Popsicle Stick Puzzle – Bay Area Discovery Museum

Popsicle Stick Puzzle

Piece it together! Make a handmade puzzle using popsicle sticks, masking tape, paint, and markers.

Learning Goals

  • Be Curious
  • Come Up with Ideas and Try Them Out
  • Take Risks and Persist Through Challenge

Materials Required

  • 20 Popsicle Sticks
  • Paint
  • Markers
  • Paintbrushes
  • Masking tape


  • Line up popsicle sticks on a flat surface so they are touching and the ends are lined up evenly, like a fence.
  • Cut strips of masking tape and place them across the sticks to keep the sticks together and then carefully flip over all the sticks so the tape is on the back.
  • Think about what image or images you would like to create for your puzzle and sketch the image on paper.
  • You will create two puzzles, one on each side of the sticks. To make it easy to tell which sticks go with which puzzle, first paint a solid color on all of the sticks on one side.
  • When the background paint on the sticks is dry, use markers or paint to illustrate your paper sketch onto the popsicle sticks. Let the sticks dry.
  • Once the sticks are dry, flip them over and remove the masking tape. Put these strips of tape on the other side—flip the sticks over, line them up like before and add the tape.
  • Repeat the same steps for the second side of the puzzle.

Extend the Activity

  • Write a poem with your child on one side of the popsicle sticks and draw an illustration together on the other side.
  • Have your child use their puzzle to tell a story using the image they created. They can tell their story out loud to friends and family or you can assist them to write it down.

Tips for Adults

  • This activity provides an opportunity to turn a secret pattern into a puzzle. In fact, both the participant who creates the puzzle and whoever solves it are being creative by using pattern recognition and formation. Talk through all the different patterns you can find together. For example, "I see three popsicle sticks with a flower on it. What do you see?"
  • Give children a chance to evaluate their own work to build their sense of confidence and independence. "How do you think you did? What was the hardest part for you? Which part did you do really well?"

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