Learn how to easily make a DIY toddler busy board that will keep your little one entertained for hours!
My son is like most toddlers, I’m sure: curious about everything and easily distracted.
Anything that catches his eye, he must touch, and often put in his mouth too.
To help keep him occupied and out of trouble, his Grandpa made him his very own busy board!
Now he is happier than a pig in poo playing with this in his room, and Mommy here can relax for a bit without worrying about what he’s getting into.
How to Make a DIY Busy Board for a Busy Toddler!
Before I was even pregnant with my son, I was
wasting time getting inspiration on Pinterest.
One day, I came across a pin of a busy board that was full of little gadgets and doohickeys and thingamabobs (yes, I do believe those are the technical terms) that looked like a little one’s dream toy.
You can find my inspiration here.
Doesn’t it look like so much fun?! I mean, if you’re only two-feet tall. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I pinned it on my “For The Future Babies” board and forgot about it…until the babies I was pinning for were no longer “future babies” thanks to Rowan’s arrival.
Supplies for Making a Busy Board
Here’s what we used to make this DIY busy board:
- Large wooden board
- Sand paper
- Wide variety of random toddler-friendly items
- Ours either came from my parents’ junk drawer, a local hardware store, construction sites, or online
- Big favorites include a costume ball & chain, electronic doorbell, and doorstop
- Lots of screws
- Some industrial glue
- Heavy-duty Command Strips
The Steps for Making a DIY Busy Board
Here’s all it takes to make a DIY busy board of your very own!
- Prep a large wood board by sanding and painting it any color
- Collect a wide variety of items that are toddler-friendly
- Check out hardware stores as well as your home’s junk drawer and spare closets for basic items that a kiddo is sure to love
- Screw or glue each item onto the wooden board so it’s securely attached
- This includes an optional handle to the top
- Attach the finished busy board to the wall using heavy-duty Command Strips
Our DIY Busy Board
My dad is a construction superintendent and has a garage full of little doodads (another technical term) that he’s collected from job sites over the years.
So, instead of all those freebies continuing to collect dust, I asked the old man if he could create his own version of a busy board, and he spent one weekend creating his masterpiece.
He first painted a wood board with some yellow paint and then attached various gadgets all over it, using either screws or glue.
And it goes without saying that we only included items that were safe for wee ones. #safetyfirst
What’s Included on Our DIY Busy Board
Grandpa already had most of the gadgets on hand, but some he purchased from the local hardware store or online.
He also included a handle at the top to make it easy to transport (he and Grandma delivered it to Rowan during their visit on Easter along with a super fun toddler Easter basket).
The pic below details every doohickey, and I did my best at guessing the official terms.
I had no idea how many different types of latches/knobs/hardware thingys there are in this world!
The Details on Our DIY Busy Board
Here’s a run-down of everything we included on our DIY toddler busy board:
- Sand Paper: Just a disc to a handheld electric sander cut in half and then hot glued to the board.
- It gives Rowan a couple nice contrasting textures to explore.
- Velcro: A strip of heavy duty velcro.
- Rowan enjoys the rough texture and also the fun sound it makes when rrrrrripping it off the board!
- Light Switch: Fun to flip the switch up and down.
- Costume Ball & Chain: I would have never thought to include this but I think this is Rowan’s favorite part of the board! It’s from a Halloween costume and the ball easily unhooks from the chain.
- Sometimes he is completely content with just playing with the ball on the floor. Other times, he nixes the ball and is enamored by the chain….or he’ll leave the ball attached and whip it around and bounce it off the wall. Anything that makes noise!
- Swivel Hook: Small and easy to manipulate with little fingers.
- Electronic Doorbell: Another FAVORITE!! This plays all kinds of different tunes and melodies, even ‘Jingle Bells’!
- It’s easy for Rowan to activate, and he also likes the red lights that flash as the music plays. Sadly, when the batteries run out, it’s dead since it’s industrial-glued to the board, but for all we know that may be long after Rowan loses interest in the board.
- Night Latch: Rowan enjoys pulling on the chain more than actually sliding it, but hey, at least it peaks his interest!
- Zipper: Fun to move up and down and also to feel the little nubs when unzipped.
- Cabinet Samples: There are two of them here that my dad picked up at various job sites: one opens from the top, the other from the side.
- My Pinspiration board had thumbtacks underneath their similar piece, but I was afraid of Rowan’s little fingers prying those loose, so like a cheesy TV gameshow, there’s nothing interesting behind either door. I should just add some stickers though, right?
- Twist Latch: Rowan enjoys swinging it open/closed and twisting the lock. This gets played with A LOT.
- Door Knob: It doesn’t actually spin, but Rowan still enjoys grabbing onto it.
- Sliding Latch: Easy to move from side to side.
- Phone Cord: Another fave: he enjoys pulling and stretching this every which way.
- Door Knocker: Makes noise, so Rowan likes it.
- Door Stop: Another big hit! He loves the “real life” ones scattered around the house too.
- Timer: It’s always fun to see Rowan jump when the buzzer goes off. :) He likes being startled though, so the jump is always followed by giggles.
- Gate Lock: Easy to manipulate and move.
The Busy Board & Its Busy Toddler
Here are some action shots of our busy toddler enjoying his busy board!
Attaching the Busy Board to the Wall
Here’s a view of the busy board installed in Rowan’s nursery.
We attached it on a blank wall between the door to the bathroom and his dresser with some Command strips.
They are very sturdy and even when he stands up and grabs a hold of the handle on top and does his best strongman impression, the board doesn’t even flinch.
(These strips also work great at holding our family growth chart ruler to the wall!)
Most days, I shut the door to Rowan’s nursery and relax on the glider while he plays his little heart out.
It’s amazing how it’s the simplest things that a child finds to be the most interesting.
Grandpa did good with this one. :)
If You Enjoyed This…
Make sure you check out my Project Gallery for more crafty and DIY fun, including kids’ keepsakes, shirts, home decor, and more!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Monday 8th of August 2016
I am looking for ideas for making a busy-board for my new granddaughter (she is 5 months old now) for when she comes to visit over Christmas. She will only be about 10 months old by then. I am worried about how to stand it up and about her getting injured if it falls over on top of her. Any good ideas would be appreciated.
Tuesday 9th of August 2016
Hi Grandpa Tom! We used some heavy duty velcro Command strips. They state that they can hold up to 16 lbs., and we put a few along the top and then a couple on the sides (but left the bottom unattached so the board can be removed from the wall when/if needed). So far they've held up great and Rowan hasn't pulled the board off the wall....he's now over 3 years old and still plays with it! He's too busy maneuvering all the attachments and actually playing so there's not much pulling on the entire board. I hope your granddaughter enjoys her special homemade gift! :)
» Fine Motor Friday – Toddler Busy Boards
Friday 10th of June 2016
[…] Sand paper, zippers, gate locks, velcro and more (from Where the Smiles Have Been) […]
Friday 26th of February 2016
I love your blog! I'm making one of these this weekend, or at least that's my plan and this has given me such inspiration! I'm very crafty and love to make things but my little boy is just not quite big enough to play by himself for more than 20 min at a time. So hopefully this can help while I sew for the first time in almost 2 years. I hope one day my humble little blog will be as inspirational as yours.
Monday 25th of January 2016
Love love love this! Stumped on where to get cabinet samples...or did you just make them yourself?
Friday 22nd of January 2016
Hi there! Love the board. Can you please tell me how you got the light switch to lie flat against the board? Typically they have a electrical box on the back which would cause it to stick out. Help!