“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” ~Henry David Thoreau
So many of you have asked for this. And now it’s here. But I warn you…once you start putting these little bags together, you won’t be able to stop. It’s highly addictive. So make sure you stock up on ziplocs at Costco before you get started.
First of all, what is a “busy bag”? Basically, it is a child-friendly activity that fits inside a little bag/box that can be pulled out at anytime to keep your little ones busy. We use them a lot during toddler nap time, waiting rooms, and restaurants.
I am going to go through a few of mine with you very briefly, as most of them are very simple and self-explanatory. However, if you have questions, just ask! I’ll do my best to answer them all! Keep in mind, that most of my bags are tailored to preschoolers, as we use them mostly during toddler/baby nap time.
This is the most popular busy bag at my house…
Here is another popular one, which you’ve probably seen flying around on Pinterest and other places. I made the lower case and uppercase halves NOT colour-matched, as I wanted to make the activity a bit trickier for my older kids…
Many of my bags are bilingual, as the majority of my own children attend french immersion schools. Here is an example of 2 of our french/english activities…
The clip art picture is also laminated and has velcro on the back. All pictures can be removed so the children can match the picture with words. I made the colours match too so the littler kids could play this one easily.
I glued 2 paint chip cards together so they are double-sided AND sturdier. Clothespins have the english word and the french word and children clip them to the corresponding paint chip. I warn you now…this is not a good activity for toddlers. They will pull your clothespins in two. This I promise you! Lol!
This next one is popular with the older girls…
I made the crayon roll. And really, don’t be afraid of trying to sew one of these…it’s all straight lines! My mother will attest, if I can make one, ANYONE can make one! Here is an excellent tutorial from The Pleated Poppy those who are brave enough!
Here is another popular bag. It’s great for teaching patterns, sequence, and counting. Oh, AND fine motor skills. It’s my favourite bag!
This next bag can be used by toddlers for just plain sensory play. Or for preschoolers for matching and memory games. I made it completely from bits and pieces of things around my house. Easy. Have a peek…
And finally, our spelling bag…
We also have many other bags that I have put together with store-bought items. For example, one bag is full of window-clings that kids can stick on and off my patio window, dishwasher front, or refrigerator door. Another one has ink pads and stamps and little squares of paper. You can put just about any activity into a bag and call it a busy bag…as long as it fits in the bag!!
Now that we’ve gone through all of ours here at Small Potatoes, let me share with you some of the many, many ideas that other bloggers have created…
The first place you MUST look is at Second Story Window! You’ll be busy for hours!
First, here is her toddler busy bags…just click on the image and it will take you there. Just remember to come back because I have more here for you!! Hehehe!
*Hint: if you click on the highlighted name of the blog, a new window will pop up for you. If you click on the image, this window will become the new window and you’ll have to keep pressing the back button to return to Small Potatoes.
And Second Story Window‘s pre-K collection…
Ok, now I’m going to send you over to Busy Bag Central. That’s right, there is such a place. Go check it out…
Have you had enough? No? Ok then. How about over here at Learn With Play at Home? She has some really great ideas for busy boxes…
This Little Life of Mine also has plenty of ideas to keep you busy…
And Life: Styled also…
Small Fry & Co made a whole day of it! Check it out…
And just in case all of these ideas aren’t enough for you…go on over to Money Saving Mom and see what she’s got for you…
The Good Long Road has a great post for busy bag ideas too…
And here is one last one. It’s especially good. Famiglia and Seoul has designed hers for TRAVEL! Smart!
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy all these wonderful and creative ideas and that your busy bag collection will keep growing and growing!
Oh, one more thing…where do you put all these bags when they are not being used?? Well, I don’t know how everyone else stores theirs, but I do it like this…
I use binder rings and big clips and a towel rack. They bags are off my floor and easily accessible and visible to the children when they want to play.
Thanks for stopping by!
~Arlee, Small Potatoes
Oh wow! I can’t even pin all these… there’s just too many and they’re amazing! I LOVE this post, it’s great (as is the rest of your inspiring blog) Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂
You are very welcome! ENJOY!! 🙂
Great round up of ideas!
Oh my word! As a trainee teacher I can’t tell you how amazing this idea is!!! Thank you very much xXx
You are sooo very welcome!!! :):)
This post makes me want to weep, because it is just that great. You’re my hero Arlee. Please come and be Ella’s aide!!
Oh Krista. How I would love to! I used to do that back when I was younger…it was my favourite job! Maybe you need to move here to Red Deer!!! LOL!
Ok, I am seriously in love with this post. You have blown me away by the images and all the clickable thumbnail collages. Wow! Not to mention I plan to use this as my go to resource whenever out little ones come home to us bc I will need more ideas to keep more kids busy.
These are amazing!
Arlee…..I love love this idea….I have ideas overload from your blog…I need to stay focused…my husband is making a sensory bin for the children first…I think that’s a great place to start… :-)… I’ll be posting this on five pumpkins Facebook page again…
Hehehehe! Sorry, Kelly!! I’ll stop posting for a couple of days!! 😉
Fantastic! I just love this post. I’ll be pinning it for future use for sure and sharing on FB. Thanks for including our Busy Box 😀
Great roundup! Thanks for including me in it. Can’t wait to explore more!
Thank YOU!! Your ideas are great!!! 🙂
What wonderful ideas you have for busy bags! I’m planning to start teaching my son the Korean alphabet…I love the activities you created for bilingual learning. 🙂 Thanks for sharing our travel boxes, too!
Thank you, Gina! And you’re welcome…it was my pleasure! I want to make some of those boxes for my RV!!
Brilliant idea! Cant wait to try out some busy bags now! Thanks so much 🙂
Thanks so much for these! I love the idea of incorporating French – will do! Merci. 🙂
Great ideas! I have been making some for awhile now and they are fun to put together and have the kids use.
you’re a craft/learning genius! love all of your ideas!
Hi there, I am doing a busy bag swap with a group of gals and was wondering… Oh the places you will go race car mats, I want to know how to make the track, where did you get the Dr. Suess stickers, and tiny cars??? I am doing this tomorrow please email me if you can thanks! samanthaharughty(at)yahoo(dot)com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is truly a great post.
Last school year I worked with a boy who has austism and needs one-on-one (highly creative) teaching. This would be perfect for him! If I work with him this year, I will organize busy bags for our day. It would be perfect to have a variety of activities to just grab and do. This is perfect for autistic children. LOVE IT!
Yes!!! Your comment has made me happy! I love to hear news of how this little blog can change someone’s day just a little bit. Thank you for taking the time to write me a message, Adrian! 🙂
Yes!! Your comment has made me happy! I love to hear news of how this little blog can change someone’s day just a little bit. Thank you for taking the time to write me a message, Adrian! 🙂
This is so amazing! How i wish i had something like this when my little guy was a toddler! I am going to try to adapt it for his age (8) for car trips, etc. Thank you you must be an amazing mom!
Great ideas! I was wondering where you found the map for the first idea above. Did you just make or did you find a picture somewhere and print it out? Thanks in advance!
I just drew simple roads on black card stock and cut them out and glued them on. I used a white pencil crayon to draw the lines 🙂 Hope that helps you!!
Amazing ideas – thank you so much for sharing, I can’t wait to get started!
Pingback: Busy Bags For Preschooler’s (and more!)
I just became a preschool teacher. Even tho I have a million ideas floating in my head, along with the suggestions in our books, plus the experience of my own kids ( who are still fresh and little), I find your website full of amazing ideas I can’t wait to try! Thanx a bunch!!!
I’ve shard these in just about every way possible and I am on my way to draw some Lego pieces! Love it. Thanks for the great round up!
the only thing better than the ideas is if you actually made these and SOLD them. Who the heck has time to make this stuff with twin 2 year olds running one parent ragged and the other parent working full time? We barely have time for the dishes, laundry, and keeping our marriage together no less making these amazing bags…but I NEED THEM. Seems like they are very time consuming.
I have a mini-blog crush on you! LOL! I hope that’s not weird! But this is amazing! I’m so glad that pinterest has become my new addiction for an awesome resource guide! I really appreciate the devotion you put into this post! It helps us mamas looking for uplifting ideas/projects to venture with the little ones!
Hehehe! Best comment ever! So glad you are enjoying the blog! :):) That’s what it’s for!
Pingback: Busy Bags…We’ve Switched To Cloth! | Small Potatoes
these are excellent! my kiddlets are not so small any more but it would still be fab, I generally carry dice for yahtzeee or dice mice and paper with dots for Squares or battleship and a pencil:) Its nice to see so many good fillers in one spot. My girls would still really enjoy most of these. thanks heaps 🙂 BTW Love the storage idea! my whole house feels like a busy bag most days!
this is SO brilliant! Thanks! 🙂
these are brilliant! thanks! 🙂
Pingback: Busy bags for babies | Bub
I’m not very crafty (but I try) is there a way to order busy bags? I would just love some of these for my son.
Pingback: Have You Ever Done a Busy Bag Swap? « Simple Organized Living
Would you please tell me where did you get the background for the road maps and the stickers? Thanks
The background is patterned card stock from the scrapbook store. The stickers are also from the scrapbook store, but I have also seen them at Michaels and Walmart from time to time. The roads are just black card stock that I drew on and cut out. If you have anymore questions, let me know! 🙂
What a great collection of ideas, I can’t wait to make some of them.
I can’t wait to use these ideas! Thanks.
Thank you for all these beautiful ideas! I need to have a crafty day with my oldest daughter :). The littles are getting into everything lately and I’m homeschooling grades 11,9,7,5,3,1 as well as wrangling a busy 4yo and six mo old baby… This will get done this week! At least some! Thank you for giving me ideas to get started 🙂
So many great ideas! Thanks for sharing!
Just got here via Pinterest. I love those idea´s and certainly going to use them for my grandkids.
Thanks a lot for sharing!
Pingback: Planning Busy Activities for Toddlers During Homeschool
Where did you find your printable roadmaps? I love them
Hi Kyla, thank you…but I drew them myself on black card stock 🙂
I arrived here from Pinterest. I can’t wait to start making these.I may have to make a party out of it. Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas.
Pingback: Quiet Time Bags | Homemaking With Heart
I love the bilingual aspect you’ve incorporated in your bags! I have 7 children & 2 are currently in French immersion & I have 2 younger ones not yet in the program. My older children completed German immersion.
Thanks for sharing your ideas 🙂
Pingback: Busy Bags | ctvdl
Pingback: 3 New Busy Bags from Small Potatoes! | Small Potatoes
Pingback: 5 Ways to Encourage Open-Ended Play | Imagine Toys Blog
Pingback: 10 toddler busy bag ideas
Awesome ideas. I totally can’t wait to use them
What a GREAT source for my learning box constructions for my 3 year old who LOVES hands-on learning!
I blog at Teachers of Good Things and this is the kind of ideas my readers would love! Please come and linkup on the Tender Moments with Toddlers & Preschoolers with this idea. Here is the link for the current one: http://teachersofgoodthings.com/bowling-pins-for-toddlers-and-preschoolers/
It is EVERY Thursday and your posts would be very welcomed in our link ups.
I’m heading to share this pin in our Toddlers & Preschoolers board.
This is all truly awesome and I am currently making a heap of bags for a road trip/camping holiday.
In my internet travels I found a printable road map here http://www.between3sisters.com/2012/11/toy-car-road-map.html. Yours are fabulous but I just noticed a lot of people were asking where you got it from and just in case some people think it’s a bit much of an effort to make one….
Love your work!
Pingback: Busy bags (The Beginning) | Mother, wife, life.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m going to be doing a preschool age busy bag swap with a mom’s group I’m a part of & these ideas are amazing! I’m also planning a Cars themed birthday party for my son & was wondering where you got the small cars. I’d greatly appreciate it if you could e-mail me & let me know. Thanks so much.
Thank you so much for this post! Awesome and I hope to start making a few soon!!
Awesome ! I’m looking for ideas to keep my 2 and 6 year old busy on a 14 hour long flight and I think these bags may come in really handy, thank you !
You are very welcome!! Thank you!
This has to be one of the best resources for busy bags!! Fantastic job! Love the bilingual bags 🙂 un gros MERCI!
Pingback: Spelletjes voor op de achterbank | Gespot voor jou!
Pingback: Full Speed Ahead! Travel Activities for Kids
A few little adjustments and these are perfect for activities for room bound elderly residents. Thanks! Always searching for ideas for this population.
Pingback: Mothering, Cleaning, Teaching, Cooking, Resting, Playing, Blogging. How to ALMOST Do it All Without Losing Your Head! | Small Potatoes
Pingback: Busy Bags! | Peach State Moms Blog
This is AWESOME! Thank you for those great ideas!
Great idea, but I would recommend using cotton fabric and velcro to make the bags, not plastic. My 5 year old still can’t be trusted not to put a plastic bag over his head.
Thank you! We changed to cloth bags shortly after this post 🙂 There is even a tutorial here on the blog…
Pingback: 10 toddler busy bag ideas | Mum`s Grapevine
Thanks for the ideas and links – love them! Started making a bunch of them up for my younger son to keep him busy while my 6-year-old and I do school this year. How did you decide which letters to put on the plastic eggs since there aren’t a whole alphabet’s worth?
The whole alphabet is there, they just don’t all fit in the carton at once 🙂
so clearly you’re super mom and the rest of us should just give up. lol, WOW. excellent work and thanx for sharing!!
Pingback: Busy bag! | Mama's Mini's
Do you have a shopping list for these? LOL
I may be a little late to the busy bag ideas but I can make these as a reward for the children I work with as a support worker for speech, language and communication therapy. Thank you for sharing.
Pingback: 7 Great Indoor Activities For Cooped Up Toddlers
Thanks for all the great ideas!
So many fantastic activities. I love how easy they look for the children to do. Thank you for sharing.
Pingback: Busy Bag Swap
What a gold mine of busy bag ideas. Thank you!
You are very welcome!!
do you have a link to some of the printables you used?
Sorry…I didn’t use printables…I drew and designed them myself…they are pretty simple though, I promise!
Pingback: Busy Boy Activities | Homespun Sprout
Pingback: Summer Activities and Crafts Your Au Pair Can Do With Your Kids – Au Pair USA - Fairfield County, CT
Pingback: Small Bricks, Big Possibilities: LEGO DUPLO!
Pingback: Friday Favorites Week 5 - Piece of Home
Pingback: Busy Bags - keep toddler happy when sibling arrives
Where did you get your road maps to laminate??
I made them myself…just card stock and scissors and glue. 🙂