Family Blocks

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I have been trying to make these blocks for Jayce since well before Christmas, but the good thing about 19 month olds is that they have no concept of late Christmas gifts. And this is good for me.

Since both of our families live out of town, I try to show Jayce pictures and talk about our family members so that when we do get to see them, he has some idea of who they are. I saw this great article about blocks here, and decided that I would make Jayce some family blocks.

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I started off with a piece of poplar wood from Lowes, 36” by 1 1/2” by 1 1/2” for $5. Luckily, one of our friends has a power saw and cut the wood into 1 1/2” blocks for me. They splintered a bit in the cutting process, but it was no problem since I was covering up the sides anyway, and I ended up with 18 blocks. (I saw some 2” blocks at Michaels the other day for $.99 a piece, so I saved $13 doing it this way!)


I Mod Podged scrapbook paper onto 4 sides of each block, trimmed the excess paper and then sanded the edges off. I think this little detail (the sanding) made all of the difference in the world. I love how the rounded edges look kind of worn and vintage.


We got an amazing printer for Christmas, (even though I was chastised that this was a really boring request), so I was able to print pictures of each of the family members, print corresponding names, and then Mod Podge these to the backs of the blocks. Here is our little family stack.

Us Picnik collage

I gave each nuclear family a different pattern of scrapbook paper, because I wanted to give Jayce another way to see which family members “go together,” if that makes sense.

Golden Girl Picnik collage

For the couples, I used a picture of the two people together, and just cut them apart. This was the easiest way of making sure that each person’s head was roughly the same size, and the backgrounds matched a bit too.

Golden Picnik collage

Jayce’s unmarried aunts had the same scrapbook paper as their parents. I don’t think that I’ll make new blocks once they get married, and since both just turned 20, I won’t need to worry about that too soon anyway.

Keith collage

However, I do plan on updating this middle block, once the new baby is born, able to be photographed, and a name is decided upon. For now, I just left the picture and name side blank.

Mo Picnik collage

As I was making the blocks I was so excited about them and slightly bummed that they would inevitably end up strewn around the house, so I decided to make myself a little family set to play decorate with. I used a more adult style scrapbook paper and printed the picture in black and white.


Once everything was glued on, I Mod Podged the whole thing with a matte finish to seal it.


As I was uploading my pictures onto the computer, Jayce ran over, saw the picture of our family blocks on the screen, pointed to Chris and said “Da!” I went upstairs, grabbed all of the blocks from where they had been drying and brought them down to show him. I obviously think that he is too young to read the names or understand all the family members right now, but he still could point out each of us, and was REALLY excited about stacking them. He also would periodically stand up and say, “Uhhh, uhhhh, goooooooooooo!” (ready, set, go) as he kicked over the stack. He is a boy after all.

blocks collage

I’m glad that I decided to seal the blocks, because one of them ended up in a cup of water shortly after he was done playing. I guess they do look a little bit like ice cubes. But the paper and photo were completely unaffected by the water.

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53 thoughts on “Family Blocks

  1. Erin, I HAVE to try this. Those are so adorable! Quint and Reagan both love blocks. Carl's parents got them some for Christmas…the old-fashioned kind with letters and pictures, so I think they'll love these too!

  2. Oh, wow! I am totally going to try this! Unbelievable! I LOVE them! You did a fantastic job with them! So, so fun! Love the sanding effect and that papers you used, especially on the little family set for you! : )

  3. These are so great! I'm totally NOT going to try them! 🙂 But I'm going to appreciate YOU trying them! Know anywhere where I could BUY something like that?!

  4. Counting the number of comments, I think your idea was a huge success!!! I can't wait to see them and have you teach me how to do it.

    Thanks for having us over. We always have fun.

  5. I LOVE this! My family and my hubbys family all live far away so this would be great for my kids! Thanks for sharing, and for the tip about sealing them-I wouldn't have thought that through! 🙂

  6. This is a BRILLIANT idea! I love it! We have a lot of family that live out of town too… I may have to make some for my house! Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a wonderful idea! It looks like your son is enjoying them.

    Thanks for joining my party. I have a party every thurs., so come back by next week or anytime.

  8. Ohh Thank you! We are a military family so we have never lived close to family. I love the idea of making these for my girls to help them remember everyone!! I may even make some for my sisters for Christmas next year! I LOVE these!

  9. Wow! I love these! I would love to make these for my sister's kids who live 13 hours away from us. What a great idea. (maybe some for my kids too but that might be pushing it!).

  10. We did these this summer for our Family Reunion Craft with blocks that were about 3×3. SO CUTE! I love seeing different twists on them.

  11. Wonderful idea! I especially love they way they ALL come together in a large pyramid..or arranged in any other large family grouping. Great project.

  12. Those blocks are darling! It is a toy that you won't mind if it doesn't get put away, because it makes a great decoration too! I'll be featuring you at tomorrow's Penny Pinching Party.

  13. Thanks for sharing this brilliant idea! It is so cute I just had to copy it! Please check out what I made for my 1-yr old. I cited your post in the 1st entry of my brand new blog Busy, Lazy, Dizzy, Mom.

    I also love the clothes you make for your kids. They are super cute! (I mean both the clothes and the kids 🙂

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