Do you think that cooking a meal while entertaining toddlers is the hardest part of motherhood? Or just a close second behind folding a fitted sheet? In my house, with two boys ages 2 and under, keeping my guys occupied and content while I am trying not to burn down the house is one of the more stressful times of our day. The easiest thing to do to solve the issue is to put on a TV show and let them zombie out while you get something done, but I have serious mom guilt every. single. time.
I wanted something that would be new and exciting, challenging and engaging, for my little guys to work with while I got together our meals. So I took my teaching experience and creative thinking and went to work creating 8 different “Busy Bags.” For the sake of me feeling better about not just giving my kids “busy work,” I’ll call them “Activity Bags” from this point forward. 🙂
For storage of these Activity Bags…see I told you :)…I chose pencil pouches and a cute basket. I love the pencil pouches for these because it keeps everything enclosed, it’s easy to open for little hands, and it’s durable because we all know what pouches go through in a school year. They are built to withstand quite a bit. Now that it’s back to school season, you can also get them at a great price! I found mine at the Dollar Store for under $1/each.
All of my pieces were purchased at a Dollar Store or at Target, but for ease, I’ll link each product through Amazon so you can order and have it delivered right to your door. The hardest part may actually be ordering the items because it’s a piece of cake from there!! Little work or prep to fill these activity bags!
If you are shopping at Target any time in the near future, all the teaching material is getting stocked up and the flashcards are primo! But if you aren’t able to make it there until tomorrow (kidding..I’m sure the teachers won’t gobble them up THAT fast!), here are some great flashcards from Amazon that focus on colors and shapes, alphabet, counting, and spelling. Put each set in a pencil pouch and you have four different activities ready to be stashed away.
These next two became fast favorites in our house! For this bag, I purchased a bag of plastic practice golf balls and pipe cleaners. Cut the pipe cleaners in half and put everything inside your pouch. Kids can work to get the pipe cleaners through the golf balls, twist them around, connect the golf balls, etc. Simple concept, yet I’ve seen my two year old take it to a different level by using his creativity to build a train with them. It incorporates fine motor skills, dexterity, and creativity for this one!
Another favorite with my boys is this stacking activity bag. I took 10 colored index cards and a set of alphabet blocks. At the top of the index cards, I wrote numbers 1-10. Under numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4, I drew the places for the blocks to be placed. This shows kids the “1” and “1 block.” It gives them the correlation between number of objects and the number. For the numbers 5-10, I wrote the number at the top but chose to have my kids stack them up to show “amount.” Five is shorter than nine. Eight is taller than six. Two different concepts that can be used to show your child number skills and recognition. Easy and so much to gain from it!
I used to LOVE playing matching games when I was little. I have a pretty fabulous memory and I felt like I could whoop up on my brothers by playing something that didn’t require athletic ability, strength, or really anything beyond a memory game. 🙂 Now enter kids, and you put their favorite cartoon character on a matching game, and they are all about it, as well! Here is a set of PJ Masks Matching Cards, and I’ll also link Disney Character Matching, Eric Carle Matching, Disney Princess Matching, Frozen Matching, and Marvel uper Heroes Matching Game.
Puzzles are easy to slip into a bag for safe keeping, and rotating your child’s favorite through these activity bags is so simple. I found this puzzle in the Target Dollar Aisles, but found this Number Snail Puzzle on Amazon with the same concept. I like that these don’t require the large wooden frame that is near impossible to store without losing all the puzzle pieces. This simply fits inside the pouch and it’s ready to go. Great tool for learning numbers AND colors!
If you have a child that is very inquisitive and asks questions, I love the idea of putting random objects into your activity bag along with a magnifying glass. Have the kids start by examining color, size, details, texture, etc. Then they can venture out and find similar objects around the house with their magnifying glass. A real start to exploring science and the world around us.
The final activity bag is one that my oldest instantly gravitates towards because it allows him to build and engineer something. I purchased large popsicle/craft sticks and velcro squares. At each end of the sticks, I put velcro (one soft side and one rough…just learned they’re called “hook” and “loop,” but who knows that?!) Sticks can now be joined together to create shapes, objects, or whatever it is your little has in their mind that day. 🙂 Big time hit around our house!
I’ve been able to skip the mom guilt with just 20 minutes of prep work for weeks of activities. I’ll continue to add to this group of Activity Bag ideas as I switch out and renew these. Any fabulous ideas to add to our list? I’d love to hear them!