Introduction: Light Switch for Toddlers

If your kids are old enough to be trusted with turning on and off the lights, but are not yet tall enough, this will bring the light switch down to their level, while still leaving it up where you can reach it. I don't remember if I was inspired by another project I saw somewhere, or if I just dreamed it up all by my lonesome. Either way it came in real handy for the last few years. I recently disassembled the ones I made since my youngest can now reach the switch on his own, so I don't have a picture of the finished project. Sorry. The drawing should still give you the idea.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Materials
light switch (thicker ones work better)
wire coat hanger (thicker/stiffer ones work better for this, too)
wooden dowel or bead ~ 1/2" diameter

Tools
saw
screw driver
drill
pliers
wire cutters
hot glue gun
sand paper

Step 2: Make the Push-pull Toggle

If you have a bead that already has a hole in it, you are golden. If not, cut a piece of dowel ~1/2" long. Drill a hole slightly wider than the thickness of the coat hanger wire through the axis of the piece. You might want to round the edges off a bit with sandpaper.

Step 3: Prepare the Switch

You're going to drill a hole in the light switch, so if it is still in use, you'd better take it out. Turn off the circuit that includes this switch at the circuit breaker. This is an absolute must. Really bad things will happen to you if you don't do this first.

Remove the light switch plate cover thingy. Remove the light switch. Disconnect the wires, but remember where they go before you do.

Drill a hole in the switch that is slightly larger than the diameter of the coat hanger wire, just like the bead. You can do it either top-to-bottom or side-to-side. I've done both, and side-to-side worked a little better for me.

Reconnect the wires to the same points. Reinstall the light switch. Replace the light switch plate cover thingy.

You may now turn the circuit back on.

Step 4: Assemble the Parts

Apologies for the drawing instead of a picture. As I said in the intro, I dismantled mine a few weeks ago - before joining Instructables.

Unwind the coat hanger and straighten it out. Measure the distance between the light switch and how high your kids can reach. Add an inch or so for each end to attach to the switch and to the bead, and cut that length of coat hanger.

Run one end of the hanger through the bead and wrap it around to hold the bead in place. If you want, a bit of hot glue can cover the end of the wire, to protect little hands.

Run the other end through the hole in the light switch and wrap the coat hanger around there. Again. a bit of hot glue might be in order to cover the end of the wire.

Step 5: Sit Back While Your Kids Turn on Their Own Light.

The coat hanger needs to be stiff, since turning the light on depends on the ability to push the wire up without bending it. One of mine was thinner than the other and it ended up a little curved over time. I had to keep straightening it out.

I said a side-to-side hole worked better above, because when the wire is pushed up that works better. Top-to-bottom also works, if you've done a good job wrapping the wire tightly around the switch.

Comments

author
Bigev (author)2009-06-08

I love your idea of mapping the circuits in your house! it looks like you have all the outlets and switches covered and labeled. I might be using that someday.

author
baggot (author)2009-06-07

Why couldn't you drill the hole with the switch still attached?? seems like a waste of time to go through all that when you are simply putting a tiny hole in plastic. I would replace step three with text saying drill hole through switch. (you would have to drill from the door jamb side to avoid the drill chuck from scuffing your wall but this would save you a lot of time.) While you had the switch out you should have replaced it with a new one.. they are 58cents at Lowes and yours look pretty grungy. the plate is like 45cents.

author
loximuthal (author)baggot2009-06-08

I suppose I could have drilled while the switch was still installed. I didn't feel confident enough in my ability to preserve the pristine fixtures and wall, though. Actually, the switch/plate/wall look as they do because we are just too lazy to finish re-furbishing that bathroom. I think part of it is, the kids will just grunge it up again in about 20 minutes, so why bother. You should see the rest of the house. Actually, you shouldn't.

author
nachobobs (author)baggot2009-06-07

Can I get some cheese with that whine...................

author
baggot (author)nachobobs2009-06-07

Why is that whining? Do you like doing unnecessary steps in an instructable? Nice use of a tired old saying too... what are you 90?

author
Lithium Rain (author)baggot2009-06-07

*You* sound like a crotchety old 90 year old, yelling at everyone and whipping his cane in the air...

author
baggot (author)Lithium Rain2009-06-07

Get off my lawn! you bunch of whippersnappers. Candy bars used to be a penny. When I was your age i had respect for my... ZZZZ zzzz ZZZZ I think you guys are adding a lot of creative interpretation to the tone of my comment.

author
Lithium Rain (author)baggot2009-06-07

All I mean is I think the user above me was joking...not serious. :-)

author
Lithium Rain (author)nachobobs2009-06-07

Win!

author
kelseymh (author)2009-06-07

This is a really nice design! There are commercial products out there with _two_ pull cords and a pulley, but a single action is much better for toddlers.

You can also buy light switch extenders as either assistive technology or children's products. These screw on over an existing switch (good for renters).

Coming up with your own design is always better :-)

author
loximuthal (author)kelseymh2009-06-08

Now that you posted that link, I think that might have been where I got my idea. I just figured "why spend the $$, when I've got a drill and some coat hangers laying around".

author
Musicman41 (author)2009-06-07

Why don't you just use two switches. One highter for you and one lower for the kids. Im not sure what it is called. I think its called a "double through, double pull switch" or something.

author
rimar2000 (author)2009-06-07

Good work, good idea, but I think you are doing too much emphasis on the bead. The bead is absolutely dispensable, the main thing is the stiff wire.

author
kelseymh (author)rimar20002009-06-07

The bead is good for small children with limited grasp. My daughter has trouble holding our regular spoons (narrow metal handle), but users her own spoon with a thick plastic handle without difficulty.

author
Lithium Rain (author)kelseymh2009-06-07

Also, the wire could poke little hands and eyes! Eek!

author
loximuthal (author)kelseymh2009-06-07

Yup. Something stiff and something to hold on to. If those are the same thing, more power to ya'. Paradoxically, little hands need big handles. The way of the world, I guess.

author
agdollison (author)2009-06-07

have a dowel rod on a hook so that you can push up on it to turn the light on and off

author
loximuthal (author)agdollison2009-06-07

I'll be that works really well. And you don't have to worry about the rod bending like the wire sometimes does with enthusiastic kids :)

author
lemonie (author)2009-06-06

Good idea - can you add a picture of the finished pull? L

author
loximuthal (author)lemonie2009-06-06

I wish I could. But, as I said in the intro, I took mine appart a few weeks ago, before joining Instructables. The parts are long gone. I'm adding a few comments to the final image and expanding the final step. I hope that clarifies things some.

author
lemonie (author)loximuthal2009-06-06

Could you thread a bit of string through the hole in the switch and put something on the end? It would complete this nicely. L

author
loximuthal (author)lemonie2009-06-07

You certainly could thread a string through the hole in the switch, but then you could only use it to turn the light off. Only half as useful, I think.

author
Kiteman (author)2009-06-07

Nice idea.

It would be good if you could recreate the project so that you can add a less-confusing final image (for those members who don't actually read what you've written...).

author
agdollison (author)2009-06-06

i thought the bead was an olive

author
Gorfram (author)agdollison2009-06-07

I thought it was a lemon - I was really wondering how a lemon-battery powered (lamp, presumably) was going to work to help toddlers switch lights on & off. :)

author
CameronSS (author)2009-06-06

Have you figured out an easy way for them to turn off the lights, too?

author

That's not string, that's the coat hanger. They just have to push the bead up to turn it off (probably vice versa).

author

I do better when I actually read the text.

...but, as lemonie said, a picture of the end result would have told me that at a glance.

About This Instructable

26,547views

5favorites

More by loximuthal:Ginger Ale SyrupLight Switch for Toddlers
Add instructable to: