So I have promised that February would be dedicated to therapy, and due to a couple requests, the OT activity lap table is going to be the first post. This is a table you can easily do on your own. You can also purchase a plastic lap table. Our OT brought us one that she got at Savers and you can probably get this or something similar on Amazon. However, you won’t easily be able to customize it or add activities to it.
Large sturdy cardboard box (wide and tall enough) – not flimsy or else it won’t hold up
Knife or box cutter
Shelf paper or sturdy wrapping paper
Glue if using wrapping paper
Lacing beads (optional)
Strips of fabric or plastic bag
Before you proceed, make sure no little ones are around to 1.) hurt themselves 2.) cause you to hurt yourself since you will be cutting into the box with a sharp object!
Measure how tall you want the lap table to be. You will want enough clearance to be comfortable for your child to sit up and put his or her legs underneath. You will also want to choose a box that is wide enough to have enough space for all your “activities.” You can also use this to hold toys while they sit up, however, I wouldn’t put anything heavy on it. For that purpose, I would look into getting a plastic lap table such as the one shown here on amazon (click to view). Our OT picked one up at Savers for $3 that we are borrowing so shop around!
Take a plate (the plastic children ones are good) to draw a semi-circle where your child’s torso is going to sit while at the table. Or if you have a steady hand, draw a semi-circle on the long side of the box. Take a box cutter or knife and carefully cut out this semi-circle being careful not to cut down towards the ground. At the mid-point of the semi-circle, cut straight down so as to make space for your child’s legs. Bend back these tabs so that they are not in the way. If you prefer, you can also tape cut down paper towel rolls for added stability. We didn’t since Luke was old enough to hold himself fairly upright by the time our OT made this table for us. If you have a child that still needs quite a bit of support to sit up, reinforcing may not be a bad idea. Just remember to reinforce in an area that doesn’t get in the way of his legs or feet. See picture below.
Step 3: Cover up the box with adhesive shelf paper or thick, sturdy wrapping paper (using glue or lots of tape!), kind of like wrapping up a strangely shaped present. You may want to reinforce seams and corners with tape.
Step 4: Plan where you want the activities to be on your table. For Luke, I wanted to have the beads and bag easily within reach, however, have the beads be on laces long enough that we could knock them off the table so it was completely clear in case we wanted to use it as a play table. Luke loves textures, so I wanted the plastic bag or strip of fabric to be close within reach. Also, think about how many things you want on there. You can also glue on different fabrics, however, if you are using shelf paper or anything with a glossy surface, glue may not adhere well. So I would also cut a hole/slot so that you can thread the fabric through the cardboard. You can also knot the fabric/bag/shoelace at both ends so that the child can pull the fabric out, although you will have to reach underneath to reset the fabric to be pulled again. Or you can place 2 slots close to one another and just thread the fabric or bag through one slot and up through the other. That way, your child can pull both ends without having to reach underneath to reset. Feel free to include wooden beads for extra play. If you are using shoelaces or thinner fabric, remember to keep the slots narrow so that there is some resistance when they are pulling at them. Pulling shouldn’t be impossible, but it shouldn’t be too easy or it won’t be much of an exercise or very challenging.
Step 5: Once you know where everything is going to be, take your knife/box cutter and make the necessary slots and holes. Thread the laces, beads, fabrics, plastic bags, etc. through. See picture below.
Step 6: Turn over and test out your creation. Make sure that any knots you made are big enough where it won’t pull out from the cardboard. Remember to knot any “loose items” at both ends so that they stay put. The nice thing about this table is that it is made out of recycled items, plus completely customizable! You can also rotate out different fabrics, beads, etc. as you wish.