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With two boys at home I started searching for something for my toddler to do, quietly, and mostly by himself while the baby (at the time) took his morning nap. I decided to do a busy bag play date swap…
I found 9 other people, and we each made 10 busy bags of the SAME thing. Then, we picked date, kids played, and we swapped all the bags. It was so fun to see what everyone came up with! (Of course we organized it so we each had something different). I don’t have the links to where to find these busy bags, because I was researching SO many websites and some ideas came from those doing the Busy Bag Swap… but they are all over Pinterest. I DO NOT TAKE CREDIT FOR ANY OF THEM!
You can check my “Toddler Busy Bags” board and see some of my favorites. Or you can just search “busy bags for toddlers”. Although they can be switched around, I’ve divided them up into Colors, Counting, Shapes, Fine Motor Skills, Letters and Patterns and Puzzles.
Busy Bag Ideas
Paint chip matching and Clothespins. Find paint chips at Home Depot, then glue matching colors to clothes pins.
Velcro Rainbow Chain. Perfect for little fingers and coordination. small for purse/diaper bag. Great for church and in the car.
Button color sorting
Popsicle color matching. It’s fun to pretend to eat the Popsicle
Counting Train. You can attach Velcro or magnets to help them stay on better. Or in my sons case, play with the Pom Poms
Counting caterpillars, with colors. I like that is has the different options of counting, or colors to learn with
Just yarn, beads and cardboard… this lasted 15 min of an hour car ride. The other side has 1, 2, 3…10 beads for counting. This one is great for all ages! Counting, color, making nose. When my youngest was 5 months he LOVED it in the car!
Stacking, color, numbers… so much fun! DICE are the BEST THINGS EVER!!! (at least my boys think so)
Caterpillar counting… I’m a big fan of putting magnets on them so it’s not frustrating with them rolling everywhere
Mini Dominoes! another BEST $1 find! We have done counting, colors, and matching…
Velcro Popsicle sticks. Again, you can make cards to help them have ideas of shapes to build. Small to fit in the purse/diaper bag. The Velcro circles come off easily, but it’s really easy to put them back on.
Geo board! One of my favorites! I LOVED how she used nuts and bolts so it’s easier for the little fingers. You can also make cards to go with it to challenge them to make specific shapes. Not quite a church or car activity… considering my boy likes to shoot the rubber bands. A fun way for him to be creative though.
Popsicle stick puzzles. I used 6 fat ones, and did a shape on each side.
This is a matching game, shapes, and puzzle on the other side. for $1! I love it because it’s thick cardboard and has handled all of Tanners chewing with no problem!!!
Fine Motor Skills
I made this one… sewed 100 fish! Fishing Game. I didn’t want to glue the felt because I was scared the small magnet would fall out. I LOVED how they turned out! ( may be biased a bit ). Small size to fit in the purse/diaper bag. Came with ten fish. One of my sons favorites as well. Click Picture to Buy one!
Felt board with make your own face, ice cream cone, and Caterpillar with the cutest legs EVER! Worked great for church.
I Spy Bottle. It didn’t come with a page of items to look for, so I’ll dump it out, take pictures. Brady loves shaking it, but needs help to point out objects. Great for in the CAR and for younger kids to shake!
Play Dough Mats! This came with 10 different ones! So fun! Lately, this has been my sons favorite! It’s good teaching them how to work with dough.
Magnet bottle. Cut up pipe cleaners, safety pins, and paper clips to try to catch, and some pompoms and buttons for them to learn about what’s magnetic and what’s not. Great for in the CAR and for younger kids (don’t give the younger ones the Popsicle stick with magnet!)
Shadow puppets with Flashlight from Harbor Freight and card stock… I did put them on Popsicle sticks, after I took the picture. My kids LOVE anything that has to do with flashlights.
Snake Button with felt squares.
“Feed Me” monster with Pom Poms. I took a mini Gerber Baby Food container… Brady LOVES it!
Thread the buttons. Make long snakes…
Lacing $3 at Target. You can also find a lot of patterns on pinterest to laminate and make your own.
Clothes Pin Alphabet. Fun for all ages! Small ones like to figure out the clothes pins, and big ones learn the Uppercase and Lower case letters. Great for older kids too, and quite for church.
Another print off Pinterest… A-Z cards with color Pom Poms matching and Alphabet. The picture is B for Balloons. I put magnets on them so it’s easier.
Patterns and Puzzles
Animal Puzzles. 6 different animals with 3 body pieces. It’s fun to make “silly” animals, and the magnets help keep them in place better. Worked great on our road trip.
I bought a HUGE bag of Pom Poms from Amazon and I didn’t really care for it because it didn’t have a lot of colors… more tie die. I decided to put magnets on Popsicle sticks so you can match them or make patterns.
Legos! Works with colors, patterns, and building. My toddler doesn’t get the patterns yet, but he likes to match the colors. This is nice for when he wants to play with legos, but I do’n’t want to get our HUGE box out and have to worry about the baby getting to it.
Try searching the Dollar store or Target $1 spot. They have app kinds of great finds to use for preschool busy bags, especially around the start of a new school year! We don’t play with these every day, but have been using them for almost 2 years! Some are favorite car activities. some are fun when I’m trying to focus on specific activities such as shapes or letters. Others are just great for the cold rainy wet days we are stuck inside.