Over the past couple of weeks, Arthur has become obsessed with hanging things wherever he can manage to get them to stick. It started with his beloved Ukulele – balanced on the edge of a sideboard or hanging from the lamp in the kitchen. The other morning he was very pleased with himself when he hung a bag of nappies on the doorknob, though adding the hat was a little trickier. Now wherever I go around the house there is evidence of this new game he’s invented for himself.
It got me thinking: was there something I could make that would help him practise this new skill, and maybe discover some new ones whilst he was having fun with that? Then I remembered we had some cup hooks kicking around somewhere, and an idea was born.
Toddler Activity Board
You will need:
- A rectangular piece of wooden board: ours was 80 x 40 x 2cm
- Colourful paper for the background
- PVA glue
- Metallic or grey paper for the ‘shadows’
- Card for templates
- Cup hooks
- A selection of different coloured felt
- Ribbon for hanging
As well as the usual paint brush/sewing kit/basic tools!
I decided I wanted the background of Arthur’s board to be night and day: we’re still having issues with frequent night waking so this is something we need to discuss with him! Once I’d gathered my range of papers in three colours (blue for day, purple for night and green for the grass), I began by creating this background.
I used standard PVA glue – full strength as a base for sticking then diluted 50-50 with water as a glaze for over the top.
I was pretty pleased with the finished effect – it looked even better when it had dried!
Using this background I wanted to create a simple scene using things that are just beginning to be in Arthur’s vocabulary. I decided on a house, the sun, a cat, a tree, an owl, a star and the moon. I drew the shapes on to card, then cut them out to use as templates.
I wanted to create ‘shadows’ on the board so that part of the activity became matching shapes. I decided to use gold paper on the ‘day’ side, and silver for ‘night’. Once I’d used the templates to cut out the shapes I used the PVA to fix them in place, remembering to leave space for the cup hooks and hanging shapes.
Next came the cup hooks for the key hanging part of the activity. I used a mix of sizes just because that’s what we had – but actually it works quite well to add different levels of difficulty into the activity. I used a hammer and nail to make an initial hole which made screwing in the hooks easy peasy.
Once the board itself was completed it was time to make the shapes for hanging. I used the templates to cut these out of felt, embellishing them a little and sewing on a loop of ribbon to each. You could go as far as you like with these, maybe even creating little stuffed shapes if you wanted something more substantial!
After checking all the shapes fitted where they were supposed to, it was time to lay them out in front of the board and see what Arthur made of it!
He was definitely quite intrigued, though at the moment he finds hanging the shapes a bit challenging – which is a good thing as it means there’s room to grow!
We also found that the portability of this activity was very handy when the sun came out this afternoon…
So all in all a success I reckon! These are the skills I think this activity board will help Arthur develop:
- Fine motor skills (hanging the shapes)
- Matching shapes
- Naming and developing vocabulary
- Understanding night and day
It only took a few hours to make, and that was whilst keeping Arthur entertained too. I’m already thinking about the next one which might end up being a little bit more complicated!