SPD DIY: Geoboards

By: Martianne Stanger

This post first appeared  in 2012 at the now defunct SPD Blogger Network blog.  I am re-sharing it here since the idea makes for a fun and easy DIY activity that can be adapted to any season.  Plus, it can be made with children and, then, used just about anywhere — in the car, at a park, on a rainy day inside, out on the lawn on a blanket…

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

This morning, just after I hung up from a phone call, my son called out, “Mom, there’s a little, sharp piece of glass on the floor.”  Knowing his baby brother and sister were in the room with him, I rushed to see what they had all gotten into, thinking maybe they’d knocked over a lamp. Instead, I found a glass broken half-in, half-out of the closet, surrounded by spilled ball pit balls.

My face betrayed my frustration and surprise. Glasses belong in the kitchen, not in the bedroom closet. My son explained, “Mom, I didn’t think it would actually beak.  I was just pretend-smashing it.”

Ahhh.  Breathe.  Don’t yell.  Try to keep the sharpness out of your tone and move everyone to safety so you can clean this mess. I coached myself.  Meanwhile, the phone rang, the Behavior Modification Specialist who had just arrived came into the room and, in less than 30 minutes, what had been a decent morning began to dissolve into chaos. (Isn’t that what always happens when you take one phone call, then troubleshoot what happens while you’re on the phone, just to have the phone ring again?)

Luckily, the chaos was short-lived and the clean-up a bit easier with our Behavior Mod specialist present as back-up.  So, the floor is again safe for walking and the children have been reminded about why we keep glasses in the kitchen even when Mommy is not home. (The glass, I understand, was brought to the kids’ room the night before while I was at work.) 

No harm was done.  In fact, there was a boon to it all: a sensory DIY was brought to the forefront of my mind.

What’s that DIY? A Geoboard!

It’s pretty obvious from the glass incident that my children are needing some pounding input.  So, I am thinking of adapting our Mini-Weather Geoboard from a few springs ago to a winter activity by making some new boards and adding a snowflake shape into the mix.

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Want to do similarly?  It’s not difficult:

Just get an old block and some push pins. Start each pin, and then if your child is up to it, let him or her hammer the pins in the pins the rest of the way. Make sure you wear goggles and use common sense because sometimes the pins will split or shatter. Or, you can also use a piece of scrap wood with nails or screws. Then grab some elastics and draw a snowflake shape on a card and you’re all set!

Depending on the size you make your geoboard, you can even make it into a Montessori-and-SPD-inspired activity bag, like this one we made before:

Mini Weather Geo-Board (Proprioception, Sensorial)

Image Credit: Training Happy Hearts

Proprioception activity for fingers (stretching rubber bands isolates the index and middle fingers and provides traction to those fingers), which helps with control of movement, reinforcement of shapes, motor planning, etc.

Activity Directions: Using the picture-word cards, try to create similar outlined shapes with the elastic on the mini geo-board.


(1) Make shapes freely.

(2) Use multiple elastics and layer the shapes.

(3) As a hammering or construction activity, make larger geo-boards together using scrap wood and nails or push pins.

(4) Practice numbers by challenging child to put elastic around a certain number of push pins.

(5) Use tweezers or other “pincer” grasp objects to move the elastic about.

Control of Error: unable to create shapes to own satisfaction

Bag Includes: 1 miniature block-and-push-pin geo-board, 1 elastic, 4 picture-word cards

Source Inspiration: Montessori Services

Seasonal Connection: seeing shapes in spring (or winter)

WARNING: Although intended for children to use somewhat independently, this activity includes a plastic bag, which may pose a suffocation hazard if placed over head and small objects which may present a choking hazard. Adult supervision is required.

Have fun, and please share your own sensory DIY ideas — especially ones the kids can be involved with making. Such activities not only speak to my son’s needs, but build on his strengths (while keeping him from breaking more glasses.)  Thanks!

UPDATE:  Sensory diet activities and other strategies have done wonders!  We have not had the need for Behavior Modification Specialists in our home for year and, thankfully, no one hammers at glasses anymore.  Mishaps, of course, still happen.  When they do, I do my best to reflect on what the root cause of the mishaps is and to act and react accordingly, just as I did the day this post was still written.  When I do, it helps so much!

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