DIY Toddler Busy Board Activity

Motherhood Unfolding

Hey Mama, I know it can be a challenge to keep your little one entertained so I’ve got a fun DIY to share with you today! Let’s get creative and make a busy board for your kiddo with my step-by-step instructions. I’ve figured out some fun ideas along the way to help your board come out even better than mine! That’s right, no Pinterest fails here!

O yeah, it's possible mama. The best part is that you can customize the board with what you know will engage your child the best! Removable letters, zippers, buckles, laces, sensory activities, you name it. This board is all about creating a small space to tinker and explore.

I found a lot of joy in making a toy for my child and knowing that it was personalized and one of a kind. I hope you too feel that satisfaction. The project below cost me approximately $30.00 and all items were purchased at Hobby Lobby. I bought everything new except for the whisk and glue gun, which I already had. If you are thrifty and can find some materials around your house there is no reason why this DIY couldn’t be $20.00 or less. Let’s get started!

First, let's talk about materials. I am adding two categories here. What I used along with additional materials you may want to consider or substitute for depending upon your child’s abilities/interests.

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Toddler Busy Board MaterialsLory Shuff/Motherhood Unfolding

Original Busy Board Materials:

  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Board (I Used a 14 x 12 Wooden Board)
  • Two Felt Sheets of Different Colors or Patterns
  • Velcro
  • Two 7” Zippers
  • Two Types of Buckles/Clasps
  • Leather Chord or Shoe Lace
  • Whisk
  • Pom Poms

Additional Items to Consider/Sub

  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Mini Strainer
  • Small Chalkboard
  • A Set of Nesting Boxes
  • Box to Fill with Small Toys/Pom Poms etc
  • Magnetic Strip & Magnets
  • A Pouch/Pocket
  • Small & Simple Puzzle
  • Flaps to Lift

As you can see by both the materials I used and the additional ones listed, the possibilities are endless! A few quick notes about the additional items to consider:

  • The mini strainer and the pipe cleaners are meant to go together. Your child will have tons of fun putting the pipe cleaners through the strainer holes. You can also set it up with the pipe cleaners already looped through and have them pull the pipe cleaners out of the strainer. If you’ve never done this, you might want to try it with your kiddo! It’s such a fun activity for little hands!

  • By nesting boxes, I am talking about small paper boxes that fit inside one another. You can find these at any craft store. My son loves this nesting toy we have and I thought it would be fun to incorporate it into the busy board as another sensory activity.

  • Your child might also enjoy simply filling one box/pouch/pocket with pom poms or pipe cleaners or other small toys and then taking them out again. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that capture the imagination. They might also enjoy decorating the box with stickers or drawing on it before you adhere it to the board.

  • If you choose a small puzzle make sure to glue the back of the puzzle to the board and not the individual pieces. I know it seems like a no brainer but it’s an easy thing to forget when you are in craft mode!

Once you have decided on the board you are going to use and materials, it’s time to start assembly. Regardless of the direction, you decide on, I do highly recommend creating their name in felt letters that can be stuck on and pulled off the board via Velcro. This gives the board a customized feel and it will help them to recognize and learn the letters of their name in a fun way. Not to mention it will be the focal point of the board and an easy place to build off from.

Note that creating their name is going to be a little tedious but every step after creating the removable letters is simply placing and gluing. This is the only step where you are creating something from nothing but trust me, it pays off in the end!

Assembling Removable Felt Letters

I recommend choosing two different colors/patterns of felt so that you can create a layered letter. This creates dimension, visual interest, and a thicker letter that will hold up better with use.

1. Use your sharpie to draw the letters of your child’s name in large block lettering. Draw and build one letter at a time to ensure size consistency.

2. Once you have drawn the first letter, cut it out, and trace it on the second sheet of felt.

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L Letter Against Cactus BackgroundLory Shuff/Motherhood Unfolding

3. Take whatever piece is going to be the top layer and with your scissors, trim all the way around the letter. This will allow for the top layer to nest perfectly in front of the back layer.

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L Letter With SissorsLory Shuff/Motherhood Unfolding

4. Continue with all of the letters in your child’s name.

5. Then glue the layers together to create the final look.

6. Next, trim your Velcro to the thickness of the letters you made if needed and cut small strips to attach to each letter and the board.

7. Hot glue one side of the Velcro to your board and one side of the Velcro to the back of your felt letters. Ensure that the placement of both pieces of Velcro aligns when stuck together.

8. Allow both the felt letters and the board to dry before putting on and pulling off the letters.

Assembling the Remainder of your Board

Now it is time to build the rest of your board according to what you think will occupy your toddler’s imagination best! Really it’s as simple as placing the materials you chose on the board in an esthetically pleasing way and gluing them down. Below are the specific steps I took along with a few tips you might find useful if you are choosing the same materials I did.

After creating the letters, I decided to start working on the whisk and pom pom activity. Both my toddler and I love pulling pom poms out of a whisk and sticking them back in. It's oddly satisfying and helps your little one exercise their fine motor skills.

Tip: Apply a thick layer of glue to the handle of your whisk and a thin layer to the three or four loops that will be touching the board. This will ensure that your whisk stays right where it should be. Then fill with their favorite colored pom poms!

Next, I glued down my zippers.

Tip: Glue them down zipped up and with a thin layer on the outermost edge of the zipper. When placing the zipper on the board, slightly scrunch the sides together to allow room for the zipper to move against the board. Apply this same technique to any buckles you use. The key is to make sure you do not glue these items flat.

Next, I glued leather chording in a crisscross pattern and finished with a knot. I made sure to leave long strings on either side that I used to create a bow.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this DIY! Know that your little one is going to love their busy board simply because you took the time to make it for them. Don’t worry about it not turning out exactly as you hoped, I know mine didn’t but it was still fun and my little guy loved it. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about!

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Toddler Playing With Busy BoardLory Shuff/Motherhood Unfolding

Have fun creating and enjoy watching your little one play with their very own customized and mama made toy. Leave me a comment and let me know how your board turned out!

Happy Crafting!

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