Build a Toddler Busy Board with Items You Already Have

Updated: Sep. 29, 2023

Give your kid a new toy, and they play with the box, right? There's something so appealing to young minds about anything that's not a toy, which is exactly the idea behind busy boards. We'll show you how to create a DIY toddler activity board.

babyTeresa Odland

Busy Boards are motor skill activity centers that appeal to babies and young toddlers because they’re made with everyday items and not children’s toys. Zippers, latches, knobs, handles and wheels are just the beginning, the possibilities are endless. The best part is you can make one with spare items already in your home and garage right now! Especially if you’ve just cleaned out your garage!

The recipe for a busy board is simple: Board + busy items + way to attach items + child. This can be easily customized to what you have on hand, or what your child is interested in. 

Toddler Activity Board How-To Steps

boardTeresa Odland

For this DIY toddler activity board example, I started with a 2-foot square $3 scrap piece of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) from a hardware store, but an old cabinet door or tabletop would also work great. Feel free to paint or finish the board any way you like, just make sure all edges are smooth and splinter free, and paint is lead- and toxin-free.

boardTeresa Odland

Next, gather your busy board items and lay them out on the board, playing with the arrangement until they all fit nicely. Take a photo or draw a guide so you will remember where they all fit as you remove them, marking where starter holes need to be drilled.

boardTeresa Odland

Drill and screw items on to the busy board so the screws lay flush with the board and do not exceed through the back side. Use Liquid Nails glue to attached items that cannot be screwed down. Once you’ve attached all items, prop the board up against a firm surface, or mount to the wall in a designated play area and let your child explore! Never let children play with busy boards unsupervised.

boardTeresa Odland

As with any project for little ones, safety is the most important step to take. Follow these safety steps to make sure your DIY baby busy board is a safe activity for your child:

  • Wash all pieces with a mild soap before assembling
  • Sand or file all sharp edges and corners
  • Make sure all small parts are firmly secured, and are not choking hazards
  • Keep any hanging cords, strings and chains to a maximum length of 6 inches
  • Be mindful of pieces that might pinch little fingers
  • Always keep close supervision while playing with busy boards