Have you as a parent noticed that there are particular trends for popular and demanded toys through the years? Our observation and opinion is that there has been a huge trend for kids activity boards or kids busy boards in the last years. And there is a reason why. Therefore we decided to make a useful overview on the types of kids activity boards / toddler busy boards for sale that we can find out there in the market.
1. Sensory Busy Board or Learning Board
Sensory busy board is a type of a kids activity board that is mainly used for the children who are from 1 – 3 years old for the development of their sensations, tactile skills and fine motor skills. Kids sensory board usually includes such functions as shapes and figures in different colors, tying and knotting, rotating and moving elements, zippers, locks, buttons etc. In that way your toddler can develop his/her fine motor skills and the brain. It also lets kids learn basic shapes and colors and understand the basic movements of elements, like rotation, insertion, horizontal and vertical movements, zipping and unzipping, locking and unlocking, shoe lace tying and other.
There is a variety of sensory boards out there and the functions they include can be different. We have also observed that design and finish of a kids busy board can vary to a big extent. Some boards can be very ecological and kids friendly by their look. Others can be full of metal parts (like screws, locks, zippers etc.) that seemingly could make it a bit scary and unsafe for a child.
However it`s not always hard materials like wood, metal or plastic. We have also discovered felt and textile sensory boards. These are made of the soft material, usually come in a format of small quiet books or posters that can be attached to the wall. These include pockets or sewn on colorful decorations, therefore kids can touch and feel the material or organize right shapes into right pockets of the felt board.
2. Kids Busy Boxes or Busy Cubes
Busy cube is one of the toddler activity board types that is determined by it`s shape. It is nothing else but a baby activity board in a shape of a square box (wooden usually) that involves different sensory functions on each of it`s walls. Therefore a kid can play with all the sides of this cube baby busy board and find new amusements on each of it`s parts. Designs and colors of such busy boxes are very different: from plain wooden designs up to bright colors. From simple square bases up to busy cubes that include doors and doll house function inside, but remaining sensory functions outside.
3. Standing Activity Boards and Kids Activity Walls
One of the main things to notice is the possible use of the board. You might find toddler busy boards that have legs or a base, therefore you can put it on a floor or on a table for your child to play. Such board is portable and can be also used as a travel busy board.
Other boards are flat and pre-made for mounting on a wall, therefore we call them kids activity wall or activity wall panels.
When buying an activity wall for toddlers, we suggest you the following:
1. Find out what is included in the set? Does it include all the parts and screws for wall mounting?
2. Be aware what is the weight of the board and choose an appropriate wall for it.
3. Find out the size of the board and check out if you have the actual space for it in your kids room or on a particular wall you are looking at.
4. When mounting the board, check the height that will be comfortable for your kid. Consider: will your toddler be mostly playing standing, sitting on a chair or sitting on a floor? All this matters.
When speaking about kids wallboard, we have found out that there are also modular boards that consist of several elements. You can actually choose the parts of the board and complete it smaller or larger.
4. Geoboard or Pegboard for Kids
A geoboard and pegboard for kids is usually a wooden base with inserted pegs in it. The base can be square, round or some other shape. It can be a large pegboard or smaller one that plays a role of a work base. And you usually use elastic strings or elastic colorful rubber bands as pegboard accessories. In this way a child can create different shapes, learn colors and geometry.
Nevertheless it`s not just shapes. Your toddler can also create letters, numbers and other by using the same elastic bands on a wooden pegboard. We have also observed round geo board bases that can teach your toddler clock and time. A kid can use elastic strings for creating minutes and hours indicators by him/herself.
However geo boards and pegboards for sale can vary. In the following picture you can see a peg board base for mathematical purposes. Instead of rubber bands this base includes colorful wooden elements that can serve for creating and learning numbers on this base. Same principle can be used for creating letters and other shapes.
This leads us to the next section, which will describe educational activity boards for kids 4 – 7 years old.
5. Sensory Board for Toddlers v.s. Education Board for Preschoolers
When observing activity boards, one of our conclusions is that majority of them are meant for 1 – 3 years old toddlers providing them the most basic sensory activities and recognition of colors and shapes. But what happens once these sensory boards are left behind and your kid grows?
We suggest education boards or learning wall as a wonderful continuation for the sensory board you had. Learning board for toddlers will provide your preschooler with the next needed skills – his/her first educational skills. Main knowledge that a child can gain with this peg wall or pegboard wall can be math from 1-10 and counting, alphabet letters and writing, learning clock, shapes and story creation. Some boards might even include a chalkboard or drawing board module. Therefore a child can also learn writing letters, numbers or his name in a very amusing way. Who wouldn`t like having his own chalkboard?
Education board can be a great Montessori learning tool also for home schooling and at these times of social distancing and being away from school. It is a great way for education through games. This can also be a great gift for your kindergarten or preschool as an educational material.
6. Why Choosing an Activity Board?
Our research has shown that there are 3 basic usage types of the children’s busy board: standing on base, wall mounted or cube type. You can choose the best one for you according to the age of your child and space planning.
There is also a variety of materials used – from wooden busy boards to plastic, metal and textile ones. The source of production can be homemade busy boards or mass manufactured. Search online first. This will give you a lot of busy board ideas.
You have to remember that busy boards are basically meant for 2 main kids age groups: 1) sensory busy board for 1 year old up to 3 years old and 2) education board for 4 – 6/7 years old preshool age children. Our suggestion for parents is to use both types of boards for your child`s knowledge development and continuation.
Busy boards are a big part of Montessori learning methods and learning through practice. Learning boards are also a wonderful tool for home schooling.
There is another good point in activity boards. These are always multifunctional learning toys / tools. They will include a variety of functions in one item. This means you as a parent don`t have to invest and buy many separate toys. Use one board for games and education. This will save your space and money. And on a larger scale this means a sustainable living and less waste.