A while back, as my husband and I watched television after the kids went to bed, we would hear strange sounds like “Rrr” and “Gee” coming from the play space off our living area. The sounds scared us a bit, and we even considered that our house might be haunted.
But after a little investigation, we realized the sounds weren’t from spirits at all. Rather, they were coming from our toddler’s collection of Melissa & Doug talking puzzles (the “Rrrs” and “Gee” were from the alphabet sound puzzle).
Hear similar sounds in your home? Today’s hint covers two strategies for temporarily and easily silencing the puzzles when not in use, taking batteries out not required.
It turns out that such puzzles are generally light activated. The light sensor is the little circle on the puzzle board you see when you remove a piece from the puzzle. When you insert a piece properly over a sensor that has been exposed to light, the puzzle senses the light-to-darkness shift over the previously empty spot. As a result, it talks, producing a sound that corresponds to the picture on the puzzle piece.
But changes in light not related to properly placing puzzle pieces can also activate the sounds, as was happening in our home. The evening puzzle sounds we heard corresponded with when we were turning off lights. The sensors in the open spots on the puzzles sensed the shift to darkness and assumed pieces had been placed.
This helps explain one simply strategy for keeping the puzzles quiet: Make sure all the puzzle pieces are properly back in the board when puzzle time is over. “After play, please be sure all of the puzzle pieces are replaced into the board, so that they don’t go off with any change of light,” wrote a Melissa & Doug spokesperson in response to a query from me, noting that the company’s customer service team can also personally assist anyone having issues with the sound puzzles.
What if you don’t feel like taking the time to do the puzzle after playtime is over? We found that covering the puzzle boards to block light also does the trick. We placed the talking puzzles in our home in a pile under a toy storage bin (see the image above) and voilà, the uninvited sounds were gone.
Share your experiences with — and tips for temporarily silencing — talking toys and puzzles below.