Friday, May 24, 2013

Nature blocks

With the weather being so incredible lately, we have been spending just about every minute of every day outside (how the inside of my house still manages to get messy I will never know since we aren't actually in there doing anything).  And even though my kids have a million outdoor toys, the one thing we were missing was blocks.  They love building and stacking and knocking everything down, so why not let them do it outside where we really don't have to put the toys away after?

A few months ago there was a wind storm and a huge branch fell from our tree into my neighbor's yard.  When I thought of this idea, I asked him if I could have the branch, to which he said "well it is from your tree."

I finally talked my husband into chopping it up for me in a bunch of different sizes.

After they were chopped up, I went through the grueling chore of cleaning them up.  When I first thought of this idea, I wasn't expecting the clean up to be that difficult.  I figured it would be simple, a little scrub, a little shave and BAM! awesome blocks.  I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  Three days I spent scrubbing, chipping, whittling and waxing.  Three days.  My arms hurt like I did a million push ups.  My hands hurt like I was walking on them for a week.  I have a whole new respect for people who whittle by hand.

And I can't even go into details of the bugs that came out of the bark.  I almost stopped four pieces into this project when I came across a swarm two termites.

When all was said and done, I decided against doing the last four pieces.  My hands couldn't take anymore and they were the worst, meaning they had the most moss, flaking bark and knots on them.  I might finish them up one day, but for now, I think we have enough.  

I tried to make them all different.  I only stripped a couple completely of all their bark.  I left some of the bark on a few and then took only part off from the others.  I thought it gave them a really neat look.  

Of course, once I was done and trying to stage them for pictures, Lucy and Dexter flocked to them like they were the coolest toys they had ever seen.  Apparently, putting toy animals on them was code for "DESTROY THE SETUP AND PLAY WITH THEM ALL RIGHT THIS SECOND!!"

I wish there had been someone taking a picture of me trying to take a picture of these blocks with the dinosaurs since what you can't see is me holding Dexter back with one hand and saying repeatedly to Lucy "stay back, please don't touch just a second longer, just wait and then you can play I promise!"

I like to think that this T-Rex is in his natural environment here, squiggly face and all.  He looks way happier here than on the bookshelf in my Dexter's room.

And the second I let Dexter go, this is what happened:

He knocked everything down and Lucy grabbed a few to make her own castle.  These blocks kept them busy and happy for about 30 minutes straight while I was cleaning up my mess and putting all the toys in the garage as it started to rain.  I am hoping that they will keep them busy for most of the summer too.

What is extra awesome about the blocks is that if I do forget to put them away, they are sealed with wax so they won't get ruined in the yard.

Lucy's castle that she insisted I take a picture of and post here as well.  I think it's pretty awesome if I do say so myself!

What have you taken from nature and repurposed lately?

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  1. Once when I was managing these apartments in college, I made a Xmas Tree out of left behind coat hangers....I don't do much building as one time I cut this board 3 times and it was STILL too short!!!

  2. I loved these Randi! I am so bummed to not see you go on in the competition. I am your newest follower on your blog.

    A Bunch of Bishops

  3. Cute! It does look like something kids would have a blast with and they are cool to look at as well!

  4. How cute, I am so jealous chain saw jealous. I could have used those a couple of weeks ago for my fairy party. It looks like you had a blast. First time visitor thanks for sharing Kathy

  5. What a fun idea--they're so cute!

  6. dad, you're funny

    Activity Directors, Liz, Rein, thanks for stopping by!

    Janiene, so glad to have you!

    Kathy, what a good idea on adding them to a faery party! I might have to keep that in mind for the future!

    Steph, thanks!

  7. I love these! I've seen them before but I had no idea that they were so easy to make, you did an amazing job! What did your husband use to chop them up?

  8. He used branch cutters to cut off the smaller limbs and then a miter saw to chop them up!

  9. How clever is this! So glad your kiddos are enjoying them! Thanks for sharing at Monday Funday!

    Take care,


  10. What a fun idea! I bet you're kids love them.

  11. These are so cute! Thanks for sharing at Pinworthy Projects.

  12. Very cute! I recently had fun repurposing various things from nature to decorate a wedding. We used fallen down birch limbs for a display, we used little circles cut from trees to decorate with on the tables and for helping to make our cupcake stand. We also used a rough sawn board as part of the cupcake table display. It turned out rather fun.

  13. I love these! Such a great way of keeping outdoor activities brainstorming and fun!


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