Three Dozen DIY Building Block Crafts

Mary Blair blocks

The most versatile children’s toy is also a toy that has infinite possibilities for DIY. There are so many ways to create your own building block sets, so many ways to embellish old or thrifted wood block sets to make them playable in an all-new way, and so many ways to upcycle wood blocks so that you can enjoy them in brand-new ways. Here are just a few of my favorites!

Create Your Own Building Blocks

ice blocks

  • ice blocksEncourage kids to spend time outdoors in the cold by surprising them with a fun new toy! Use silicone molds or cake pans to freeze a collection of blocks (dye with food coloring for even more fun!). Use milk or juice cartons to create a set of giant blocks for igloo-building!
  • wooden blocks from scratchPut your woodworking skills–and those fancy tools!–to good use.
  • DIY TetrisTechnically you’re not making these from scratch, but you are turning them into a completely new type of block. Haven’t you always wanted to play real-world Tetris?
  • rainbow squareWhile you have the cubes out, also DIY this set of blocks that are good for puzzling, patterning, and stacking.

Make your kiddos a set of outdoor building blocks, using nothing more than the ubiquitous wooden pallet.

  • pallet wood building blocksYes, I know pallet wood is pretty gross, so don’t let your kids lick it or anything, but there is no better large outdoor toy than a big set of pallet wood building blocks. These blocks are especially fun in a sandbox or the dirt area where the kids play with their toy trucks.
  • pyramid blocksThese are extraordinary blocks that any kid would be thrilled to receive.
  • interlocking blocksThe notches cut into these blocks allow them to be connected in gravity-defying ways.
  • giant interlocking blocksLet the fort-building begin!
  • giant JengaJust… please be careful when these inevitably fall. They are REALLY big!

15 DIY Building Block Sets to Build or Embellish

  • tree blocksTree blocks are the natural alternative to pallet wood blocks. You can even take them inside! Take extra care to cut the flat sides of these blocks nice and parallel.
  • baking soda blocksThese sculpted blocks would be a great addition to small world play.
  • stackerDIY the ultimate in baby toys!
  • soft blocksIf your baby can’t be trusted with wood just yet, here’s a set of soft blocks to sew.

Embellish Blocks to Make New Ways to Play

art dice

  • art diceEmbellish wooden cubes with simple shapes, colors, or scenes, then roll them to tell you what kind of picture you’re going to draw! Or, substitute the art with story prompts, numbers, or anything else that it’s fun to combine and be inspired by.
  • architecture blocksGot a little city planner in your family? Thrill them with these hand-design architecture embellishments on their blocks. For added interest, create local landmarks or national ones like the Eiffel Tower or Great Pyramid of Giza.

art blocks

  • art blocksHand your kids the paint and let them create their own fantasy blocks for imaginative play. They’ll love incorporating their own art into their scenarios!
  • snap blocksAdding a set of snaps to ordinary building blocks makes them into an all-new building experience.

Painted building blocks

  • painted blocksWhile art blocks are a way for kids to create their own blocks for fantasy play, these painted blocks allow you to thoughtfully design a new experience. You can make blocks that teach colors, include architecture elements or animals, illustrate the animals of the world–your imagination is the only limit!
  • color gradient blocksHere’s how to paint blocks to represent a full color gradient. Ordering by color is an excellent way to improve one’s visual discernment and pattern recognition.

15 DIY Building Block Sets to Build or Embellish

  • chalkboard blocksSand some larger blocks very smooth, then cover with chalkboard paint. Kids will LOVE creating their own scenes with chalk!
  • image transfersUse Mod Podge to transfer fun images to building blocks without decoupage.

DIY puzzles

  • puzzle blocksThis project works best with flat blocks like Kapla or Jenga. Make your puzzle fun, or use it to teach spelling or shapes.
  • sand blocksHere’s another good use for those Kapla and Jenga blocks!
  • pattern blocksFor more open-ended puzzling, draw a simple pattern that kids can repeat or riff on endlessly while they play.

Watercolor Stained Building Blocks

  • watercolor-stained building blocks. Liquid watercolor is my secret weapon for adding vivid colors to ordinary building blocks. Depending on how a block was cut, each face might take watercolor a little differently. This project is NOT for children who still put things in their mouths!
  • melted crayon blocksAdd a new art technique to your kid’s skill set by doing crayon and watercolor resist right on heated wooden building blocks.

Wood Burned Building Blocks

  • wood-burned blocksMost building blocks are made from high-quality wood, and they take woodburning like real champs! Design something beautiful on your own, or let the kids have a try. Even younger kids can safely use a woodburner with supervision!
  • sensory blocksOh, your sensory-seeking kid is going to LOVE these.

Upcycle Blocks to Enjoy in New Ways

Hanukkah Crafts: Building Block Candle Holders - Learn how to make wood candle holders from those building blocks your kids haven't touched in years.

  • candle holderYou can drill a candle holder into any building block, but I’m partial to vintage alphabet blocks.
  • tabletopThis is such a beautiful way to enjoy vintage building blocks.

fabric-decoupaged blocks

  • fabric-decoupaged blocksYou could make these kid-friendly, but I think the best use for these fabric-decoupaged blocks is display. They make fun holiday decorations (while, yes, still being workable for stacking!), and fun interior design components when used to show off your favorite fabric prints.
  • infinity cubeTurn a handful of cubes into the ultimate fidget.

Ways to Embellish Wood: Decoupage alphabet blocks that your kids no longer play with to give them a new life. They make excellent holiday decorations!

  • paper-decoupaged blocksPrefer paper to fabric? There are even more possibilities for paper-decoupaged blocks!
  • photo cubesDecoupaging photos is just as simple as decoupaging scrapbook paper.

woodblock printing

  • woodblock printingThis is an easy first printing project that works with any type of engraved block. Alphabet blocks are perfect for this!
  • clockYou could use any size of blocks for this project, but those pallet wood blocks ARE nice and big…

Do you have another great idea for DIYing, embellishing, or upcycling blocks? Tell me about it in the Comments!

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