Since simple puzzles are learning toys that kids outgrow, I don’t want to spend much money or space on them. However, puzzles are very important for developing problem solving skills, refining visual discrimination, and cultivating focus and patience. Therefore, I often buy puzzles from the dollar store and DIY puzzles with craft sticks (popsicle sticks).
I first started making puzzles for my daughter when she was around age 2 years. Now that my daughter is age 5 years, it’s fun to make craft stick puzzles together with her! We have made a few different Christmas craft stick puzzles, and I’ll show you the easy steps!
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What you need to DIY Christmas Craft Stick Puzzles:
- Craft sticks (natural Jumbo craft sticks, natural mini craft sticks, or colored craft sticks)
- Note: If you don’t have craft sticks, you can cut up strips of cardboard
- Painter’s tape
- Acrylic paint (recommended for vibrant color; also it dries fast) or Sharpie marker (as shown in this rainbow craft stick puzzle)
- Fine-tipped paint brush
- +/- Stickers or Christmas cards (Recommended if you cannot draw well. This is also a fun way to upcycle!)
How to DIY Christmas craft stick puzzles:
- Choose desired number of craft sticks. For young toddlers, 2 sticks is a good place to start, such as this bilingual shape puzzle. Older toddlers can be challenged with more pieces.
- Tape craft sticks together with painter’s tape
- Optional: Draw desired design with pencil. This was helpful for my daughter to color in the design since she did not want to paint it on her own. Although, I felt that it was easier to paint the Christmas trees without drawing, the pencil drawing was very helpful for my Gingerbread house puzzle
- Paint design
- Let dry
- Write numbers or words to teach number sequencing or reading
- Remove painter’s tape
- Mix-up the puzzles and put them back together!
Here’s a close-up look at my 5-year-old painting the Christmas tree craft stick puzzle. This took only a few minutes to make! Please note that the gingerbread house took longer. I estimate that it took approximately 20 minutes for me to complete.
Examples of teaching numbers and reading with craft stick puzzles
Here are different ways to teach numbers and reading (English, Chinese, Korean) with DIY craft stick puzzles! You can simply write 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc so that children can use that as a guide for aligning their puzzle. Alternatively, you can use craft stick puzzles to reinforce seasonal sight words, such as “tree” in English. Since my kids are also learning Chinese and Korean, I wrote 姜饼屋 (jiāng bǐng wū / gingerbread house), 圣诞树 (shèngdànshù / Christmas tree), and 크리스마스 트리 (keuliseumaseu teuli / Christmas tree) as well.
More creative Christmas Craft stick puzzles
- I love this Christmas gift craft stick puzzle from Cinta & Co on Instagram! Markers are another way to design craft stick puzzles! She has so many other creative and clever learning ideas that are worth following as well!
- Happy Go Lucky blog also has a genius idea of upcycling Christmas cards into craft stick puzzles!
Other hands-on learning activities for kids
- Click here to see many other fun and educational activities with craft sticks!
- All Christmas activities can be found in this link!
Merry Christmas, friends!
圣诞节快乐！(Shèngdàn jié kuàilè)