Easy DIY Projects · Sensory Play

DIY Sensory Boards

*This post was originally written in May of 2014, when the twins were 9 months old. It has just been updated (20 months old) to reflect the multitude of ages that can enjoy a sensory board! 

I find a lot of enjoyment in creating things for the babies to use, such as toys. I’ve started an adorable felt letters project but I barely carve out the time to work on it, so when it’s done, I’ll be happy to share. (Updated: They’re done, and you can find them HERE!) Up until now, I’ve spent just a few minutes of time creating sensory bottles and treasure baskets for the babies. We still use both of those things every day. And then Pinterest gave my husband and I the idea of sensory boards.

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My major influence for this project was this.I loved how both the preschooler and the baby got a ton of use out of the same board – going to show that they can get years of use. Here’s another example of simpler textured items, specifically for babies. Anyway, I just thought they were the coolest thing and a great toy that will last for a very long time.

My husband was excited to make them. (I apologize that I can’t give you a tutorial of this project!) I don’t know the exact amount of money he spent in all, but we got most of the items at Home Depot, including free carpet samples and dollar items if we could. He did choose to sand and stain the board, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to do that. I imagine extra money was spent in the quality of the board, the sanding and the staining. After doing that, he screwed the individual components onto the boards. What you add to a sensory board would be completely up to you and the ages of your children. We wanted pieces that would be fun for both babies and toddlers.  It took him a few days to complete, so the stain could dry. He made two sensory boards (with items you would find also on a latch board), and here are the finished products (updated to show mounting on wall):

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So today being their first day of use, we had these boards on the ground lying flat. But my intention, especially as the babies get older and can stand, is to secure them into the wall of the upstairs playroom. I found out today that the board on the right is a little better for the babies at their current age, 9 months, than the board on the left. I mean, I obviously knew the twins couldn’t hook some of those items on the left but they do like to slide and flick whatever they can. It can definitely be used. But I decided to save the second board for a few months from now and just use the board on the right. It’s hard to see, but it’s got the end of a brush, a mirror, a front door knocker, a spinny wheel that I’m sure has a more sophisticated name, a carpet square, a push light, a piece of textured…rubbery thing I got at the dollar store, a door stop, and a mini door. That came from C’s desire to open and shut our cabinets, so we bought the knob for $1 and my husband cut a little piece of wood and made it into a mini door for them to open and shut. I thought it went swimmingly well today, and the boards will have many more days and months, and possibly years, of use. And obviously at this age, this is a toy that I need to be sitting with them for them to play with, as these items aren’t exactly toys for the mouth. As they get older, I won’t be as concerned (at 20 months, I am not concerned at all. It’s a very safe toy for toddlers!).

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The door stopper was a huge hit, so we might add a second to the board. It makes a great noise and is fun to flick.

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B enjoys the texture of the carpet.

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Just checking out her reflection. I didn’t add the blurry picture of her bending down to kiss herself in the mirror – so cute!

Updated at 20 months: The toddlers still enjoy using these sensory boards on a daily basis. I am glad we put a variety of components onto the boards, because their interests and ability levels have obviously changed in the last year. Now, the mirror and door stop are less of a hit (though still fun!). Instead, C uses her fine motor skills to slide the lock.

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B still enjoys spinning the wheel as well as feeling the texture of the broom.

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These boards are super durable and will hopefully be passed down through a few generations of children!

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