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Two kids doing a puzzle with a point from Ali Thompson's book.
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Ali Thompson and 52 Wildly Creative Puzzles — With a Point!

Children’s Ministry Magazine interviewed Ali Thompson, author of the new book 52 Wildly Creative Puzzles With a Point.

CM: A puzzle book from Group? Isn’t Group anti-fill-in-the-blank worksheets?

Ali: Yes, Group has always been anti-fill-in-the-blank worksheets. And Group still is! Wildly Creative Puzzles With a Point is a solution to fill-in-the-blank, time-filler puzzle worksheets…not yet another way to meaninglessly distract kids from the Bible. All too often, puzzles have been used to fill extra time…and really just to waste time. At best they might help kids retain more information about the topic, but it won’t be meaningful or transformative. And more likely, kids won’t have any idea why they just did that word search or crossword puzzle. That’s the problem with puzzles as they’ve been used, and that’s what Group is against.

CM: How is your book different from what you talked about above?

Ali: This book takes the fun of puzzles and gives them meaning as well. The puzzle becomes an experience, not just a time-filler. Kids will interact with each other and the leader, do puzzles in unique ways, and make discoveries through the experience of how they accomplished the puzzles. It’s kind of like an object lesson where kids get into the puzzles. Each puzzle includes discussion questions to ensure the kids walk away from the puzzle and think about faith in a new way. It’s puzzles like you’ve never done them before!

CM: What made you want to write this book?

Ali: I’ve loved puzzles ever since I can remember. When I was a kid I had so many different puzzle books. The spot-the-difference puzzles were my favorite part of my Highlights magazine. I would even make up my own puzzles and force my family to do them!

At my first job out of college, as a children’s ministry assistant, I got the chance to make puzzles, and I came up with ideas to make them mean something rather than just waste time. I realized that was a big problem – puzzles weren’t being used well. And I wanted to fix that! Back at that job, I led a workshop at a conference to teach other children’s ministry leaders how to use puzzles in meaningful ways. And then I came to work at Group and realized that the reason Group was anti-puzzles wasn’t because of puzzles themselves, but the way they were used. I knew there were other kids out there like me who loved puzzles, and I wanted to create a resource that would allow those kids to experience God in a way they most connected with. I thought Group would be the perfect partner for a book that completely revolutionized puzzles.

CM: How do you think this book will help kids’ faith grow?

Ali: Children’s ministries use puzzles a lot. And since they’re pretty much just time-fillers as is, I’d love to see this book replace those time-filler puzzles. With Wildly Creative Puzzles With a Point, I think Sunday school leaders will be able to plug puzzles in if they have extra time, but do it in a way that actually continues to enhance learning and faith development. I think this will work with all kids, but especially those who love puzzles. They’ll have a blast and grow closer to God as a result. They’ll be able to connect with God on their level, just like athletic kids do during outdoor games at VBS or artsy kids do during crafts.

CM: What’s one of your favorite puzzles that you’d like to share with people who read this blog?

Ali: It’s so hard to choose just one! I’d have to go with Jesus Dies because it really helps kids experience what grace means and how unfair it is (in a good way).

Click here to download a free puzzle from Ali’s awesome book!

Looking for more ideas? Check out these posts!

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Ali Thompson and 52 Wildly Creative P...

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