What do you do with a very mobile, very explorative one-and-three-quarter-year-old who needs and wants stretching in the mobility department, but who is yet too small for stilts, scooters and tricycles (the latter literally – he cannot reach the pedals with his feet!)?
We found this game in the local library. It consists of two foamy animal feet with ropes attached to them, with the aim of coordinating feet and eyes to lift both at the same time and teach balancing on one foot in a toddler-friendly way.
For weeks now I have contemplated making our own, and today I finally did it. It only took an hour to make, was good fun, too, and the boy loves playing with his new feet. I only used what I already had lying around; so the total cost for me was £0.
Here’s what you need to make your own:
- a big piece of strong, stiff card or two smaller ones
- 4 pieces of thick, corrugated card
- 8 foam sheets (2×2 each of coordinating colours – I used orange and black)
- PVA glue
- 1 ball of thick household string
- 1 thick pipe cleaner
- Duct tape (any colour – you won’t see it)
- insulating tape (stretches and bends better)
- pencil, pen
Draw a very simple foot pattern onto 1/2 the card free-hand. Cut it out and transfer onto the other card. Really keep the pattern simple; you’ll be doing this again lots of times.
Transfer the pattern for each foot onto two pieces of corrugated card and two random foam sheets each. Decide where the holes for your string are going to be and use a pencil to push through the strong card and one piece of corrugated card each.
Decide on the length of string you want for your toddler. Time the length by eight and cut the string, then halve it, so you end up with two lengths of string the same size.
Tie both ends of one piece of string together, hook onto a piece of furniture or secure it otherwise (I used the foot of an armchair), then twist the string while holding it taut until it begins twisting in the middle. Halve the string with your finger and allow it to twist it around itself to become a rope-like shape. Tie the ends and feed them though the holes in the card, then the corrugated card.
Use another small piece of string to tie the two ends together; this will ensure that any force is passed between the ropes evenly and that the rope isn’t pulled out at either end.
Cut a small hole into each piece of foam sheet where the string is protruding. Fix the string with a little bit of insulating tape. Don’t worry if some is still sticking out; the corrugated card and foam will mold around the string in time.
If you are happy with the layers, add a generous amount of PVA glue to each layer, stick the leftover corrugated card foot to the bottom of each foot and leave to dry.
Stick small cuts of Duct tape around the edge and bottom of the of the feet until fully covered. This will smooth out the sides, add extra strength to each layer and the bottom of your feet.
Draw around your feet onto the four pieces of colour-coordinated foam, so you end up with one shape for the top and bottom of each foot.
Add the top layer to your feet by cutting into the side of the foam sheet until you reach the string and pulling the string through the gap. Seal the sides with insulating tape.
Do the same with the bottom. Adding in a bottom layer of foam will ensure that your child is less likely to slip on the floor and it will add more cushioning to any string bits still protruding.
Finalise by adding insulating tape to the top to create a simple animal pattern (tiger stripes in our case) and sealing the sides off with more insulating tape.
Thick pipe cleaner wrapped around the rope where your toddler is likely to grip the string makes the whole thing more comfortable and visually appealing, but is optional.