out a new book about every other month and was getting bored with the more popular way. We found a fun solution that might also help you entertain your little one on those days when it’s too hot to go outside.

It’s an easy puzzle generator.

The site provides a great number of available pre-made puzzles for you to choose from, but what makes this a particularly fun tool for kids is they can make their own puzzles.

Have the kids go through family photo albums, digital photo files, or turn amateur kid photographer with the SmartPhone. That right there takes up an hour or two and maybe they’ve found something else to entertain themselves with as a side-project to finding just the right image.

Once you have an image to work with, make sure it’s digital in some way (that smartphone can really come in handy!). Next, go to the site and click on the Create option in the top menu bar.

On that page, you are given the ability to upload your image, give your puzzle a name, choose how many pieces to include, how complicated you want the piece shapes to be and whether or not the pieces can be rotated on the display page (hint: don’t rotate pieces for little people).

If you want to make your puzzle easy to find by other people, you can also add tags to it that give an indication of what the puzzle is all about – picnic, red and white checkers, celebration, reunion, park, green, outside – etc. Choose as many words as you want and don’t be afraid to include words that refer to emotional content as well.

Finally, just hit the Create button at the bottom of the page and the site will automatically create a puzzle for you based on your specifications. Including your child in the creation process can help them to feel more in control as well and be more interested in the project.

Now, you can spend the next several minutes working with your child to solve the puzzle or, depending on your child’s age and computer skills, even leave them alone to solve the puzzle for themselves.

Another fun way to use this program is to choose or create images just for your child without involving them in the creation process itself, then let them be surprised when they solve the puzzle to see themselves or some other familiar item.

For older children, add an extra element of deduction by creating an image that serves as a clue to what they can do next, what you’ve got scheduled for later, something you want them to do or something they are about to get (as in a new toy or new pet).

Puzzling out new ideas for Summer Heat
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