Stackable Cardboard Puzzle Trays

Getting our toys organized to the point that they can easily be used and put away has been a huge focus in our home this past month.

Electra is a complete puzzle nut, so I thought getting our puzzles straightened up would be a good place to start.

These are just kiwi boxes, super sturdy ones, that I rescued from the grocery store. I cut out the front portion of the box with a utility knife.

The boxes have notches at the top that interlock with the box above. This feature makes the boxes great for stacking since they always stay in place.

In the first version I tried, I removed the entire front of the box, which I wouldn’t advise. It’s important to leave at least an inch or so on all three sides to maintain the rigidity of the cardboard.

We thought about decorating the boxes in some way, but I in the end I fell in love with the punchy red and yellow (and the little diagonal break.)  Bold, graphic colors are such a great contrast to all of the neutral shades we have in our apartment.

I’m a big proponent of Montessori philosophy. “Help me do it by myself,” is a central Montessori theme, and this project is an example of one way that we integrate Montessori  philosophy into our day-to-day activities.

Electra always works on a mat to define the space, and chooses one puzzle at a time. When she’s done she has to put one puzzle away before she gets  another one out.

Sometimes I pull all of the trays out for her to choose from and sometimes just a few, it kind of depends on the mood of the day and what she’s currently interested in.

I have to say, with this system, she really does clean up after herself. There’s something about that whole order begets order thing.

Now if I can just get it to spread to the rest of my house a little faster.

More on Montessori:

Basics of Montessori Philosophy

Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, by Angelina S. Lillard, PhD (If you don’t have time to read this excellent book, listen to the NPR podcast while you’re folding laundry!)

8 thoughts on “Stackable Cardboard Puzzle Trays

  1. What a great idea! I’ll be checking our grocery for kiwi boxes. Hopefully the ones here also interlock for stacking. Eli’s puzzles are all up on a high shelf as they don’t fit into the cubby shelves where the rest of his toys are. I’ve been trying to figure out how to store them accessibly but not have them kicking around getting pieces lost. I also like the idea of using the work mat with it to contain and define the activity. Thank you also for the NPR podcast link. I’ll look forward to listening to it tomorrow and I have laundry that needs folding!

    • I was having the same problem with the puzzle storage and the littlest one would just pull all the pieces down and make a huge mess. This has been a good compromise, I watch the the trouble maker and Electra enjoys her puzzling.

    • The blanket was a baby gift from my talented sister. She made it! Aren’t the colors great? It’s the perfect size for a play mat and it’s also smooth enough for doing puzzles on. We love it!

  2. Pingback: How to Find Free Cardboard | The Cardboard Collective

  3. Very clever way to create storage! I love your idea for cutting away a portion of one side so the contents can be seen! I have been stacking cardboard flats for years – filled with crafty projects – but being able to see what is actually in each would be a huge help!!!!

  4. Thank you for this awesome idea! Making this will definitely help organize the toy clutter! I love, love, love it… because it is recycling/repurposing… and best of all free since I’m a stay at home mommy with a tight budget.

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