Win Parenting with the Ultimate DIY Busy Board

A DIY Busy Board is a great way to introduce children to the art of tinkering.  With peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more, this do-it-yourself gift is perfect for busy little hands.  Read on to see how it’s done!

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

As creative educators, we are continually searching for ideas that interest our children, capture their attentions, and meet their individual needs and curiosities.

Having journeyed through toddlerhood now three times, we are finally recognizing that less is more, toys are not entirely necessary, and that these toddlers sure love to tinker!

For example, for this upcoming Christmas, we were asked what our current toddler (the third to join “Team V,” and soon to be followed by his younger brother) would love as a gift. Toys? Until recently, he has hardly engaged in any sort of toy-related activity. Clothes? No thank you, hand-me-downs are treating us just fine. Treats? Not unless you can package up a box of apples for us!

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Advocates for Open-Ended Play

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We are singing a different tune these days. Many of the ‘educational’ (i.e. battery operated) toys that were gifted earlier in our parenting years have since been donated.

Creative wooden blocks and various animals from our favourite “Toobs collections have taken their place. (We are especially fans of the Dinos and believe it or not, Trees Toobs)!

Instead of toys, how about a couch? Could we perhaps be gifted a designated ‘jumping couch’ or a mini trampoline? Or maybe consider an indoor climber to weather the storms of winter? A box of random kitchen tools, or a stack of used paper to strew across the living room floor; these all seem like developmentally appropriate gifts for an exploring toddler!

We have become big advocates for open-ended play, developing gross-motor skills, and providing ample opportunities to explore their surroundings.

Exploring Toddlers

If you too have active toddlers, you know firsthand the joy they experience in climbing all things ‘climbable.’

One of our children even climbed before they could walk. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the dining room only to find two little legs dangling at the end of the table. There was no fear, just a look that said, “Hey mommy, can you give me a boost here?”

They have tucked themselves away into little cubbies and hidden corners, calling them “forts.” They have flopped, dropped, and rolled on pillows across the floor, and have clambered all over Daddy, treating him as a human jungle gym.

It never ceases to amaze me that a pile of toys can be gifted with the greatest of intentions, and yet, it is my stack of mixing bowls that sees the most action. (Read: open the cupboard, empty every bowl onto the floor, and then lose interest until mommy tidies up the mess for round two).

DIY Busy Board

When Pinterest was first introduced years ago and I jumped onto the beta version bandwagon, I was instantly drawn to all toys handmade. I wanted to recreate each and every one of them! More specifically, I wanted my husband to recreate them. Even more specifically, I wanted a homemade activity board for our busy toddler!

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

What a genius idea!

A sensory board is a beautiful collaboration of knobs, switches, and keys. Remember to add in several random items for flare and intrigue, and a family photo for personalization.

The toddler “busy board” or “activity board” is born: a simple collection of everyday ‘tools’ that provides ample opportunities to tinker!

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

This has been the one ‘toy’ that has stood the test of time in our home.

Visiting children gravitate to it, and each and every one of our babies to toddle around our home has opened the family photo door to point and exclaim with joy their discovery of smiling faces they can recognize!

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The DIY busy board for babies and toddlers is so much more than just keeping busy.

It is a thoughtful creation for inquisitive babes.

It is a labour of love.

This sensory board is a fun and simple way to encourage early tinkering.

It truly is a beautiful addition to any home that houses an exploring toddler.

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

Make Your Own Activity Board

While there are many options available to purchase ready-made busy boards, creating your own is a special experience.

We included the following items on our board:

  • string of counting beads
  • chalkboard behind a door with a latch
  • small round mirror (those added to side car mirrors)
  • sliding lock set
  • chain lock set
  • key and lock set
  • wooden xylophone
  • wing nut and bolt
  • maze of sliding bolts
  • light switch
  • several peek-a-boo doors
  • family photo

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

The majority of our board is made of ‘lost and found’ items from our garage. Both my husband and father-in-law keep on hand random latches, hinges, and all sizes of nuts and bolts for those ‘just in case’ moments. We were able to gather everything we needed simply by looking through our stash.

A nice sheet of plywood, some careful ‘tinkering’ as I like to call it, and my husband had crafted this gorgeous DIY Busy Board for our soon-to-be one-year-old and all of the babies that have followed!

DIY Toddler Busy Board with peek-a-boo doors, latches, locks, and more!

Give it a try yourself. Gather some simple objects that your toddler would enjoy tinkering with, and create a board of your own.

And if you have any suggestions of other items to add, please comment below!

We love to hear from our readers and fellow creative educators.

Yvonne Vanderlee
  • Annie

    Something made from nothing! How does it get better than that? A busy board for inquisitive minds and little eager hands.

    October 30, 2016 at 11:22 pm
  • It’s such a shame you don’t sell these board as I have never seen anything like them in the UK. An excellent idea

    November 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm
  • khushboo mak

    My toddler is 2.5 yr old….can such an activity board useful fr her too…??

    May 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm
  • Jasmine

    About how much did this cost to make? I really want to make one for my almost 15 month old!

    May 12, 2017 at 1:03 am