Ah, August! With all the kids already back in school and the summer-like days waning, it has us longing to gather up and surround ourselves with every last bit of the season. Our wood-block stem vases were born out of the desire to bring the last of summer inside while using up some bits & pieces of past crafts I had laying around.
This versatile activity is a perfect afternoon project for kids and a great way to get them engaged with nature after a long day sitting at a desk. As an added bonus, the plastic test tubes make these 100% kid-safe and durable enough for continued use season after season.
Tip: for a whole day of outdoor investigation, grab a shoebox to make our DIY nature explorer kit first – it’s a great way to collect your nature supplies!
To make your own DIY stem vases you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Paint or wood stain
- Small paintbrushes
Kid-Safe DIY Stem Vase Instructions:
- Prep to drill
To create our stem vases, we’ll be drilling a hole for a test tube into a wooden block, so make sure you have the block clamped while you drill, or are safely holding the block in place. Don’t forget the protective eyewear!
- Drill 3/4 of the way through the center of a wooden block
Drill a hole through the center of your wooden block with a spade bit that’s the same diameter as the test tubes you have (mine had a 5/8″ diameter) – stopping about 3/4 of the way through the block.
*Check to be sure you’re holding the drill upright so the test tube will sit straight in the block.
Using a fine-grain sandpaper, sand around the inside of the drilled hole, and along all the edges of your block.
- Paint and decorate
Once your blocks are drilled and sanded, grab some sponges or paint brushes and let the kids go to town! These can even just be dipped and dried. I used some acrylic paint I had sitting around and wanted to use up, but you can also use stamps, a stain, markers, washi tape, or stickers or letters to decorate – get creative!
- Add test tube
Let these fully dry, then just pop one of your test tubes in! If the test tube has a little wobble, you can use some candle wax or a dot of glue to hold the tube in place. Voila! These are ready to be filled with a little water and some seasonal snips from the garden – or…anything really!
Half the fun of these is that they can be stacked up, arranged, and rearranged for all different kinds of fun looks – these are really so versatile!
More ways to use your DIY stem vases:
- Put a different letter on each side of each block and spell the name of the flowers collected or the season.
- Cover the blocks with different funny faces and fill the test tube with some “hair” from the garden.
- Play with different colors and patterns to create fun, ever-changing arrangements.
- Paint with a magnetic paint for stem vases that can double as picture or noteholders.
- Use some different sizes and shapes of blocks to create a cityscape of stem vases.
These little stem vases were made to hold water, but you can also dry flowers or other foliage in these as a little experiment. Of course, some varieties of flowers and plants will hold their color and shape throughout the drying process. For good drying results, try one of these…
Foliage that will dry well:
- Baby’s Breath
For more DIYs like this, check some of our other scrap wood DIYs like this simple Modern Beach Dollhouse, a wooden DIY Play iPad & Laptop, or this incredibly fun DIY Balance Board. Looking for something even easier? Try making a Thingamaboard – the perfect tool for creative play of all kinds!
The sky’s the limit with these! Have a great idea of your own? Share in the comments, and be sure to tag us in pics of your own creations (use @barleyandbirch on Instagram and Facebook!)
*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!