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.
For this 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.
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.
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.
As with any project for little ones, safety is the most important step to take. Follow these safety steps to make sure your DIY 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