Educational children's toys are great for building smart kids, but are seldom budget friendly. As a former elementary school teacher, I want my kids to have toys that help them think creatively and double as an educational tool, but cringe at the price tag of many such toys on the market.
Here's how you can make your own set of over 400 magnetic pattern blocks on the cheap, and with materials you probably have on hand!
Step 1: What You Need
6 sheets of colored paper (I used construction paper, but any basic weight colored paper works great!)
6 sheets of magnetic paper (found in any office supply store) OR those FREE advertisement refrigerator magnets that have been hanging out on your fridge forever
A foam paint brush
Step 2: Print Your Pattern Blocks
Search "printable pattern blocks" in Google and you will have plenty of options to choose from.
I prefer to print the shapes from this site:
Print each page of shapes on a different color of paper. Traditional pattern block colors are as follows:
Hexagon = yellow
Rhombus (Diamond) = blue
Triangle = green
Square = orange
Trapezoid = red
Small Rhombus (Small Diamond) = white
**TIP: Make sure you deselect "Fit to Page" in your print options so that your shapes all print in their correct sizes!
Step 3: Mod Podge Paper to Magnet
Using your foam brush, apply a layer of Mod Podge to the paper side of your magnetic sheet. Lay paper, printed side up, on top of the magnetic sheet and smooth it from the center to the edges, making sure there are no bubbles.
If you are using your free advertisement magnets, you will need to cut your paper down to size before applying to the magnet.
Let the Mod Podge dry completely before moving to the next step.
Step 4: Apply Top Coat of Mod Podge
Once your paper is glued to the magnetic sheet, and is dried, brush the top of the paper with an even coat of Mod Podge. It will be white when you brush it on, but will dry clear.
Once again, wait until the Mod Podge has completely dried before moving on to the next step. You will know it is dry when it is no longer tacky to the touch.
**TIP: If you did NOT wait until the under layer of Mod Podge was completely dried before applying the top coat, you may end up with bubbles in your paper. Wait until the Mod Podge on the bubbled area is no longer white, but still tacky, and press gently with your finger, smoothing out the bubble and helping it to better adhere to the magnetic sheet beneath.
Step 5: Cut Out Your Shapes
Once your top coat of Mod Podge is completely dry, you are ready to cut out your shapes along the printed lines. This is the most time consuming portion of this project, but here are some tips to help it go more quickly and smoothly.
Use sharp scissors! These pattern block shapes work best when their corners are cut precisely. Sharp scissors will help you get those precise angles.
Cut in strips first! Start by cutting all the way across your magnetic sheet in strips, following the printed lines, and then move on to making shorter cuts to create the individual shapes. It makes the process MUCH quicker.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Pattern Blocks
Now that your shapes are all cut, you can make patterns to your heart's delight!
And when it's time to clean up, there is no need for large buckets full of pattern blocks. This set of over 400 shapes EASILY fits in a gallon zip top bag!