How to Make Busy Boards for Toddlers

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I came across the idea of a busy board one day on Pinterest. In short, what I saw was different things for a toddler to play with on a board, such as door latches, zippers, velcro, etc. It seemed like a great idea and an easy project for my husband and me to tackle! We did end up making two boards (one for each toddler) that were virtually identical except for colors and slight differences on the layout. I am going to break down element by element how we ended up constructing it and how the toddlers liked it!

Tools We Used

I will admit, using power tools scared me a bit on this project. Prior to the project, I had a little bit of experience with drills, but that was about it. That said, I wanted to use tools that were fairly easy to use.

Drill

We used the drill to make holes where we needed them and also to add screws where needed.

Circular Saw

We got one big board and had to cut it in half to make two smaller boards. This was much easier than having to saw by hand!

Router

Router in use by Kristina while making busy boards for toddlers

Post Router added to the aesthetic of these busy boards for toddlers
Top photo is me using the router, bottom photo is the finished edges

Coming from a family of computer techs, the first time I heard this term, I thought this had something to do with Wi-Fi. In terms of woodworking, a router can cut and smooth out edges. Different attachments can make different designs. The boards were so much prettier than just plain slabs of wood after using a router!

Materials

Spray Paint

We wanted the boards to be a pretty color! We used two coats of paint on all wooden surfaces.

Mod Podge

This is something that I ran across while researching busy boards. In short, it can be used as a non-toxic top coat and also as an adhesive. There were stickers and glitter that we put on the board that we painted over with the Mod Podge. It made those materials a little more flush to the boards they were on so little hands couldn’t pull them off!

Zipper

This was one thing that inspired the busy boards in the first place. Our babies loved zippers, especially when getting into their pajamas at night. 

Velcro

Velcro was another thing that inspired the busy boards. The particular velcro we used is a single double-sided strip with one side being coarse and the other side being soft.

Upholstery Tacks

This is what we used to attach the zipper and velcro to the board. We were able to do this by hand, but it may be easier to use a rubber mallet or hammer in some cases.

Door Knob

The particular door knobs we used on our boards were dummy knobs that actually don’t turn. It came in three pieces and just needed to be screwed on the surface.

Tap Lights

These actually turned out to be the big winners of the boards! This was the first thing that both Elle and June gravitated toward. Even when the boards are sitting in the hallway while not in use, Elle and June like to run by the boards and tap the lights!

Door Latch

The particular kind we used could be screwed on the board. This also is pretty self-explanatory for the use — Elle and June like the noise the chain makes for now, but they can work on their coordination later on when attaching and detaching the chain.

Drawer Handles

This is what we used on the little doors on each board. We used a traditional handle for one door and a knob for the other. We used the drill to attach them to each door.

Key with Carabiner

We just got some pretty uncut keys from the hardware store. The carabiners that we used have a screw closure so we don’t have to worry about anything breaking or pinching fingers.

Busy Boards for toddlers
Finished busy boards

Elle and June love their busy boards! The biggest winner of all is the tap lights. They love doing “drive-bys” when running down the hall where we keep the busy boards. We left enough space between some of the elements to add more in the future. We hope to find fidget spinners that are toddler-appropriate and possibly cheap calculators so they have buttons to push.

Let me know if you’ve made your own busy boards. I would love to see them!

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Kristina is an Alabama native who came to Birmingham in 2005 for college (has it really been 15 years?!). She had lived in Muscle Shoals her whole life up until that point. After graduating from UAB in 2009 with a degree in journalism and a minor in music, she married Paul in 2011. Paul has worked in the tech industry since 2009. Kristina has had several jobs in the area - everything from banking, veterinary medicine and receptionist. She most recently worked from home as low-level tech support. Kristina and Paul had the biggest surprise of their lives when they went in for the first 8-week ultrasound and found out that they were expecting "spontaneous" twins! Everything was going to change already, but they had to multiply it by two! Two girls, Elle and June, were born in July 2019 and nothing has been the same since. Kristina is now a stay-at-home mom to Elle and June and it has been the most rewarding job of all! Kristina, Paul, Elle and June make home in Alabaster, where you can usually find them on the weekends. They like going around to the things in the area, such as shopping and going on walks in the park. The babies are famous - neither Kristina or Paul can go anywhere alone without people asking about the twins!

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