Turn Old Prints Into New Puzzles

I’m fortunate to have some duplicate copies of fine art prints — most were freebies from conferences and workshops. Originally, I divided a few prints into rectangular sections for grid drawings but after inheriting a felt board I started using them as a puzzle (click image at left to enlarge). When students had free time they loved working on these giant puzzles. And I loved finding a new purpose for existing materials that can do double duty and extend learning. Below is how to create each activity.

Group Grid Drawing Pieces

  • Select a duplicate print to cut up into pieces. Remember you can use posters from inserts in publications like School Arts, your state art education publications, National Art Education Association publications or vendor freebies.
  • Use a paper cutter to divide the art print into even sized pieces. Each art print will measure slightly differently due to its size. Cut up a large supply of blank paper the same size as the art print pieces for students to do their grid drawings on.
  • Glue directions on the back of each art print piece and number them (see example). Having the directions on the back of each piece allows students to work independently when they finish regular assignments. Click here to print Art Puzzle Directions for students.
  • Laminate all the art print pieces and cut them out. Remember cutting out laminate is a great job for student helpers in the art room (see odd art jobs).
  • Store the art print and blank paper pieces in a gallon sized zip-lock plastic bag. On your storage bag record the artist, name of the artwork and the number of art print pieces. (Knowing the number of pieces makes clean-up and sorting easier.) Zip-lock bags are on the student supply lists at my school. I asked a home room teacher for an extra box to use in the art room. Check with the teachers in your building.
  • Introduce the group grid drawing activity to your classes and store the pieces in a box, basket or container that they can easily access when they complete their regular work. Make sure to create a place to turn in completed grid drawings as well as store drawings still in progress.

Art Puzzle Pieces

  • Take the newly created art print pieces for grid drawing and add Velcro or magnets to the back of each one. This is another great job for students (see odd art jobs). What you use depends on your preferences and what you have on hand.
  • Velcro is great on felt boards and carpets. Kids can easily work on a puzzle in groups in a carpeted area. If you don’t have a carpet area you can take a piece of the Velcro’s hook side to a discount store and find an inexpensive throw rug. Local flooring companies might be willing to donate carpet samples or remnant pieces. There are also lots of inexpensive ways to construct a felt board. Here is a link to one creative solution I found. How to Make a Felt Board.  Find the “U Loop” fabric for velcro board online here.
  • Magnets are a perfect option for any classroom because almost everyone has a magnetic chalkboard or whiteboard surface that can be immediately utilized. If you have art on a cart or travel to another building you’re almost always guaranteed to have a magnetic surface at your disposal.  Other options to consider are magnetic dry erase easels, magnetic paint or even cookie sheets depending on the art puzzle size.
  • Store art puzzle pieces in a labeled zip-lock bag along with the blank paper for the group grid drawings and place in an area easily accessible to students.

Below is a short video of kindergartners using an art puzzle.

Can’t view this video? Try this link.

Hillary Andrlik

Hillary has been teaching art in the Chicago area since 2002 and was named Illinois Elementary Art Educator of the Year in 2012 by the Illinois Art Education Association. She received her art education degree from Illinois State University and masters from National Louis University. She is the co-founder and co-author of The Teaching Palette, a blog authored by art educators for art educators, and the digital editor for Illinois Art Education Association. Hillary's teaching strategies and lessons have been featured in numerous media, including School Arts magazine, and she has made several presentations on art education and technology in front of the Illinois Art Education Association and the National Art Education Association. Follow her on Twitter @hilland


  • March 8, 2010


    I love these art projects! I think its a great way to get students or just kids at home into art. Another fun idea would bet to let the kids take original photos and then create those into puzzles. It may spark a love for art/photography and/or prove talent. Besides that you can always get a fun trip out of it.

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