• DIY: Lacing Beads and Photo Puzzle

    A wonderfully talented reader, Lindsay, sent me these instructions and photos for a couple really great projects for young toddlers: handmade lacing beads and a photo puzzle. I’m really excited to try these. Perfect for my very busy two year old.

    Here are her instructions to create your own:

    Lacing Beads

    (You will need to use a miter saw and a drill with a 1/4″ drill bit)
    one 1″ square dowel
    one 1″ circle dowel (you could use other sizes that are close)
    5 or so wooden balls 1 1/2″
    medium grit sandpaper
    non-toxic craft paint in 5 different colors
    one shoelace

    Measure and mark the dowels to have about 7 one-inch pieces and 7 half-inch pieces from each dowel (you will have extra wood). Wearing safety goggles 🙂 cut on the marks with a miter saw. Drill a 1/4″ hole through the middle of each piece, including the wooden balls. Sand each piece. Paint each set of pieces a different color. Sand lightly after they’re dry to prevent the pieces from transferring color. Tie a large knot in the end of the shoelace and they’re ready to use.

    Picture Puzzle

    (you will need to use a miter saw)
    one 1 1/2″ square dowel (other sizes could be used)
    mod podge, paintbrush
    1-6 5×7 prints, depending on how many sides you want as puzzles
    paper cutter

    Mark the dowel every 1 1/2″ and cut with the saw to make blocks. Sand blocks. Cut the picture(s) into 9 pieces to fit the blocks (just a little smaller than 1 1/2″ square). Attach the pictures to the blocks with mod-podge and let dry.


    1. bethany said… January 18, 2011 9:21 pm

      The DIY lacing beads are brilliant!! I know my go-to first birthday present now!! Thanks so much for sharing!! I blogged about it here:http://makealong.blogspot.com/2011/01/diy-lacing-beads.html

    2. KJ said… January 13, 2010 7:40 pm

      these are cute! I thought I was really cool for purchasing a package of small wooden spools at the craft store, to use for bead stringing. but this is cooler.

    3. vfg said… January 11, 2010 7:29 pm

      I came to post the same: I used 1 1/4" blocks from caseyswoods.com, a most delightful small woods source (I've seen similar at Michael's), and illustrations from a children's book, using six, one on each side. http://purplepetunialife.blogspot.com/2008/12/fairy-block-puzzle.htmlwas my first effort & I've done several since. They're a great gift for tweens to make for siblings or cousins.

    4. liz stanley said… January 8, 2010 2:55 pm

      great idea, Sarah! And glad to see that you found blocks without having to cut any :). I'm good at 'lazy' crafting

    5. Sarah Black said… January 8, 2010 1:08 pm

      I made the puzzle blocks using pre-cut blocks from the craft store. They have a variety of sizes and it makes the project very easy. I did a "Where the Wild Things Are" puzzle. http://juneviolet.blogspot.com/2009/10/puzzle-blocks-maurice-sendak-style.html

    6. Teresa @ good-grace said… January 8, 2010 7:38 am

      LOVE this!! Sending to my sister — perfect for her twins!! (or maybe I'll just have to make them with my older boys – and send them off to her. So fun!!)

    7. In Honor Of Design said… January 7, 2010 4:41 pm

      absolutely love this! Thanks for sharing:)

    8. liz stanley said… January 7, 2010 8:12 am

      Shelly, I bet you can buy plain blocks and beads at a craft store. Might make the whole project much simpler

    9. Brooke said… January 6, 2010 11:29 pm

      I love the picture puzzle and it looks fairly simple to make as well.

    10. Lisa Mae said… January 6, 2010 9:51 pm

      I love the beads! Will have to try those when my boys get a little older. Love the gorgeous colors!

    11. tiny twig said… January 6, 2010 5:11 pm

      i love the idea of doing 6 pictures…one for each side of the cube. makes it a little more advanced, though. 🙂 oh the joys of keeping little dudes entertained!

    12. Christine said… January 6, 2010 11:04 am

      what great ideas, i love the lacing bead one!

    13. m e l said… January 6, 2010 10:50 am

      I am all over that block picture puzzle idea. How fun would that be!! Thanks.

    14. marissa said… January 6, 2010 9:55 am

      these are awesome thanks for sharing

    15. Shelly said… January 6, 2010 8:01 am

      These sound great but I don't have a miter saw. Can you buy those beads or blocks already cut? Like at a craft store?

    16. Gabrielle said… January 6, 2010 7:52 am


    17. bea said… January 6, 2010 7:51 am

      lovely ideas. I would love to create one of these lacing beads. my niece would love it!

    18. e said… January 6, 2010 7:43 am

      I've seen the blocks done with 6 different photos. one for each side! very fun.

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