I have recently discovered “Busy Bags”. They are parent filled bags that contain a learning activity to keep a young child entertained while parents do whatever they need to do. They are great for getting chores done or traveling. The materials are inexpensive, and can be played with again and again. You can use a Ziploc, but I prefer a cheap plastic pencil case. Not only are they more durable, but I can store them in large binders to keep them organized.
A quick Google or Pinterest search will give you a plethora of busy bag ideas. Be sure to think about the age of your child, and where you’ll want to use them. For example, a sort by color bead activity might be great for a 3-4 year old in a hotel room, but probably not so good for a 2 year old on an airplane. The younger child may try to eat the small beads, and they’ll roll all over the plane creating both a mess, and a fit. Some of my favorites for preschoolers are the Popsicle stick puzzles (use pictures cut from magazines, coloring pages, or family photos), felt board shape designs, craft stick builders, and button threading. For older kids I like small games that have an educational slant. I really like a mini version of the number line game, shape pattern memory game, and a simple spin & spell game.
As you can imagine you’ll need between 10 and 20 of these little bags to keep little hands entertained. If you only have a couple they get bored quickly. Now you can spend hours and lots of money gathering all the supplies, cutting, sorting, and creating several different bags OR….you can throw a Busy Bag Swap Party. Each party attendee gathers the supplies to create one busy bag for each of the children attending the party. If you only have a few interested friends they can make two or three different bags. Just make sure you all agree ahead of time on the specific activity each with create so you don’t end up with duplicates.
There are a couple of different ways to have these parties. You can have everyone preassemble the bags, have a play date, and swap bags. Or you can have a mommy night in, and assemble the bags together in someone’s kitchen. Add some kid free chit chat, and a glass of wine and you have a fun, productive and inexpensive girls’ night! No matter what kind of party you decide it will be fun, and you won’t have all the left over supplies to store.
Visit Secon Story Window for a great three part series on this topic.