Whether you want to create a brand-new DIY building block set for your kid from scratch, or embellish and personalize a set of blocks that you already own, this is the list for you!
1. Cut a tree branch into blocks. These natural blocks couldn’t be easier to make, and you can do them in all kinds of sizes, from small tree blocks suitable for quiet play to giant blocks that kids can use as stepping stones. You can even cut up last year’s Christmas tree to make new blocks!
2. Decoupage building blocks. This is a great way to cover up blocks that a kid has scribbled all over with a permanent marker (ask me how I know this!). You can choose anything from pretty scrapbook paper to comic books.
3. Freeze building blocks. You can have fun with outdoor building blocks even in winter, thanks to your freezer.
4. Make a standard wooden block set. With just some wood and a saw, you can make all kinds of great building blocks, but this tute offers a good standard starter set.
5. Make cork blocks. I’ve seen lots of people offering up extra cork tiles on Freecycle, so it’s quite possible to upcycle this entire set of blocks.
6. Make outdoor building blocks from a wood pallet. Now kids can have a set of building blocks that it’s okay to leave outside in the rain!
7. Paint your blocks. Use acrylic paints to put amazing detail onto blocks, or let kids create their own artwork on them. Seal them afterwards, and they’re ready for play!
8. Play an art game with them. If your kids have outgrown building (which is unlikely; I mean, *I* haven’t outgrown building!), upcycle the cubes into this fun art game.
9. Put snaps on them. You’ll have to buy some hardware for this, but kids will really love this all-new way to think about building with their block collection.
10. Put Velcro on them. These blocks are easier to make than the snap blocks, but less durable. Stick with smaller building blocks so that you don’t overtax your Velcro.
11. Sew fabric blocks. Fabric blocks are great fun for babies, especially if you put something crinkly or jingly inside. If you don’t want to use foam, you can stuff them–they won’t stack well, but babies aren’t big on stacking, anyway.
12. Upcycle them out of cardboard. Since these blocks won’t be well-balanced, they’ll work better incorporated into a kid’s imaginative play rather than for a kid who’s very intent on building elaborate structures.
13. Use blocks as a chalkboard. Paint building blocks with chalkboard paint, and you’ve got a blank canvas for a kid’s imagination.
14. Watercolor stain building blocks. This method gives your blocks a vibrant stain in crayon colors.
15. Wood burn building blocks. You can draw abstract designs, architectural features, or cute kid-made artwork on wood building blocks, then use a wood burner to etch them on permanently.