puzzles from recyclables

So yesterday was trash day and there were a few boxes that were left out of the recycling bin. I thought it was the perfect chance to use them in environmental print puzzles I’ve done before. The problem with them is the cardboard on food boxes is pretty flimsy, so trying to push them together can be frustrating to toddlers and preschoolers. We came up with a solution to that by using Contact paper beneath the puzzle. Worked like a dream!

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  • Contact paper
  • Tape
  • Recyclables (preferably products that are common to your toddler)

I set the activity up by cutting a few boxes into simple puzzles. Three to four pieces seemed about right for my 2 and 3 year olds. Then I placed the contact paper (sticky side up) on the table and taped it down. That’s it-we were ready to go!


I thought the crackers box might be a little trickier, so I also numbered the pieces to indicate the correct order.


Ways to extend the activity: I chose to have the puzzles assembled when I introduced the activity so my boys would have a point of reference when they worked. With older kids, you may want to place all the pieces at the center of the table and let them do the sorting.


The contact paper was definitely key in making these puzzles do-able for my boys. Not only did it make the activity easier, but it was also satisfying as they completed, disassembled, and re-did each puzzle over and over on the sticky paper!


This activity is practically free to make, and helps develop so many early learning objectives (recognizing environmental print, sequencing numbers, critical thinking, cooperation, etc.) it is a must-do for preschool and homeschool kiddos! I know we will be doing it several more times as we get new packages to work on 🙂

Make simple toddler and preschool puzzles out of recyclables!

9 thoughts on “Puzzles from Recyclables”

    1. Thank you, Chelsea! My kids really liked this. I love the way we can change it up anytime we have new packaging!

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