“Sensory exploration is a child’s way of examining, discovering, categorizing, and making sense of the world, and it’s beneficial to provide them with opportunities for sensory play”. –Amanda Morin
For one of Grayson’s FIRST birthday presents, my husband and I worked together to make him a Sensory Board! We have shared our process and helpful tips below.
Items needed for DIY Project:
- Wooden Board (24″ x 24″ pine plywood sheathing 3/4″ thick)
- Drawer Handle
- Dog collar
- Door hinge
- Door chain
- Spring Door stopper
- Light dimmer cover
- Pencil pouch
- Privacy hook
- 3 drawer knobs
- Work bench or truck bed
- White plastic chain
- Flat plastic plate for name
- Black Spray paint
- Clear matte polycrylic spray
- Vinyl Stickers of Name & Numbers (alternative: paint pen, alphabet stickers, or wooden alphabet pieces)
RYOBI Tools Used:
This is the perfect combo kit for this project!
Be sure to follow all safety guidelines when using these tools. These can be found in the product manuals.
Below you will find a detailed breakdown of the project. Scroll below to read the quick breakdown and other key suggestions!
- Detailed Preparation:
First, we had to go to the hardware store and walk up and down every isle and brainstorm what we wanted this board to have. We came up with a pretty good list and went from there. Along the way we removed some items and added additional items as well to make it “flow”. There were also some times where my husband wanted it to look more tough and cool for Grayson, but I just wanted it to look cute and match.
The most important item is the wood you are going to use. The reason we say this is because it has to be big enough to have enough room for everything. Also, you will be drilling most of the items into the board so you want it to be sturdy and not crack. For this reason we chose a 24″ x 24″ pine plywood sheathing that was 3/4″ thick.
The first tool we used was the Circular Saw. My husband has used circular saws before, but this was the first time he used a battery powered one. He said he couldn’t even notice a difference! He started with an easy four cuts and basically cut the corners off of the board. Using the saw was super easy with the laser sight.
After the cuts were made it was time to sand the board. We used the multitool sander. We started with 80 grit sand paper on both sides of the board and also along the edges giving it that rounded off look from the front. After the 80 grit gave it a good feel, we went one step more and used 120 grit on just the face and sides. This really gave it a nice texture and you could definitely tell a difference because the back side was only 80 grit.
Next trip to the store was for the spray paint and polycrylic finish. We went with a matte black spraypaint and a Clear matte polycrylic spray to give it a beautifully finished look, without making it too shiny. We sprayed two coats of the black spray paint on both the front and back. Be sure to let it air dry between coats and don’t spray too close, because it will cause overspray. The directions on the clear coat stated to wait 48 hours before using it on fresh paint, so this delayed the entire project. It was weird to spray on the clear coat, but it was so easy and convenient. When you start doing it, the clear looks funny and you will think you ruined it. Stick with it, doing those same spray patterns, and you will be good. It will dry and look amazing, trust us!
Once we had the board ready to go, we laid it down and started figuring out how we wanted to arrange everything. Some ways looked better than others, right hubs!? At this point, we had mostly everything we wanted on the board and we had a plan on how it was going to attach to the board. Now, most of the items we bought came with hardware to attach it. We suggest looking at the hardware it comes with to make sure the screws aren’t longer than the width of the board. That wasn’t an issue for us, but we did forget to buy hardware for some of the items that didn’t come with it. That was another trip to the store for my husband, which he didn’t mind…
The next and most important tool we used was the RYOBI 18V ONE+ Drill. This drill had a LED light on it so you could see exactly what you were doing and a 24 position clutch with two-speed gear box. This allowed you to really slow down the torque of the drill to ease the screws in to the board and prevent cracking. It also has a MagTray bit holder, so you werent losing screws all over the place. On the top of the drill there is even a bubble level to ensure you drill straight into your project. Side note: no…I’m not that cool, my hubs definitely helped me write this!
We did use drill bits to pre-drill the holes and that also helped guide the screws as well. After we got the first sensory item on there, we kept going and it was super addicting watching this come together. The process took about an hour to get everything onto the board and we had no issues at all. The wood held up great! Currently, we only have items on the face of the board. We may go back and add wheels or more items to the other side, so it can get some dual-uses. We also used vinyl stickers to add customization to this project. I used a Cricut machine to make the stickers. You can contact me directly if you would like to add this touch to your project! I would be happy to help!
Short breakdown of the project:
- Obtain sensory items and tools
- Sand wood board
- Remove and round board edges
- Coat with matte black spraypaint and a Clear matte polycrylic spray
- Allow to dry
- Secure items to board by drilling or Velcro
- Add customization with vinyl stickers
- Sand any sharp edges of wood board and sensory items
- Use rubber bendy ruler instead of metal one
- Velcro items that may require battery changes
- Place wheels on the back as desired
- After allowing them to explore the board, show your little one(s) how each item works
RYOBI really helped make this project come together and my husband said, they are the best tools he has used in a long time!
Some of the items we placed on the board with velcro backing, so Grayson really loves that he can take things off the board. His favorite things on the board are the calculator, the door latch, the ruler, and the LED light. Use your imagination when designing your board. You may think that a certain item might be really cool, but the kids will not even notice and take interest in something you thought wouldn’t even work. We had a great time building this sensory board for Grayson and he really enjoys playing with it. We can’t wait for our next project with our RYOBI tools!
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