Busy Bags: Toddler Activities In A Bag

by Melanie on December 5, 2013

Busy Bags

From left to right, top to bottom: 1. Pipe Cleaner Color Sorting, 2. Pipe Cleaner Straw Lacing, 3. Dry-Erase Pads, 4. Pom-Pom Color Matching, 5. Thank You Cards, 6. Brain Teasers, 7. Nuts & Bolts, 8. Memo Pad & Coloring Books, 9. Hooked On Phonics Smart Pen, 10. Popsicle Sticks Color Matching, 11. Puzzles, 12. Doodle Pad. (The last items pictured are accessories for some of the busy bags.)

For Thanksgiving, we had planned on making a big road trip to South Carolina to visit with family. I prepared a bin of 12 different busy bags to keep Rocket occupied on the road.

Unfortunately, the day before we were scheduled to leave, Rocket and I got sick. The next day, my husband got sick too… and then a rock cracked the entire front windshield of our truck while he was driving on the highway! Clearly, the trip just wasn’t meant to be.

It turned out to be a good thing that we stayed home. Whatever we caught was persistent and it would have ruined our vacation anyway. We really needed to chill out and rest, so that’s just what we did for our holiday weekend.

But the busy bags I’d created did not go to waste! It turns out that not only are busy bags awesome road trip activities, but they also make the perfect go-to toddler activities for sick days.

Rocket felt bad, but he’s still 2 and doesn’t tolerate boredom. He needed something he could work on without expending too much energy. And feeling under the weather myself, I needed something I could whip out for him without too much planning. The busy bags I’d made for the road trip really came in handy!

They were stored compactly in one bin as pictured below.

Busy Bags

I let Rocket decide which one he wanted to work on and he went through them all multiple times in our sick week!

Busy Bags

Choosing a busy bag.

 The options are truly endless for what you can put in a busy bag. Get creative! Use the materials that you have in your home and think about what your child loves to do. There are so many things you can make from scratch to keep your toddler entertained. But you don’t have to make everything yourself. As you’ll see below, there are also many toys and activities that you already have that can be included.

Here is a closer look at the 12 bags we had in our bin.


 

1. Pipe Cleaner Color Sorting Busy Bag

Activity In The Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Craft pipe cleaners cut up into small sections, in 4 different colors
  • Container with color-coded lid to match the pipe cleaner sections

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

He concentrated intently on matching the pipe cleaners to the correct colors on the lid. This is a nice fine motor skill activity!

 

2. Pipe Cleaner Straw Lacing Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Craft pipe cleaners, in 4 different colors
  • Cut-up sections of straws, in 4 different colors

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

This was a different take on lacing/stringing activities. It was his first time using straws on pipe cleaners.

Busy Bags

He matched the straw colors to the appropriate pipe cleaners.

 

3. Dry-Erase Pads Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Various dry-erase pads (I bought most of these from Target’s $1 section)
  • Dry-erase markers
  • A wiping cloth

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

Rocket has been into handwriting a lot lately, so these pads made a fitting busy bag for his personal interests.

 

4. Pom-Pom Color Matching Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Color-coded ice tray
  • Pom-poms, in colors matching the ice tray
  • Foam stars, in colors matching the ice tray
  • Porcupine balls, in colors matching the ice tray

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

There were 3 types of items to choose from for color matching.

Busy Bags

He had so much fun working on this one!

Busy Bags

Placing the red star in the red compartment of the ice tray.

 

5. Thank You Cards Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • A list of people who need thank you cards for Rocket’s 2nd birthday party (for my reference, not his)
  • Colorful index cards (for writing thank yous)
  • Thank you cards with envelopes
  • A variety of sticker sheets
  • A variety of pens

Activity Contents Laid Out:

Busy Bags

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

Rocket had a blast decorating these cards with stickers and drawings! I will address them and include a written thank you on the index cards after he adds his touch to the cards.

 

6. Brain Teasers Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Bafflers puzzles. (This was a gift from Gramps & O Pho for Rocket’s birthday. I’m not sure where they got these, but he loves trying to solve the different puzzles!)

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

Examining the puzzle.

Busy Bags

Shaking one of the water puzzles.

Busy Bags

“Daddy!” He called from the schoolroom. We raced in from the kitchen to see this neat pile he’d stacked all by himself!

Busy Bags

Stacking these puzzles on top of each other became his favorite thing to do with them.

Busy Bags

He was so engaged in stacking that I took out our ASL wooden blocks to add to the mix.

Busy Bags

He was particularly sick and sniffly this day, though you’d never know it from these photos!

 

7. Nuts & Bolts Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Large nuts, bolts, washers, & wingnuts from Home Depot. (We originally bought these as tot tools for Hammer Week.)

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

Turning a nut onto the screw.

Busy Bags

Slipping on a large washer.

 

8. Memo Pad & Coloring Books Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • A couple of our smaller coloring books
  • A memo pad that Rocket chose from the store
  • Crayons
  • Pens & pencils

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

He’s been really into writing and drawing lately, so I let him pick out his own memo pad at the store. This music fanatic chose one with a picture of a radio on the front! He really enjoys having his very own memo pad.

 

9. Hooked On Phonics Smart Pen Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Hooked On Phonics sheets
  • Hooked On Phonics Smart Pen (This was a gift set from a Montana family friend. I’m not sure where she got it or I’d share a link here for you!)

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

The “Smart Pen” makes a buzzing noise or a “Try Again!” when he chooses the wrong option and various congratulatory words when he gets it right.

Busy Bags

While I couldn’t find this particular set to share with you, Hooked On Phonics makes many other great educational products for toddlers and young children.

 

10. Popsicle Sticks Color Matching Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Colorful Popsicle sticks
  • Container with color-coded lid to match the Popsicle sticks

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

Matching a blue Popsicle stick to the blue slot on the lid.  Another wonderful fine motor skill activity!

 

11. Puzzles Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Small puzzles

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

This numbers puzzle helps Rocket with his number recognition.

Busy Bags

Dad helping him solve the numbers puzzle.

Busy Bags

Working on two puzzles at the same time.

 

12. Doodle Pad Busy Bag

Activity In Bag:

Busy Bags

  • Doodle pad (The one linked is not the one we own, but a similar one.)

Activity In Use:

Busy Bags

This has long been one of Rocket’s favorite toys. I highly recommend one of these for children of all ages!

 

Busy bags are a terrific thing to have around if you need quick toddler activities without having to think too much about it. Let tots decide which ones they want to do and keep them entertained for hours!

Do you have busy bag ideas that I didn’t mention here? Please comment below to share!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

HOP February 13, 2014 at 6:58 am

Brilliant work. this is awesome.
Learning is essential for every human being on earth. I am volunteering my services at a school which is running for poor kids. i feel so satisfied teaching and helping kids read and write. these ideas are very helpful for me to teach kids.

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