Latch Boards, Two Ways

If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen my latest DIY project – a latch board! And by my project, I really mean my husband’s project, since he did all of the work on this one. It’s a material I hope will be used by many children throughout its life – my own children, nephews, nieces, children of friends and visitors, and the children I teach. As you can see, the board is getting quite a bit of use already…

The looks of concentration and intrigue here are priceless. My son and nephew are two very different children in terms of play style, personality, and toy preference... and yet they are both drawn to this material. I think it's because all children are curious about the world around them – and a latch board (as well as other Practical Life activities) is designed to mirror that world!

The looks of concentration and intrigue here are priceless. My son and nephew are two very different children in terms of play style, personality, and toy preference... and yet they are both drawn to this material. I think it's because all children are curious about the world around them – and a latch board (as well as other Practical Life activities) is designed to mirror that world!

A latch board, lock box, or other such material is a wonderful extension of the Practical Life curriculum. It hones fine motor skills, strengthens concentration, and offers the opportunity to practice the use of real-world objects. What kinds of objects might you find on a latches and locks activity? Light switches, deadbolts, chain locks, window latches, carabiners, keys, faucet knobs… the list goes on and on for latch board possibilities!

If you’re the handy type and are looking for your next weekend project, there’s really no reason to buy this type of material ready-made. We modeled ours loosely after the TAG toys one (no. 2 in the image below) and saved about $60 doing it ourselves. Everything needed for this project can be purchased at a hardware store (my husband went to Lowe's). We already had some wood left over from a previous project, but if you don’t have anything that will work, here is a great option for around $20. 

Now it’s time for a small reality check. Maybe the term DIY isn’t exactly in your vocabulary. You have three kids, you say? Can’t spare 20 minutes to shower, let alone two hours to bust out the power drill? Or maybe you don’t own a power drill. Well, I’ve done some research for you! Here are six latch and lock options, ready to be purchased, presented, and inspected. Prices range from around $20 to $120, so there’s a solid option for pretty much every budget.

The two TAG toys options are very high quality and closest to what you might find in a Montessori classroom. If you prefer that simpler aesthetic, the Melissa & Doug options may seem a bit busy-looking. At such a low price, though, you could easily take a can of spray paint (being sure to tape off the actual hardware) and perform a “makeunder” of sorts. Those peek-a-boo boxes are really nice fusion of Practical Life and imbucare (the name given to object permanence materials used in infant environments). The Etsy board looks like a great travel option; at 16 inches square, it would fit really well in a little one’s lap. 

There you have it; two ways to get a latch board for your child. Whether you make one or buy one, the benefits are the same.