We are always looking for additional play ideas and today we are presenting you easy to set up 7 days of busy bags!
You can use these as described or use it as an inspiration to put up your own busy bags depending on your toddler’s interest and items you can easily require or have them already at home!
Hi! I’m Louise from Building Blocks and Acorns. I’m so excited to guest-post for Best Toys 4 Toddlers and share the 7 Days of Busy Bags that I did with my two year old son (who is known as ‘Darth’ on my blog, thanks to my husband’s love of all things Star Wars!)
We used these busy bags during our week-long camping trip to beautiful Northumberland in the Summer. I wanted to use a busy bag a day, so that it gave ‘Darth’ something new and stimulating to do during those inevitable times we would need to spend ‘indoors’ inside the tent, with the absence of his usual toys.
I initially began trying to design all sorts of intricate and interesting activities involving pipe cleaners, lollipop sticks etc. Until I realised that I was probably spending more time on making the activities, than ‘Darth’ would actually play with them!
Now, I’m usually a ‘make it yourself’ kinda gal! But, at the same time, I am definitely a ‘keep it easy!’ mummy, too! So a few weeks before we set off, I scoured the toy shelves for small items I could use to create busy bags.
The idea being, that these are things I’d already bought. They were already things that ‘Darth’ was interested in. They were small enough to be feasible to pack in an already bursting car. They were largely open-ended activities and also, they would form the basis of 7 days of INSTANT busy bags!
Because I prepared these well in advance, the removal of these toys ‘Darth’ loves to play with, meant that he could play with them afresh when it came to our trip.
I loved creating themes for each busy bag. I used ‘The Selfish Crocodile’ and soft toy in the first busy bag. We also has some crocodile-themed duplo which added another element to ‘Darth’s’ play. It also meant he could engage in some imaginative play with the two different crocodiles chasing each other! This was such a useful thing to do on our first day, as he happily ‘read’ to himself and played with the crocodiles (making suitable ‘raarrghh’ and teeth snapping noises,) whilst we assembled the tent.
This shapes book (from Sainsbury’s supermarket,) combined with a shape-sorting puzzle from the same place, as well as some coloured shapes from our Spielgaben set, meant that ‘Darth’ could have lots of fun with shapes! He talked about different colours and learnt to turn certain shapes around to get them to fit.
I absolutely LOVE this gorgeous frog pond free printable set from Life Over C’s and we used this to create a stimulating playdough based activity for Monday. I use small balls of playdough from my home made playdough sets and the gorgeous Melissa and Doug wooden playdough tools set.
By Tuesday, ‘Darth’ was excitedly asking us for his ‘bee bag’ (busy bag!). We have this combination of animal finger puppets from an Ikea set, along with the animal finger puppets featured in our Top 10 Travelling with a Toddler Activities. This kept him entertained with making animal noises, naming the animals as well as creating his own imaginary play scenarios.
This wooden dinosaur set from Sainsburys is fantastic! It comes with its own clear slide-able lid, carry handle and gorgeous wooden box that serves as it’s own carry case. The pieces are all double-sided, with a matching image shown on the base of the box. This proved to be a great matching activity, as well as serving as a useful guide for how ‘Darth’ could fit the pieces back in the box, independently.
Creating busy bags needn’t mean plastic or low-quality toys. Just use what you already have – good quality toys will always last longer and natural materials provide a true sensory experience. Plastic all feels the same and doesn’t have a scent. Wood has its own unique feel and smell, as well as being far more visually interesting. These hand painted wooden instruments provide an amazing sensory experience and are small enough to fit in a zip-lock bag… instant busy bag! (Just remember to remove some items from your child’s every day play a few weeks before you plan on using them, first, to increase their engagement.)
We just LOVE this wooden animal shape sorting set, from Melissa and Doug. It’s the perfect size for a ‘busy bag’ and provides four different themed puzzles in one. By Friday, we also combined this with the other animal-themed items from earlier in the week, for the ultimate play experience!
More about Busy Bags
How you want to use busy bags is totally up to you! For a week away, I found it really useful to just use existing items from our collection of toy and make them fresh for ‘Darth’ by removing them from his range of toys that are available to him on a day-to-day basis. I also found it was great to just give one busy bag each day (rather than having them all available,) to encourage ‘Darth’ to make the most of the play opportunities he was given. If he had a particular favourite, we also got that out later in the week, too. Finally, try to invest in high quality items when you can. They provide better quality play opportunities and sensory experiences.
|About Building Blocks and Acorns
Louise is a Primary School Teacher and part-time nursery worker, as well as blogging about the sensory and nature-inspired activities (amongst other things), she does with her son ‘Darth.’
Find more ideas for busy bags for your toddlers on our Pinterest board!
Mihaela runs Best Toys 4 Toddlers blog and loves to come up with new ideas how to use old toys her 2 daughters keep leaving on the floor to slip over. She loves them despite the fact that they call her mommy few hundred times a day, and it makes her nuts.