DIY Activity Tower Tutorial

Hello! It’s a winter wonderland around these parts:

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Norah is still a little under the weather from her stomach bug, so we are laying low today.  I’m so happy that it’s a snow day!  I would have taken her to work today, but she is definitely benefitting from the extra day of rest.  We’ve done lots of snuggling and reading books (with a towel, in case of any, ahem, accidents…):

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Mike just left to pick up his parents from the airport.  They are coming into town for Kenzie’s baptism this weekend!  We are going to have dinner and watch some Netflix tonight before all of the festivities begin, and we’re looking forward to a fun weekend with family.

I’ve had a lot of questions from mom friends about the step stool that we use in our kitchen for Norah and I thought I would highlight how we made it in case anyone wants to try it, too!

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This step stool (or “activity tower” as it’s called in mom-world) has been a life-saver for us.  It seems like Norah was only so content to sit and play on the kitchen floor.  No matter how many toys I gave her or books she had, she would fuss and cry for attention.  Even handing her spoons, measuring cups, or pans wouldn’t pacify her.  I quickly learned that picking her up so that she could see what I was doing immediately calmed her down.  However, I just as quickly realized that it was hard to cook one-handed, I was always worried about her being on my hip when I was at the stove, and she would cry the minute I had to set her down to chop anything or take things out of the oven.

Awhile ago, I saw a pin on Pinterest about making your own “activity tower” and I finally got around to asking Mike to make one for us.  Once it was finished, Norah had a place to safely stand at counter height, and it’s been a game-changer.  She loves being able to see what I’m doing, and I love that she is out of the way if I need to load or unload the dishwasher or put something in the oven.

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He followed this tutorial and I have to say, our tower turned out great! All you need is an Ikea step-stool ($12), some wood screws ($4), a 1×4 ($2), and a dowel ($2). (Not too shabby, considering the ones you can buy from a store are almost $200!)  You basically add the 1×4 to the top of the stool to create a little “cage”.  This keeps Norah safe, as she is unable to fall backwards or slip off.  It took about two days to put together; one afternoon to build and sand the edges and one afternoon to paint it.  We found some leftover kitchen paint in the attic from the owners, so we decided to paint it the same green to match the walls. (In the above pictures, you can see what it looked like before we painted.)  The paint is high-gloss, so anytime Norah spills on it, it’s a cinch to wipe clean.  It also took a couple of days to teach her how to climb up or down it by herself, but now that she knows how, she quickly goes up or down, which is awesome if she drops something.

Norah is an amazing sous chef!  Like I said, she was extremely interested in what I was doing in the kitchen, so I started giving her little jobs to “help” me with dinner.  She loves to put chopped veggies into a colander for me to rinse, stir ingredients together, or her personal favorite: push the salad spinner!

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Norah also loves helping taste-test dinner.  One night, I was cutting up a pineapple for a salsa to go with pork, and I gave her the top of the pineapple and the core to play with.  (She even has her own little cutting board that I put all of her ingredients on….I need to work on getting her a little apron, too!)  The next thing you know, she had the whole pineapple core in her mouth!  She went to town, and spent a good 20 minutes before dinner gnawing on it.

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The activity tower has been great for other things as well.  Sometimes, I’ll just give her crayons and paper and she’ll happily color while I get chores done around the house, and I think it’s because she can see what I’m doing.  We’ve also loved having her at counter height when we do crafts or make things for our sensory table.  We made her Valentine’s at the kitchen counter and just this week we dyed pasta together for some sensory play.  I love that I don’t have to sit on the floor to make things with her anymore!  Much easier on my knees and the clean-up is infinitely faster!  (And, wow, I sound like my mother…)

We’re thinking of making another one for her bathroom so she can easily wash her hands and brush her teeth.  The possibilities are endless! If you use something like this with your little one, leave a comment, or let me know if you try to make one for yourself at home!

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