diy busy board – perfect for babies and toddlers!!
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About 10 months ago, my wife and I were blessed with our precious little girl, Elliana!
Over the course of these 10 months, we have had a blast playing with Elliana and watching her learn and play independently! Seeing the smile on her face or that cute serious look she gets when she is trying to figure something out is irresistible!
It’s this adorable reaction that makes it hard to resist getting her new toys and things to explore all the time!
Not too long ago Dez put together a little basket filled with all sorts of fun things for Elle Belle to play with. The basket included lots of fun things like lots of different textured fabric, measuring cups, measuring spoons, plastic beakers, light up rubber balls and a variety of other interesting things for Elli to explore. Elliana LOVED the basket! More than we ever expected. It was so fun to watch her learn and explore all the individual elements!
Introducing the basket and seeing how much Elliana loved it led to the idea for a busy board.
Now while I would love to take credit for this, all of the credit goes to my incredibly talented wife, Desiree. So most of this time will be spent bragging about my wife and hopefully scoring some appreciative husband points! 🙂
Dez spent some time researching and exploring busy board ideas. After looking at what others have done with their busy boards, Dez’s creativity took off!
building the frame
Unfortunately we don’t have any photos of this step- hang in there, I’ve included PLENTY of pictures of the completed board at the end.
The building of the frame for the busy board really wasn’t that difficult.
We purchased a couple of 2×4’s and 2 pieces of 2’x4′ plywood- similar to this.
Now there is one thing that I can take credit for and that is the cutting of the 2×4’s. Dez and I both agree that we would rather my hands get mangled if one of us messed up…
Dez wanted our busy board to be 48 inches wide by 24 inches tall – more like a busy ‘wall’ for our girl.
We started by cutting our 2×4’s to make a frame. I cut one 2×4 in half, so we had 2 pieces each 48″ long. From the second 2×4 I cut 2 pieces – each 20″ long.
Once the 4 pieces were cut, we put them together to make a frame.
Using 3″ long wood screws, Dez screwed the frame together.
Then she took a piece of the plywood and screwed it into the prepared frame (using 2″ long wood screws).
Once the first layer of plywood was secured, Dez took the second piece of plywood and attached it on top of the first (using Gorilla wood glue and 2″ long wood screws).
We let that dry and voila – the frame for the busy board was complete!!
preparing the board
Once the frame was complete, Dez started working on preparing the board to make it safe for our girl to play with.
This included sanding down corners and any rough spots to make sure our Elle Belle didn’t get any splinters!
With a smooth canvas to work with, Dez applied a couple coats of primer (sanding lightly with fine grit sandpaper in between each coat).
Once the primer was complete, Dez started applying the paint. We chose a neutral grey color for two reasons:
1. It was a nice neutral canvas that would allow the added elements to really stand out and
2. It was a color we already had in our basement leftover from painting Elliana’s room. 🙂
After adding a couple coats of paint, Dez sealed it with a water-based protective finish and let it dry for a few days.
With the busy board primed, painted and sealed with a topcoat…now it was time for the fun part: applying the hardware!!
applying the hardware
With this blank canvas in front of us, we spent time brainstorming of all the cool little things we wanted to attach to the board for her to play with. The goal was to have a fun thing for her to play with that would engage her motor skills at different levels as she grows up.
Some of the things we decided to include were the following:
Various door locks (chain lock, a barrel bolt, swing bar lock), a magnetic cookie sheet with foam magnets, a touch light, spring door stops, a door knocker, a wall telephone, a pill box, board books, a painted wood frame with a laminated picture inside (we laminated it using an at home kit like this one), a board with removable gears and a keyboard.
With Dez’s creativity – it was tough narrowing the list of items down to those that would fit on the board. The options are truly endless!
Dez planned a layout (and changed it several times before finally deciding on one 🙂 ) and set to work attaching each item.
Each item was attached a little bit differently, with most of the items attached with hardware included with purchase (various sizes of screws). A few of the items were attached with Gorilla wood glue – the touchlight and wall telephone. The mini board books were attached with heavy duty velcro to allow Elli to remove the books to read.
Finding ways to play and test various motors skills is educational and fun at the same time! Whether you attached them with glue or screws, finding a secure way to attach them is important for safety! And speaking a safety…this board is not light, so find a good place to secure this to a wall or an area to play with is vital to avoid disasters…because with so much to grab a hold of, this would be easy to bring down!
hanging the busy board
Once the busy board was completed, we set to work figuring out how to SAFELY secure it to the wall without living in constant fear that it would come toppling down.
In our search we decided to go with metal french wall cleats to secure the board.
If you aren’t familiar with french cleats – they are great! (Plus the screws included are called wall dogs…probably THE BEST name for screws I’ve ever heard!!) There are 2 pieces, one attaches to the wall and the other to the busy board. The two pieces click into each other like a puzzle, holding items securely to the wall.
Because of width of the board, we decided to go with 2 french cleats to better distribute the weight.
It took all of 10 minutes to hang the busy board using the cleats.
Let the fun begin
Once my wife completed this masterpiece, Elliana tried to race over to play with it even before it was fastened.
We had to stop her and naturally was upset she couldn’t play with it yet.
Now that it is all set up and properly secured to the wall, it is hard to tear her away from it. She loves it!
Every time she goes to the board she finds a new item to learn and explore.
The best part is that I can see as she grows, the board will grow with her and be even more fun!!
If you are looking to make a board of your own but think it is too difficult, trust me it is within your reach! With a little time, love and effort, you can personalize and make something special your little one will cherish for a long time!