It seems inevitable; with age comes consternation that "the kids" aren't learning enough practical life skills. Though presently unencumbered of this attitude ourselves, my wife and I decided get ahead of that concern with our own child. Behold, the oft-celebrated "Busy Board":

finished busyboard

This particular board comes equipped with all the accoutrements requisite to instill a fascination with opening doors and locks of all kinds, to the dismay of parents everywhere.

Features of this model

busyboard close up shot
busyboard close up shot
busyboard close up shot
busyboard close up shot
  • Three (not four!) soft plastic wheels for sophisticated auto-balancing, anti-wobble technology, that won't scuff floors
  • A coating of chalkboard paint, to encourage creative artwork on-the-go
  • Various manual locks, latches, and cord (for knots) that children should probably not be taught to open
  • Two sets of wooden doors upon which the aforementioned locks impede the opening of
  • Several handles at various locations and orientations to facilitate transportation (e.g. lifting, dragging) of the hardware
  • A spring doorstop, because it makes a fun "sproing"-y noise when you flick it.


busy-board with fresh chalk paint
Step 1: Paint!
busy-board with chalk coating
Step 2: Once the paint dries, marinate it with chalk dust
busy-board with hardwood doors installed
Step 3: Try to use hardwood (oak) floor samples and find out the hard way that it is a terrible idea
busy-board with hardwood doors installed
Step 4: Start over with hobby softwood (pine) pieces

Simple enough in theory and execution, the planning and construction itself is humbling as you recognize too late that (for example) there are different types of drawer hinges, and you've purchased the wrong ones. Nonetheless, perseverance yields something even a small child can be entertained by for upwards of 12 (even 14!) seconds: