Some children may benefit from use of an activity mobile.  Although not as properly equipped as a Little Room, these perceptual aids provide an easy way to hang items so that a child can independently manipulate the objects with his/her hands, feet or mouth. 

PVC Mobile

Tabletop Mobile

Commercially Available Mobiles

Wheelchair Mobiles

PVC Mobile


This mobile was constructed with 1 ½ inch PVC pipe.  You can choose to use a different diameter.  Make sure to select all pieces in the size you choose.

You will need:

Purchase a 10 foot long piece of PVC pipe 1 ½ inch diameter and cut into five equal pieces each 24 inches in length.  (This will make up the four legs and one center piece. (A & B)  You can make the legs longer if you would like the mobile to be taller.  Use sandpaper to smooth cut surfaces.

Preassemble all the pieces together to ensure the mobile will fit properly and all pieces line up.  Prior to gluing anything – it is important that the center piece and the elbow and wye fittings are in alignment, or the mobile legs will be crooked.  Clean all connection points with primer.

PVC Mobile Connections are shown related to the steps described in the text.First glue the center piece (B) to the elbow fittings (F).  When doing this, use a flat firm surface, such as a table.  Make sure that the elbow fittings rest flat on the table. 

Drill five holes through center piece equal distance from each other.  (You will attach the eye bolts after the entire unit is assembled – so make sure the holes are large enough for the eye bolts to go completely through.)  The eye bolt should be at the bottom, and the nut will go on top.

Glue the other end of the elbow fittings (F) to the double wye fittings (E).  When doing this, use a flat firm surface such as a table.  Make sure that the fitting rests flat on the table.

Glue one end cap (C) onto one leg (A).  Repeat for the other three legs. 

Optional Step:  You can now fill the legs with sand, which will help maintain the stability of the mobile once assembled.  The sand will add weight to the mobile.  You can choose to eliminate this step, but the mobile can tip over more easily without the sand.

Glue each leg (A) to the double Wye fitting (E).  Use the center hole of the wye fitting and one additional hole.  (Make sure you glue the legs to the same holes on both sides.)

Insert the plug (D) into the empty hole on the double wye fitting (E). (You can opt to glue the plug into place.)

Insert the eye bolts into the holes and secure using locking nuts.

Your mobile is ready to use.  

Download directions to make a PVC mobile (PDF format.)

For more information contact: Penrickton Center for Blind Children, 26530 Eureka Road, Taylor MI 48180 | | 734-946-7500 

Tabletop Mobile

This mobile was designed to allow a child who does not or is unable to bring his or her hands into midline and may also be seated in a wheelchair for much of the time to have access to various objects for exploration. The tabletop mobile can be placed to either side of the wheelchair on a table at the level the child can easily reach. In the video below, you see a young girl playing with a Table Top Mobile that contains a variety of brushes including toothbrushes, scrub brushes, paint brushes, and hair brushes.

Making Your Own Tabletop Mobile

To make a tabletop mobile you will need the following supplies:

  1. Three pieces of birch wood – size can vary depending on the size of the child, but item shown below is 22x11x1. 
  2. Four “L” brackets – length 5 inches
  3. 1/8” elastic – minimal width, use larger widths for children that have increased strength
  4. plastic tubing – large enough to cover elastic
  5. loop turner – available at JoAnn Fabric – for pulling elastic through tubing
  6. drill – to put holes in items to be placed on boards and to drill top of mobile
  7. Items to be attached to board
  8. dowel rods – minimum 1/4” diameter – cut slots in dowels for elastic to rest in
  9. router
  10. sander or sandpaper
  11. polyurethane

Dowel used in making the tabletop mobile.     

The picture on the left shows the dowel with the slit cut.      

Cut wood to appropriate length and sand.  Drill holes in top board.  Approximately 24 holes 3/8” in diameter.  With a router, cut two slits in back board – so the mobile can be secured to a table top or wheelchair tray with a strap.  Drill pilot holes for “L” bracket – position on the right and left sides of the mobile, top and bottom.  Assemble mobile using wood glue and wood nails.  Allow mobile to dry thoroughly.  Polyurethane mobile.

Attach elastic to the end of the item(s) to be attached.  Make sure that the length of elastic allows for the item to be brought up to a child’s mouth from its original location.  Cut a piece of tubing and using the loop turner, thread the elastic through the tubing.  Once the elastic is covered its entire length, tie the other end of the elastic to a piece of dowel rod that is approximately 1 ½ inches in length.   To attach the items to the mobile, slide the dowel rod through the hole and allow the dowel to lie flat on top of the wood.  To remove, turn the dowel perpendicular to the mobile and slide the dowel through the hole. 

Caution must be used to determine appropriate items to be attached to the mobile.  Do not use any items that pose a choking hazard, that are easily broken, or that have sharp edges.  The builder is responsible for the safety of the child using the equipment.

The items placed on a tabletop mobile are determined by the developmental level of the child or children to play with the board.  Evaluate items for sensory characteristics – visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and taste.  Evaluate an item for the skill needed to manipulate it – pushing, batting, grasping, pulling, taking apart, putting together, etc.  Ensure that items can be compared to others of size, weight, shape, etc.

A mobile that requires skills that are too developmentally high or too low for a child will not promote active learning, and may result in limited or stereotypical activity or no activity at all.


Lilli Nielsen, 1992, LilliWorks: Space and Self
Lilli Nielsen, 1989, LilliWorks: Spatial Relations in Congenitally Blind Infants
Lilli Nielsen, 1993, LilliWorks: Early Learning – Step by Step
Lilli Nielsen, 1998, LilliWorks: The FIELA Curriculum – 730 Learning Environments

For more information contact: Penrickton Center for Blind Children, 26530 Eureka Road, Taylor MI 48180 | | 734-946-7500

Download Tabletop Mobile directions in Word format.

Download Tabletop Mobile directions in PDF format.

Commercially Available Mobile  mobile

It is also possible to purchase a commercially-available mobile or toy frame and suspend items from it, depending on the size of the child. In the example on the right, beads and plastic plates hang from the plastic frame. Try to find mobiles that have more than plush toys that hang from them or add something that will clatter or make a noisy when it moves.  The image on the right was a commercially available infant mobile that has been modified to include items that will make noise when moved.

Wheelchair Mobile

This wheelchair mobile was created by Anouk Dirkse-de Kort of from the Netherlands.  Wooden spoons, toothbrushes, and a woven ball are suspended from a frame over the wheelchair.  Note that the wooden spoons and toothbrushes are in groups of 2-3.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have questions.

wheelchair mobile  mobile5


   mobile3    Mobile1  mobile2

Pinterest collage of mobile