Ever since the state went on lockdown and kiddos have been cooped up inside with nothing to do, it probably seems that
it is near impossible to keep them preoccupied for even a minute. Maybe you have a conference call you need to jump on, you finally put the baby to sleep or you just need a moment of silence. With a little prep work, patience and a dose of Momma willpower, you can get that time you need by making “busy bags.”
Called busy bags, these petite playrooms are small baggies with engaging and age appropriate activities that your child can play with independently. These should be simple, educational, fun and easily transported. Make them up ahead of time so you always have one to grab when you need it. To keep your kids interested, switch them up and create new ones every once in a while.
DRIVE AROUND TOWN
This simple, laminated road map paired with Hot Wheels cars can give hours of entertainment. Visit any mapping website, and print out your hometown, their grandparents’ hometown or favorite city. Before laminating, add little house drawings or stickers to keep them engaged. Grab one of their favorite cars, give them the busy bag and let them drive away!
BEADS AND STRING
My daughter loves to string beads and make jewelry, so putting some of her favorite beads, string or cords in a bag is the perfect project to pass the time. Don’t just think of this as a “girl’s activity” though. Using brightly colored beads and leather strings can make cool keychains, bracelets or necklaces for anybody! Another twist is to use pipe cleaners and beads. Take the age of your children and size of the beads into consideration. They can be a choking hazard!
This is another easy, do-it-yourself one to make. You can create flash cards for just about anything. Make color-coded cards to teach colors, alphabet cards, cards for multiplication tables or even cards for learning family members.
I know you read LEGO® and cringe, but a small amount of preselected LEGO®’s or similar small building blocks can keep busy hands occupied for a while! Pick ones that you know can be used to make several different things. Include instructions or let
your children use their imagination to build new creations. As long as you don’t give them a 200-piece set, they will clean up easily back in the bag and keep your tactile kid happy as a clam!
You can make your own memory cards by printing duplicates of photos of family members, their stuffed animals, your family cars, etc. This is perfect for restaurant waiting time. Have your kiddo lay the cards out face down and flip them over until he or she matches up the pairs. Laminate for multiple uses.
READY MADE OPTIONS
If you aren’t the pre-planner type or don’t have time to come up with some creative ideas of your own, Disney’s Grab & Go Play Packs are one of the best things I’ve come across. You can pick them up near the checkout of dollar stores, Target, etc. for about a dollar. They are resealable bags that contain a small coloring book, a few crayons and some coordinating stickers. The best part is that they come in about every theme your child could imagine (think Princesses, Minions, Mickey Mouse, “Star Wars,” etc.) Other easy options are the Spot It! games. They come in many varieties, age ranges and themes.
Use these busy bags to your advantage whenever you need to! If your child is occupied for those few extra minutes, you might even have time to have that virtual coffee date with your bestie!
*Please note that not all children will be ready for small toys or plastic baggies as part of their play. Please take the age and skill level of your child into consideration when deciding whether or not to implement “ busy bags” and always supervise children.