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  • This Couple Converted Household Materials Into Toys for Their Toddler

    It’s a great way to entertain toddlers without using gadgets!
    by Kitty Elicay .
This Couple Converted Household Materials Into Toys for Their Toddler
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Pennelope Baria
  • When their daughter, Ionne Scheherazade, or Seven, was born, couple Pennelope and John Baria imposed a “zero gadget and no screen time” rule for her even during playtime.

    When Seven turned a year old, the couple allowed her 15 minutes of screen time daily. But their daughter was looking for other ways to keep herself occupied and entertained.

    “When she turned 13 months old, her toys no longer held her interest. More on exploration na siya, and like most kids her age, ‘yung mga ‘hindi laruan’ ang gusto niyang pag-laruan,” Pennelope explains to SmartParenting.com.ph in an interview via Facebook Messenger.

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    Pennelope with husband John and their 14-month-old daughter, Seven.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Pennelope Baria

    Seven was fond of playing with her mom’s ID lace (Pennelope is a public school teacher), holding things like spoons, playing with her dad’s car keys, and reaching for the doorknob. So, Pennelope thought, why not put all these random things together in one place? After all, they wanted Seven to enjoy her childhood through play, but also develop her sensory and motor skills at the same time.


    After researching for possible toys that would help develop Seven’s skills, John and Pennelope came across busy boards on Pinterest. A busy board has all kinds of household ware, like locks, switches, handles, and dials that kids can tinker with. It was perfect for their toddler!

    “We browsed online [to see] kung may nabibili, but apart from it being expensive, we were not satisfied sa mga nakalagay and [mukhang hindi] matibay,” she shares.

    Since John was skilled in building stuff from scratch, the couple decided to DIY Seven her very own busy board instead. The result: a pretty and unique toy that only cost them Php752!

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    Seven’s busy board was a combination of old items lying around the house and inexpensive household materials that they bought to help develop her gross and motor skills.

    On our Facebook page, Smart Parenting Village, and her own page, Nanay ni Seven, Pennelope shares more details about how they made the busy board:

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    1. John used marine plywood for the board, a thick one where some of the items could be screwed. “Yung board na ginamit is sobra lang sa bookshelf ni Seven na ginawa rin ni hubby,” Pennelope explains. “Tira lang din po ‘yung masilya at paint na ginamit form her bookshelf.”

    2. The size of the busy board depends on the items they would place, which the couple deemed suitable for Seven’s size and age. “Big enough pero handy, pwdeng dalhin ‘pag nagtatravel,” Pennelope notes.

    3. John decided to screw the materials onto the board to make it more durable. “It is a must kasi sinusubukan ni Seven na hiklasin, tanggalin, tuklapin, pukpokin o ihampas ‘yung mga nakadikit sa board, pero matibay [ito] talaga,” says Pennelope.

    4. Avoid putting items with mirrors and glass. “Maglalagay sana kami ng ilaw na nakakabit sa switch, kaso naisip naming delikado ‘pag napukpok,” shares Pennelope.

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    A closer look at some of the elements of the busy board. Pennelope says Seven's favorite items include the fidget spinner, the hand bell, and the xylophone. The shoe is also an interesting addition — it teaches her how to tie shoelaces!
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Pennelope Baria

    Some of the items that they used on the board include: a hand press call bell (Php155), wooden xylophone (Php100), clock (Php70), wheel carts (Php15 each), calculator (Php110), ID lanyard, USB-type computer cable, bag strap (Php9 each), Zipper (Php12), wooden lacing shoes (Php151), old door locks, a fidget spinner, a light switch, and a padlock.

    Though it took John a month before he finished the busy board, since he had work and weekends are spent having quality time with Seven, the end product was worth it. Their daughter was able to play with it while it was being constructed, too.

    “The bell, xylophone, and spinner became instant favorites. She was so engrossed playing with it that the first time we presented it to her na finished na talaga, she spent almost an hour exploring the board all by herself,” Pennelope shares.

    The first-time mom adds that until now, Seven still plays with the busy board every day. “Like when she wakes up in the morning, when she is waiting for her breakfast, during her afternoon playtime, and even before bedtime.”

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    Seven enjoys her busy board that provides her hours of play.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Pennelope Baria

    If you’re planning to lessen your child’s gadget use, Pennelope shares that toys helped her and her husband follow through with their self-imposed “zero gadget and no screen time” rule. Apart from the busy board, Pennelope also DIY’d some sensory bins for her. “It helped our daughter to be more imaginative and creative,” the mom shares.

    Pennelope adds, “She loves cutting her wooden fruits and then ‘eating’ them afterward. She also likes building towers with her wooden blocks and crashes it right after. She developed her gross and motor skills while playing with her wooden horse, and learned how to balance using her wooden walker. Most importantly, she learned how to share.”

    Books are equally important. “Being read to is her most favorite thing to do,” says Pennelope. “You can read to her anytime and anywhere. Just tonight, I have read aloud 8 board books before she went to sleep! And this morning, I read her two books before leaving for work."

    Though Pennelope is a teacher herself, she isn’t too keen on exposing her daughter to anything academic for now. It was also the purpose of the busy board. “What we want is for her to enjoy her childhood first,” she says.

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