Make your own number puzzle

July 21st, 2008


The last few times we’ve been to In-N-Out, Annalie has loved doing these little sticker puzzles they hand out for free to kids. They have a numbered grid of squares on one side, and on the other side are numbered stickers, all mixed up. When you place the stickers in the correct spots on the grid you’re rewarded with a picture of a rocketship in space.

Which piece next?

One of Annalie’s friends had a book of similar sticker puzzles, except the pictures were of Disney princesses. I figured such a thing couldn’t be too hard to find, but I looked at several different stores and even searched online with no luck. Maybe they’re sold at a Disney Store, but that isn’t a shop I find myself in very often. I decided I’d just have to make my own! Annalie thought that was a great idea.

Lining it up carefully

My first thought was that I would find a picture in a magazine to use, but we didn’t have any magazines lying around for once. Then I thought I could print out a photo, but our printer isn’t hooked up yet. I suggested to Annalie that I could draw a picture and use that, and she requested that the picture have “hearts and stars and circles and lots and lots of colors!”

pat pat pat

Annalie and I sat at the table together while I drew the puzzle picture. I propped up a book between her and my paper, warning her not to look so she would be surprised when the puzzle was finished. She made a game out of trying to sneak peeks and I pretended to get mad at her each time she tried. There was a lot of giggling.


When the picture was done, I planned to use a ruler to create a grid, but I was too lazy to go upstairs and get the ruler. Instead, I just folded and creased the paper the appropriate number of times to create six columns and four rows of squares and numbered them from 1 to 24. Then I cut on the creases and mixed the squares all up. Next I drew the same grid on a second piece of paper (using the same method of folding and then using a piece of cardboard as a straight edge to keep the lines straight) and numbered those squares.

Only three pieces left

The beauty of this project is that it’s totally customizable to your needs. You can choose the picture and the number and size of the squares. You can have your child draw his own picture, or enlist an older sibling to draw one and do the cutting and grid-making. You can change the number and the size of the squares according to the age and ability of your child. You could even draw the picture on adhesive paper and skip the glue. And of course in addition to being fun, this is a sneaky way of teaching your kids their numbers or getting them to practice counting. (Bonus!)

Almost done

Annalie needed a little bit of help with the glue, and I had to remind her which one was the 6 and which was the 9. Otherwise she did a great job matching the numbers and lining the squares up on the grid. She beamed with pride as she glued the last square in place, then hugged me and said, “Thanks for making me a puzzle, Mommy!” before running outside to play catch with Troy.

I did it!

15 Responses to “Make your own number puzzle”

  1. Loralee says:

    Not having a In-n-out is Utah is just sad.


  2. citystreams says:

    That’s such a cool idea. What’s In-N-Out? I’ve never heard of it.

    Bethany says: In-N-Out Burger is a chain of restaurants mostly in CA (there are also a few in NV and AZ) that serves excellent burgers, fries, milkshakes, and pop, and that’s it. They’ve had the same menu since they opened in the 1940s and are all still owned by the same family. If you’re ever in CA, you should plan to eat at In-N-Out! It’s part of the California experience, like drinking sweet tea while you’re in the south. ;-)

  3. bluejaye says:

    What a great project. You might as well draw up a bunch of pictures and then stack them and cut with a rotary cutter. Then you will be ready for a spur of the moment game.

  4. That’s so cute! One of the sixth grade teachers at my school teaches her kids about tessellations and then they make puzzles for their kindergarten pals. Do you remember those square cardboard puzzles with the same thing over and over, like a wiener dog in different colors, and you had to make a square or rectangle matching all the right parts? That’s what she does. I cannot find any examples online, but that would be a fun activity to do with Analie when she is a little older.

  5. Fantastic idea–I need to give glue a try once again. I’ve shied away from it since I glued my arm hair to my jeans :)

  6. BeachMama says:

    That is so cool! You have the best ideas :)

  7. gorillabuns says:

    I’m going to try this with my daughter so she might have a chance in knowing her numbers and alphabet by sight before the start of school.

  8. ~moe~ says:

    I love this! My nephew is coming to stay with me for a couple days and this would be a great project! YAY!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Hunter loves puzzles. The ones we made are a little harder than this one and Hunter’s not quite ready. This looks like a great idea!

  10. Amanda says:

    I’m totally copying this project! My son will love it!

  11. jennyearle says:

    I popped over from Crafty Crow–you inspired me! I’m big into magnets these days, and I’m thinking this would be a great re-usable puzzle with a bit of magnetic tape and a cookie sheet! Endless possibilities for matching games, too!! Kudos!

    P.S. The saddest comment I’ve ever heard on a blog was, “What’s In-N-Out?” The world should have In-N-Out!

  12. This is great! Can’t wait to try it! This would be great for birthday party starters, too, for the kids to work on until all the guests arrive…

  13. Teresa says:

    I love this…very clever idea! We love to do crafts in our house, and I am always looking through the internet to find something new. Thanks!

  14. Pittsy says:

    Great craft! Thanks for the idea. We tried it today and I will certainly be using this one. I just did a post and link for it today.
    Thanks again.