We don’t buy a lot of toys for our children. Most of what we have has been given to us. We have tons of toys, but the most special ones are the ones we make ourselves. Other than the special doll and the legos, the homemade toys are the ones that are played with the most. So when I found this idea for homemade nature blocks from Adventure in a Box on Pinterest, I had to try it out right away. My kids don’t have any blocks except legos, so I thought this would be perfect.
After lunch today, I went out back to our pile of fallen branches from the yard and gathered a few that I thought would be interesting. I started with a hand saw and miter box and tried to cut different sizes of blocks from the branches. I hadn’t told my children what I was doing, but as my 4 year old son stood watching me he got super excited and said “Mommy, we could build something with those!” I love the creativity that flows when children are presented with new objects!
After a while, my arms ached and I was starting to get frustrated with my saw getting stuck in the wood. So I stopped. I handed my creations to my son. He piled them in a bucket, took them in the house, and immediately set to work. My little engine came up with this. He proudly told me it was a monster truck.
Then he excitedly asked me “Mommy, can you make more?”
This time I took my branches to the garage and turned on my sliding chop saw. Within a couple minutes I had a set of 50+ blocks for my children to play with. They were ecstatic.
After more than an hour, I finally sent my 3 year old to bed while my son continued to play for another 30 minutes or more.
Here is a sampling of the different types of blocks I cut.
Long ones, skinny ones, joints, half rounds…so simple, yet so much fun. It is best to use DRY branches for these. Look for interesting pieces of bark or oddly shaped or varying branches and within a short time, you have your own blocks. Some may need a little sanding to shave off rough edges, but I was impressed at how little time this took. My next step is to put them in the oven for a little while at low heat to kill off any bugs that may have made their home inside my wood.
Have you made any toys for your kids from things found in your backyard? Leave your ideas in the comments section.
Also, Adventure in a Box is doing a contest with homemade toys from nature that ends September 23. Check it out here.