Wednesday, June 9, 2010

make your own blocks from driftwood

Teacher Tom calls it his 'bag lady tendancies' - the inability of a preschool teacher to walk past something someone else has discarded without thinking of how you could use it at preschool.

This is not only true of other people's junk or recyclables.  

Nature provides us with a wealth of beautiful open ended resources that can take pride of place in the classroom.

Recently one of our lovely mums gave us some beautiful blocks made out of collected driftwood:

She cut them into small pieces with a circular saw, which gives them a lovely straight edge to allow them to stand upright or be stacked on top of each other.

They make the perfect addition to the block corner to be used as props or building materials in constructions.  They have also been inspiring creative and imaginative play:

Here we put them out with small plastic animals and material scraps, which inspired the children to create animal worlds.  I can also see a dinosaur world happening in our future. 

Or perhaps a bug world like this one from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning:

Keep you eyes out next time you head down to the beach!

For more on things to do with driftwood:


  1. Natural blocks have infinitely more character than bought blocks!

  2. love these...

    we've made blocks from small bits of firewood but can always use a couple more natural blocks and drift wood has such a lovely texture...

  3. I agree. And the kids do seem to be drawn to their shape.

  4. Love this - what a wonderful way to use driftwood. I recently came across this blog and am enjoying it so much - thanks!

    --Melissa G

  5. Love this! I'm sad I only collected mini pieces of driftwood on our recent beach trip to make mobiles -- should have grabbed a couple of chunkier bits for tree blocks -- I have a pile of branches in my garage next to hubby's circular saw waiting to be chopped one weekend!!

    Don't all creative people and educators have the "bag lady" tendancy?! : )

    pink and green mama

  6. Jenny, you're going to need to invest in a nice compound miter saw. They are much safer, quicker, and easier to use than a circular saw, and you can cut your blocks at precise angles as well. In fact, I'm thinking . . . just thinking right now . . . of taking mine into the preschool to make "blocks" right on the spot.

    When I got mine several years ago, one of my wife's friends said to her, "You're no longer married to a man. You're married to a man with a miter saw."

    These are beautiful blocks. I think now I have a beach trip in my weekend plans.

  7. LOVE them!! Aaahhh... looking at things like this makes me miss work (on maternity leave) but gives me lots of ideas for my return in September!!

  8. Thanks for the lovely comments everyone. I took a bag of driftwood I collected on the weekend into preschool today and we tried to cut it with a regular saw and vice - too tricky for the kids (plus I think the saw needs sharpening) so we painted the wood instead. Tom, I think I will have to invest in a miter saw. Melissa - glad you are enjoying the blog! Nicole, if you are anything like me you probably have an ideas file full to overflowing - its hard to get to them all :)

  9. If ever I needed an excuse for a winter walk on the beach ... this is it. I LOVE these blocks Jenny. Normally I find my wood in the bush but some drift wood picked up off a cold windy beach sounds very inviting to me!
    Donna :) :)

  10. So neat! We don't have anything as neat as driftwood here, but Paul does get all the building project remants. He LOVES them. All the odd angles and cuts, plus I'm sure the fact that Daddy gave them to him and cut them makes them extra special. This is a great idea though. After the next wind storm we'll have to find a few branches and have Daddy cut them up :).
    Teacher Tom - we have a compound miter saw in our kitchen, where a dining table would be if we had one! My husband uses it often, so it just stays there, and it's a conversation starter when people come in the door :)!

  11. Beautiful.I love the set ups the kids made.

  12. Living only one block from the beach this is something I just had to try! I am sure at some time or another most of us have carried souvenirs back from the beach