Try This Easy-to-Make Kids Puzzle For Travel

Who doesn’t love puzzles? They’re hard to beat to while away time in a car or on a plane and they are great learning, tools, too. But not all puzzles are easy to travel with (all those pieces!).

Here’s an innovative problem-solving puzzle you can make at home. It uses affinity blocks, a popular hands-on teaching tool.  These flat blocks in different colors and geometric shapes provide practice in geometrical thinking and logical processing for eager math students. But even reluctant mathematicians will be drawn to the art and tactile play the blocks offer. Try it on your next long airplane ride or road trip.

Who It’s For

This is best for 3rd grade to 5th grade students.

shapes for your puzzleWhat You Need

• *4 large (1.5 inches tall) paper shapes in 4 colors: 1 diamond, hexagon, triangle and square.

• *4 small (.75 inch tall) paper shape in 4 colors1 diamond, hexagon, triangle and square.

• *2-4 extra shapes in each size

*Note: Use card stock or oaktag to make the shapes more durable

• Plain white paper

• Pen or pencil

• Zip lock bag to keep all the pieces together

The Set-Up

1. Without your child looking, pick one shape—let’s say it’s a large blue square—and place it on the bottom right of your plain paper, leaving a one-inch margin between any edge of the shape and any edge of the paper. Use your pen to draw a loose blob around the shape.

puzzle path2. Pick another shape—let’s say a small red square—and place it above and to the left, about an inch away. Draw a blob around that shape as well.

3. Here is where it gets tricky for the person making the puzzle: Connect the adjacent blobs with a coded line system:

• One line means one aspect in common: same shape, size, or color.

• Two lines means two aspects in common: both shape and size, both size and color, or both color and shape.

• Three lines means all three: same color, shape, and size.

4. Keep going with 4-6 more pieces until you have reached the top left of the page.

How to Play

Now the fun begins.

Remove all but one or two blocks and place them all in a pile on the table with some of the extra blocks. Now your child recreates your puzzle. She will need to use logic and a sense of spatial relationships to figure it out.

This game is harder than it looks (adults often get stumped!) If your child gets stuck, it’s fine to help out with a clue or two. You can also use fewer shapes. Kids can solve it collaboratively, too.

On the other hand, some kids just whiz through. If that happens, try adding an extra shape, such as a pentagon, or making a longer paper.

You can make new puzzles with more paper.

Turn the Tables

Once your child gets the hang of it you can also ask him or her to create a puzzle for you.

With Younger Kids

If you have younger travelers, too, you can use these same shapes for simpler play. Lay them out on a tray table or lap desk (or restaurant table) and have your child sort and group them by color, shape, and size. Ask them to point to different shapes or play “which one is bigger and smaller.”

Pin it for later!

Make this simple-to-create puzzle for your 8-11 year olds before your next airplane ride or road trip. It will fill time, and reinforce math ideas without your kids realizing it.


This puzzle was created for us by Education.com. Visit them for other puzzles and learning games.

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