Block puzzles are an easy homemade toy young children will enjoy. Since block puzzles typically have few pieces but all pieces have six sides, the toy has two levels of complexity that can help early learners develop visual and critical thinking skills. For young kids or novices, turn the blocks so that six faces to the same image are showing, and then watch your child fit them together. Older kids can interact with the puzzle three-dimensionally, choosing the right six pieces from 36 options and fitting them together.
Here's what you'll need:
- Wooden craft blocks. Available at most craft stores, we bought a bag of a dozen or so 1" blocks for under $2.
- Six pictures you'd like to use. Think about consistency of theme but also how different they are from each other. Dominant colors are particularly important; if they are too similar, young children may have difficulty determining which side of each cube relates to which picture, but the added challenge will keep older children engaged.
- Mod Podge decoupaging varnish-glue-sealant, and a paintbrush. If you can't find it locally, try Amazon.com.
- An Xacto blade and cutting surface or scissors and a pen.
- A ruler.
- A piece of white paper or card stock: To create a frame for composing and cutting out your puzzle images.
Add up the dimensions of your craft blocks to determine the size of your completed puzzle, and cut a window in the paper or card stock to make a frame to compose your final images. This is the easiest way to get the right dimensions at the best position in a larger picture.
While you have your ruler out, mark your block edges along the edge of your frame - the long side in thirds and the short side in half, along all four edges - based on the size of your blocks.
Frame up an image in a way that pleases you. Make a very small notch or pen mark at your block edge markings all the way around, and cut the full image out with your Xacto blade, or draw the border with your pen and cut out. Then cut out the individual block pieces based on the notches or markings you made along the edges, using a ruler and Xacto blade or folding and then using your scissors. Repeat with five more pictures, keeping each puzzle set separate.
Brush the backs of a set of images with Mod Podge and affix them to one face of each block. Repeat with the other five image sets. Gently wipe away any excess Mod Podge and let dry.
Brush the surfaces of all six sides of each block with more Mod Podge and let dry in two stages (unless you can figure out a way to let all six sides dry at once). You might even do an extra layer, to make sure the edges of the pictures don't fray later.
I'm thinking our next project along these lines will be based on photographs of people Z knows.