Boredom Buster: DIY Busy Board


As my kids transitioned into the toddler phase I found myself having so much finding toys to suit their new interests. I was (and still am) on the lookout for toys that are fun to play with but also have an educational or developmental element. Several months ago my sister-in-law sent me a link to this busy board that she found on Pinterest. I opened it up and immediately thought…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

My DIY version of the busy board

Busy boards are nothing new. I’ve seen TONS of DIY’s on this type of project. For this reason, I didn’t really follow the tutorial but I completely copied the design. My son’s room has road signs hanging on the wall so I thought this would fit perfectly with the décor.

For my busy board, I used an old cabinet door as the base. Cabinet doors can be used for tons of fun projects. If you happen to be remodeling your kitchen or bathroom save the doors for projects such as this! I started with a coat of primer on the front and sides. Once you hang it on the wall nobody will see the back so there’s no need to paint back there. After the primer dried, I painted two coats of a color called Caramel Honey by Valspar.

The cabinet door used as a base for my busy board

Once you are happy with the coverage of the base color it’s time to have fun with the stripes! I used basic painters tape and taped off the door in diagonal strips. I just eyeballed it…I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to stuff like this. If you are a perfectionist, then you will need a ruler or tape measure for this part.

Now, I have never met a painter’s tape that doesn’t bleed. I’ve tried them all…even the expensive ones. I’ve seen DIYer’s that I love say they swear their painter’s tape doesn’t bleed…but I’ve never had that experience. In order to get crisp lines, my trick is to paint over the edges of the tape with the base color. So get the Caramel Honey color back out and paint the edges of the tape and let it dry. This will seal the tape edges and if paint bleeds through you’ll never know since it’s the same color! Once that’s dry then paint a few coats of black. I use a Valspar color called Dark Kettle Black but any black will do. It was at this point that I decided to paint the border of the cabinet door black as well. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision but I like the way it changed the look.

Peel off the tape before the last coat of paint dries completely. I’ve found that if I pull it off slowly and at an angle it comes off easy and without peeling any paint up with it.

Now that the base is painted it’s time to gather up all the fun stuff for the busy board. If you go to the hardware store and buy all this stuff new it will add up quickly! I suggest looking at garage sales and around your own home or the homes of friends/family. You could also check out the Habitat for Humanity store or a local thrift store.

Once you’ve rounded up all the goodies, lay them out on your board to decide how you want to arrange them. I used screws to attach most of my items. For the deadbolt lock, I had to use this drill bit to make a space for the piece on the back to spin around. For the ten-key, I used E6000 glue to attach it. This glue needs to set overnight but once it’s set and dry it’ll stay stuck forever!

The drill bit I used to install the dead bolt

The last thing you’ll need to do is attach 2 d-rings to the back so you can hang it on the wall. Also, when I installed mine on the wall, I used drywall anchors. I don’t know if that’s completely necessary but I was worried about it being secure on the wall because my finished product was quite heavy.

Hung securely on the wall and fits well with the decor!

My kids love their busy board! I was worried that they’d outgrow it really fast but they still have fun with it.  I’ve found that this gets used the most in the evening when my kids are winding down from a busy day. It’s something that they can sit in front of and have fun with while they start to slow down and relax.

Playing with his busy board before bed!

If you decide to tackle this DIY project have fun with it! You can make it as plain or as fancy as you’d like. Most tutorials I’ve seen use a piece of MDF for the base. If you go that route you can find it at Lowe’s or Home Depot and you can have it cut down to size there.

I recently found another cabinet door in my grandparent’s garage. Don’t tell my sister-in-law but my nephew might have one of these coming his way for Christmas!

What do you do to keep your little ones “busy”?  Have you made a busy board? 


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