Don’t let that thought scare you, especially if you are a new parent. One of the simplest and best things you can do to nurture your newborn is to snuggle with them.
Talk to them.
Sing to them.
Feed them and keep them clean.
The human race has developed remarkable minds and people throughout the ages without using scientific articles and fancy toys. The builders of the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, Plato, Hildegard Von Bingen, Aquinas, Galileo, Beethoven, and many, many more great and unsung minds of men and women from all cultures and races alike, were all developed without the help of modern appliances, gadgets, and baby-rearing philosophies.
Prisms: Simple, Elegant, and Educational Toys
These are some of my favorite wooden toys. Visually simple. Elegant. But Prisms are also surprisingly complex educational toys.
The simple, geometric shapes can be used to create puzzle, animal, or character shapes. Similar blocks called ‘Koh’s blocks’ were used by psychologists as IQ tests, where children were given blocks, partnered with simple designs, that they were asked to replicate using the geometric patterns on the blocks. The blocks prove to be challenging puzzles because of their 3d nature. The puzzle challenges the brain to think spatially as the child turns the block around in their hands and works out which side will match the puzzle or how they can make the shapes come together to make the ear of a cat.
In fact, we’ve created some puzzles to get you started! Once you’ve mastered these ones, see about creating your own!
But, before you can play, you have to make the blocks!
Use the template included with your Prisms stencils to create a 3d template for the Prisms. Cut along the dark lines and then along the pink lines. Tuck the flaps inside to form the box; be sure to use some tape to hold them secure. When finished, you will have a mini, 3-D template of the BridgeWood Prisms!
As always, we start by doing the BridgeWood stars. Finishing and sealing the star sides first is a handy guide for which sides of your block are ‘dry’.
Identify the end grain. There are always two sides of the end grain on a wooden block. They will appear slightly darker in color, and the wood grain will have a curved appearance, like the arc of a rainbow. These are the sides where you will place your stars.
Let’s do the easy one first!
There are three stars at the bottom of your Geo Block silk screen. Identify the one where you can see the white backing paper through the star mesh. Cut along the dotted lines to remove this star.
Stick, Scrape, then peel to Reveal!
(Need more tips? Learn how to use your silk screen stencil here.)
Only do this type of star on one side of your block. Continue applying this stencil on one side of your other blocks. After you finish, wash and dry your stencil for later use.
This small stencil will dry quickly. While it is drying, cut out the next star stencil from the grid.
This stencil has a solid star surrounded by silk screen mesh. There will be a thick edge around the far edges of this stencil.
Once the single stars are dry, apply and center the stencil to the other side of the end grain.
Stick, Scrape, and then Peel to Reveal!
You will notice a gap of raw wood between the paint and the edge of the block. Don’t worry! This gap is intentional. Your sticker needed that sticky edge of the stencil stickiness to grip the block.! We will be filling that in during our next step.
Continue applying the star on the end grain of the rest of the blocks. Wash and dry your stencil after use.
Now is the time to fill in that gap!
Take your large, round brush or foam applicator and lightly dip it into the same paint color you used for the stencil. Brush along the edges, filling in the gaps of paint. Be careful not to paint over your star stencil.
After you finish with that side, go ahead and fill in one of the other sides with the paint.
Continue with this process with the rest of your blocks. Depending on the color, you may need two or even three thin coats of paint.
You can get away with only one coat of paint when you use black, red, or blue. But I often do two coats to ensure I have even coverage. The yellow and the white will need at least two coats, sometimes three, depending on how thinly you apply the paint. Remember: your blocks will look much better and last longer with multiple thin coats than with one thick coat!
And don’t worry if you get some paint over the edges. A little sandpaper will clean up those edges quickly after the paint is dry. (Learn how to get the perfect edge here.)
After your blocks are dry and you have lightly sanded down the edges to get a perfect edge, you are ready to seal. Although the process is the same as you can find here, there is just one difference. You are sealing three sides, not two! Make sure to put the block on the dry side to let the sealer cure for at least 24 hours.
When you are ready to continue painting, cut out one of the triangles from your grid.
Use your 3D Prism block template to see how the triangle aligns on your block. You will paint the solid part of your triangle to meet the solid paint of your sealed sides. Make sure each corner of the triangle perfectly matches the corners of the block.
This simple triangle can be tricky; it is easy to put it upside down or get crooked! Always triple-check that you have it lined up correctly before applying the paint.
Stick. Scrape. Then Peel to Reveal!
Immediately place the triangle stencil on the other side of the block, again aligning it so that the solid paint meets where the painted edge of the triangle will meet. Repeat the process.
Tah Dah! You are so close to being finished! Go ahead and repeat the same process to complete your set of blocks.
Often, a thin, raw wood edge wasn’t covered by the stencil. This is an easy fix. Use your large brush to cover the edges if there is a thick edge. But you might want to use your detail brush near the thin, delicate end of the square.
If the stencil slipped or you didn’t get a crisp edge on your triangle, a responsible adult can use a razor blade, such as those found on Exacto knives, to scrape paint off a block gently. We will sometimes use this technique to make a rough edge look sharper or to make minor fixes. Care must be taken not to gouge the wood or to raise splinters. Note: NEVER give a child a toy that has splinters. Always sand them down to a smooth surface.
Once finished with your touch-ups, wait until the paint is dry to seal the last three sides of your blocks. Remember to always put your blocks down on a dry side!
Let the blocks cure for at least 72 hours before gift wrapping or stacking.
You are finished! Congratulations! You made gorgeous educational puzzle blocks!
Be sure to share pictures of your creation and the fun time your loved ones have playing with them!