Over the years I’ve collected quite a few busy bags for my little ones. Busy bags have been a great way for my preschoolers, and toddlers, to have a quiet activity they can do on their own.
Many busy bags offer an educational element, but they all offer fine motor practice. Not to mention the independent skills young children are learning when they retrieve their busy bag, and then are expected to put it away when they’re completed.
Busy bags are simple activities in which all supplies fit into a zipped, gallon size plastic bag. I must have at least 30 busy bags tucked away, but there are some that my children gravitate towards weekly.
These are my absolute favorites that I’ve made, as well as a few I found on Pinterest, and they each have lasted through several preschoolers and toddlers.
DIY Busy Bags
Pipe Cleaner Lacing
- Cut colored cardstock into geometric shapes.
- Use a hole puncher to punch holes around the edges.
- Child uses the pipe cleaners to lace the shapes.
- I love this for my younger children, because the pipe cleaners are easier to handle than string for typical lacing projects.
Sticker Letters & Numbers
- Cut construction paper into squares, and draw letters or numbers on each card.
- Child places the stickers onto the letters or numbers.
- I will also place blank constructions squares inside the bag for sticker sticking fun!
- Both my toddler and preschooler enjoy this activity.
Pretty Paper Plate
- Tissue paper scraps, a glue stick, and paper plates.
- I tell my children to make me a pretty paper plate, and they love the opportunity to glue freely.
- This bag is great for both preschoolers and toddlers.
Pipe Cleaner Beads
- Use a variety of beads and pipe cleaners.
- Children string the beads on the pipe cleaners.
- I love using the pipe cleaners for this activity because the beads are more secure and are easy for little hands to use.
- My toddler doesn’t use this activity very much, but my preschooler loves it, and I even find my six year old using it as well. 🙂
- Use construction paper to cut geometric shapes, store with a glue stick and blank paper.
- Children create a geometric collage; both my preschooler and toddler love this one.
Sorting Pom-Pom Balls
- In our home pom-pom balls are called poof balls.
- Keep a variety of these balls with paper cups.
- Children use the cups to sort the balls either by color or size.
- I also keep a muffin tin nearby for a similar effect; even though the muffin tin cannot fit into the plastic bag, my children still love using it just as much as the paper cups.
- Keep a pair of tweezers in the bag for added fine motor practice.
- This is great for both my toddler and preschooler.
Store number order activities for children to order the numbers without mommy’s help. Here are my favorites, each from First-School:
- Children match pairs of clothing together; I used this book – Fine Motor Fun, which also has tons of fine motor activities and printables for preschoolers.
Clothes Pin Activities
- I keep all these paper plates, and the cooresponding clothes pins in one bag.
- Activities include: matching numbers, colors, and baby animals to mommy animals.
- These activities came from the Fine Motor Fun book as well (see the link with the previous activity).
- Over the years I’ve collected various different lacing activities found at various dollar stores.
- Anytime I find new ones, I tuck them away with the others in a busy bag.
- Both my preschooler and toddler love using these.
My favorite busy bags from Pinterest!
- This comes from Confessions of a Homeschooler, which offers letters of the alphabet, numbers, and other pattern block designs to copy.
- The letters are our favorite!
- I like to laminate mine, but the pattern blocks will slip.
- This came from All Our Days, and both my preschooler and six year old love this one!
- The website offers free templates to make the butterflies.
- The child uses felt to build half of the butterfly to match the card; there are multiple card options with plenty of designs as well as blank ones for create play. My older and younger children love this one!
- It took me about thirty to forty-five minutes to create this one, but it’s well worth it.
- This comes from Learn With Play at Home, and offers number cards up to number ten.
- Each card consists of a picture of large blocks (perfect for toddler hands) and children stack the blocks matching the pattern on the picture.
- Both my toddler and preschooler love this one, and the blocks necessary for the activity store easily in a gallon size plastic bag.
Be sure to scroll down & look for the title “Fine Motor And Visual Perceptual Pages”
- This came from Superior Therapy Connections which includes various print outs of magnetic pom-poms.
- This activity took me 2-3 hours to create. However, all the children love this!
- Super glue magnets to pom-poms, then place the templates on top of a cookie sheet. Voila! I originally hot-glued them, but the magnets fell off; super gluing from the beginning would have saved some frustration.
I’ll be sure to share with you later how I organize all my preschool and toddler supplies. It can get quite maddening sometimes!
Do you use busy bags? What are your favorites?