Not your average wooden blocks kids, these Thrive-friendly can blocks get a serious make-over courtesy of some soap, paint and a generous dose of awesome.
Why make these?
Because my kids do this …
every time I hit a case lot sale.
And the problem (other than the fact that it created another mess to clean up) is that cans are heavy. Miserably heavy—especially when that tower tumbles over and enchilada sauce takes out a piggy toe. Or pumpkin puree drops on a thumb.
And then of course there’s the dents and dings and the missing wrappers and mystery meals …
… that make me really, really grumpy when the kids drag out the cans.
So after years of headaches, injuries and swearing, it finally occurred to me to just give them their own dang cans to play with. And I decided that if I was going to go through the hassle of saving and washing and priming and painting several dozen soup-sauce-fruit-veggie-tuna cans, these were going to be the biggest, baddest, coolest looking blocks you’ve ever seen.
And after a week of off-and-on painting …
and hands that look like this because I wasn’t smart enough to wear gloves …
I gotta say:
Want to make your own?
This project is as easy as they come.
All you’ll need is:
Rock what ya got: house paint, spray paint, craft paint … whatever.
Putting these together is a cinch:
Just PRIME, PAINT and SEAL the outside and inside of the cans. (Two coats of color is best).
But the fun part is in the details …
… Learning …
… Favorite sports team … or rivalry sports teams—ha! …
… Colors to match your kids’ favorite
beat-up well-loved toys …
… Names …
… Or some serious Harley-inspired attitude:
(For more pictures of the Harley blocks, click here.)
And since I started making these, the ideas keep coming.
How cute would these be in
ANIMAL PRINTS or POLKA DOTS or PAINTED SHAPES
like trains or planes or cars for all you artistic types?
Or what about cutting some of those cute VINYL SHAPES or using STICKERS to jazz them up even more?
Clean-up is easy: skip the dishwasher sterilize cycle and just wipe down with disinfecting wipes. (Great project for kids while they’re watching TV.)
Storing is easy too: find an old box, drawer or dollar store bin to keep these corralled. Done.
A few THRIVE tips to save you some headaches:
1. The more sizes you have, the better. Here’s what I had on hand:
Formula, tuna and tall spaghetti cans would be great to add, too.
2. Inspect each can for sharp edges or snags, then flatten with needle-nose pliers. For pull top cans, don’t even try to flatten the lip … doesn’t work. Trust me. Instead, cut a piece of craft foam, cardboard, etc. and glue it to the lip. Paint as usual.
3. Prime these babies. No really … prime. These will be knocked down a melllllion times and you don’t want paint chipping off on the first play date or ending up in little mouths. Same goes for a sealant. Two coats wouldn’t hurt, either. (I skipped these two important steps on some of my first cans and have since repainted. Bleh.)
4. Craft and house paint will work fine, just be prepared for more coats. I used craft paint for my orange blocks since that’s all I had and loved how they turned out, but it required six coats to get the color coverage even. Don’t let that discourage you, though. Craft paint dries very fast and I managed to get all of my coats done in one day.
5. This is a several day project. The coats of primer, paint and sealant spread over four days to allow the coats to dry well. But again, don’t let that be a deterrent. This project was a lot like making bread: it takes awhile, but most of it’s waiting. I only spent 5 minutes of painting twice a day so it wasn’t a heavy time draw.
6. If you’re going to stencil letters or designs over the base coat before sealing, wait a couple of days first. I stenciled the next day and, even with low-tack vinyl, some of the paint peeled off. On the next batch, I let the paint dry two full days before stenciling and had no problems. Just make sure to remove your vinyl/stencil, etc. immediately after you paint.
7. If you like the metal look of the cans, you still need to seal them with a protective coating.
8. If you need extra cans, spread the word to family and friends. I sent out a quick Facebook message asking for empty cans and ended up with a couple dozen within a few days.
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