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AsiaOne has launched EarthOne, a new section dedicated to environmental issues — because we love the planet and we believe science. Find articles like this there. Living with toddlers is an everyday struggle. A struggle of having your mobile phones, TV remote…

AsiaOne has launched EarthOne, a new section dedicated to environmental issues because we love the planet and we believe science. Find articles like this there.
Living with toddlers is an everyday struggle.
A struggle of having your mobile phones, TV remote controls, and random belongings ‘stolen’ by them, that is.
If you have been around toddlers long enough, you’d probably agree that they love what the adults are obsessed with (read: smartphones and remotes) more than actual store-bought toys.
To put an end to my woes, I gave my twin nephews their very own handheld device highly controversial I know, but read on.
I also gave the 14-month-olds a switch, a night light, and a (bubble tea) cup full of ping pong balls. In return, they gave me 15 minutes of peace. A pretty good deal, I’d say.
Intrigued yet? Here’s what I did: I got all of the aforementioned items, found a few recyclable coffee pod boxes, kitchen towel roll, random ribbons and strings from past years’ festivities, and stuck them onto a board.
And that was how I made my very own busy board  a highly sought after ‘toy’ to encourage sensory play, which is said to improve fine motor skills, develop logic, and facilitate exploration, with children these days.
Saving money while saving the earth
While busy boards are readily available on the market, a quick search online reveals that one simple busy board would cost on the upwards of $80.
Save yourself some money while saving the earth with a DIY busy board that costs you just a fraction of a store-bought one.
All you have to do is briefly scour through everyday trash to recycle them with this DIY project. By looking at everyday objects with new eyes, you get ideas on ways to breathe life into them.
According to WWF, over 900 million kg of plastic waste is discarded every year in Singapore alone. Just 4 per cent of this is recycled.
To do my tiny part in saving the earth, here are some items that I’ve chosen to recycle: coffee pod boxes, kitchen towel roll, bubble tea cup, leftover cloth and zippers from other DIY projects, ribbons and strings from past years’ Christmas presents, an old wall switch, a calculator and a pair of bookends I wasn’t using anymore.
Other items you need: velcro tapes, glue, (a sturdy enough) board, ping pong balls, cotton wool, hooks with adhesives in the back, and a battery-operated night light.
A quick DIY
First, I scrolled through Pinterest to get an idea of how others built their busy boards and what would suit my nephews best.
Next, I did a rough sketch of the things I want on my busy board.
Then, I gathered all the things I have at home, made a shopping list of the things I need, and went shopping. To make things easier, I have chosen to buy the things I need at just two locations Art Friend and Daiso.
From Art Friend, grab some glue, velcro tapes and a board that is sturdy and big enough to hold everything you need.
At Daiso, get ping pong balls, cotton wool, hooks with adhesives in the back, and a battery-operated night light.
It shouldn’t cost you more than $20 for everything.
Here’s a shopping list of everything you might need:
Foam board ($11.90 from Art Friend)
Glitter sponge or a piece of construction paper to make a cylindrical funnel
A bubble tea cup  washed and dried, of course
Ping pong balls ($2 for a pack of six from Daiso)
Coffee pod boxes
Cotton wool ($2 for four coloured ones in a pack from Daiso)
Felt cloth
Hooks with adhesives ($2 for a pack of three; I got two packs from Daiso)
A couple of random ribbons, strings of varying textures
A kitchen towel roll
Battery-operated touch night light ($2 from Daiso)
A wall switch ($2 from Daiso)
A compact remote control or a calculator
Zippers
A strong-hold glue
Velcro tapes ($4 from Art Friend)
Putting it together took me less than an hour. Just follow your sketch and start by glueing various textured items in the coffee pod boxes.Then stick on the velcro tapes at the back of everything, place them in an aesthetically pleasing manner and you’ve got yourself a busy board!
Finally, it’s time for the play test.
Verdict: the kids loved it, and so did the kids at heart!
Less toys, more joy
Using velcro tapes made the busy board much more customisable. You can just replace the ‘toys’ when they are destroyed or when the children get bored of them.
Also, if you need the spare night light or calculator? Just pull it off. Easy peasy.
The next time I’m refreshing this board, I’m going to recycle my old bicycle bell or perhaps add that old Christmas ornament with bells attached to it.
Don’t you just love the sound of it already?
lynette@asiaone.com