Bug Popsicle Stick Puzzles

How to make your own puzzles with popsicle sticks.

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Inside: Easy DIY insects puzzle idea and how to make your own puzzles using popsicle sticks.

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Four popsicle stick puzzles with bug designs: dragonfly, bee, butterfly and ladybug
Featuring the bug stars: Dragonfly, Bumblebee, Butterfly and Ladybug.

This DIY puzzle is just one of the 60 ideas included the book Fun and Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials by Kim Mcleod, the genius mind behind the website The Best Ideas for Kids.

In the book, Kim shows how to make a weather puzzle using popsicle sticks.

I love that idea because it gave me the possibility to adapt it to what is relevant for the children in the Preschool where I work. Choosing a good theme for the children that I care for, I decided to make the puzzles with a bugs theme, since the Forest School where I work divides their children into key groups under bug names (I am the key teacher in the Butterfly Group!).

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Quick Video Explanation

How to Make a Puzzle with Popsicle Sticks

What you need

  • Popsicle Sticks (I used 6 but you can use as many as you see fit)
  • Tape (I used duct tape because I did not have masking tape at hand)
  • Paint, paintbrushes.
  • Pencil
  • Black marker (Optional – for details)
Tip from the book: Paint background white if you want brighter colors!


You may also like: Bugs and Nature Stamping Activity


Step-by-Step Tutorial

  1. Line up your lolly sticks (or depressors, as they are called in UK).
  2. Tape them to keep them in place
  3. Draw your design with a pencil. In her book, Kim suggests painting the craft sticks white if you want brighter colors (this would be before step 1). Since the craft sticks that I used were already painted in colors, I painted the silhouette of the bugs white after I traced it with the pencil.
  4. Paint your design!
  5. After the paint dried I added some outlines and details with a permanent marker, to get rid of the scruffy edges that I left with the paintbrush.


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Add some Maths spice!

I couldn’t help but adding numbers to the puzzle pieces since it never hurts to expose the children to numerals so they work on their number recognition.

Add numbers to make the puzzle mathematical.

Using puzzles as number activities

Even if the youngest children will not solve the puzzle by ordering the numbers (because it is obviously more fun to do it by the pictures!), it is good to create early “number sequencing experiences” to create some sort of scaffolding for future counting activities in their little minds.

More ideas from the book

Since I first got my hands on this fantastic source of inspiration, I could not decide which craft to make first., they are all so easy to make and look so nice! and the ideas use materials that most households already have at hand.

Besides the weather puzzle that inspired me to make the bug puzzles, here’s a selection of a few of my favorite crafts from the book:

Cardboard Castle

This is one of my all-time favorite cardboard box upcycling ideas. Whenever I need to make a quick DIY play environment and I have a well sized box at hand, you can be sure it is probably going to end up becoming a castle. I don’t even bother painting it and the children can spend days squeezing every bit of fun out of it.

I usually just add a few details with a black marker and let the children decorate it, once it is dry I put it out again with some toys and they play with it in a small-world fashion, once that set up is exhausted I put the cardboard castle on the floor and let the kids go to town with it. This is usually the last stage of the castle’s life. A life worth living 🙂

Paper Roll Owls

These owls are great to craft around fall and they go perfectly as a complementary activity after reading the popular storybook “Owl Babies” by Martin Wadell. Owl Babies is an effective story for reading to children who are just starting nursery or Preschool, and who are having a hard time with the transition of saying goodbye to Mommy – The message of the book is “Mommies always come back” – I wish there was a paternal version of it or one that was focused on a neutral parental figure and not just Mom… but it is a classic!

Paper Plate Snail

This handsome snail is made with a paper bowl and decorates with paper shapes. It could go well as an activity to go along with Julia Donaldson’s “The Whale and the Snail“. A beautiful book that goes well with a friendship topic.

Toilet Paper Roll Butterfly Craft

This butterfly is just fantastic, (and I am not only saying that because I am the key teacher of the Butterfly group where I teach!) Just look how colorful it looks with just a few buttons.

Paper Roll Flower Printing

Stamping art (like in this ladybugs activity) is popular in Early Years settings, they encourage the children to work on their handgrip and they are fun!

Bubble Wrap Printing

Video of the Book “Fun and Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials”

Aren’t these ideas worth trying? Find the book on Amazon.

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