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Thread: Toddler busy boards

  1. #1
    Jon
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    Toddler busy boards

    I'm trying to decide on a Christmas present for my 3-year-old. He's extremely curious, especially around my tools. On the rare occasions he's allowed into my garage, usually held or under extremely close supervision, he wants to touch, activate, actuate, operate, anything he can get his little hands on.

    So I had the brilliant idea to make his gift this year, simply by fastening a bunch of such items to a piece of plywood. Stuff lying around the shop, like odd fasteners, switches, doorknobs, latches, clasps, faucets, window cranks, etc. All the things I tell him 20 times a day not to touch. My wife would paint a design on the plywood, and I would fasten various items to it. We screw it to the wall on Christmas Eve, and he comes up and sees it first thing in the morning.

    Of course, I looked it up online, and surprise, surprise, I didn't invent this! Turns out they're called "Busy Boards". Some examples:













    There's a lot you can do here, from wood selection, finishing, border, to inclusion of limitless items, from basic fasteners to more complex Rube Goldberg contraptions. For me, the only requirement is that any included items are real "adult" things, not plastic reproductions for children. He can obviously tell the difference, and he prefers to play with the real deal.

    Here's the list I have so far of items to include:

    bell
    calculator
    casement window crank
    caster
    chain latch
    clasp
    door handle
    door knocker
    doorbell
    hinge
    computer keyboard
    light switch
    padlock
    pulleys connected by rope
    PVC tee
    remote control
    spring door stop
    steering wheel
    water faucet

    I'm hesitant to put anything battery-powered on there, or anything that makes noise. I've already collected a bunch of these items I have lying around; some of them will need to be cleaned up or finished. I can also remove any small parts and grind down any sharp edges.

    Then we'll go to a local recycled building supply facility to pick up anything else, or possibly a hardware store or even electronics supply store.

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    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Sounds like a fun project. Here are a few further suggestions to consider...

    eyebolt with captive wingnut
    spring return tape measure
    magnets to stick on all the ferrous stuff
    turnbuckle
    small C-clamp
    badge/fishing tool retractor
    belt buckle
    a length of loc-line
    small oil can (sans oil, of course)

    One of my daughter's neighbors gave their three year-old a toy cell phone. I told my daughter they should have had their parent licenses revoked.
    ---
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  5. #3
    Jon
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    Very nice. Can't believe I didn't think of the tape measure. He's always stealing those!

    Magnet is a good idea, and can be used to interact with many of these items. A large magnet; my wife is deathly afraid of the extremely rare but well-publicized-on-the-internet fear of children swallowing two magnets.

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  7. #4
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Epoxy a large wooden handle to the magnet.

    one of those retractable key chain things with some old keys
    small, cheap plastic level
    degreased ball bearing
    fishing lure - hooks removed and replaced with key rings
    velcro - endless possibilities
    ---
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  8. #5
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    What a great idea! I've got a grandson on the way and talk about killing several birds with one stone! I wonder how the door knocker turns out and if they get their hands in there and get smashed? The rest of the stuff is brilliant as like you said Jon I noticed my kids liked the real thing over toy representations. I've got an extra set of funky nylon change gears for my 9x20 lathe that would be fun to mount up with a crank behind some plexiglass so he can't get his hands caught. They also would be easy to mark with a marker. My son was fascinated by movement especially when he moved something and something else moved. I also love that so many of these things I've got laying around like switches, latches, hinges etc.


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