If you haven’t heard of this term before, a “busy bag” is a small bag with activities that a toddler or preschooler can do while on the go. (However, there’s nothing wrong with making one for a first-grader!)
You can take these busy bags on a road trip or to the pediatrician’s office if there might be a wait. Don’t forget the bag when you’re going to visit an adult friend and your child might get bored. You can also use it any other time you want to give your young child something to do on the go.
The Good Things About Making Up Games
Your toddler or preschool-aged child can make up their own games with the things in the busy bag. Playing with the benefits of imaginative play, such as giving kids a chance to plan. If something doesn’t go as planned during an activity, the child can switch gears and do something else with the objects. Imaginative play can help your child remember things and learn to think about things in a more general way.
Putting together the busy bag
You can just use an ordinary paper bag to store things, or you can get creative and add the child’s name, pompoms, old buttons, and their handprint that you traced and cut out of construction paper. Use your imagination! Teaching Mama gives a fun, inexpensive ideas to help you think of ways to decorate.
Putting more things in the busy bag
Books to color: A lot of kids enjoy drawing and coloring. Put crayons in a box. Then add some blank paper or a coloring book.
Free Printables: You can find free printables online that match your child’s interests, like dinosaurs, planets, cars, dogs, and more. You can also give your child a glue stick and pre-cut shapes from construction paper so that he or she can make a masterpiece or two.
Stuffed animals: If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or another small toy, you can put it in the busy bag to keep your child busy.
Blocks: A set of blocks can help your child use his or her imagination, and a pack of flashcards will let your child have fun matching colors, numbers, days of the week, or animals. Depending on how old your child is, you can bring one or two of their favorite books.
Plastic Eggs: You can add a few colorful plastic eggs that you can open in half. These are often sold around Easter time. Put “1” on both sides of one egg, “2” on both sides of the next egg, and so on. Put them in the busy bag, and your child will be able to put them back together. You can also hide things in the eggs that won’t get swallowed, which can change the game in a big way.
Matchbox cars can be fun for kids, especially if you make a “road” on a piece of construction paper for them to drive on. It’s a fun way to get better at moving your body.
Miscellaneous Items: Put different things in each sandwich bag. Then tell your child to make up a story about these things. Put rainbow-colored foam beads in a sandwich bag and add a piece of string so your preschooler can make a necklace.
As long as the things in the bag aren’t small enough to be swallowed or not right for the child’s age, there’s really no wrong way to make and pack a busy bag.