Turn an old set of building blocks into DIY puzzle blocks in three simple steps. Then watch your kids be occupied for HOURS.
Building blocks are quite enough fun on their own. Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different. They do not have to be painted, dyed, stickered, decoupaged, wood burned, carved, or otherwise embellished in order for children to love, appreciate, and enjoy them.
But… they CAN be! If you want to do something extra special with some of your blocks, then do it! I HAVE painted, dyed, stickered, decoupaged, wood burned, carved, and otherwise embellished hundreds of building blocks, and my children love them, as they love the perfectly plain ones that they still have plenty of.
I was doodling on some Kapla blocks the other day, as I sometimes do because I like patterns, when I decided to color block one. Then I color blocked another. Then another, using some of the same colors. Then I put them together and they looked lovely. When I put them together another way, some of the colors matched, and I thought, “Ooh! I bet that I could make a puzzle out of this!”
And so I did!
If you want to do something a little special with some of your building blocks, check out how I made these DIY puzzle blocks, and try it for yourself.
DIY Puzzle Blocks
You will need:
building blocks. I’m using Kapla blocks for this particular set, because that’s what I have easily on hand. For a more challenging puzzle, though, choose blocks in which the top face is perfectly square.
straight edge. For cutting, I always use a clear plastic ruler, but for drawing or folding, I prefer a metal one.
permanent markers. Faber-Castell Pitt pens are THE best for drawing on wood (and rocks, and shells…), but any permanent marker will do for colors. For these DIY puzzle blocks, I used double-ended Prismacolor markers.
sealant (optional). These permanent markers shouldn’t bleed, and I didn’t stain the blocks for this project. I do, however, sometimes seal my block projects, and you can do it here, too, if you choose.
1. Measure and draw lines for the puzzle pieces. The easiest way to demarcate the color blocks is to use the straight edge to draw lines from corner to corner. This gives you four colors to each block, and that’s plenty of choices. If you want to get fancier, and make the puzzle blocks more challenging, you can always mark off more blocks, but you have to be super accurate with this, so that your puzzle blocks stay aligned.
2. Choose your color set, and begin to color in the blocks. By chance, I happened upon a palette of seven colors, and decided that my puzzle would be three blocks by three blocks, or nine total blocks. I haven’t done the math to determine what the optimum number of color choices would be for a nine-block puzzle, but you absolutely could–tell me if you do!
The first block is easy–just color away!
3. Color in additional blocks to fit the puzzle. As you color additional puzzle blocks, color them to fit the puzzle that you have in progress. In the puzzle, blocks should match their adjacent colors, and you also have to keep in mind that there should be a nice variety of colors. I was kind of feeling out what to do as I created this first puzzle, so I had to toss a few blocks out of the puzzle when I figured that they didn’t fit or repeated a previous color pattern–it’s a good thing that these blocks are pretty, anyway!
When you’re all finished, give the puzzle to your first victim, and laugh with glee as you stump them!
It took my kiddo almost an hour to solve my first puzzle, and so I was stoked!
I especially like this puzzle because of the completely different element that it brings to block play. Kids are already exercising their logic, pattern-making, and math skills by simply building, but a puzzle stretches those skills in more ways, and for kids who aren’t into solving puzzles, the DIY puzzle blocks can be used just for making pretty designs.