We had so much fun with this simple building activity that combined three materials you may have sitting around the house; wood, glue and paint. I try to expose Gigi (and D as much as possible but she’s only 1) to as many interesting materials as possible. Wood is a favorite. I love the idea that I might be planting the seed of Gigi becoming an engineer or architect one day. Any activities that involve engaging materials, decision making and outside the box thinking, I’m all about. This is just part one of a fantastic invitation to play for toddlers. I plan to continuously bring Gigi’s wood structure out to expand on as long as she’s interested in it. I am hoping for at least 3 or 4 sessions of painting and gluing and if all goes well, some hammering too (see below.)
I found the wood at a local thrift store for about 4 dollars in the kid section. I make sure to buy bags of wood pieces anytime I see them and just save them in our shed. I’ve got a nice collection going but the truth is you don’t need many pieces to do this. I thought Gigi would take tons of pieces but she was really happy with just a few. First she glued a few together, then she added paint. We used Nancy bottles filled with BioColor paints from Discount School Supply. I didn’t fill the bottles all the way and told Gigi ahead of time that whatever paint was in the bottle was all she was getting. It was her choice if she wanted to use it all at once or use little bits here and there. She pretty much squirted the paint out in one go. Shocker. I chose BioColor because I thought it would be really binding, like glue, but you could use any paint. If your child is a little older (Gigi is 2.5) you might want to start with glue only for the first session and see how far that goes. You can save the paint for next time.
Of course it wasn’t long before Gigi was covered in paint. I always like to keep a water bucket close by when working with paints and toddlers. They LOVE to wash their hands. Sometimes Gigi paints just so she can wash her hands over and over. I keep a towel on hand too, so she can do her thing and not get soaking wet. Our play fizzled out after a while because Gigi wanted to hammer her wood sculpture into the side of the playhouse. I’m not opposed to this and actually think it’s a great idea, but D was napping and Gigi’s tools were in her room. So, stay tuned for part 2, where we add to the structure with interesting materials and then part 3, hammer and nails with toddlers. Should be interesting.
Overall, this was a super fun activity that is easily achievable on a big or really small scale. Michael’s sells lots of wood blocks in different shapes and sizes or maybe you have some old blocks laying around. If you don’t want to deal with a paint mess you can try coloring the wood before or after you glue with crayons, sharpies or regular markers. However you do it is great and your kids will thank you for it. Just build! (ps If you like this post, check out this wood working project with three and four year olds.)