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All Imagination & Play

A new spin on our U.S.A. map puzzle!

2017-07-04 by Chris and Cristina Mech

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In this essay, guest bloggers Chris and Cristina Mech describe how their son gave them a new perspective on puzzles as he discovered a fresh way to play with a favorite floor puzzle! At Melissa & Doug, we like to talk about how there are Countless Ways to Play— and we love hearing stories like this that show your kids’ inventive twists on our toys!

Our son Ian, who just turned 4 years old, loves jigsaw puzzles. We didn’t realize how much he would enjoy them until he received his very first one on his 2nd birthday. He loved completing them over and over again and to make it even more interesting, he began to mix the pieces of different puzzles together before building each individual one.  From that point on, family and friends knew exactly what type of presents they wanted to give him – puzzles!

The Flip Side of Floor Puzzles

For his 3rd birthday, Ian received a  Melissa & Doug U.S.A. Map Floor Puzzle. We helped him with it a few times at first, but shortly thereafter he was able to complete it by himself. After he mastered the puzzle, he wanted to take it to the next level, be creative, and assemble it flipped faced down! We were really amazed! He was so pleased with himself once he completed it that he took the puzzle apart to do it all over again. At that point, we grabbed a camera and captured his second attempt at building the puzzle flipped over.

Making the Most of Puzzle Play

Not just a puzzle to make once and then put away, the Melissa & Doug U.S.A. Map Floor Puzzle has become something to learn from every time our son makes it. Ian not only recognizes each piece shape and location, but he has learned many of the state names as well. This has fueled an interest in our son to learn more about states, countries, and maps!  We enjoy family time and have fun playing with Ian and his games, toys, books, and puzzles. When any of these fun resources provide that extra spark in the mind of a child, as the U.S.A. map puzzle did, it also becomes a great learning tool and inspires children to explore their world.

Countless Ways to Play


Here are a few ideas for other ways to play with the Melissa & Doug U.S.A. Map Floor Puzzle that might spark ideas for extended play with puzzles in your child’s toy box:

  • Find the puzzle piece that shows your state, and talk about where in the state your home is. What picture is shown for your state? Why do you think this object is associated with your state?
  • Work on the puzzle with 1-3 friends, giving each player all the puzzle pieces of one color. (Any leftover puzzle pieces can be divided among the players.)
  • Turn the puzzle pieces over so the white sides are up. Can you guess any of the states from their shapes alone? (Watch out: a few of the pieces have more than one state! Extra points if you can name all the states on one piece from memory!)

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Chris and Cristina Mech

Chris and Cristina Mech enjoy exploring their world with their 4-year-old, whether it's traveling to interesting places, tasting different cuisines, engaging in fun learning activities, or growing new plants in their own backyard.

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