This free printable four piece mermaid puzzle is low-prep fine motor fun for preschoolers and kindergarteners! Your child and/or students can work on their fine motor skills and problem solving abilities as they recreate the cute purple mermaid picture.
The activity is easy to differentiate instruction with because there are two versions of the puzzle - one with a hint image and one without it. This mermaid puzzle is preschooler tested and approved. I hope your little learner enjoys this it as much as mine does!
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If you have young children at home (or are an early education teacher) and are looking for low-prep mermaid-themed activities, you've come to the right place! Here are a few of the most popular ocean theme posts on The Artisan Life for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners:
How to use cut & paste puzzles
Cut and paste puzzles seem super easy to adults, but they can be surprisingly difficult for young children. Children usually look at the puzzle piece shape, not the picture. This strategy doesn't work for this puzzle because each piece is a square! The square pieces make your child actually look at the image and decide whether or not it matches/makes sense.
There are two versions of this mermaid puzzle: one with a light background image in the solution area and one without a picture. Children who have mastered simple puzzles with the reference image can move on to the plain white background version for an extra challenge.
Here are ideas for different ways to use this printable puzzle:
Let your child use a blunt-tipped pair of small scissors so they can practice their cutting, even if the pieces don't end up exactly perfect. We started practicing with scissors when my daughter was about 18 months old. It's challenging to sit back and let your little one cut slowly and imperfectly. We attend a monthly program at a local nature center. At craft time, it's obvious which children have been allowed to practice with scissors and which haven't. We have multiple pairs of these small Fiskars scissors.
- SCHOOL SUPPLIES FOR KIDS 4+: Fiskars Blunt-Tip Kids Scissors for cutting through all kinds of classroom materials; Ideal for kids ages 4 to 7; #1...
- SAFE FOR KIDS: A safer blade angle and a blunt tip make these innovative safety scissors a reliable choice for cutting paper craft supplies in school...
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Your child's work won't be perfect and that's okay. The squares from this Easter lamb puzzle my daughter worked aren't perfect, but she was so proud of herself for cutting them out.
You may need to remind your child to only cut the squares with the dashed border. They may get excited and cut out the solution grid, too.
Your child can paste the image in place, or not glue it down so they can solve the puzzle multiple times. Little kids love gluing. My daughter enjoys using a small pot with a paintbrush and white glue for her gluing activities. For less mess, use a non-toxic glue stick. You can also use poster putty or even a piece of tape.
- Bonds to paper, cardboard, foam board, display board, and more
- Washes easily off hands and out of clothes
- Non toxic and acid free
This cut and paste puzzle can also be turned into a reusable activity in a busy binder or used as a file folder game. We made the mermaid puzzle into a file folder game. There are photos low down on the page.
Making the puzzle reusable removes the cutting and pasting for your child, but allows them to use the puzzle over and over again. It provides a fine motor challenge when you use stick-on hook and loop dots. You can also use poster putty instead of dots, if you'd prefer.
How to make a busy binder cut and paste puzzle reusable
- Print two pages. You can print both pages or two copies of the page you plan to use for the puzzle. Use the page you want (hint image or blank) for the main page. You'll cut the puzzle pieces off the other sheet.
- Cut out the puzzle tiles on one sheet (use the page you don't want for the solution box). You may want to laminate the tiles for durability. If you don't have a laminator, you can protect the tiles with clear packing tape.
- Place the un-cut sheet in a page protector. I recommend heavy duty secure page protectors because they are thicker and have a flap to hold the page in place.
- Use hook and loop dot stickers (for example, Velcro brand stickers) on the back of the puzzle tiles. Alternatively, you can use poster putty, tape, or even balls of play dough. Don't have any play dough? Grab a recipe in this post with free printable alphabet play dough mats.
- Using the opposite type of sticker, place one on each square on the protected page. They will stick on the page protector, not the paper. Place one on each of the four squares in the puzzle completion area and one on each of the cut-out tile areas.
- After completing the puzzle, your child can match the images to the pictures on the tile section for storage.
I hope that makes sense! It's challenging to explain in words. There are photos of the file folder version of the puzzle below. It's basically the same to set up, except you're using a page protector instead of a laminated sheet.
How to make a file folder game with a puzzle
Print one or two copies of the page you want to use. I prefer to print two so the tiles have an easy storage place that provides additional matching practice. If you keep file folder game pieces in a separate bag or box, you may want to print just one copy.
Laminate your page. I use this inexpensive at-home laminator.
- Laminates documents up to 9 inches wide; compatible with letter, legal, business-card, and photo-size papers
- Works with any 3 mil or 5 mil laminating pouch; note: mil refers to thickness of lamination film
- 2 heat settings: 3mil (best for normal documents, photos, and card stock) and 5mil (best for thinner papers)
Cut out the puzzle pieces.
Tape the puzzle solving sheet inside a file. We got this pack of colorful files last year and they've held up pretty well. Depending on your folder, you may need to trim off excess lamination so the page can be taped in place.
- IT'S LIGHTER ON THE INSIDE; a light interior is easy to label with an ordinary pen, easier to read and prevents accidental misfiles between folders
- BOOST SPEED and EFFICIENCY: color folders in bright red, green, yellow and blue let you spot the right file through color association and speed filing...
- LETTER-SIZE FOLDERS fit standard 8-½" x 11" documents; 36 assorted color folders per pack in red, green, yellow and blue; use with matching...
Apply hook and loop dots (for example, Velcro brand closure stickers) to the puzzle pieces, puzzle solving area, and tile storage area. I put the hook-y part on the puzzle pieces and the soft, fuzzy side on the page in the folder.
- PACKAGE：Includes 500pcs Hook and 500pcs Loop Dots (1 set = 1 loop and 1 hook , Total 500 sets）
- STRONG ADHESIVE: Both are made of nylon material and hot melt adhesive with high temperature resistant, very strong self adhesive
- WIDE COMPATIBILITY: This hook & loop dots can be attached to most of things, especially for clean smooth surfaces of paper, plastic, glass, leather,...
Give the file folder puzzle to your little learner and watch them play and explore!
Mermaid 4 piece puzzle download area
As mentioned above, this printable pack has two pages: one with an image to help your child assemble the mermaid and one page without a hint image. This is what the pages look like (download information is located below the preview image):
You are welcome to print and use these pages as many times as you you want for your own children, students, therapy clients, scouts, library activities, etc. as long as you are personally organizing the activity.
You are not licensed to sell, or redistribute, the files to other adults for use with their students/children. This includes posting them for sale or download on other websites. Instead, please refer them to this post so they can download their own copies.
If you agree to this license, you may click below:
I hope your little learner enjoys the cut and paste mermaid puzzle as much as mine does! Make sure to grab these additional freebies for your ocean theme while you're here on The Artisan Life: