Also known as sensory walls, or busy boards, sensory boards are a really fun way for your child to play with everyday objects while experimenting with textures, colors, shapes, and whatever you can imagine. It’s really up to you… since you can put anything you like in your sensory board.
What age are these appropriate for?
When I discovered these, I immediately wanted to create one for my baby. I wasn’t sure what age these would be appropriate for, but in fact these are good for babies and toddlers, it just depends on what you choose to put on them.
For example, we glued some zippers to one of the sides, and it turned out it was a bit too early for her to be able to zip and unzip them. However she’d touch them and try, ask as to show her how to do it, and eventually, she learned to pull the zippers all by herself.
When searching for ideas, just choose whatever you feel is appropriate for your baby’s age and current milestones. Below I’m sharing what we did for our baby, and a few other ideas that I found specially interesting.
Ideas for your sensory board
Our four-sided sensory board was very simple to put together. Our daughter ended up not playing with all of the items we put on it. She was around 10 months old when we made it. Here’re a few things that we learned:
Colorful zippers. As I’ve mentioned above, she couldn’t zip and unzip them in the beginning, but she’d still like them and play with them until she eventually learned how the zippers worked. I chose bright colors (yellow, pink, green, and blue).
Numbers. It had both shiny numbers (from 0 to 9) and buttons on a string that you could move from one side or the other and count. She obviously wasn’t counting yet but enjoyed pulling from the string and spinning the buttons.
Shapes. This was by far her favorite side of the board. We draw different shapes on the board, then cut the same shapes and covered them with felt of different colors. Both the drawn shapes and the cut ones had velcro on them, so the game was to stick them in the right spot. She could keep herself entertained for quite a bit of time by sticking and taking off the shapes, sometimes even in the right spot :-p
Plastic tube with “slide” for balls. We made the tube with a water bottle and the balls with yarn. She didn’t like this much… basically only played (AKA tried to eat) with the balls until she destroyed them.
Here are a few other ideas that I liked (although haven’t tried yet!):
- Textures. Just choose different types of fabric: hairy rug, crepe, fur, fleece, lamé, wool, satin, denim, shiny, … or whatever you have at home, and either stick small pieces directly on the board or frame and hang like on the image below:
Another option is to use sand, a scrubber pad, a piece of plastic, cotton, and other materials, and put them in small boxes attached to the board:
Locks, chains, and handles: I really want to try this one. We didn’t because locks and chains are usually heavy and it wasn’t going to work with a cardboard box. But these are definitely next for us! Toddlers love to open doors and cabinets, and our daughter is no exception, so this one seems a winner to me.
Lights. Lights are always fun when you’re a baby. Push lights are perfect for sensory boards.
- Letters: Draw and color the ABC, or cut and paste or attach, use magnets, velcro, … or simply write your baby’s name on the board. Here’s a very cute board I found on Lollygag Learning:
- Sounds: This one may require a bit more work. You can go with an easier option, like a horn, or more elaborated ones like doorbells.
The most common layout for sensory boards or walls is a piece of wood or cardboard that you can hang on the wall. Usually, you’d use wood if you think it’s going to be heavy (e.g. has locks and chains on it). You may also want to hang these close to the floor (so your baby can reach it!) and making sure it’s well secured.
In our case, we had lots of cardboard boxes and not much space in the walls, so we decided to go with something light (fabric, zippers, buttons) and four-sided. Since our baby wasn’t still walking, she used it as a “stand up toy” as well (this required some weight inside the box). See picture below.
Finally, I found this other very practical version online, which I loved. You just need a box to use as a base, and it’s great for storing because it folds upon itself without squashing the contents.