• Vicki Manning

12 puzzles you can DIY


Looking for a way to entertain your kids that's easy, thrifty and unique? Why not try making your own puzzles!


It can be a great way to recycle, it costs next to nothing and it gives your kids something completely new to play and learn with. What's not to love!



Homemade puzzles are surprisingly easy, and can be made with everyday objects or a few essentials from your craft box.


Here are some of our favourites that you can try at home.



1. Pipe cleaner shape match


This is super simple but really fun!


You will need:


- Pipecleaners in various colours

- White paper

- Marker pens


Bend your pipecleaners into shapes and glue the ends together using a hot glue gun.


Place the finished shapes onto a piece of paper and carefully draw round them with a black marker pen.


Mix up the pipecleaners and invite your little one to match them to the shapes on the page.


pipecleaner lines, 12 puzzles to DIY

This is a great opportunity to use the language of shape and colour. Any way in which you can make learning hands-on and playful is a great way to introduce new concepts.



2. Felt shapes


This is a great way to use up any scraps of felt you have lying around!


You will need:


- Felt in various colours

- Scissors

- PVA glue

- Card


Cut shapes out of felt - using small sharp scissors is easier for this.


Glue the shapes onto card and when dry cut them out and then cut into half.



Jumble the pieces up and match away!



3. Magazine puzzles


This is the ultimate in recycling!


You will need:


- Magazine(s)

- Glue stick

- Scissors

- Card


Cut out some pictures from magazines - we have used pictures of fruit and veg from a free supermarket magazine, but you could also use pictures of flowers from seed catalogues, scenes from brochures, people from leaflets.


Glue them onto some cardboard (a pizza box or cereal box would be perfect).



Once dry, cut around them and then cut into halves, thirds, quarters, depending on how difficult you want the puzzle to be.


Jumble them up and challenge your little one to recreate the pictures.


Playdough prints, 12 puzzles to DIY

4. Playdough prints


This is a lovely way to explore textures and prints, plus you can re-roll and make it over and over again.


You will need:


- Various small and interesting household objects

- Playdough

- Rolling pin


Enjoy seeing what interesting imprints you can make from objects around the house - try to find small items with distinctive textures.


Roll out you playdough then carefully push the objects in enough to make a sharp print.



Place the objects next to the playdough and challenge your little one to match them up. They may get a few surprises!


To tailor this to younger children, use simpler objects with a more defined outline, such as shapes from a shape-sorter.


Lid match, 12 puzzles to DIY

5. Lid match


Milk lids are so versatile! Here we've used them to make a simple maths puzzle.


You will need:


- Milk lids (we collected 20)

- Coloured paper to match

- White permanent marker

- Black felt pen


Take your milk lids and write the numbers 1-20 on them in white permanent marker. To differentiate this you could incorporate times tables or write the numbers out of sequence.


Then do the same on your coloured paper. If you want you could also draw a circle round each lid to make it more obvious how they should be matched.


Lid match, 12 puzzles to DIY


If you don't have a permanent marker, you could always stick paper on the top of the lids - here we have printed out the alphabet and glued the corresponding letter on a lid.


Stone outline puzzles, 12 puzzles to DIY

6. Outline puzzles


This is one of the quickest ways to make a puzzle and you can use virtually anything - I like to raid our loose parts collection or grab some stones from the garden.


You will need:


- White paper

- Marker pen

- Lots of the same thing with slightly different shapes


Take your objects and select those with the most interesting outlines then position them on your paper. I find that an A4 sheet has room for about 6 - 12 objects dependant on the size.


Use your maker pen to carefully trace around each of the items in position.


Remove them and it's ready to go!


Keeping things seasonal is a lovely way to mix it up, think mini pumpkins at Hallowe'en, decorations at Christmas or flowers in Spring.


Silhouette puzzle, 12 puzzles to DIY

7. Silhouette puzzles


This is another take on the outline puzzle, but instead of black pen on white, you use white on black, and choose a variety of objects with distinctive shapes.


You will need:


- Black paper

- Selection of interesting objects

- White chalk or chalk pen


Choose a mixture of toys and household objects and arrange them on the piece of black paper.


Draw round them in your chalk/ chalk pen.


Remove the objects and place them next to the silhouettes so they ready to be matched up.


Lolly stick match, 12 puzzles to DIY

8. Lolly stick match


Lolly sticks are really handy to have in your craft kit as they can be used for so many kinds of puzzles. This one is so quick and easy but it can be used time and time again.


You will need:


- Lolly sticks

- Paint pens

- Pencil


Take your lolly sticks and group them together. The more sticks you put together, the trickier the puzzle will be.


Draw your design in pencil across each group of sticks, then go over them in paint pen. You can do as many designs as you want. We have made numbers but you could draw anything you want - how about favourite animals or weather symbols?


Jumble up the sticks ready for them to be matched!


Leaf match, 12 puzzles to DIY

9. Leaf match


About as simple as it gets for a homemade puzzles, all you need is a pair of scissors!


You will need:


- Scissors

- Leaves


Head out into the garden to collect some leaves, or grab a handful from your local park. Make sure you don't pick anything poisonous - our leaves are all edibles or herbs.


Carefully cut them down the central 'spine' using your scissors.


Jumble them up and have fun matching up the halves of the leaves.


You might want to talk about what plants they are from while your little one is doing the puzzle. It's also a great opportunity to talk about symmetry.


Pompom patterns, 12 puzzles to DIY

10. Pompom patterns


Pompoms can be used for a colourful and fun way to develop fine motor skills.


You will need:


- Pompoms in various colours

- Felt pens in matching colours

- Lolly sticks


Use your felt pens to draw dots in alternating colours on your lolly sticks. You can choose how the pattern repeats.


This is perfect for introducing sequencing and and if you don't have lolly sticks, you could use paper or use dot stickers instead of felt tips.


Colour sort puzzle, 12 puzzles to DIY

11. Colour sort


This is a fun challenge to do outdoors on a sunny day or indoors on a rainy day!


You will need:


- Objects in various colours

- Coloured chalk markers or felt tips


We like doing this in our tuff tray as we can write directly on it, but you could easily do it one some paper on a table.


For the colour mixing version above, draw two colours overlapping, so blue and yellow with green in the middle, red and yellow with orange in the middle, blue and red with purple etc.


If you want to provide the objects to sort, then grab a load of household objects / toys and pop them next to the circles. But a really fun way to do this is to invite your child to go on a colour 'hunt' around your house, collecting objects as they go.


Duplo shapes, 12 puzzles to DIY

12. Duplo shapes


Everyone has some building blocks at home - whether Lego, Duplo or Megablocks - they will all work equally well for this lovely tactile puzzle.


You will need:


- Building blocks

- Matching coloured paper

- Pencil

- Black marker pen


Select 4 or 5 Duplo pieces in different colours and place them on some matching paper. Organise them so that they create a shape like those on the cards above.


Draw around them in pencil first (this is easiest) then go over the lines in black pen.


Give your child a pile of the blocks and invite them to make the shapes. If they want, they can make their own shapes after, for a great way to extend learning.


Pin it for later!


Have you tied any of the puzzles? Let me know how you got on!


For more playful and creative learning ideas, head over to

@howweplayandlearn on Instagram and Pinterest

or visit howweplayandlearn.com


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