The idea for these blocks popped into Kristen’s head when a couple energetic kids pulled off sections of the milk jug igloo they were building and started hauling them around.
Instead of blowing a gasket and scolding the kids, she figured out a way to follow the children’s lead. First she grabbed some duct tape and reinforced the only-held-together-by-hot-glue sections the kids were playing with and then she started building blocks from the remains of the igloo.
Pictures And More Pictures
Here are some shots Kristen took the day igloo building became block play.
Note that some images include early attempts at milk jug block design, while the instructions below include refinements to those attempts that I’ve deemed Best Practice in the new field of Jumbo Milk Jug Block construction.
Scroll down for instructions.
I’ll walk you through the construction of a 4 jug by 4 jug block. Then you can go crazy with all kinds of different sizes and shapes.
- Sixteen Plastic Milk Jugs (With Lids)
- Duct Tape
- Hot Glue Gun
- Recycled Plastic Grocery Bags (Not Half A Bunch, You’ll Need A Whole Bunch)
Start with rinsed and dried jug. Then stuff eight of them with the recycled plastic grocery bags. Really pack the bags in there. The stuffing does two things:
- It adds some weight to the jugs so they will be a bit heavier and less likely to tip when the jumbo blocks are set on their narrow edge.
- It adds some structural integrity, making the blocks a little less smooshy.
You can skip this step if you like, but we don’t recommend it.
The next jug preparation step is to hot glue lids onto all sixteen jugs. The lids also help with structural integrity–it’s harder to smoosh a jug with a lid. The hot glue keeps the lids in place. Then you don’t have to worry that two-year-old Becky is unscrewing the lids and eating them. Don’t skip this step.
Little Jugs All In A Row
Warm up your hot glue gun, turn on some gluing music (I recommend you start with Stuck on You by Lionel Richie), and get down on the floor.
Lay four of the stuffed jugs on their sides in front of you. Line them up so the bottom of the first one faces you, the bottom of the second faces away from you, the third one face you, and the fourth faces away. Like this:
Now, hot glue them together in this alternating configuration.
Repeat with the other four stuffed jugs.
Then glue the remaining eight jugs into alternating rows of four as well.
Glue Rows Into A Square
Next, you’ll hot glue the 4 rows you created into a square. The stuffed jug rows go on the outside and the empty jug rows get sandwitched in the middle.
There’s more alternating to do. If the first row is oriented like this:
Flip the next row like this:
The next one like this:
And the final one like this:
All this alternating may be a pain, but in the next step it provides each side of the block with the same amount of surface area for tape adhesion.
Wrap It Up
It’s time to reinforce your jumbo milk jug square with duct tape.
Start by wrapping the perimeter of the jug square in duct tape. Then loop tape around the other square to create this pattern on each side:
If you want to really beef up your milk jug block, you can add additional tape:
If you give it a try
…I’d love to see photos and hear how it goes.