Alice is now approaching 17 months old and for most of her life so far (bar those sleepy newborn days) she’s been quite hard to keep entertained. Though nursery tell me she plays well on her own, at home she gets frustrated and wants constant stimulation. I mentioned this to a mum friend a few months ago and she told me she’d bought a second hand Fun Pod for her toddler and it had revolutionized their lives. Fun Pods also known as Learning Towers are elevated enclosed plastforms that toddlers can stand in to see what is happening at kitchen counter height. They are about £100 to buy new, but occasionally they pop up on eBay. I actually found a second hand one being sold, but chickened out of bidding at the last moment, because I worried it was going to be just another unnecessary “toy” to clutter up the house.
Of course I instantly regretted not trying to buy it, but then I discovered an Ikea hack which is arguably better than the Fun Pod, customisable and cheaper, so we decide to try making it.
This hack is based on the Ikea Bekvam step stool which costs £13 and there are loads of tutorials online which show different approaches to customising it, but we based our hack on this DIY at Happy Grey Lucky and made a few modifications.
The full list of things you need are in the original post, but basically it’s constructed out of a few bits of wood and a dowel rod, which are easy and cheap to buy from your local DIY store. We did debate modifying the dowel rod so it could be lifted up and down for Alice to get in and out, but decided if it could be opened, it could also be left open and therefore be unsafe. Alice got the hang of climbing under the bar on the first day and hasn’t stopped climbing in and out since.
The tower was sprayed with Pinty Plus Evolution acrylic spray in white. I actually started by painting it with a brush using leftover paint from our spare bedroom makeover, but because you never get the same result with a brush as you do with a spray, I ended up partially sanding it down and starting again with the spray.
We made two modifications to the design. We took about half an inch off the height of the frame on top, so that the finished tower is short enough to tuck under the worktop in the kitchen. This means it fits neatly in a corner half under the worktop and out of the way when it is not being used.
The second modification we made was using Plastidip to make the feet of the Bekvam non-slip. Plastidip is an amazing product which is sold in the UK by the same company who supplied me with the spray chalk paint I have been using for projects recently.
You can use it to coat anything in plastic and it has an incredible number of uses. It comes in both a spray can and a dipping tin, the latter we used for this project. You literally just dip the legs in the tin, let the excess drip off and leave it to dry. As an added bonus you can pick from a range of colours and either make it transparent or, as we did, a bit of a design feature.
Creating non-slip feet is a bit of a double edged sword, on the one hand it definitely makes the tower safer and impossible to topple over, but it also means Alice can no longer push it round the kitchen the floor as easily, so you do have to bear that in mind when you make your choices about the hack.
I can’t over-emphasise was a huge success the end result has been, it gets used every single day multiple times a day. Food preparation has gone from being a stressful hurried thing to something which is part of family time. We are already saying the tower is something which will be going in the loft to keep for the next generation!