A Reggio inspired classroom isn’t complete without some blocchi naturali (natural blocks). They are quite easy to make, even for those that have little wood working experience. For the blocks that I made for my classroom, I used a couple branches that the power company had trimmed last year and left in the empty lot next door. The branches themselves had some really great straight pieces (which are essential to the ease of balance when standing the blocks).
I dragged them over to our yard and used the saws-all to cut them into varying lengths. Let me be honest, I started out using the handsaw. Apparently, I am not very good at using a handsaw and I couldn’t even get through the first cut. If you have superb skills in the handsaw department, by all means, go that route. When cutting the chunks, vary the lengths so that there are different sizes to work with. Also, try to cut as straight as possible so that the pieces stand up without falling over.
After cutting the branches apart, I put them all in a box and brought them inside. I happened to have a foam sanding block laying about from another project. I sanded the cut edges smooth and even gave the bark a once over to ensure a smooth finish. This part definitely took the longest but was well worth the time put in. I opted not to seal them at this time. I like the smell and feel of the wood in its natural state, but you can seal with an eco-friendly, child-friendly beeswax if you desire.
This is the finished product (I’m going to make a bunch more, but I had to start somewhere).
Have you ever made natural blocks? Any suggestions or tips for readers that would improve their creating experience? Feel free to share them below!