What are busy bags?
I made a button snake activity for our recent busy bag exchange. Essentially, a busy bag is an all-in-one activity that a child can do by himself to keep him “busy” when mom needs a few minutes to herself. The activity should be reusable and easily contained within a zip top bag. It’s a great way to let your kids practice fine motor skills or early number and letter recognition, but it also gives mommy a break without plopping kids in front of the TV.
If you spend some time on Pinterest, you’ll find a million and one ideas for making your own busy bags. I’ve even got an entire Pinterest board for busy bags if you’re looking for some fun ideas.
Busy bags are perfect for the doctor’s office, road trips, and while teaching older children or working on dinner. My main motivation for making busy bags was to create activities that my toddler could enjoy while I’m homeschooling my daughter. He usually wants to be in the middle of anything she’s doing, so busy bags make him feel like he’s doing school too. And he is. He’s learning through play, which is exactly what a two year old should be doing.
Button Snake Busy Bag
I found my inspiration for this Button Snake from Motherhood on a Dime. With a button snake, a child uses the button end of the ribbon to lace the ribbon through each of the shapes. It’s perfect for practicing fine motor skills and learning both colors and shapes. I wanted to get the most bang for my buck. If you wanted to save time, you could definitely stick with squares only instead of a variety of shapes and colors.
Warning: Yes, this Busy Bag will require you to sew, but if I can do it, anyone can. I really, really stink at sewing, but since I can sew a button on and sew a short straight stitch, I knew I could tackle this one. So meet my sewing desk, which doesn’t see a lot of action lately. Something about three kids leaves me with little patience for sewing.
Felt in 5 or 6 different colors
I purchased the thicker and more expensive felt because I felt that the stiffness of this felt would make it easier for toddlers to manipulate. I bought enough supplies to make 12 busy bags and my grand total was $9.43
Cut your ribbon to about 12 inches. If you want, apply fray check to the edges or you can use the more risky approach of slightly melting the end of the ribbon with a lighter to keep it from fraying. That’s what I do.
Sew a button onto one end of your ribbon.
Cut a small square out of felt and sew it onto the opposite end. This acts as a “stopper” and will keep all of the felt pieces from falling off the end.
Cut out your felt shapes. Then cut a slit into each one. If you’re a little OCD, you can print templates like I did using online images. I found that it was best for my shapes to be about 4 inches by 4 inches. I wanted them large enough for those chubby toddler hands to grasp.
Put them in your bag and have fun!
My kids love this! My 4 year old thinks it’s fun but it doesn’t hold her attention longer than a few minutes. But my 2 year old really enjoys it and it’s a perfect chance for him to practice his shapes and colors.
Have you heard of busy bags? What ideas do you have for keeping little hands busy?