Teaching Kids Diversity and Tolerance with Puzzles

Recently the “R-word” was used to insult the President on Twitter by the political commentator and author Ann Coulter. Understandably, the improper and condescending use of the word upset many people, but none expressed so elegantly why the misuse of the word was hurtful as Special Olympic athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens, who found these words to describe his feelings:

“After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me.  You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV. I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash. Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.”

Both special needs and cultural diversity are important topics, and sometimes they’re difficult to talk about with children. As this article mentions, sometimes we can be hesitant or worried to talk about these issues because we don’t want to come off as discriminating. But we can’t pretend there aren’t any differences between people, because there are, and all these differences should be celebrated, but more importantly, respected.

Puzzle Warehouse has some great puzzles, music CDs and activity books that can help you get the conversation started teaching your children about different cultures and countries. If you don’t know a lot about these places, you and your child can have fun learning together!

CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD - FLOOR

48 piece puzzle introduced kids to various cultures.

With a great starting point like puzzles, music and games, it’s easy to get the conversation started with your children. With the help of some article research (find links below), here are 10 things to do to teach your children about diversity:

  1. Don’t be blind to differences. Be honest about them.
  2. Recognize that you may consciously or unconsciously harbor negative feelings, biases and prejudices about others.
  3. Point out stereotypes, acts of prejudice and bias depicted in TV, movies, computer games and other media. Read books or watch videos with tolerance, diversity and multicultural themes with your children.
  4. Integrate culturally diverse artwork, literature or music in your home.
  5. Teach them that a disability is only one characteristic of a person. People have many facets: likes and dislikes, strengths and challenges.
  6. Teach them that children with disabilities can do many of the things your child does, but it might take them longer. They may need assistance or adaptive equipment to help them.
  7. Encourage your children to find common ground with everybody.
  8. 8. Teach them that it’s okay to ask others questions, so long as their questions are considerate and respectful.
  9. Discuss weaknesses and strengths of people who have different abilities.
  10. Remember that talking about tolerance and diversity is an ongoing process. Lead by example.
FLAGS OF THE WORLD - 1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle

1000pc puzzle with flags from all over the world.


Here are some articles that expound on how you can help your children learn about differences in a positive way:

Mental Health Answers – Taking to Children About Diversity

PBS – Teaching Children About Diversity

Care.com – Teaching Your Child about Peers with Special Needs

A Look at Impossible and Extremely Difficult Puzzles

For the avid puzzlers – we are always looking for a new challenge. For some, increasing the piece count is enough – moving up from standard 1000 piece or 1500 piece puzzles into the giant masterpieces like a 9000 piece Underwater Paradise or even bigger like the world’s largest puzzle at 32,000 pieces. For others, it’s not just about the piece count, but adding some other kind of dimension to the puzzle that makes it more difficult to solve. Today, I’ll take a look at a few specialty puzzles you’ll find at PuzzleWarehouse.com, and why they have the thrill you’re looking for in your next jigsaw.

 

Most difficult jigsaw puzzle with no edge pieces

Raining Cats and Dogs – an Impossibles with extra pieces and no edges.

Impossible Puzzles

University Games has come up with a few unique obstacles that are sure to throw a wrench into your typical idea of puzzling. Their Impossibles series are puzzles with no edge pieces (which means there is no border to help guide you), and also FIVE extra pieces in the box that don’t fit any other piece. And then, if you do manage to solve the puzzle without a flat edge for a clue, there are also hidden images in the completely puzzle to find within. The puzzles are only 750 pieces – but don’t let the size fool you – aside from the extra pieces and no edges, the images are also very repetitive – with similar colors and objects that make assembling the pieces even harder.


Non-Interlocking Puzzles

Scramble Squares - Classic Cars Puzzle Brainteaser

Scramble Squares – Classic Cars.

Don’t the simplicity fool you – just because these puzzles only have 9 pieces does not mean they won’t be a challenge! The object is to arrange the nine squares into a 3×3 square so that the graphics on the edges match perfectly all the way around to form a complete design in every direction. Scramble Squares slogan? “Can you unscramble the squares without scrambling your brain?” They even have an in-store challenge – if you can solve one in under 5 minutes, you get a free puzzle! Not many do!

 

Wasgij Puzzles

WASGIJ? MYSTERY - DRAMA AT THE OPERA

WASGIJ? MYSTERY – DRAMA AT THE OPERA

That’s right – jigsaw spelled backwards, or Wasgij, is a whole new way of puzzling. Created by Jumbo brand puzzles and drawn by artist Graham Thompson, these creative jigsaws are not what you’d expect. The puzzle you put together is not the same as the image you see on the box – in fact, solving the puzzle is part of solving the mystery! To complete the puzzle, you have to imagine what the character on the box image sees, or in come cases, will see! The puzzle art is bright and colorful along with humorous cartoons. Can you imagine yourself as part of the picture and put together what you might be seeing?

 

For even more specialty puzzle types – like ones that glow in the dark or feature hidden images and creative shapes, visit our website. Have you done one of these types of puzzles – tell us what you thought in the comments below.

Happy Puzzling!

Artist Profile: Edward Gorey

I was looking through our collection of Halloween puzzles when I spotted an Edward Gorey puzzle we have:

Dracula puzzle by artist Edward Gorey

Dracula in Dr. Seward’s Library, by Edward Gorey. 500 pieces – Finished size: 24″ x 18″.

I love Edward Gorey. His and Tim Burton’s melancholy, macabre works have always fascinated me. My favorite movie of all time is Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and I was always thrilled it was appropriate to watch during two holiday seasons.

Gorey is famous for his alphabet poem with pen-and-ink illustrations, described as a list of “incredible ways to die.” My favorite is probably “B, for Basil, assaulted by bears.”

I’m drawn to those people who look at things a little differently, and Gorey is one of them.

Here are a collection of my favorite quotes from this great artist:

“I really think I write about everyday life. I don’t think I’m quite as odd as others say I am. Life is intrinsically, well, boring and dangerous at the same time. At any given moment the floor may open up. Of course, it almost never does; that’s what makes it so boring.”

Edward Gorey Puzzle

The untitled, gleefully chaotic work reproduced in this puzzle might be seen as Gorey’s celebration of the theater, which brought him great pleasure and inspiration. 1000 piece puzzle.

“My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible. I think we should all be as uneasy as possible, because that’s what the world is like.”

“Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what’s important is left after you have explained everything else.”

“I don’t think anything might have been. What is, is.”

Edward Gorey died in April of 2000. He is missed, but his charm and peculiar humor lives on his art. As he said about himself: “To take my work seriously would be the height of folly.” So, if you like his unique take on life and his wonderful drawings, check out the Gorey puzzles we have displayed above.

 

EDWARD GOREY: SEVENTEEN CATS Puzzle

Seventeen Cats on the Front Steps of 82 Maple Street, by Edward Gorey. This 300 piece jigsaw puzzle with extra large pieces, measures 18″ x 24″.

Fun & Easy Things to Do Under $20

When it comes to spending quality time with family and friends – sometimes it can get spendy. Puzzles and games are a great way to have fun on a budget – but there are a lot of other fun things you can do that are entertaining without breaking the bank. First off, we have a huge selection of puzzles, brainteasers and games under $10. Since times are tough for a lot of us out there, it’s also good to have some ideas for fun things to do that don’t break the budget.

Examples of puzzles you can get for $10 or less:

From left to right:
1. A Sign of the Times – 300 piece puzzle from Ceaco.
2. African Afternoon – 100 piece puzzle from Ravensburger.
3. Fifties Junkpile – 1000 pieces by TDC Games

Of course, puzzles are not the only way to enjoy your time on a budget. Here, we’ve put together some great ideas for you to have fun that shouldn’t cost you more

HOME MOVIE NIGHT

Still go that VCR hanging around in a storage closet? Find your old childhood home videos and watch them with the family, or take a trip to the nearest Goodwill or St. Vinnie’s and pick up a collection of some of your old favorite movies you’ve forgotten about and have a movie night!

TRIVIA NIGHT

Find out more about your friends and family with questions you wouldn’t normally think to ask each other—like “Would you ever go skydiving/bungee jumping/eat a foreign delicacy like frog’s legs?” Take turns guessing things about other people. It was a fun way to learn new things about the people you already thought you knew best! You can find tons of  “would you ever” questions online – or if you think you need a little more help, Puzzle Warehouse has tons of conversational games under $20.

BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN TOWN

Check into your museums and the parks you haven’t yet got a chance to visit in your town. Pick a new form of transportation: if you usually drive everywhere, why not ride the bus or ride a bike? Try to look at your home from an outsider’s perspective. What do you think about it?

MAKE A QUILT

Still attached to some old clothes that don’t fit? A friend of mine has a quilt stitched out of his favorite childhood t-shirts, and it looks pretty cool and has sentimental value. Also, it will help you out with your sewing skills! Here are some helpful hints.

LEARN HOW TO ORIGAMI

You can use all that notebook paper you kept buying at the beginning of every school year and then lost, or old papers that you just haven’t gotten around to recycling. Pick up an origami book from your local craft store or visit Origami Online for some tips and tutorials.

REARRANGE YOUR ROOM

Sometimes just moving things around makes everything feel fresh and new. If space is tight, even just rearranging some decorations or throwing out things you really don’t need anymore can liven up a space.

COLLAGES

Take out those old magazines you’ve been storing or some old tissue paper you have for gift bags and do some modge-podging on a glass jar to make a neat candle holder. Or use the magazines to make some homemade birthday or holiday cards to give out later in the year. Or just make a collage like when you were 13 of your favorite things for no reason at all! Lots of DIY crafts can be searched for on Pinterest.

BLACKOUT POETRY

There’s a poet somewhere in all of us. It may just be more buried and hard to pull out in some more than others. Blackout poetry is a great way to push yourself creatively! First you find an old book or go and pick up some used copies somewhere for cheap. Then you find phrases and words that stick out to you and take a sharpie and black out the rest of the page—leaving only the words you want for a poem.

CROSSWORLD PUZZLES

On an episode of Friends, Rachel once challenged herself to finish a New York Times Crossword all by herself. But you can always ask a friend to help you with the clues you just have absolutely no idea about, or you can also find resources online like this handy website which lets you know whether you’re on the right track.

PICNICS

Organize a picnic with some friends. Each of you can bring something—it’ll be like a mini pot luck! Again, online can be great resource – find great cheap picnic food ideas.

Puzzles for Libras

Libra Art Miniature Jigsaw Puzzle

Mini puzzle by Artist Stanley Dai, part of his Constellations Collection. 40 pieces and measures 4.7″ x 3.2″.

LIBRA DESCRIPTION

“To your advantage, Libra, you have an ethereal quality that is sometimes described as ‘out of this world’ or evolved. You’re a seeker or light and a believer in true love and you have the potential to create the most beautiful and harmonious art, music, and relationships. You also have a greater ability than most to achieve a balance among all the areas of your life. Where some signs go overboard focusing on just the physical or just the mental part of life, you understand that all areas of your life run most smoothly when they’re in balance with each other.”
—Athena Starwoman, Zodiac: Athena’s Sunsigns

LIBRA:  SEPTEMBER 24-OCTOBER 23

Element: Air
Planetary ruler: Venus
Symbol: The Scales
Quality: Cardinal (activity)
Colors: Blue and turquoise
Gem: Diamonds and opals
Strongest virtues: Eye for design, social charm, and diplomacy
Characteristics: Active, affectionate, artistic, balanced, easygoing, generous, gentle, just, peaceable, polished

Singing and Dancing Abstract Jigsaw Puzzle 500 pieces

Contemporary Arts – Singing and Dancing by Pintoo. 500 pieces. Finished size: 12.12″ x 14.88″. $17.99

This puzzle is almost a reflection of itself down the middle—it’s very balanced and artistic, just like Libra.

Rex Ray Art Jigsaw Puzzle 1000 pieces

Affeto by Heye from artist Rex Ray. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”. $25.99

The bright blue and turquoise, plus the sheek design, will draw in the Libra.

Charley Harper Wildlife Art Jigsaw Puzzle, 1000 pieces

Glacier Bay, Alaska by Pomegranate from artist Charley Harper. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 27”. $16.99

The simple shapes and patterns of this portrayed balance of the Glacier Bay ecosystem is right up Libra’s alley.

God Speed Fine Art Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

God Speed by Peaceful Wooden Puzzles. Piece and finished size varies as each puzzle is custom made – click photo for details. Starting at $46.99

Libra’s sign is the scales—they’re sticklers for justice, just like the famed knights of old tales.

Frank Lloyd Wright Jigsaw Puzzle - 1000 pieces

Amish Quilt: Tumbling Blocks by artist Frank Llyod Wright. From Pomegranate Puzzles. 1000 pieces. Finished size: 20” x 25”. $16.99

Balance and with shocks of turquoise. It’s the Libra’s dream puzzle!

For even more zodiac-related puzzles, check out these creative miniature puzzles made by Pintoo, made for each sign of zodiac.