Wednesday, November 06, 2013

DIY Color Blocks for Kids

My kids enjoy playing with light, whether it's exploring natural light or mirrors or playing with our DIY light table.

So oftentimes, I find myself creating homemade materials to aide them in their curiousness of light play. These DIY color blocks are just one of the many homemade light table toys that I have made. At just a fraction of the cost, these color blocks can be made in just a few minutes with simple materials from the dollar store.

And they're so pretty!

How to make DIY color blocks for kids using dollar store items - great homemade toy for light table play from And Next Comes L

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I have always admired color blocks.  I think they are gorgeous on light tables and overhead projectors, but even more beautiful in natural light.  I just don't like the price tag that goes along with them.  Sure, color blocks aren't all that expensive, but when you think about what they are actually made of, I figured I could make something similar for much cheaper.

And I did!

My price tag: $3.00.

DIY color blocks tutorial - made from dollar store items for only $3 from And Next Comes L

Only three dollars?!  Well, actually I could have done it for $1.50 if I had bought my supplies at the dollar store versus the liquidation center.  Next time...darn it...next time!

How to Make DIY Color Blocks from Dollar Store Wooden Blocks

To make these blocks, you will need a game of wooden tumbling towers (aka Jenga).  Mine were $3.00, but like I said, I found them cheaper at the dollar store.  You will also need some colorful translucent duotangs or transparencies (also found at the dollar store).  I used the leftover transparencies from my homemade light table manipulatives.  Then grab some scissors and your hot glue gun.  I promise these are really easy to make.  As I mentioned on the sneak peek on my Facebook page, no husbands necessary for this project!

To make one block, you will need eight wood blocks from the tumbling towers game and a piece of colored transparency.  Arrange four blocks into a square shape and hot glue gun it together so that it looks like a picture frame.  Cut a piece of transparency so that it's big enough to cover the middle of the "picture frame."  Lightly glue the transparency into place, just so that it won't move on you.  Then create another picture frame shape with the remaining four blocks.  Hot glue it onto the picture frame with the transparency on it.  I didn't take pictures along the way, but here's a video tutorial for assembling the blocks.


Repeat multiple times, using a different colored transparency for each block.  I ended up with six blocks in each of the following colors: orange, yellow, clear, green, blue, and purple.

Stacking DIY color blocks in natural light from And Next Comes L

The only downside (or limitation) to my homemade version of the color blocks is that I could only make little rectangles or squares.  No semi-circles or triangles for me, but I'm okay with that because I love how mine turned out.  And more importantly, the boys love them!

They work great on the light table.

Tutorial for making DIY color blocks for light table play from And Next Comes L

Tutorial for making DIY color blocks for light table play from And Next Comes L

They would also work great with the overhead projector, but I think I love them the most in natural light. Seriously, look at how wonderful they look in front of a window.  Gorgeous!

DIY color blocks tutorial - made from dollar store items for only $3 from And Next Comes L

Stacking DIY color blocks in natural light from And Next Comes L

Stacking DIY color blocks in natural light from And Next Comes L


And that's it!  Simple, frugal, and fabulous!

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How to make DIY color blocks for kids using dollar store items - great homemade toy for light table play from And Next Comes L
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53 comments:

  1. Amazing idea! I love the colored blocks for the light table, but the store bought ones are so much money. Looks like I'm off to the dollar store again! Thanks for the great idea!

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    1. I am glad to hear that you will be making your own too! Happy to inspire others!

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  2. Holy Awesomeness Batman! These are AMAZING!!!!! I have 2 small sets of the rainbow/window blocks and I've been saving up my amazon rewards to get more (because they are a favorite and we never seem to have enough) but now I can spend the rewards on something else and make these!!!!

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    1. Yippee! And I love that you said holy awesomeness batman. That, my friend, made me smile!

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    1. Thanks, Asia! Funny thing though...as I was making them, I was like, "I could totally dye these blocks with liquid watercolors!"

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  4. Those store bought ones were a "top-five" on our Christmas list. I had been trying to figure out how to make our own but the best I could come up with involved picture frames so they weren't very good for stacking. These are *BRILLIANT* - Thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. Me, brilliant?! Thanks, you're too kind! And I am happy to inspire!

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  5. These are beautiful! LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea!

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  6. I did a backflip when I saw these. I have already purchased some colour blocks for Lucy for Christmas but I need to make some of these as well as making some mirror blocks.

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  7. Oh my goodness, aren't you brilliant! You deserve an award of some kind for this one, Dyan. Truly!

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    1. Thank you, Jackie! That means a lot to me!

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  8. Where did you get the transparencies or "duotags"?

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    1. The dollar store. Look in the school supply section. :)

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  9. oh my gosh! i love, love, love this! you are brilliant. my dollar store does not carry the jenga like game but you got my wheels a-turnin'. thank you for sharing!

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    1. I love your excitement! Glad I could inspire you.

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  10. These are beautiful. Nice job!

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  11. This is fantastic! You are a very creative mama!! Off to pin and share...

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    1. Thanks, Jaimi! I appreciate the pin and the share.

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  12. Did you find Jenga blocks at Dollarramma or Dollar Tree?

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    1. The ones I have are from Liquidation Supercentre (cost $3), but I saw similar ones at Dollarama earlier this week for $2. However, the Dollarama ones only had 42 blocks, which would only allow you to make 5 complete blocks. And I think I may have seen them at Dollar Tree, but not 100% sure...all these dollar stores start to blend together in my mind!

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    2. Thanks... I will head out this week and pick up supplies.

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  13. Love the idea and will surely make some. Just have a tiny question. Have you had any problems with the blocks coming apart? Does the glue really hold up? Thanks

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    1. Nope. But if you are concerned about that, you could always use super glueinstead. I actually used super glue on one block, but switched to the glue gun after my fingers got covered in super glue.

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  14. My supplies are bought, hope to get these put together this weekend. I picked up the jenga blocks from dollar store, but will probably need more as you can only make 5 blocks with the number of blocks.

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    1. Yeah, the ones at Dollarama only had like 42 blocks or something. Can you share a picture of yours when they're done? I'd love to see them!

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  15. I made some already and within a few days of play a 4 yr Dayhome boy has bounced a toy right through the transparency. Maybe a double layer would be better?

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    1. Oh no! A double layer would be a great idea if you think the kids are going to play rough with them. Ours are still holding up despite the number of times they have been dropped or played with, but it definitely all comes down to the durability and thickness of the transparencies used.

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  16. This idea is incredible! We have a tiny little light table but was just telling hubby how our 3rd little boy will never get anything new with 2 older brothers who like cars, super heroes, guns, lego,etc. We do not have light table accessories or color blocks! This is really awesome and I'm very handy with a glue gun:)

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    1. I am so glad your littlest guy will have something new to play with!

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  17. This is seriously sooooo clever! Well done and I hope to try this.

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    1. Thanks! I am still trying to figure out if there's a way to make some rounded shapes.

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  18. These look amazing! And so simple :)

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    1. Thanks! They really are simple to make!

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  19. For rounded shapes or arches go to a craft store and buy wooden o's and D's. One for each side. It won't be as cheap but will be just as easy

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    1. That is a brilliant idea!!! Thank YOU!!

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    2. Have you tried making any of the rounded shapes? I love that idea and was thinking about trying it, would love to see some pics!

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    3. I haven't! All the wooden Os and Ds that I have looked at are so expensive (at least where I am), so it hasn't been worth trying yet. I do think it would be awesome though.

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  20. I got my blocks at the Dollar Tree along with the colored plastic film to go between them, so it cost me a whopping $2 a set. If you go to the Dollar Tree and they dont have them in store however, you can order them online at dollartree.com. You have to order at least 4 of them, but if you go in with friends and make it a party...YAY.

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    1. Good to know! We just got Dollar Trees here in Canada earlier this year, but I haven't seen the blocks there before. I will keep my eyes open for them.

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  21. Great idea, one of those 'why didn't I think of that moments!' Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Exactly! And you are more than welcome! Thanks for stopping by. :)

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