Thursday, February 17, 2011

DIY- Balance Beam

Recently my husband and I have been looking for ways to liven up our back yard. Now that the weather is starting to get nice again I know I really need to get the boys out and moving! We're hoping to get a swingset at some point, but until budget allows I thought why not make our own balance beam!

Here's the finished product.

It's certainly nothing fancy, but Dude is really having a good time with it! And I love the fact that he's unknowingly working on improving his balance and coordination.

So far we've played a few games of having him step over a bean bag, but I'm hoping to come up with more fun ways to use it in the future. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!

I'm sure there are LOTS of ways you could do this simple project, but I'll share how we did it in case anyone would like to know. We bought:

2 8' pre-treated 4x4s
3 3/8" x 8" carriage bolts
3 3/8" galvanized washers
3 3/8" nuts

The total cost for us was just over $20.

As for the assembly, well it was very, very simple. It was literally maybe a 20 minute project. Here's how my husband did it.

1. Cut  1 4x4 into 3 equal sections. That's 32 inchees each if you get an 8 foot post like we did. (If you don't have a saw you could probably get this done at your local home improvement store when you buy your materials.)
2. Measure the other 4x4 and mark where you want the 3 bottom supports to be. We put 1 in the middle and 1 about 6" from either end. (Ok, honestly we didn't measure and ours is noticably off, but it really doesn't matter.)
3. Drill a 3/8" hole at each of the 3 marked points in the 8 foot post. Drill 1 3/8" hole in the middle of each of the 32" support beams.
4. Push the carriage bolts through the holes of the 8 foot beam. A hammer may help with this step. My husband assembled ours on the garage floor and flipped the post over during this step and pushed and hammered the post down on top of the bolt.
5. Push the 3 support beams down onto the carriage bolts perpendicular to the main beam.
6. Add a washer and nut to each bolt and tighten.

8. Flip aparatus over. It isn't absolutely necessary, but if you want to sink the bolt heads into the beam a little farther to make for a more even walking surface, you can hammer them down some and retighten the nuts as needed.
7. That's It! Thank your wonderful husband! And enjoy your new balance beam!

Some other ideas for making a balance beam:
Use painters tape to make a line on the floor for your child to walk on, indoors or out.
Use a 2x4 laid flat on the ground for a lower alternative. You could also wrap it in towels or staple on a carpet remnant to make it safer for younger tots.



  1. My daughter takes "gymnastics", and as far as beam activities go they walk forwards, sideways, and backwards. The bean bag idea is always a big hit, once he masters stepping over you can move to hopping. You can also pretend to be animals: crawl like a bear or stand like a flamingo.

  2. Thanks for all the ideas! I would have never thought of pretending to be an animal, but it sounds like lots of fun!


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