You are new teacher or mommy who wants to put together the best educational busy bags for your children.
But, where do you start to gather kid friendly stuff on your budget? This post will share DOZENS ideas and links to inspire you as well as where to beg, borrow or buy those fun little sensory play items that go into busy bags.
Busy Bag Collections make wonderful gifts with kid friendly stuff . This post will start out with a dozen Busy Bags pieces parts that I have done myself in recent years.
1. Busy Bag from wash cloth with felt shapes
This is a very simple travel idea.
- Fold a wash cloth in half.
- Sew sides together leaving a few inches to make a fold over flap
- This busy bag shows I sewed on pockets to put in felt shpaes or small objects( age appropriate)
- Make your busy bags in a number of themes: cars/ trucks; felt dolls to dress (like paper dolls);animals etc
- For the tot who still puts eveything in their mouths machine sew safe ribblons on to teething items on to the wash cloth
This old No Non-cents Nanna admits, I’ve been collecting fun stuff most of my life for my younger siblings; kids I baby sat for; my children/ grandchildren and in my years as a Pediatric nurse and early childhood educator. I visited the library often in the 1950’s to the 1990’s. I wrote all of the ideas I had gleaned on not cards to keep in a file box. But, now we have the benfits of PINTEREST! I sitll suggest using note cards in a file box to have at your fingertips.
2. Cotton Draw String Busy Bags
You need some kind of bag to put busy bag stuff in, don’;t you? These small draw strings bags were some of the first products No Non-cents Nanna craft business started selling.
I filled these little bags with stickers, felt dolls ( Gingersnap Dolls), , crayons and note pads. I sold many and I even gave away over 250 as swag bags. These little ditty bags are also good for holding chap stick, small mirror and hair comb or coins. In a pinch pull our your little bag for the kids to explore: age appropropriate, of course. These clean items would be far better than letting the kids chew on your car keys-please don” chew on dirty car keys!
Easy to carry in your purse, moms, diaper bag , fanny pack etc then pull out when standing the line at the grocery store or at church.
- I suggest having 3 to 5 different bags stored in a *zipper lock bag. Give your child a choice of which bag they want for the next 5 or 10 minutes ( These don’t hold much.)
- Perfect distractions to avoid a pending melt down. Watch for the signs and symptom BEFORE the melt down. is most likely to occur.
- Busy Bags should NOT ever be a REWARD fo making poor choices.We grown up have to take responcibility for helping our kids learn to manage behavior.
When they get dirty simply put the empty busy bag into a pillow case then thow in the washer.
3. Larger Draw String Bag with a Pillow
This busy bag is about 1/3 the size of a regular pillow, but can be any size that is easy for a child to tote around on a bus, airplane or in and out of the car when traveling.
I crafted a bunch of Busy Bags like this one from fabric remenants. When I was selling crafts locallyto tourists I offered a selection of goodies in small *zipper locking bags to put inside.
- deck of cards ( Note cards with pictures pasted on them are also awesome.)
- small games like you get at shcool carnivals as prizes
- fidgets like my hand crafted felt key chains
- small toys like cars or animals
4. Zipper Lock Bags* SAFETY WARNING!
Great to organize small senory exploration stuff as they take up less space than a shoe box. Paper lunch bags work well, too.
Note the * I typed every time I wrote ZIPPER Lock Bags? I HEART Zipper Lock bags! But, I MUST give a WARNING about plastic bags and kids.
Well, DUH! Every one knows to keep plastic away from kids. Even 5 year old kids should know better because we have told them over and over again, right?
In my foreign student pre-school class I was notorious for my busy bags. The kids looked forward to picking a bag and going tho their own Magic Bubble. To save space I often used the growing popularity gallon size Zipper bags for my 3 to 5 years olds.As preachy as I am about child safety it NEVER dawned on my that any child would dump out thier busy bag to put a Food Storeage bag over their head and face to try to look funny.
YIKES! My oldest student did just that one day. The 5 year old put the gallon size bag over her head! then the whole class wanted to follow suit because it looked funny! That was one of my worst teaching moments ever!!!!
Warning! If you love Zipper lock bags PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE only use the smaller sizes that will not fit over a child’s face. And then still supervise closely.
5. Open Ended Play
Play things are best if they are open ended enough to allow the child to explore with their imagination. We old folks say ” Ge , we played witha stick for hour on end and were happy.” Play things or toys that entertain are fine within limits. Kids NEED to figure things out themselves. That is why they need simple basics in a busy bag that are open ended raher then done for them.
The old fashioned tongue dressor or craft sticks are amazing open ended items to keep a child’s attention creating something form their imagination. Teachers buy these in bulk. Parents if you are looking for a nice teacher gift for the class room ask your teacher what she could use for the students to sort and count.
To self promote: No Non-cents Nanna Heart Felt Play Store often has small amounts of craft sticks in some of the Collections for sale.
6. Doggy Bag
I put this Doggy Bag togeher to save parents time. Of course I ell this collection in my on-line shop, Heart Fet Play Store. Click HERE to purchase from catalog page, or just be inspired for Puppy dog theme or a sa give away for Dog Groomers( I offer a discount on larger orders upon request)
7. Finger Puppets are perfect for Busy Bags
Since I am the author of this No Non-cents Nanna blog and happen to own Heart Felt Play Store I can write about the things I sell in my store whic just happen to be perfect for Busy Bags
Add some insect stickers, sticker sheets or plastic eggs to an insect/ bug busy bag.
Please note: Finger Puppets: Farm Animals: Dinosaurs previously in on-line Heart Felt Play Store are now beginning to make their way to Tantrums kid consignment in Colorado Springs, Colorado for Small in time of Small Business Saturday.
Finger puppets, stickers, stuffed animals, masks, ones, plastic eggs with kid favorite themes may be: dinosaurs, farm animals, zoo animals; woodland creatures; jungle safari. pirate an princess are few ideas to explore for your busy bags.
8. Felt Dolls instead of the old paper doll
This felt Doll with clothes, blanket adn even a spotted dog were among some on No Non-cents Nanna’s origonal creations that launched on-line Heart Felt Play Store.
9. Boys and Girls love Bands and Bracelets in Busy Bags
10. Buttons in Busy Bags
Sort or count just for the fun of it. ( Small buttons are NOT for children under age 3. There are larger buttons available on the market from Joanne Fabrics or Micheals. Fabric.com has some very cool buttons, but, not particulary budget friendly. Often times it is the embelishment of buttons on clothes that cos tmore than the fabric.
The most cost effective place to find cheap button in bulk is the thrift shop like ARC and GoodWill if you make regular searches and hit just the right time.
When I was young my grandmother had cigar boxes full of fascinating old buttons that I loved to look at. Learning is supposed to be simply exciting to explore all on our own. Learning doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun.
11. Old Deactivated Credit Cards
Sort, trace, feel the imprinted numbers.
12. Money in a busy bag
Not for children under age 3.
Kids love to to sort and count coins. Coins are fun to trace around or trace over with a pencil or crayon when you place them under a piece of paper.
Well here are a dozen of ideas that I happen to have photo images of.
But, wait! I have 10 dozen more ideas PINNED on my Pinterest board from dozens of other creative teachers and SAH moms blogs and websites.
13. Bakers Dozen of ideas for FREE!
- Board Game pieces. Ask family, friends and nieghbors to NOT throw out their BOARD GAMES with missing pieces! Put waht is left of a borad game in bausy bag to sort, count and explore ( marbles, checkers, play money.) Cover the board with decopage pictures of kid favorite theme like animal picture from magazines.
- Nuts and Bolts. No kidding! Does grandpa have nuts and bolts saved from 1949 in his tool box? Ask Gramps to clean them up and put’em in a bag for the grandkids. The bigger size the better. Kids can fit the nuts adn bolts together for fine motor developemnet. No its is not fancy, but it help learn new skil for the future.
- Mason jar lids or lids off of frozen juice cans and large magnets
- Cottage cheese and yogurt plastic lids by them selves or for the older kids add beans, beads or buttons. ( Do NOT use dry kidney beans. Not safe when not cooked.)
- Pencils and pencil toppers
- Popcicle sticks or straws
- Magnifiyng glass and tweezers ( plastic kids safe) and magazines, old stamps on bill envelopes, stickers
- Tear out the marketing post cards inserted in magazines or junk mail. Add a pen for the kids to practive “writing”. Also use the inserted envelopes they sned with bills that yo don’t use.
- Scraps of fabric
- Plastic sppons. Gathere as many colors and sizes as you can find. for the older kids add markers; glue; yarn and scarps of fabirc. Let them decide what the want to do with all that is in the bag.
- Hole puncher; stapler; blunt scissors; scrap paper, old news papers; old magazines; junk mail Age appropriate only, please under supervision.
- Cookie cutters and play dough
Please note: All No Non-cents Nanna blog posts with links to on-line Heart Felt Play store are being edited. Due to health issues sadly, I decided to close the on-line Heart Felt Play Store. Some remaining inventory in now at Tantrums in Coloroado Springs for Small Business Saturday.