Easy DIY Block Puzzles: Practice Estimating and Counting


I found this idea on Pinterest quite awhile ago, made my own cards one night on a TV tray while catching up on some shows, and then promptly forgot all about them…until today!  And what fun we had with them!!!  I was honestly amazed at how very into them both Luke and Lilah were!  They both LOVE puzzles, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised…

To catch you up to speed, here’s what you need to make the cards:

  • 10 or more blocks of the same size and shape
  • paper (I used card stock, cut in half)
  • pencil
  • marker
  • laminator (optional)

Directions for making:

1.  Find 10 or more blocks of the same size and shape.  We used plain wooden cubes from a block set we already owned.  You could use wood blocks or square Lego Duplos you already have at home, or you can buy packs of unfinished cube blocks at craft stores for under $5 (use a coupon and you can probably get a pack for ~$2).  You could even use foam or paper squares really.

2.  Cut sheets of card stock in half.  You could use plain paper if you don’t have card stock.

3.  Arrange blocks into designs on the half-sheets of paper using 2-10 blocks.  Use a pencil to trace around the outline of the design.  Write the number of blocks used in the design lightly on the back of the paper so the child can check their work independently (and so they can match the written number to the oral number).  Repeat for as many designs as you’d like to make.  I made 16.  You can see my designs below.

4.  Trace over the pencil lines with a marker to darken.  Use a ruler to ensure your lines are straight if you’re a perfectionist. 😉

5.  Laminate the papers if desired.  You could also just use as is, or slide into plastic sheet protectors.  

That’s it!  Super easy to make and you probably have all the materials on hand already!!

Here are the designs I made:

Top to bottom:
2 block design, 3 block design, 4 block design

Top row are 5 block designs
Bottom row are 6 block designs

Designs using 7 blocks

Top row are 8 block designs
Bottom row are 9 block designs

Designs using 10 blocks

My block designs

I love how they turned out!

Here’s how we used them:
1.  I had L&L pick the cubes out of a block set we own.  I think this helped to give them a feel for the size of the cubes, and to help them understand the cubes were all identical in size and shape.

2. I chose an easy card — a design using only 2 blocks — to introduce the activity to them.  I asked them how many blocks they thought they needed to complete the puzzle.  They said, “One – two.”

 3.  After they estimated, I had them actually complete the puzzle.  Lilah added one block and Luke added one block.  Together we counted the blocks and determined their estimation was correct.  We moved the blocks off the puzzle, turned the paper over, and checked our answer with the number written on the back.

4.  We did one or two more examples together.  We’d estimate first, then complete the puzzle, count the blocks we used, and check our answer with the number written on the back of the card.


5.  Next, I started giving L&L cards to complete individually.  I’d ask them to estimate how many blocks were needed to complete the puzzle and then allow them to do the puzzle.  After they finished, they’d count the actual number of blocks used and compare it to the number written on the back of the card.  I’d occasionally throw in comments like, “You estimated you’d need 6 blocks, and you actually used 5.  You were really close!” or “You guessed you’d need 4 blocks and you were right!”  Sometimes I’d also encourage them to show me on their fingers how many blocks were in their design.














Not only is this activity good for estimating, counting, and self-checking an oral answer to a written number, it’s also good for developing spatial awareness, an early understanding of the math concept of area, and fine motor skills!  I *love* this activity, and most importantly, L&L do, too!! 🙂

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Altax says:

    Lovely kids and cute pictures.

    Preschool Games

  • Anonymous says:

    going to try this in my Preschool… thanks

  • Shonda says:

    Wow, I love this. You are so creative! I need to make this for my son.

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