I’ve been wanting to make one of these every since i saw that picture floating around my Facebook Feed – i’m sure you know the one… ‘Dad creates ultimate sensory board!’. In case you missed it, here it is again… 🙂
Well, we’ve finally done it! We too are now the proud owners of our very own (drum roll please!) SENSORY BOARD! Ours is a little different (hehe) and i can’t wait to show you how to make your very own! I do need to warn you – this is not for the fainthearted… it took a good six hours, and a whole lot of patience, to make! But, that being said, it is SO WORTH IT when you see your little one playing with it. And it’s going to provide 886 hours of entertainment (at least), so it’s worth the investment!
Here’s a sneak peak at the end result, for those of you that ‘Just Can’t Wait…’ 😉
Doesn’t that look like fun? And we did that all for just over 25 Euros! (okay, okay – i did have the xylophone and the paint lying around at home, but the rest was bought especially or this project) Here’s what you need…
1 large cork noticeboard – we used a ’60 by 90 cm’ one (€6.50)
1 empty cardboard potato chip tube – Pringles or similar (Free!)
Hard PVC plumbers pipe with an elbow joint for each pipe – 3cm inside diameter. We used three lengths of 25 cm each (€2.10 per meter, so €1.57)
1 door lock with chain (€2.20)
1 hotel style call bell (€ 2.40 )
4 runner wheels – the type you attach to the bottom of furniture (€ 2.99)
a cheap xylophone – we got ours from Dealz – the Spanish version of Poundland (€ 1.50) I’ll even factor it in!
a cheap etch-a-sketch – we got ours from the euro store (€ 1.20)
a cookie sheet (€ 4.00)
packet of magnets – abc’s or 123’s are a good choice (€ 1.50)
some sparkly foam board (€0.10)
a pair of laces (€ 0.50)
2 dowel rods – we used 3mm (packet of 10 cost € 0.60, so € 0.12 for the 2)
colored wooden beads – large enough to fit on your dowels (€ 4.00 for a bottle of 60, we used 16, so our beads cost € 1.06)
popsicle sticks in various colors (i had these in our craft box)
polystyrene balls small enough to pass through the plumbers pipe (€ 0.60)
lots of paint (we used red, green, yellow, blue, light blue and a little bit of silver)
lots of glue (i used a glue gun for some things, ans super glue for other things – it was trial and error – don’t worry… i’ll tell you what to use where!)
some ribbon (to attach a few things)
a little bit of Velcro (to attach the ‘shoes’)
L-Brackets (in 2 sizes) to attach a few things (i raided the tool box)
U-Brackets (2 largish ones) to attach the Pringles tube – but more about that later! (also from the tool box)
Total = € 25.64 !
So, now that you know what you need, let’s get to the fun stuff… Like i said…this project does take a little bit of time and some hard work – you’re probably going to use up a whole bar of soap washing those hands – but the end result is SO worth the effort! Let’s get started!
Step 1 – Painting
First of all, you need to protect your work surface, and yourself! Lay down a disposable plastic table cloth, or work in a dedicated art area that you don’t mind getting covered in paint. Paint your notice board the colors that you choose – we went with yellow with a red trim – and set that aside to dry (if you can find a sun spot, that would be ideal!). Don’t worry too much if there are little smudges… you can always do ‘touch ups’ later when the first coat’s dry.
Now, move onto your plastic pipes and the elbow joints. For these, i’d suggest painting a base coat of white, unless you’re lucky enough to find white pipe to start with (ours were grey). After painting the base coats, and leaving them t dry (around 20 to 40 minutes should do it – depending on your climate) paint each tube a different color, making sure that you don’t use the same color as the large, inner part of your notice board. We painted ours red (the same as the trim of our notice board), green and blue. Paint the elbow joints in the same colors, and set them aside to dry.
Step 2 – Some more painting
Hehe… tricked you… there’s still lots more painting to do! We’ve got to paint the wheel runners and the balls, and there’s still the Pringles tube to go! Let’s start with the wheel runners… So, lay those babies down and get painting… Just do the base colors first. Don’t worry if they look a little ‘textured’ to start with. Remember, your little one is going to be spinning them for all they’re worth, so you’re not going to see the little imperfections! We went with two red and two green, but you choose the colors you like, then leave those to dry. When they’re dry to the touch, choose another color and paint on a pattern – nothing fancy – just some stripes or dots.
Now grab your polystyrene balls. I was dreading painting these… i could just see paint going all over the show! Well, today i finally got around to setting up our YOUTUBE CHANNEL (YAY!) So i uploaded a little video of a great cheat for painting spherical objects… Please excuse the performance, though… I was a little nervous 🙂
That’s me! 🙂 Please go watch it, but, in case you need that again, all you need to do is squirt a little of the paint onto a plastic bag or something else that you don’t mind throwing away. Take a dry brush, then move the balls around in the paint and set them aside to dry. Easy! While your Polystyrene balls are drying, take your Pringles tube and draw two lines down the side… You want your opening to be a little smaller than half the can. Glue the lid on so that it stays secure. For this, i used super glue, because the hot glue gun won’t get all the way round before the beginning is dry. Cut it carefully with a hobby knife, then paint the can another bright color and set that aside to dry.
Step 3 – Gluing the easy stuff
While the other stuff is drying, we can move on to some gluing. By now, your notice board should be dry. Do a few quick touch ups with a little brush if necessary, then grab your glue. Let’s start with the cookie sheet. Squiggle a whole lot of super glue onto the back of your cookie sheet, then push it onto the lower right hand corner of the notice board. Yay, the magnet board is done! (This is my daughter’s favorite part!) Then glue on your wheels and your door lock with the chain. Now, the etch-a-sketch and the xylophone may be a little more complicated… depending on the type you find…
Our etch-a-sketch is the type with a ridge of plastic and a pretty ‘hollow’ back, so there’s not very much for the glue to ‘grab onto’. The way i fixed that was by first gluing some popsicle sticks to the etch-a-sketch itself. After that, i glued the popsicle sticks to the board. I used super glue for these too. I did the same for the xylophone, and the hotel call bell, and then glued them to the notice board where i wanted them. Take a look…
Quick side note : I must also mention, our xylophone and etch-a-sketch came with their pens un-attached, so we used some ribbon to tie them to their tablets – these are the most important parts, after all, and you don’t want them getting lost… 🙂
Step 4 – Gluing the pipes
The pipes were fun! We grabbed some medium sized L-brackets (2 cms) and glued 3 to each pipe, then let those dry. That way, the pipes had a a sturdy base for us to glue to the board. I also used super glue for this.
When the glue was dry, i used even more super glue, and stuck them to the board. We attached the U-brackets to Pringles tube in the same way, and let that dry, and then added that underneath the pipes as a kind of ‘catching bucket’ for the balls!
Step 5 – The Darned Abacus!
Let me tell you, if you can find a cheap one, or you have an old one lying around at home that you don’t mind re-purposing – rather go ahead and glue that on! Making this on was not fun! I eventually figured it out… so it should be okay the next time (and for you 🙂 ) but wow!
What you need to do is take a short popsicle stick, mark off two spots equal distance from the end, and add a drop of glue with your GLUE GUN on one side only (… super glue does not work!) Insert your dowel into the hot glue, and hold your it nice and still for a few seconds, then repeat for the second stick. Put your beads on, then top off the sticks with another little popsicle stick. Attach your ‘abacus’ to the board with small L-bracket using super glue, and allow to dry.
Step 6 – The shoes
Even though my little one is not quit ready for tying her laces yet, i thought it would be a fun one to add… To create our shoes, i used the cut out that came with the pair of laces. I traced it off onto a piece of thick card (it was from a box we had lying around), and also onto some sparkly purple foam board. I punched out the holes using my trusty hole punch (seriously, if you don’y have one yet, you need to get one (affiliate link). I use mine at least twice a week!
I glued all the pieces together, then tidied any bits up, and added two strips of Velcro to the back. When it was dry, i glued the ‘shoes’ to my board, just above the xylophone – so that Little Miss Sara can take them off to practice lacing when she’s a little older.
Once you’ve put everything into place place, it’s just a case of adding extra paint, and extra glue, where you feel it’s needed. We had some empty space at the top, so i added the word ‘Playtime’ just for fun, but you could put your little one’s name, or add in an extra activity if you like… all up to you! All that’s left to do is add on the magnetic shapes that you’ve chosen and introduce your child to their new favorite toy!
Here’s Little Miss Sara enjoying her new sensory board..
Big Sister Kayla even wanted in on the Action!
All in all, i think we can definitely say, this one’s worth the effort!
I hope we’ve inspired you to try it for yourself. Please, if you know someone with a toddler or child that would find this activity board entertaining, don’t forget to to share!