Need help with plans for steps for my 3 yr old - pls read

This prob is the wrong group, but my son was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor (3 days after his 3rd birthday) and has had surgery and just last week started his first round of chemo (this will be a long process). His brain tumor is medulloblastoma which is a malignant tumor that affects balance in addition to other areas. He needs physical therapy but doesn't work well with the therapists and I would like to make him what he needs at home. He needs steps that go up - a bridge to walk across - and steps that go down again (he needs to pick up puzzle pieces at one end and put them in the puzzle at the other end. The steps in the therapy room are only about 3 inches deep (step to step) and about one foot of step...and there's 8 up and 8 down. Not sure if that's that important. I also need to make him a balance beam (I think I can do that on my own - they want 80 for one at the store!).
Thanks for any help that you can give me.
His carepage is at www.carepages.com and search for johnathondoerr if you'd like to see it.
Teri
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"sweetsurprisesbyteri" wrote

So sorry to hear that Teri. For you question, this group is as close as any since you ask how to build something.

Clarify for me? 3 inches up and 1 foot or so across? It's ok if not used to building things with the words we use here, but with a 3YO I kinda suspect you meant 3 inches up/down and 8-12 inches across. This would mean the top of the structure is about 24 inches high (8 steps worth). Otherwise you'd have a structure 8 feet tall if you meant 12 inches up/down!
Main problem is going to be 'where to put it'. You do not mention your climate or house size but to make it 12 inches across where the foot goes, and 16 of them plus a bit of a bridge, then room for a puzzle of some sort at each end, you are gonna need a very big room. 24ft *minimum* but could be along the wall of a big room? Best would be outdoors if your climate allows for it. (Could actually be rather nice looking over a brook or something like a plastic fish pond).
Worst case scenario, has to be inside and no way to get 24ft run. You'll have to go with fewer than 8 steps then with 1x5 (or 1x6) inch boards. You will not find a precut stringer for a 3 inch rise.
http://jself.com/stair/straight/Stringer.htm
That link shows what a stringer is and how to cut one. I think in your case though, some 2x4 wood cut to supports (up/down legs) with another 2x4 longways to tie them all together firmly would work better and be easier.
Using 2x4, Cut 8 pieces (4 per step) at 1 inch less than the total rise of the step. First set will be but 2 inches, next will be 5 inches, then , then 8, 11, 14, 17, 21, 24 (check my math, each should be 3 inches taller than last set). Build the 2 bottom supports separately then nail or bolt a 2x4 (could be 1x2 for indoors but it's easier to just stick with one size and get lots of the same wood), measuring carefully so a 10-12 inch board piece fits snugly (this will be what he steps on, by your dimensions, 12 inches). _____ _____| | | || | side view
I'm no great artist here but the up/down are the 2x4 legs and the across part is the 12 inch step (or 10 if you think it can be reduced to make it all fit inside).
When you get to the 5th step, you may want to make a second stabilizer across it all
(cant figure out how to draw that)
With the proper tools to cut the wood and a ruler, this is actually a pretty easy project. Once you have the sides made (cheater stringer really), you just stand them up then with evenly cut steps, nail them down to it. For the longer center part, just make more of the taller 'legs' and nail more 'floor/stepping' wood.
To add rails, use more 2x4 along the outside to go high enough then angle cut the top so you can run some railing / (less angled than that) or PVC pipe might be stable enough if well anchored.
Sand the whole thing down then paint it bright colors appealing to a child in a shiney paint.

Railroad tie would be perfect. Use angle brackets to bolt this to the floor or if that isnt a good idea, to some plywood and place it on carpet. The plywood is to keep it from turning over. X|__ are the shape of the brackets I am thinking of and the X is the railroad tie. Most garden stores have them.
Hope this helps! Kinda fun to type up. How big is the biggest space you have to use?
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cshenk wrote:

...
No, rr ties are treated and not particularly level/square for a kid w/ difficulty in balance and coordination. Not to mention the sheer heft, that wouldn't be a good choice at all.
--
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sweetsurprisesbyteri wrote: ...

... Tough break for the kiddie and his folks--sorry to hear it. :( Good luck w/ treatment and the rehab...
Others have already talked about the size problem but one would presume it could be cut down some altho as somebody else noted, perhaps the pro's know better or it may just be they have the resources and room.
For making something, albeit probably somewhat smaller, I'd suggest you could make the stringers by cutting them out of 3/4" ply and then make the stringers w/ 1X boards since a 3-yr old won't need much weight support. It wouldn't be too difficult to do that w/ just a jigsaw or handsaw and be lighter than 2X stuff.
--
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Sorry took so long to reply. As far as his therapy - it was their recommendation to do it at home and the only steps we have are narrow spiral. We could use the exercise stepper (single plastic step) and I have been using that - she gave me a list of items I needed - a 4" thick tumbling mat, a huge ball, a balance board, a balance beam along with others. Because of his age and the treatment, they don't want us at the therapy center any more than we need to be as his counts will be dramatically impacted resulting in needing transfusions every couple weeks, etc. They need me to keep his musle tone up and gave me the instructions on what to do. They have a 1 acre play yard and we live in TX so we can be outside most of the year. I am also doign the foam blocks for inside - his treatment will be longer than 1 year and we're unsure how much he'll lose because of radiation. They want him working daily on doing his therapy = but making it a game - he has a brother thats only 16mo older so he "helps" me by participating in the play. I called and there were only 4 steps up and 4 steps down - I just couldn't rememb er.....
Thank you so much for all your replies and words of wisdom.
Teri
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"sweetsurprisesbyteri" wrote

Understandable Teri.

(snips)
Good, that helps alot.

Much easier to manage there. I think with only 4 steps, I'd just use 2ftx2ft 'stepping stones' which come in 3 inch depths and make some fairly thick 'slipcovers' for them of blankets and such. These could be moved about to provide variety which he needs to maintain interest. In dry weather, can be used outside too.
You can probably find something like this in firm foam as well?
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