I am always looking for something fun and creative for my baby to play with that will add value to his play. Personally, I have gone the route of passive play toys and try to follow the Montessori method but if you’ve ever googled Montessori toys, some of them are quite pricey. You can always find more reasonably priced toys with a little searching, but I thought “if I want my baby to be creative, then I need to get creative.” In enters the activity board. I scoured our garage and thrift stores for items that we use in our day to day lives. I’m also lucky to have a best friend who is remodeling her house so she donated some things to the board. By using every day items, he is learning how to use items like locks and hinges without KNOWING he is learning how to use them.
I purchased an MDF board at Home Depot and cut it in half to make 2 boards. My original plan was to make one that was age appropriate for now and then one for toddlerhood, but decided to add elements that would challenge him as he grows (like tying a shoelace). I also bought some small screws and washers. Make sure that the screws are short enough that they don’t go through the back of the board, don’t want to hurt anyone (or scratch your floors). I usually lay the board on the ground and let my son crawl over it to get to what he wants. If I stand it up, I’ll hold the board so it doesn’t fall on him. Either way, I am right beside him when he’s playing with it. Sometimes I’ll interact with the board while he is playing with it, other times, I’ll just watch him while he happily plays independently.
Like I said, I was looking for items that we use every day but I also included items that feel different for that sensory learning. For example, he loves touching the dry sponge! After I gathered all my items, I laid them out on the board and traced squares around it. A quick paint job, a few drill holes, and screwing the items on the board and I was done! Gathering the items took the most amount of time, but it was fun to pick through stuff. Right now his favorite things are the wheel, the swing lock, tongs, and duster. I put the duster glove on velcro so I can take it off and “dust” him with it. He cracks up. The tongs are also removable so when he is older, he can learn that pincher motion and practice picking up items with the tongs. Right now we just use it to grab his chunky little arms and legs and watch him belly laugh.
This is a great, relatively cheap way to provide your child with a fun learning tool. Let me know if you make one too and what you included!