I used busy boards with my son Emir a lot. Since he was a baby, they’ve proven to be a great tool for fine motor skills building, roleplay, speech therapy, and teamwork encouragement.
But here’s the twist. We still successfully use them for learning, even now that he’s 7!
A busy board is a classic learn-through-play setup. It is an educational toy made of a board with some real-life objects secured to it. You will most likely be looking at a set of handles, locks, latches, etc.
However, with a little bit more imagination, you can equip your busy board in a way that will aid your kid in learning every day. Make a busy board and learn through play things like:
How? We know really many ways. We’ve picked 11 to start off in this post. Scroll on to find out how you can use a busy board to teach your baby reading, counting in French, and even physics.
1. Storytelling Props
A busy board makes a great open-ended setup for simple storytelling. To engage with kids more, take their favorite little toys, and take it through a busy board, playing a simple scenario. Keep narrating step by step as you move on. For example: “– And then Legoman passed the Magic Lock and got to the giant yellow wheel with a huge bell next to it…”
2. Positive Encouragement
The busy board is an incredible tool to throw a celebration of your little learner’s success. Don’t limit yourself to plain “Good job!” when your kid gets the answer right. Ring all the bells! No, literally. Ring the concierge bell. The loud “Ding-ding-ding” will set any preschooler on fire.
3. Reading Setup
Without pushing kids into reading, put several words on their busy board. It can be an embossment on a tin box, an “on/off” button, or simple stickers. You can start with something as simple as “Wow” or “Mom”. Point it out to your kid and read together as you play.
4. Roleplay Centerpiece for Speech Training
Busy boards can aid teamwork and speech development as a roleplay centerpiece. Ask your kid to play scientists or engineers. Show them how to operate different elements, using funny words like “Click-clack”, “Ding-dong”, “Go-Stop”, “On! Off!”. Encourage your kid to repeat with you.
5. Fidget Tool
When your kid gets fidgety, let them use the quiet parts on the busy board to steam off extra energy. Quiet busy boards are a particularly good fit for the library areas and sensory nooks.
6. Counting & Numbers
If you have a learner who opposes as soon as they smell “math activity”, you can find cool parts with numbers for their busy board. Code lock, miles counter, or pax counter work great. Not only they have numbers, but they roll them out in the right order. It helps to practice counting, sequences, tens, and hundreds.
The clicker counter is great for learning the count in real-life conditions. Besides, it is perfect to count in different languages.
7. STEM experiments
The busy board gives an understanding of the engineering methods at a very early age. Here kids can explore the mechanics, experiment with inertia, weights, and gravity, learn the difference between metal and non-metal materials, flex their inventive thinking, and create unexpected connections.
8. Music lessons
The busy board is a ready-made percussion instrument. Use the bells and springs to set up a quick mood. Set up the rhythm and ask the kid to repeat, or align their part’s rhythm with you. For the creative thinking promotion, ask kids to come up with their own melody.
9. Loose parts building
A busy board in the class sets an example for the students to think out of the box with their loose parts building. After playing with a busy board kids would often go for daring combinations of toys and materials in their creations. Ask your kid how they would add to a busy board using pipe cleaners, play-doh, or their favorite material.
This build is an example – a hooded post-apocalyptic car made of polyvinyl tubes and a busy board as the control panel centerpiece.
10. Life skills Bootcamp
Opening and closing the lock is more than just fine motor skills training, it is an important life skill. Think your kid locking themselves in the bathroom. You will probably stress out less if you know they’ve had this extensive training.
Bonus: Thinking out of the box
What started from a couple of boards with scattered knick-knacks, can become a trigger to hours and hours of fun play with real objects. This inspires kids in a unique way to learn design, construction, and concepts.
Takeaways to learn through play
Creativity comes with everyday practice. A busy board is a perfect inspirational object for your kid to get excited about engineering, motions, senses, and imaginary worlds.
No matter what your babies like to do, all humans love to learn in process of play. And in play, a busy board is an opportunity like no other to sneak in some reading, counting, engineering, and life skills.
If you want to see more of our recommendations for learning through play, browse the blog and see our educational sets for busy boards.