Child drawing,  Mr. Handyman logo on the bottom right

How to Make a DIY Busy Board for Kids

If you have little kids, then you know how much they like to fidget and move around. Keeping them busy can seem like an impossible task, especially without creating a big mess from a bunch of toys.

That's where the busy board comes in! Think of it as an all-in-one stop for children to stop by and try out different doo-dads and mechanisms, feel different textures, and try out different sounds. The best part is that busy boards are completely customizable, and don't have to cost an arm and a leg. Check out these ideas!

Getting Started

Finding the right place for your busy board is step one. You can create it directly on a blank wall in your home, or build it on an old pallet, reclaimed wood, or simply a large square of plywood. You can get as fancy as you like here and stain, paint, or otherwise decorate the board. Or, keep it super simple and just make sure to sand a bit to prevent scrapes or splinters.

Changeable Parts

To keep your little one from getting tired of the activities, consider making several of them removable so you can switch out parts and keep it fresh. For those items, attaching them to the board with velcro will make it super simple to swap out parts in a flash. For activities that might be a bit unsafe when unattached, screw into the board to keep them secure.

What to Include

Now that the details are out of the way, it's time for the fun part! You don't have to make a special trip to the hardware store; instead, look around the house for things that would love to be repurposed. Here are a few of our favorite busy board activities to try:

1. Letters. Sticking letters with Velcro is an easy way for toddlers to learn their letters. If an entire alphabet is too much, start with the child's name.

2. Musical Sounds. Try different lengths of PVC pipe to make a xylophone and old pots or empty cans for a custom drum kit.

3. Door Stops. Every child has come across one of these on the floor and had great fun poking at it to make the “boing” sound. Try a couple different ones for different sounds.

4. Magnets. Your little one will enjoy experimenting with different things around the house to see if they will stick to the magnet or not.

5. Locks and Knobs. Simple door chains, fancy knobs, and other locking mechanisms will help develop fine motor skills while keeping your toddler engaged as she tries to figure out how they work.

6. Wheels. Castors from the bottom of an old chair are perfect here as they're easy to attach without losing the spin.

7. LED Lights. Pick up an inexpensive, battery operated LED night light that turns on and off when you press down. That way, you don't have to be an electrician to find a way to add something bright to your board.

8. Bells. Go simple and string up musical bells, or get creative and string up things like chain links, keys, or other metal bits that make a nice jingle.

Be Creative

There is no "right" way to make a busy board for your child. The only rules are that small bits must be secured, and that you experiment with things to see what keeps your little one busy and safe. If you need a hand with simple (or complex!) assembly jobs around the house, you can request service from the Mr. Handyman near you or call (877) 256-3376.