Busy Box: DIY Magnetic Board Activity

I really liked the Betty Lukens Fun with Feltlearn your ABCs set which I read about from 1+1+1=1 and decided to make my own for Gareth’s Busy Box. Being the self-confessed lazy mother that I am, I wasn’t prepared to cut out felt shapes which I know will look dreadful once I’m done with them. In the end, this was what I came up with – easy, affordable and extendable…

Instead of using felt, I went with a portable magnetic white board which I found in Borders for RM27. Using Google Images, I made my own charts on powerpoint.

Busy Box Activities 003

I bought magnetic alphabets and numbers from Toys ‘R’ Us for about RM15 for each set. Alternatively, you can get coloured button magnets and write your own letters and numbers on them.

The idea is to match the magnetic letters with pictures beginning with the same letter (it is the reverse of the Betty Lukens ABC chart where you stick the pictures onto their matching letters). In the center chart above, J is for jigsaw, K is for kangaroo, L is for leaf, etc. I left our magnetic alphabets with my parents so I can’t show you a working example.

I also made one with numbers because Gareth loves numbers.

Busy Box Activities 001

The idea is to match the quantity with the correct number. Okay, I should have jumbled up the quantities a bit, but I think you get the point.

Busy Box Activities 002

It’s probably not really that different to some of the Montessori apps he plays on the iPad, but it is an activity without a screen that requires real manipulation with the fingers and will hopefully keep him away from a screen.

I’m sure you can already see how this activity is extendable. All you have to do is make more activity charts that require the use of the magnetic letters and numbers and you have an activity that your child can practice over and over until he gets sick of it.  You can vary the activity to include missing letters for spelling, equations, and whatever else you can think of. You can also make activities for your older child and tailor the difficulty and subject to your child’s interests. For Gavin, I’m planning a dinosaur ABC chart which will require him to recognise the dinosaurs that start with specific letters of the alphabet.

And there you have it – an easy to make, affordable, and extendable activity that doesn’t require a screen, electricity or batteries.


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

9 thoughts on “Busy Box: DIY Magnetic Board Activity

  1. Pictures are cute. You may also print out the other fixed version of See’s Maths pattern. If the child likes numbers, then perhaps the first pictures you see from him would be all numbers……see if I am right :).


  2. I also like the Betty Lukens Fun with Felt, but we can’t get it here. I love your ideas, hope that i will get the chance to do something similar then. 🙂


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you like them. I plan to make more worksheets and upload them to the resources section of Figur8. I will let you know when I finally do.


  3. Hey, you’re also be reminded once again that if he likes numbers, he would also love music and never afraid of music notations when he sees things in abstract, so since he is still young, you may just let him listen to TT, look at See’s Maths pattern, Doman’s dots, read to him all the formulae of abacus ………….. make sure no testing……sometimes you would see your child transform into someone you yourself would be inspired.

    I believe these all are about mind’s stimulation/ exercise as what said in Dr Michael Merzenich or the mapping of mind to see which of which is likely to precedence over the other. Maths would also teaching the child to rise up to challenge and be not afaid of abstract…..


    1. FZ – thanks again for the suggestions! You are a well of information 🙂 I will do. He does love music as well. Gavin at this age did as well, but I am hoping that Gareth’s interest is more deeply rooted.


  4. Once he gets older, and he is good in Maths/abstract, you may also check some of the very useful hands-on Maths tools, I got mine in Learning Resources, ( only get materials that are material to my teaching), they have a centre in Singapore ( cheaper postage compared to get it from UK ). Especially their Geometry sets, Algebra and all the Cubes for measurement. That were how I taught V when she was able to count freely with mental, then everything becomes easy to her, because of all subjects, Maths is the toughest to ” tell” young children….Your blog is really wonderful, hey, too good to be missed ! Thanks so much.


    1. Awesome! Thank you. I’ll look up Learning Resources, too. I have been looking around for places to source products. I figure that if hubby doesn’t want the children homeschooled, then the least I can do is continue to supplement what they do in school at home.


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