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How to Make Painted Wood Blocks & Sculptures

by Danielle Falk
January 22, 2019
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An easy sculpture project using wood scraps that’s fun to make for kids of all ages – by Danielle Falk of Little Ginger Studio.

Painted wood blocks feature

When I saw the giant tub of timber offcuts at my local creative reuse co-op (Reverse Garbage) in Sydney, I knew I had to have a sackful!

I didn’t have a clue what my students and I would make but I wanted to get my hands on some.

Painted wood block sculptures

The tactile quality and lovely natural smell of raw pine was too hard to resist. If only I’d been greedier and bought twice as much!

Patterned wood block sculptures

We loved this project so much I plan to buy planks of wood and cut them specifically for this activity next time.

Wood block sculptures for children

What will kids gain from working in wood?

There is something very therapeutic about working with wood. My students (ages 5-12) really enjoyed lovingly sanding their wood blocks to smoothed perfection!

Students learned to create balanced compositions in three dimensions and looked carefully at each side of their work.

They also gained a an understanding of using a bigger base to hold up smaller pieces (basic engineering!).

Patterned wood blocks

How to Make Wood Blocks

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MATERIALS

Child painting wood blocks

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the wood blocks

    Put on a dust mask and carefully sand all the edges & corners to ensure there are no bits sticking out to cause splinters. I’ll say it again – kids really enjoy sanding. It’s a mystery why!

    Boy painting wood blocks

  2. Decorate the wood blocks

    After sanding, paint each block all over in one color. You may choose to leave a few blocks natural as a contrast.

    Painting wood blocks

    Once the paint is completely dry, use chalk or paint markers to draw neat but simple patterns in contrasting colors. We alternated our colors & patterns on different block faces but there are really no rules here!
    Tip: Don’t draw patterns on any rough-cut surfaces as your markers will be ruined!

    Child painting patterns on wood blocks

  3. Create beautiful wood block sculptures!

    Child drawing patterns on wood blocks

    I think you’ll agree that these simple, but satisfying sculptures are pretty easy on the eye! My students were thoroughly engrossed in this activity.

    Painted wood block sculptures for kids

Assembling painted wood block sculptures for kids

They spent a long time “playing” with their blocks–arranging and rearranging their compositions.

Colorful painted wood block sculptures

I gave them the option of gluing their work together into a final sculpture OR taking their work home as a set of building blocks.

Colorful wood block sculptures for kids

It may be a good idea to seal the blocks with a layer of varnish or Mod Podge if you wish to do this.

Colorful wood block sculptures for children

This activity could also be adapted to create relief sculptures stuck to plywood to hang on the wall.

Happy Sculpting!

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Danielle Falk of LIttle Ginger Studio shares an easy wood upcyle project. Combine painted wood blocks to create colorful wooden sculptures. #kidsactivities #creativehome #kidspainting #artsandcrafts #sensory #sensoryactivity #upcycled #recycledcraft

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