HACK: Clay Puzzle Knobs

For quite some time Mikey has been a BIG fan of puzzles. His cerebral palsy and dystonia make picking up the pieces difficult so he needs puzzles with large knobs on each piece. It turns out that these puzzles are hard to find and expensive (the vehicle one we have by Melissa and Doug is around $35 vs a $5 puzzle from Kmart).

Puzzles are such a great educational toy and something we love to give and receive for birthdays however we have been given a number of puzzles that Mikey can’t enjoy without a lot of help. That was until our friend mentioned air dry clay. It turns out you can easily and cheaply turn any puzzle into one with knobs and make it accessible for your child by using air dry clay.

All you need is:

  • Air dry clay – I purchased ours from Riot Arts and Crafts which was $6 for 500g and I had loads left over. I bought white but it does come in different colours.
  • A puzzle – we had 2 peg puzzles and the tiny pegs are way too small for Mikey to grasp.
  • Glue – you may or may not need some superglue to attach the knobs to the puzzle.

The air dry clay is really easy to use. Simply mould it to a shape you want, we went with our friends advice and chose a lumpy shape to make it easier to grasp – less perfect also means it’s easier for you! Then you just need to press it firmly onto the pegs. Leave it to air dry as per directions on the pack – I left ours outside in the sun for a day. Once completely dry I noticed a couple of pieces were loose so I glued them onto the pegs with superglue.

Alternatively for flat puzzles without pegs you can roll balls or any shapes with a flat base. Then let them air dry and glue them directly onto the puzzle pieces. You can even paint them if you want.

Leftover clay can be wrapped up (I put it in a ziplock bag) and stored in the fridge so it doesn’t dry out.

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