Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blocks + Rocks = Good Times

So, I have been on a quest of sorts, to weed out most of the plastic and electronic toys taking up space in the playroom. I love the look and feel of toys made from wood and cloth. I'd much rather hear sound effects coming from the mouth and mind of my child than some high-tech toy. Plus, I have better things to spend our money on than AA batteries!

When I saw tree blocks popping up on all the natural toy sites I visited, I thought, "Wow. I need those." Okay, maybe "need" is a strong word, but I wanted them very, very much. Which, to me, bumps them up automatically to 'need' status.

The price tag, however, was not what I had in mind for something that I can find just outside my back door. They are, essentially, tree trunks and branches cut up into small chunks.

So, I looked at our Christmas tree laying out in the backyard, awaiting recycling. What better way to recycle our tree than turn it into tree blocks? With saw in hand, my husband dutifully cut the trunk per my specifications (read: random sizes). I left them outside in the sun for several days and then brought them in. I was worried they would be all sticky and sappy, but they were dry. An added bonus, they have that freshly-cut Christmas tree smell! I didn't even need to sand them down before handing them to the children.

Coupled with a bag of river rocks that I picked up at
Michael's, I had a nice little building set that fit two crucial criteria: all-natural and cheap!

I later added to the building set with these unfinished blocks. They are great because they are solid wood and come in their own storage case. In fact, putting them all back into the wooden storage box is a puzzle in itself. (Confession: the first time we unpacked the Melissa and Doug blocks, I actually took a picture of each layer of blocks, to refer to as we put them all back in the box they came in. But after seeing my husband and daughter put them back in random fashion one day, I realized there are multiple ways of fitting them back in. Sometimes my adherence to order and perfectionism clouds my common sense).

Each time the kids pull these out, I am guaranteed a few quiet moments to myself. Although, now that Rascal has discovered his ability to heave heavy objects through the air, I might have to put these on a higher shelf until he can acquire some self-restraint!

Rascal poised with rock in hand...
He loves to smash things. Is this some inherent boy trait??

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