The World Puzzle - How to Learn Your Countries the Fun Way. (laser Cut) by Samuel Bernier




Have you ever seen one of these videos where a journalist interviews students and adults, asking them to point Iran out on a map? The result is often funny, and so is this game. Over a hundred countries, some of them you never heard about, in a puzzle race. Here is how to make one of the best geography games of all time! 

The objective of this game is to teach geography to children and adults. The players won't only learn the location of countries, they will also learn the neighboring seas and oceans. The players can compare the size of countries and overlay the pieces to learn things such as : US is 18 times bigger than France or Japan fits 25 times in Canada or that ... Switzerland really is a small country. (the ones that were too small to grab were merged with their neighbors) 

123D link :

Step 1: Material

Many types of materials can be used : wood, cardboard, polypropylene, metal... But I used colored acrylic 0.172 inch thick. The size of the board was 2 x 3 feet (24 x 36 inches), but could be bigger since you can easily scale or edit the .EPS file.
Don't forget to remove the protection layer before doing anything with it. 

Step 2: Laser Engrave and Cut

First, you will need to clip (or tape) the board in your laser cutter. (I used an Epilog Legend 36 EXT)
If you don't know your settings perfectly, I suggest you make some tests before sending the real thing to cut. 
You will engrave first and then cut. The opposite would result in poor word definition. On the EPS file, everything in black is to engrave and everything in red is to cut using the 'hairline' thickness. When everything is etched and cut, don't TOUCH ANYTHING until step 3.

If you don't have a laser cutter and live in San Francisco, Menlo Park, Raleigh, San Jose or Detroit, GET A MEMBERSHIP AT TechShop 

Step 3: Move the Parts

You will now need to move the puzzle pieces onto cardboard. If you do it straight, some small pieces will fall inside the laser cutter, so I suggest this :

Use some wide masking tape to cover all countries. Once that's done, quickly put the cardboard underneath.
Put in a safe place, far from dogs and babies. 

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat steps 1,2 and 3 with a board of another color. Even if it looks cool, I don't suggest mixing board materials because of the variations of tolerances. 

Step 5: Remove Tape

Gently remove the masking tape from the board and put the countries aside. 

Step 6: Empty Board

The empty board should look like this.

Step 7: Surface

To make sure not to lose any pieces put the board on 2x3' cardboard and keep the countries in a small box aside (one for each player). Remember that the seas should be the same color as the board and the countries an opposite color. Be careful because some parts are pointy or fragile. 

Step 8: Play

Sit one in front of each other with your board in front of you. The first one who fills the map wins.
This is, I think, the best way to learn geography. 
Some tricks on how to play :
Put some Scotch tape or Blu Tac on the tip of a pencil or your finger to grab the puzzle pieces. 

Step 9: Modify

I had to re-design the map several times to make the parts stronger and to merge the smallest countries. I suggest you do the same if you want to change the map's size or just repair broken pieces. 

Step 10: File

Here are an .EPS file and a .DWG file that can be used in Autocad, Illustrator or Corel to customise your game. ENJOY!




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    12 Discussions

    I do not find the way to dowload the map. This idea is great and I am looking forward to doing this with my 6 year old son



    6 years ago

    wow.. tats a brilliant idea.


    6 years ago

    wow.. tats a brilliant idea.

    This is exactly what I have been wanting to do for years! Wow, thank you so much! I absolutely cannot wait to do this! I wanted an effective and efficient way to learn the names of the countries of the world as well as where they are, and the idea of a world map puzzle has always been in my mind. Now that I see someone has done it, I will follow suit before anyone else gets in the way. I also wanted to incorporate the four-color map theorem; we'll see how it goes!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    That looks real nice.

    Here's an idea to take it further:
    1. Engrave the map into a sheet of steel (if the laser can't engrave steel, use painted steel, like a piece from the side of an old freezer).
    2. Edit the version you cut from plastic to include a small circle in the centre of each country, and glue a neodymium magnet into the circle.
    3. Glue the seas & oceans in the right places on the steel version, and then the kids can place the countries more easily, with less chance of pieces being lost to bumps and sneezes.

    7 years ago on Introduction

    This needs to go on the leaderboard with the NES and N64 to see who can complete the puzzle fastest.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Agreed. Leverage those spatial reasoning skills honed with hours of Tetris and apply them to making the shapes fit in the map. And perhaps some geography will be learned at the same time. At the very least we will wonder what is supposed to fit in Suriname's place, because that one's bound to get lost with Andorra and Vatican City.


    Excellent idea! I learned the states as a child using a USA map puzzle. It was a much more natural way of learning than rote memorization.

    The only problem I can see is the need to update the map as country boundaries change and/or are renamed. The globe of today looks MUCH different than the globe of my youth!

    1 reply

    Excellent instruction and I love the bright colors! Thanks for sharing everything. I may have to try this out.