I intended for Rhys to make these magnets, but since I really wanted them to look finished I used my toddler-proofing trick of pre-painting all the pieces a solid color. That way, Rhys was able to decorate them all and the end magnets were still fully coated in paint, with no bare wooden bits showing through. Toddler happy, OCD mama happy. Everyone won.
The setup process took DAYS, you guys. No exaggeration. I bought a bag of wooden letters ($3.99) and a zillion paints at Michael's, took them home and let Toddles pick four colors. Then I pre-painted each letter, including the edges, with two coats of paint, which took about 90 minutes.
Once the initial paint was dry, I used sticky back magnetic tape ($1 for a roll at Michael's), three small pieces per letter to make the letters magnetic. The sticky back tape wasn't adhering very well, though, so I did go back over and re-glue each magnetic piece with hot glue. 26 letters x 3 magnet pieces per letter = 78 opportunities to burn my fingers. The whole magnet cutting/gluing process took about another hour.
FINALLY, it was time for the fun part. I set Rhys loose with the pre-painted wooden magnets and more paints and brushes. I expected him to make designs or "scribbles" on the letters, but he surprised me by wanting to fully coat each letter with paint. My pre-painting was maybe not so necessary in retrospect, but I still really like how the letters looked with one color on the face and a different color on the edges. The toddler painting typhoon took about 20 minutes, with a little help from mama.
I sprayed clear coat over the dry magnets, let that dry overnight, and, at long last, here are our finished magnets:
I think they came out super cute. SUPER cute. It was a long process, spanning almost 3 hours over several days, but it was a VERY inexpensive project ($5 for materials, a few bucks more if you don't already have paint, brushes, clear spray paint and hot glue). As to whether I'd do this again, I fully intend to make a few sets as holiday gifts. I'll probably complain the whole time but I'll make them and I know my kid will be proud to give them!