How to Make a DIY Busy Board for Toddlers

Toddler playing with a homemade busy board
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Is your toddler into everything except their own toys? My little one is and he’s only 11 months! He will often want to play with things that aren’t safe. Like the hand sanitizer bottle or phone charging cables.

A DIY busy board for toddlers lets him explore everyday objects until his heart’s content.

Busy boards are sometimes known as activity boards or sensory boards. They stimulate the senses and aid physical development.

Toddlers love them because they have different everyday items for them to explore.

Did you know that playing with everyday objects offers some of the best learning opportunities?

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The best thing about busy boards is that you can create them with items you already have. If not, you can find items at any hardware or DIY store.

Making a sensory board for your toddler will satisfy their curiosity. It gets them thinking and it may also help to calm and distract them during tantrums, which is always a bonus!
Keep reading to find out how I made our sensory board. I’ve also listed some of the things you can use to make yours and the tools you will need.

 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

My DIY Busy Board for Toddlers

I had a few reservations before I made our busy board. Although I have seen amazing ones on Pinterest I was unsure where I would store it. I also knew my strong-willed toddler (almost) would pull it over.

In the end, I decided on creating it at the end of a desk in the office. It’s the perfect place and K can see it from the hallway.

DIY busy board for toddlers
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Unable to make use of existing furniture? A 3/4 inch of plywood will help you to create a sturdy busy board. Putting it at a 30-degree angle and keeping a close eye on your toddler, will cut the risk of it falling on them.
Most of the items on our homemade busy board are from B&Q but you can get most of the items at any hardware store. The sound buttons are from Amazon.

How Our Busy Board Works

my diy busy board for toddlers
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1. Pan connector

I added a pan connector, thinking that K wouldn’t be able to drop balls down it straight away. We had tried various posting in the box type activities at 9 to 10 months. Yet he surprised me. It took him a day to learn to let go of the ball. But now he even shouts if it gets stuck.

2. Plastic container

This helps to keep the balls in their correct place. I placed it so that the balls would drop into it from the pan connector. This keeps K engaged for longer and prevents him from getting distracted.

3. Light switch

The light switch is the right size for the busy board. It doesn’t take up too much space and it’s a bit of challenge for K to use.

4. Push light

The push light helps to teach cause and effect. K has had some success turning it on.

5. Baking tray

We have previously used a baking tray with magnets in fine motor activities. K loves turning it upside down and banging it around until they all fall off.

I decided to attach a baking sheet with picture hanging strips onto the busy board to see what he would do. Although he hasn’t touched them yet, I can use this to teach numbers or for name learning activities in the future.

6. Sound buttons

K loves sound buttons/talking tins. We have used them in nursery rhyme activities and baby and toddler activities before, so K knows how to use them and he loves them! They have prerecorded messages that play every time you push the button.

At the moment, the phrases are – hiya and more. I am planning on changing them after a while to other words I want him to understand.

I used picture hanging strips to attach them and they’ve stayed on. K has even used them to pull himself up. Velcro is not strong enough.

7. Doorknobs

The smaller door knobs add more of a challenge for K to pull himself up. The football interests him and he tries to pull it off – he doesn’t succeed though.

8. Doorbell

I failed when buying the doorbell. I bought one that needs hard wiring! I’m planning on changing it to a battery-powered one at some point.

9. Handle

Adding a handle to the side means K can pull himself up to standing.

10. Name

I added K’s name to the board, using wooden letters and a glue gun. It will help him learn to recognise his name when he is a bit older.

11. Castor wheel

The fixed castor wheel is so satisfying to spin. K can’t do this himself yet, but he likes watching and listening to the subtle sound it makes.

12. Wire hasp

I haven’t seen K playing with the wire hasp yet. However, this is a good challenge for when he is older. It will help to develop his thinking. He will be able to test out his ideas and figure out how it works.

13. Door chain

The door chain is good for helping dexterity and building fine motor skills. K likes fiddling with the chain.

Other Things You Can Use to Make a DIY Busy Board for Toddlers

There are so many other things you can use to make your own busy board. You may even find things around the house. Here are some ideas of other things that will work well.

  • Torches
  • Locks
  • Keys
  • Calculator
  • Remote control
  • Loose ends (make sure they are no longer than 12 inches.)

I have a wishlist on Aliexpress of things I am planning to add to K’s board eventually. The items take a while to be delivered here in the UK but I’ve often found that they are so much cheaper and good quality. So they’re worth the wait.

Aliexpress wishlist of items you can buy to make a diy busy board for toddlers
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Even if your toddler is lucky enough to already have a busy board, changing it up will help to keep them interested. It also ensures it’s appropriate for your little one’s stage of development.

Supplies

To make a DIY busy board for toddlers, you will need:

  • Wood or a suitable place to put it
  • A drill
  • Screws
  • A screwdriver
  • Picture hanging strips (optional)
  • Items to add to the board
  • Glue gun (optional)

Tips

When creating the activity board, either add everything in one go or add different bits and pieces at a time.
Try planning out the homemade busy board by using post-it notes and sticking them to the blank area. This will help you visualise the layout. If using wood, try setting out the objects first, to make sure they fit.
Test everything is secure by pulling on it yourself before letting your toddler one play with it.

Buying a Busy Board

There are plenty of fantastic busy boards you can buy. They will keep your little one entertained for hours.

Our homemade busy board cost more than I expected. So buying a ready-made one may work out a bit cheaper.

The Muro Board


The Muro board is a modular activity board. It’s designed with the help of educational psychologists. The board can stand alone or you can fix it to a wall. Or there’s an option to buy the freestanding cube instead.

The holes on the board mean you can customize it to how you want it. This makes changing the board a breeze. If you’re wanting to create a busy board for your toddler, this will give you a good head start.

Montessori busy board

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This Montessori busy board is smaller which makes it the ideal travel toy.

It helps your little one practise important life skills. Like tying shoelaces and mastering zips and clips.

Latches Board

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The Mellisa and Doug latch board will help your toddler’s fine motor skills.

After opening the latches, they will be able to open the door to see the animals inside. You could also try adding family photos or pictures of words you want them to learn.

Conclusion

Making a DIY busy board for toddlers is easy to do once you have everything you need. As well as keeping them occupied, It’s something that will be loved and used for years.

When creating your own, try to go by their interests and use things that stimulate most of the senses. Also, try to use items that also encourage thinking.

There are so many other great DIY busy boards for toddlers people have made. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out 57+ more sensory boards here.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make a busy board for your toddler. I would love to see any that you make so tag me on Instagram.

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