April 1, 2012

How to Build a Therapy Ball Rack (and a Bonus Project!)

As promised, here is the tutorial for building a cheap-o therapy ball rack for your Sensory Break Center. I use mine to store two different size therapy balls and two different size hippity hops (only one is pictured because I'm currently patching a leak!). You can use this basic format to make your rack whatever size you need to accommodate your therapy balls.

Materials you'll need:
3/4" PVC pipe
8 - 3 way connectors
4 - "T" connectors
8 - threaded connectors (optional depending on your 3 way connectors)
4 - caps
PVC pipe cutter

Basic Directions: 
1.  Decide how many balls you want to store on each level of the rack. Measure the diameter of the balls. You will want to plan to create your racks about 2-4" narrower than the diameter of the balls.

2.   Use the PVC cutter to cut 4 pieces of pipe to the desired length and 4 pieces to the desired width of the top rack. Trust me... buying a PVC cutter is worth it! I've cut PVC with a saw before and you end up with really jagged edges. I think I spent about $10 on mine at Home Depot.  This is what you are looking for...

3.  Connect 2 longs and 2 shorts with the 3 way connectors (see #1 in the picture). This will form the  "frame" for the top rack.
3 way connector

4. Take the remaining 2 long pieces and cut them about 2" from the ends. You will connect the small piece that you just cut off into the 3 way connector and then join the remaining long piece with the "T" connector (see #3 in the picture). This allows you to add feet if you wish for the rack to stand off the ground.
T connector

5. My 3 way connectors were threaded on one end so I had to purchase the male adapters (see #2 in the picture). If your 3 way connectors are not threaded then you can skip this step.

Male adapter

6.  With your handy dandy PVC cutter, cut 4 pieces of pipe to the desired height of the bottom rack. Connect the top rack to the bottom rack.

7. Cut 4 pieces of pipe 3" long (see #4 in the picture). Connect them to the "T" connectors on the bottom rack and finish off with 4 caps (see #5 in the picture).
Caps for bottom of the feet

8. Once you know that you have all your parts cut correctly and fitting nicely, pull them apart and apply epoxy. Once it dries you will have a sturdy, inexpensive ball rack for your Sensory Break Center!

As a little bonus, I thought I'd show you my first PVC project. When I was working out of a crowded portable, I found it necessary to find a way to visually block off distractions in the room when working with students. I created screens from PVC and fabric and have been using them for years. They are great because they are lightweight and easy to store when not needed. At the end of the year when we have to pack up our classrooms for summer they are easy to take apart and store until the following year.

Materials needed:
3/4" PVC pipe
2 - "L" connectors
4 - "T" connectors
4 - caps
fabric the length and width of the screen plus 6" in width for seam allowances

1. Cut 2 pieces of pipe for the width of the screen.
2. Cut 2 pieces of pipe for the height minus 8-10" for the legs
3. Cut 2 pieces of pipe for the legs (8-10")
4. Cut 4 pieces of pipe for the feet (4-5")
5. Connect the side pieces to the bottom cross pieces using two of the "T" connectors.
6. Connect the lower legs to the bottom cross pieces at the "T".
7. Add two more "T" connectors and add the feet with caps.
8. Measure your frame and lay out your fabric. You want to sew two channels down the sides of the fabric about 1/2" wider than the diameter of the pipe. You want these channels to fit very snugly around the pipe. Once you have sewn the channels, slide it down over the side pipes and connect your top cross pieces with the two "L" connectors.

I use several of the screens in my room for various purposes. They block the Sensory Center when it is "closed", they screen students during work times who need to block out visual distractions, we can also move them into the bathroom for older students who are toilet training and need some privacy.

I hope these ideas help! ~Kelley


  1. I am so excited to see this idea!!! Will definitely be stealing!

  2. Feel free, Angie! Good luck!

  3. Was looking for an inexpensive way to make center dividers for my classroom. I think I just found it. Thanks for sharing!!! I will be saving your webpage into my favorites.

  4. This is such a great idea! Perfect for any classroom - it can divide different areas, and also make any area into a workstation. Thank you for the divider and the excellent directions.

  5. What dimensions did you make the privacy screen? Great idea, btw!

    1. Great question, KSK! I don't remember exactly, but I think it stood about 4' high by 3' wide. My classroom is packed up right now, but as soon as I can get into the building to unpack I will measure and post an answer. The great thing about this project is that you can really make them whatever size fits your space best!


  6. Fantastic idea! I am just researching DIY Room Dividers for my Beauty Salon and this is perfect as the fabric can be changed up when I get bored of it! Thank you so much :0)


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