Jun 1, 2010

Giant reclaimed wooden blocks

Some of our neighbours down the street have been landscaping, and as part of this somehow they dug up some dirty chunks of wood. I have no idea what they were part of, but they gladly gave them to us rather than take them to the dump. The kids helped us pile them in the car and we drove them up the street and hosed and scrubbed the mud off. Here they are all scrubbed clean.
They are in poor shape, but still really interesting, especially the ring patterns that have kind of weathered to be really prominent and will probably be great for crayon rubbings!
Once they had dried out fully the kids had a go at them with the sander. This was their first time with an electric sander and they really liked it!
I've just noticed that in this picture above it looks like I must be doing some strange contortion to have my other leg around the back of my neck or something. Don't worry, it's just my shoe was sat on the picnic bench ;) (I should have just let you think I was that bendy)

Then the kids had at the blocks with a load of kiddy paint in yoghurt pots and some big brushes. They kept at this for a good long time, especially my four year old.

I'm hoping that the neighbours chuck out more lumber as they keep landscaping, because the bigger the collection of building parts, the more exciting projects the kids can come up with.

I don't really have any set ideas of what to do with these blocks. So far the kids have built towers and stepping stones and bridges with a couple of other bits of wood we have.

Sometimes the free section of craigslist calls out to me. It's a good job we don't have a truck, or I'd be trying to grab all the wooden furniture from the curbsides around here!

41 comments:

Kimira said...

Hi. we dont usually get so much wood, but I like the stuff that you have been doing. Its great inspiration. Just got around to doing some magnetic chutes for my kids to explore. You may want to take a peek

jenny @ let the children play said...

Now why hadn't I thought of that! These would be absolutely perfect for outside at preschool and I can see the kids using them in many different ways. I love them when they are painted - thanks for sharing :)

Emma said...

Wonderful idea! We are renovating at the moment, I now know what to do with all the wood odds and ends lying around!

Angie said...

This is such a brilliant idea and the children take ownership and develop a good sense of agency with the blocks. We have successfully completed this idea at our centre but didn't paint the blocks. The children did love sanding them back with sandpaper and rubbing almond oil into them....it's great that you're able to share your stories of success with us! :)

teachmama said...

LOVE this post, and the idea is fantastic. My sister's getting an addition put on her home, and you better believe I'm on the phone in a sec asking her to keep her tiny wood scraps for us!

Heather said...

I LOVE it! I am hoping putting your blog in my RSS feed thing will get me busier making neat things for my kids! I have been slacking this past year with that. Oh and I feel the same about the pickup truck.

Elle Sees said...

super cute!

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

These look so fantastic painted! They did a great job. I will be on the lookout for wood scraps too. What a great idea. You guys are amazing.

Jen said...

Awesome!!

Becca said...

Thanks for all your ideas - they are great fun!
I know I'm a worry-wart, but you may want to make sure it's not pressure-treated wood or old railroad ties, both have nasty chemicals in them to keep the wood from rotting and to kill any wood-boring insects. Kids touching or breathing in the sanding dust from such wood is not good. Normal lumber for building a house, like pine 2x4 is untreated and thus safer.

Kitten Muffin said...

Thanks for the heads up Becca. These looked looked like they were redwood used in house construction at some point. Not the right dimensions for cut up railroad ties. I'm thinking it's unlikely that they were pressure treated, because they were pretty rotten in places, especially the ends that were buried. I only figured out about the chemicals in pressure treated wood a few weeks ago, because I was looking into what I could use/reclaim to make raised planters in the garden. Still waiting to find some cheap/free leftover lumber on Craigslist for that :)

Christina said...

This is fantastic, and looks like so much fun! Thanks for all your great ideas, I enjoy reading your blog.

Rosa said...

The stacked blocks remind me of a Louise Bourgeois sculpture I saw at MOMA last week! :)

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Those are so cool! I would have loved these when I was a kid. SO many possibilities... Thanks so much, I'll be linking.

Teacher Tom said...

That is one sweet find, KM! And the kids did an incredible job painting them.

Yeah, some of us really shouldn't own a pick-up. =)

PickleLady said...

I just wanted to thank you for the constant inspiration. I think of you often when I am repressing my "don't make a mess!" voice, and letting the learning come through beautiful chaos, hope, and love!

toasted said...

I know I'm repeating others a lot here - but these are so cool. I saw some things called tree-cakes on a blog somewhere (wish I could remember where?) which were basically a lopped tree-trunk sliced into pieces of a few centimetres. Similar idea as yours - great for tower building. I've been on the lookout for a lopper working in the neighbourhood ever since.

Sherry and Donna said...

Wowee how fabulous are those blocks. Why oh why have I not thought to do this before?! I love the paint job. Well done gang!
Donna :) :)

sara's art house said...

I LOVE these wooden blocks!!!!!!!!!!

Crystal said...

They're so PRETTY! What a fun idea. So many activities, just from a bunch of 'garbage!'

MaryAnne said...

Those blocks look really cool!

Twig and Toadstool said...

Oh my goodness...how WONDERFUL!!!!
Now my eyes are going to be on the look out for giant pieces of wood to turn into blocks...how fun are those!!! Brilliant idea!!!!
(insert round of applause for wonderful creative mammas)!!!!
thank you for inspiring and delighting
Maureen

jeny said...

beautifulllllll ... my summers-lett's would absolutely and totally love this. (me too.)

maxie said...

honestly, you need a book deal or a show. you do the coolest things.

Elizabeth said...

Dude. I'm totally jealous that I didn't think of that first!

And disregard the part in the email I just sent you about Teacher Tom and his wooden snake thing. I just found the link to it through the other comments. So cool! I'm going to have to ponder that and put it to use somehow with the log blocks I made for our kids.

anto said...

J'adoooore !
Very good idea, I'm going to do the same this week end! My daugther very enjoy when she see that)
Stop to be a genius!
(Arrête d'être aussi génial !)
A bientôt ;)
Nina.

Liz said...

Wow! So creative! Thanks for the idea! Mind if I borrow it?

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Holy mackerel thats cool! I want some! I think my girls would love it. I also like that you hauled out the sander and let them use it! Start 'em early!

Kiruthika Curic said...

Hi. I made a sound garden, inspired by your sound wall
http://anjalicuric.blogspot.com/2010/06/sound-garden-progress.html

Lesley said...

What a fantastic idea. I love it when moms are inspired to make toys for their kids! I can't wait for my little one to be old enough to use power tools to help me make toys. I heard redwood dust might be toxic to inhale even if it is untreated. I plan on making tree limb blocks next month and we used large tree trunks to create all kinds of play structures in our yard. Do you have a local FreeCycle. That is where I get my best stuff So glad I stopped by. Please visit my blog and check out my "projects"

mymommymakesit
easy toys moms can make!

janimal said...

Oh my that looks like so much fun! I love that your kids get to use tools like the sander and you encourage so much creativity in them. It's inspiring!

Habbich said...

Great idea! I am soooo going to copy this :-))))

Neighbours, oh neieieighbours....!

Baby By The Sea said...

This is such a fabulous idea. We just finished building a fence, 2 garden beds and a play structure. So, there's a lot of wood pieces around here.

I looked around a bit & I'm very inspired.

xoxo

jackie kersh said...

great project!

Bright Ring said...

I like that you had no idea what to do with the blocks. GREAT! That gave the kids the freedom to think up some possibilities, which I see were many. It's so cool for kids to work with materials other than just paper paper paper. Nice job!
` MaryAnn Kohl, art author
My new blog:http://maryannfkohl.typepad.com/blog/

Sarah Craftylocks said...

The blocks are fabulous, I think they look like works of art you would find in a modern art gallery!

creativejewishmom/Sara said...

This is fantastic! I've linked to this on my weekly blog linking party and will share it with my readers on Sunday, would love to see you there too! (Sunday thru tues) All the best!

Lori said...

Fantastic!

CHILDHOOD MAGIC said...

I LOVE this! Really amazing!!

Jenn @ Delicious Ambiguity said...

Hi! You've got a great blog here and I love this idea. I host a toddler link up party every tuesday called Tot Tuesdays. Would love it if you'd stop by and link up this idea along with the many other great ideas you have for toddlers. Have a great day!
http://www.mydeliciousambiguity.com/

a happy wanderer said...

these are great! i love the bright colors, and just the idea of having huge outdoor blocks... wonderful!