What's in a {Busy} Bag?

"Busy bags" have been floating around Pinterest and mommy blogs for awhile. But what is a busy bag, and how do you make one? Here's our version, including how we design it.

**This is one of the original busy bags we put together for our little one almost 2 years ago! It wasn't strategically planned, nor did it have a fancy theme, but it was engaging and got the job done so Mama and Dada could enjoy some liquid therapy!**

Busy Bag {noun}

One or more activities designed and organized to keep a child entertained and engaged for a length of time, presumably so Mom (and Dad) can get sh*t done!

Design a Busy Bag

We design our busy bags based on a theme, and so that's where our planning begins. Many are tied to holidays or simply things our kiddos are really into right now. Because we're also educators and want to ensure our littles are learning all the skills, we include at least one play-based learning activity from each of the following early childhood development areas:

  • Fine Motor Skills - Important for everything from basic personal care to holding a pencil to arts and crafts, fine motor skills can only be refined through practice, practice, practice. This is one of our favorite categories because there are so many fun ways to do just that!

  • Sensory/Tactile - Children learn so much through their senses, especially in their early years. Babies put everything in their mouth, toddlers touch everything, and preschoolers need to touch, taste, see, smell, and hear (or selectively not hear) everything. We include these activities to scratch that itch and promote sensorial connections.

  • Cognitive Learning - CL refers to skills your child needs to learn and engage with the world, such as reasoning, logical thinking, and problem solving skills. Examples of cognitive learning activities include puzzles, memory games, drawing, and storytelling.

  • {Interactive} Literacy - Reading is by far the single best activity a child can do everyday. Since we want our busy bags to be mostly independent, we include an interactive book to keep even our pre-reading children engaged.

  • STEAM - THE buzz word in education today. We include one activity from either science, technology, engineering, arts, or mathematics (bonus if we can hit several categories at once). We want our children to love learning in these subjects - and that starts early!

We also focus on small and mostly reusable activities that travel well (think doctor's office, brewery, restaurant, airplane, etc.). We want to pack the set away after a month or so when the novelty has worn off, then bring it out later when it's "new" again.

Do you have to put as much thought into every busy bag you make? Nope. I have quite a few themed sets at home that I threw together based on activities I ran across in Bullseye's Playground at Target. I supplemented here and there from finds on Amazon and/or activities I made from Pinterest. Some of these sets have only 2-3 activities. Whatever works for you!

**The prototype for busy bébés busy bags was designed in April 2019. Originally featuring customization, EAT sets (matching plates, utensils, bibs, and wet bags perfect for foodies), and an "animal" themed activity set not perfectly curated.**

Build Your Bag

So you've got a theme in mind. You've got some categories to choose from. What next? Pinterest is your best friend, so start there! Instagram is also a great place to search (use #busybags). Amazon is your next best friend, and so is Target. Hit up Bullseye's Playground (fantastic for holiday finds). Party City can be great, especially seasonally. Head to Barnes & Noble to check out interactive literature in person. We try to stay away from Oriental Trading because we've not been thrilled with the quality we've received from there. Occasionally, we'll find something at Hobby Lobby or Michaels (although we use those stores mostly for sensory bins and play dough kits).