~By Merri Cvetan
Winter is such a long season. By this time of year, parents are always looking for fun and inexpensive indoor activities. The best play time encourages kids to use their imagination and creativity. Although wood blocks have been a staple in the toy box for centuries, they’re hardly high-tech. That’s probably why parents love them. Blocks are almost the perfect toy. They help develop hand and eye coordination; help children learn their ABC’s, and what kid doesn’t love to build and then knock down their masterpiece?
This set of DIY city blocks will keep your kids busy for hours and you will have fun playing with them too.
If you don’t have scrap pieces of wood in your garage (like I do!), head to The Home Depot’s lumber department. I used ¾ in. x 4 in. and ¾ in. x 2 ½ in. boards. But standard 2 x 4’s work too. Mark off 4, 5, and 6 in. sections on each board.
Then draw angles for roof lines. They don’t have to be perfect or symmetrical. I think they’re more interesting if they’re not. You are only limited by your imagination. Cut a variety of shapes and sizes to create your city. Depending on the age of your children, let them draw the angles and roof lines.
Power tools make the job go much faster. With only a few cuts using a miter box saw, you can have a huge skyline in a matter of minutes. Don’t forget your safety glasses when working with power tools.
Now your city is starting to take shape.
You want to make sure all the rough, cut edges are smooth. Don’t take any chances with splinters and little hands. A hand-held power sander and medium grit sand paper will give each building a smooth finish.
I love chalkboard paint. It is so versatile; I use it in many DIY projects. Do you know it’s also available in a magnetic form? Not only can you draw on it, but magnets will stick to it. Genius! It also comes in a variety of colors. You are no longer limited to basic black. I decided on purple. You are, after all, encouraging creativity in your kids.
Following the directions on the paint container, paint the front, sides and back of each building. I find that the more coats you apply, the better the coverage. I used a foam brush and added 4 coats. Be even more creative and paint the back a different color from the front.
Then the fun begins. Let your kids design and create houses and buildings with chalk. A damp rag erases everything so they can start over again and again.
Just think of the stories your little architect will come up with each time he builds a new village!
Merri Cvetan is a crafter and interior designer who writes about her DIY projects for The Home Depot. Merri’s building blocks project reflects her interest in providing parents with educational tools that they can make at home. To view some of the power tools that Merri used to create building blocks, you can visit Home Depot’s website.