What is a busy board, and why does my baby need one?

Are you struggling to find a new toy you for your baby? Why not try a busy board, a fun, interactive, and practical solution to self-directed learning.

Busy boards are motor skill activity centers created with everyday items, not children’s toys. For example, boards may contain

  • Zippers
  • Door latches
  • Doorknobs
  • Old or fake switches
  • A wheel
  • A Chain

What is a busy board?

Busy boards, also known as activity boards, are a sensory, safe board filled with everyday items. This provides babies and toddlers with a safe space to play with normally “forbidden” items.

Playing with the board develops motor and sensory skills, interacting with everyday household objects such as doorknobs and zippers.

No two busy boards are the same – you can make your own at home and personalize this for your child, adding items you deem safe and are comfortable with them playing with.

What age are busy boards for?

Manuel 9 months old

Busy boards are for babies aged six months and up. Some and toddlers up to aged three might enjoy them as well.

The earlier you start using the busy board, the better. This provides your child with a safe place to experiment with the same things they were once told off for touching.

Not only does this develop motor skills, but it may encourage them to stop touching real “forbidden” household objects and instead focus on their own.

What type of woods is used for busy boards?

újrahasznosítás matatófal busy board fejlesztő játék gyereknek
Via: Pinterest

Any type of wood can be used to create a busy board; however, plywood is the most common wood used. This is because plywood offers increased stability, high impact resistance, and a strong weight to strength ratio.

This wood choice is perfect for young children, providing a clean and beautiful finish yet withstanding the regular beating dealt by your toddler’s fists every night.

Tip: consider sanding/rounding your busy board’s edges to make this safer, preventing any cuts or other nasty accidents. Alternatively, you can also add rubber protectors to the edges for enhanced protection

Does Montessori use busy boards?

Yes and no, The Montessori teaching method is focused on self-directed, hands-on learning. The Montessori approach is often adopted to develop a holistic approach to education and overall roundness.

Exploring the item placed in a Busy board does fall into the category of Montessori learning. This is because it is hands-on, with the child left to their own devices, choosing what object to play with. Montessori toys have one objective. The nature of a busy board has many objectives as you will have many items that offer different functionality in one place at the same time.

Children learn quickly by touching and playing with objects – the problem is, however, a lot of these objects can be dangerous. Creating a safer approach by creating a busy board removes the danger and creates a safe and interactive space to let your child’s mind run wild and free, playing as they see fit.

What should I put on a busy board?

Via: Pinterest

As you’ve probably already figured, there are endless possibilities regarding what you should put on a busy board. However, here are some ideas:

  • Door latches
  • Doorknobs
  • Zippers
  • Shoelace
  • Wheel from an old desk chair or desk
  • Customized name tag
  • Fake or old switches

To add that custom look and feel, we recommend adding a customized name tag to the board or unify the colors you use.

This can be created to match the color scheme, or you can go rogue and let your child join in on the fun – just be wary you may not be able to read the name…

Check out this busy board step by step tutorial from Something Turquoise how she made the above board using vynil to give her board a pop of color.

Our busy board

For our DIY busy board I collected the following items. I wanted to do a simple board with just a few item. These is what I used:

  • Carpet samples in different textures
  • a wheel
  • a chain lock
  • a latch
  • a lock
  • a wood flooring sample to create the door
  • a calculator
  • a battery operated light switch
    a small magnifier mirror

Busy Board Ideas

You can either create your own busy board using a piece of wood (e.g., plywood) and household objects or purchase one off of a site such as Etsy.

We’ve gathered together three examples Etsy boards, boards you can choose to use as inspiration or alternatively purchase.

Wooden busy board

The wooden busy board adopts a fun and colorful approach to home, self-directed learning. Objects on the board include a xylophone, door latch and chain, interactive numbers, a spinning wheel, and moveable beads.

To view this board on Etsy for yourself, click here.

Montessori toddler custom busy board

The Montessori toddler custom busy board is shaped like a vehicle almost adopting an old fashioned theme and style. This board is much smaller than others, perfect if you’re short on space. Objects on the board include a doorknob, mini bell, buckle, small gears, and an old zipper.

To view this board on Etsy for yourself, click here.

Traditional activity busy board

This handmade traditional busy board is more simplistic, but contains a large number of items to spark your child’s intrigue. Objects on the board include door latches, numbers, wheels, zippers, buckles, and string.

To view this board on Etsy for yourself, click here.

busy board Ideas Using a Pegboard

Pegboards can also double up as busy boards. The peg holes are also interactive, providing an extra element of play.

You can use the peg holes to secure items in place, such as shoelaces or other small items that can be fed through the small peg holes.

Below you fill an example of a pegboard busy board:

Via: Pinterest

As you can see, zip ties are also used to secure items in place, with these ties connected and fed through the peg holes. For those with few tools, this is a much simpler and accessible option.

In particular, this pegboard contains items we commonly see, including a mini xylophone, string, shoelaces, and other pieces of fabric.

Final Thoughts

Busy boards are fun, interactive, and a Montessori way of learning for babies aged six months to toddlers aged three. These boards can either be purchased or made at home, adding custom details such as your child’s name.

In general, boards should only include household objects, not children’s toys. This is to encourage motor and sensory development, playing and experimenting with objects that may once have been “forbidden.”

Try creating your own busy board and let me know how you get on, I look forward to seeing your designs and success with one of the more traditional forms of learning.

More Busy Board Inspiration