Digital Fabrication: Puzzle Making

Brief Description: Have students design a puzzle using Adobe software and digital fabrication techniques.

Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8


  • The time it takes to introduce ideas and design puzzles is about ~1.5 hours. Cutting will take different amounts of time depending on the size and detail of the puzzle, as well as the number of puzzles that need to be cut.

Keywords: digital fabrication, digital design, tesselation, polygons, puzzles

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will learn how to use the basics of Adobe Illustrator as a digital design tool
  • Students will learn what a tessellation is and how to make one
  • Students will understand what vocab words: digital fabrication, raster, and vector


  • Adobe Illustrator
    • Stroke .001
  • Laser Cutter
  • Chipboard
  • Paint/paint brushes (optional)
  • Paper

Lesson Plan:

  • Introductions
  • Pre-puzzle activity:
  • Create a tessellation shape
    • Definition: an arrangement of shapes closely fitted together, especially of polygons in a repeated pattern without gaps or overlapping.
    • Example: 
    • Have them create one and use it to draw a tessellation pattern on a piece of paper 
  • What is digital fabrication? Digital fabrication is a type of manufacturing process where the machine used is controlled by a computer.
    • Examples:
      • 3d printer
      • Laser cutter
      • CNC machine
  • What is a laser cutter?
    • Rastering/etching
    • vector/ cutting
  • Today we’ll be using the laser cutter to create and cut our own puzzles!
    • Intro to Adobe Illustrator
      • Show Rulers
      • Creating shapes
      • No fill
      • Stroke= .001
    • For your puzzle, you can create a tessellation, a random design of shapes, or make it more like puzzle pieces!
    • We will be using chipboard
    • You can decide to make your puzzle rectangular or round or none of the above.
    • Important guidelines= size of starting block. If you chose the make yours rectangular, start your box in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Make sure the measurements don’t extend beyond the LxW of the starting piece.
  • Painting
    • If painting a scene, it might make sense to do so before cutting (alignment of things)
    • You can paint pieces after.


  • Make wooden display box (that the puzzle needs to fit in)
  • Add LEDs– light up puzzle
    • Placing the last piece (Or something) makes a piece light up
  • See Puzzle File and PUZZLE FILE 2 for examples

Example Project

Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

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