Things You Can Make

A homemade tabletop mobile using a milk crate, paint brushes and rollers, and carabiners.
A homemade tabletop mobile using a milk crate, paint brushes and rollers, and carabiners.

One of the common concerns we frequently encounter is that many of the items are very expensive to purchase. There are many good reasons for this, the primary one being that Dr. Nielsen researched her designs to determine the best materials and configuration to insure safety standards and also achieve maximum feedback for the child’s movements. However, she approved of many homemade materials as well and even offered some of the design parameters such as the Resonance Board. 

We encourage you to consider making some of these items; many of which cannot be purchased such as wrist scarves, cummerbunds, or bunchers. You may also want to recruit help in making these items from family members, civic and volunteer organizations such as scouts, or school vocational education programs. Be sure to do your own quality control on these homemade items and that anyone making these items knows exactly what you want the equipment to look like.

General Information

Caution must be used to determine appropriate items to be used with any device whether homemade or purchased from LilliWorks.  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. No child should be left unsupervised while playing with or in any Active Learning device or environment.

Because a great amount of research was done by Dr. Nielsen to design the equipment used in Active Learning, we strongly recommend that you purchase authentic equipment from LilliWorks, the authorized dealer in the United States. However, there are a number of things that you can make on your own quite easily. Plans for making these items are on individual pages linked to the list in the left-hand navigation area of this page.

Points to Consider

When making items it is important to consider these things:

    • The learner’s skill level – If you know what the learner can do with his/her body, especially the mouth, face, hands, arms, trunk, legs and feet, you can select materials that match the learner’s developmental skill level.  Completing the Functional Scheme assessment will assist in this area.
    • The number of objects – An Active Learning environment must have large quantities and various types of items.  You can’t have too many.  
    • What the objects/materials are made of – In order for any learner to understand the characteristics of our world, he/she must interact with objects of various materials (e.g.different size, shape, weight, temperature, texture, flexibility, and so forth).
    • What the object/environment can do – Can the object be bent, make an interesting noise when banged, or have a smell or taste?  Look for objects that have multiple features that might appeal to the learner and create environments that may be used in a variety of ways.