Weekend Project: Make some tree blocks

How to make tree blocks - An Everyday StoryWhenever people come to visit for the first time, they always ask about our tree blocks. The look and the feel of the blocks are so appealing that the kids, and indeed the parents, are always drawn to them.

These little blocks are so ridiculously easy to make. You could whip them up easily in an afternoon and your kids could be enjoying them in no time.

Our other tree blocks are quite large, coming from a poor old Eucalyptus tree that had to be removed from our front yard. I really like the natural unique details of the branch; the little nobs and the natural bends in the wood.

Eucalyptus trees however don’t have a thick bark, and while ours are quite lovely after a gentle sand, I really wanted some smaller blocks with the texture of a nice thick bark.

Now you can buy tree blocks but honestly they are so easy to make and free!

Next time you’re at the park or out on a walk just keep an eye out for a nicely textured fallen branch. Try to find one as straight as possible. While it is nice to have differently shaped blocks, if there are too many bends in your branch the blocks will topple over (we have a few like this and Jack finds them very frustrating). Also a straight branch means you’ll be able to stack the blocks.

Natural tree blocks - Weekend Project - An Everyday StoryThen just saw your branch into pieces, give the edges a light sand if you like and you’re done. Beautiful.

You can wax them if you like, our big ones have been waxed but these little ones, because of the beautiful natural bark, were left as is.

See. Easy. And aren’t they beautiful?

Have a go this weekend.

29 Replies to “Weekend Project: Make some tree blocks”

  1. Reblogged this on fromamummysheart and commented:
    As a follow up to my wooden block post, why not have a go at making some free, natural tree blocks? This was on my list of toy resources for purchase, but now I see how easy it is to make them for free, I shall repurpose the branches that are sat out bback in my yard awaiting removal!

  2. Love them Kate! We are doing the exact same thing this weekend with some of our fallen trees. i was trying to figure out how to finish them…didn’t think of wax! What do you use?

    1. These little ones didn’t have any wax but out larger ones have just some bees/orange wax. They smell beautiful.

  3. These are great and amazingly easy! This project has been on my list for a while, along with making some buttons from a small branch. I loved seeing how yours turned out. 🙂

    1. I love the little wooden buttons too. I saw them used on a hooded cape and they look just gorgeous.

  4. I was looking at buying these a few years back but when I saw the price tag it just didn’t make sense for what they actually are, sawn up branches! We have been collecting bits of branches for sometime. I look for nice straight chunky branches. I find the chunkier pieces are ideal for my age range at home 2 – 4 but I am planning to cut thinner branches for a collection that will be suitable for ages 5 and up. As an aside, have you seen the fairy tree houses? I would love to make one of those! Very expensive to buy but I think very possible to make…

    1. They are expensive but I saw the guy on BHG make them last year some time, really really simple, and it turned out beautifully. Here’s the link. I’d forgotten about them 🙂 … a new project for hubby 🙂

  5. These are wonderful! Please consider sharing this post on Waldorf Wednesday.

    1. Thank you I will 🙂

  6. Our son is still.in the oral stage. Any tips for how to make these safe for when he decides to explore using his mouth?

    1. Sarah still mouths a lot of things. If you are concerned you could make the blocks a little bigger so they won’t fit in his mouth. It’s up to you of course but I don’t mind so much if Sarah mouths the bark, it is a nice sensory experience for her. They’re not dirty and the bark isn’t likely to come off so I let her explore.

  7. So funny, I have a pile of branches just waiting for me to do this!

  8. I have been reading your posts for several nights now and truly love it!! we feel inspired by your thoughts, the way you play and create with your kids, so please keep on posting, it’s a blessing for us!! my husband cut our wooden blocks this evening from an olive oil branch and Fotini (2y.10m.) was thrilled to see them, we will be playing tomorrow… hugs and kisses from Greece

  9. Hello Kate
    I love this idea! We were about town one morning and picked up some logs the arborists were cutting. We took it to my Dad who cut it into pieces for us. The boys love them. We’ve had them for awhile now, and I’m noticing that they are starting to crack. Do you have any suggestion for prolonging their life? I know you treated your other blocks and not these, but are you concerned at all about cracking? I’m worried that the lovely bark will just crack off and there will be large cracks through the blocks.

    1. Our smaller ones haven’t cracked but I did see someone who had glued the bark back on theirs when it peeled away. We had some larger tree cookies outside that all cracked from drying out…I wonder if there is anyway to stop yours drying out… maybe some bees wax might help. The ones that we waxed are a few years old now and still look as good as new so if you’re able to get a little wax into the top and bottom that might work. 🙂

      1. Thank you for your reply Kate. It’s surreal to get this reply after my town has come under complete devastation. My wood blocks are the least of my worries now! Check out the Alberta Flood happening right now in Alberta Canada. High River is my town and it is completely devastated.
        Thank you.

  10. I love these! We’ve done the same using birch trees from our cottage! My creative dad decided to cut a bunch a little longer to use as place cards at Thanksgiving dinner! This post reminded me to get on that! Need to put our names on them!

  11. Love, love, love them! I have the tree cookies thoughout our yard for walking and jumping on, but haven’t tried these tree blocks inside. Gotta have ’em this week! Thanks!

    1. You’re welcome. They are so very easy to make. Mother nature really does provide us with the most beautiful materials, doesn’t she? 🙂

  12. i just love this… hmmm now to try and rustle up some branches! i kinda thought it would have to be more complex with all kinds of sealing and sanding but now i see it doenst need to be 🙂

    1. Oh no just cut them. Ours still look exactly the same as when we made them and the kids play with them a LOT 🙂

  13. Bryony Vickers says:

    I’ve wanted to do this but am worried they will being wordworm into the house. Anyone know how to prevent this?

  14. Margaret Johnston says:

    My husband cut up a cedar tree that had fallen on our property. The lower part of the tree, he cut into 24″ lengths, which we use as extra sitting outside. Then he cut 2″ – 3″ thick disks from the smaller part for me to use with my class of 4 year olds. They enjoy lightly sanding it, spraying it with water, and counting the rings. Because we are constantly talking about being scientist in our classroom, the students wanted to know who studies plants and trees (botanist), and who studies tree rings (dendrochronologist). The students like showing off for their families that they know big words and what they mean.

  15. I am an independent sales rep for a chemical-free cleaning company that happens to be planting 20,000 trees in honor of their 20th anniversary. In honor of this, I am creating a Pinterest board all about trees. While your idea involves cutting trees instead of planting :-), I do think it is a great tree recycling idea!

  16. Jacqueline Loewen says:

    Hi, we just had part of our willow come crashing down and now I would like to make these awesome blocks for my Kindergarten class and some for my friends. My question is, what type of saw did you use? I now a regular hand saw will work for the smaller branches, but I am wondering what you used for your larger blocks.

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