Introduction: Photo Cube Puzzle

I love photos but am not that fond of scrapbooking. I love what other people make but my own attempts always seem bland. So I try to display pictures other ways.

I have been intending to make this puzzle for several years. The idea of going through the old photos in the multiple shoe boxes just seemed so impossible. I thought it would take forever. I was so wrong.

It did take a while to pick out the photos but the time just flew. It was actually fun to reminisce. You need 6 pictures to start.

This was based on a puzzle I had when I was a child. It was a lunch box sized box filled with wooden blocks. The child was supposed to reassemble one of the 6 pictures when returning the blocks to the box. I remember playing with it for hours.

This version is intended to sit in a bowl on the coffee table when not in use. I am planning to make more for different members of the family. To add difficulty to the puzzle, you can store 2 or 3 puzzles in the same bowl or you can use smaller wooden blocks to generate smaller pieces. If you are making this for a young child, you might consider using pictures with completely different color schemes for each different side. This makes the puzzle easier. One of your photos could be swapped for a piece of the child's art work.

Step 1: Materials:

Wooden blocks--perfect cubes if you can get them
6 photos
Glue--I used rubber cement
Scissors and a pencil or paper trimmer

Some wooden blocks are a bit longer in one dimension than the other 2. I do not know if they do that on purpose but I would avoid using them if you can. I found some perfect cubes in a catalog of teaching supplies. They were intended as math counters. You can also make your own wooden blocks.

How many blocks you need depends on the size of your blocks and the size of your smallest picture. If you have one inch cubes and your pictures are 4 by 6, you will need 24 blocks. My cubes were one inch cubes. You can crop your pictures to fit your blocks. I chose to crop mine to 3 by 5 inches.

I like rubber cement because it grips well without the drippy mess of white glue oozing out everywhere. I know a lot of people have their own favorite glue. I would not use glue stick as it does not seem to be a very strong bond.

I like to use a paper trimmer because I get straighter cuts than when I use scissors. You should use what you are comfortable with.

Step 2: Cut the Photos

Cut your photos into the necessary number of pieces. Be sure to cut as accurately as possible. You want clean cuts so take your time. I ended up cutting with my rotary cutter because I could see where I was cropping the photos.

Unless you want an extra puzzle where you repeatedly sort your photo pieces and reassemble the pictures multiple times to make sure don't mess this up, I recommend you work with one photo at a time. Keep the pieces in separate envelopes. Count the pieces when you put them in the envelopes.

Step 3: Gluing the Pieces Onto the Cubes

When gluing the photos, it is absolutely essential that you put only one photo piece on each block of the puzzle. If 2 pieces of the same photo end up on the same cube, the puzzle will be unsolvable. Keep your work organized and don't try to multitask.

Apply adhesive neatly and completely to the back of one piece at a time. If you are using rubber cement, apply it also to the surface of the cube. Allow both sides to dry for a view minutes. Rubber cement grips instantly when used this way. Make sure you line it up neatly.

Set the first piece off to the side. Grab the second piece of the picture and a different cube. Repeat the gluing process. It is tempting to try to glue several pieces at once. Not something I would try again. One mistake is disastrous.

Step 4: The Rest of the Pictures

Once all the blocks have one covered side, pull out the second envelope. It will not matter which piece goes on which block or which side you choose to put it on but it is important that you only use one piece on each block.

Be sure that each block has exactly 2 sides covered before you open the 3rd envelope.

Keep working until you have used all 6 pictures and the blocks are completely covered.

Step 5: Check Your Work

Use the pieces to re-create each of the 6 pictures.

The original puzzle was intended for preschoolers had 20 pieces (4 by 5). You can make this more challenging by using many more pieces or you can store multiple puzzles in the same bowl. If you make each puzzle using the same size cube, sorting the pieces makes another challenge. You can easily adjust the difficulty of your puzzle.

This puzzle makes a great mother's day gift for a grandmother.

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Bio: I have taught math for 30 plus years. I am one of the crazy ones who actually think math is fun. I am learning how ... More »
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