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Keeping A Toddler Busy: Busy Bags

If you are a momma like me, you have a “To-Do” list made out every single day, but with a little one clinging to your leg, that list hardly ever gets accomplished. In my desperation to just be able to entertain my one-year-old and get some chores done around the house, I searched Pinterest and found a slew of things to make to keep my little one busy. They call them “Busy Bags” the greatest mom idea EVER if you ask me. Basically, you take a few household items, create a game or activity out of them, throw the items into a packable bag and ‘bada-bing’ you have hours worth of fun. Forget going out and buying a brand new thirty dollar toy, try these!

So here is a list of some of my favorite Busy Bags that my little guy absolutely loves. And to be honest, he is totally entertained with a cleaned out mayonnaise jar with a screw on top. He will sit and put that thing on, take it off, put it on, take it off. Thank you to whoever invented these things, because without them the dishes would NEVER get done…


  1. Pool of Balls – I know this isn’t a “bag” per-say, but it is quite genius in my opinion and my little guy loves it. The great thing about it is the weather is warming up and we can be outside to work on the yard (which is definitely needed!). All you do is fill a kiddie pool with water and put some balls or even marbles in it. Babies LOVE this! Here is a blog that has some fun play things for kids, and where I got this simple, yet ingenious idea – http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2012/08/oh-baby-simple-water-play-with-balls.html
  2.  Water Bottle and Straws – It’s that simple…all you need is a clean and dry water bottle without the cap on it and some straws. Give your little one a cup full of pretty colored straws and cut them into long segments. Not much instruction is needed here, they usually know what to do! But kids love this! My son will drop the straws in the bottle, dump them out…drop the straws in the bottle, dump them out…you get the point!
  3. Latches Board – Oh my goodness, if you have not made one of these yet, you have got to do this – especially if you have a toddler son. Basically you just go to Michaels and pick up one of those wooden wall art pieces that you paint and decorate (or any kind of flat wooden item that won’t give your little guy any splinters) and attach items from the hardware store for them to tinker with. For example, door chain locks, door hinges, cabinet pulls with links around them. Check out the picture from this link to get a better idea of what I’m talking about: http://craftgawker.com/post/2012/09/17/38038/
  4. Edible Busy Bags – If you have older children learning to count, this Busy Bag will be their utmost favorite! Basically, all you need is a box of graham crackers, some chocolate syrup and marshmallows. Toddlers love this, but it is something you will have to sit down and do with them or else they just end up eating the crackers. So, basically, break the graham crackers in half and lay them on the table or high chair. On the graham crackers, with chocolate syrup, write the numbers 1-6 (or whatever numbers you would like) and give the child a handful of marshmallows. The goal is if the graham cracker has the number “2” on it, the toddler must place 2 marshmallows on it, same for “3”, “4”, “5” and so on. Once they complete the game they get to eat everything! Yum!
  5. I Spy Bottle – This is great for little ones. All you need is a plastic see-through bottle filled with rice, buttons, little knick-knacks, whatever you have laying around the house that will fit and is relatively small. Glue the bottle cap shut on top and attach a card that offers instructions such as: “I Spy with my little eye…Can you find these items?” And draw or print out pictures of the items you have inside. This is great for road trips! You can make several and switch things up inside to give them new things to look for.
  6.  Cardboard Mailbox – If you are feeling crafty, this is tons of fun! All you need is a big cardboard box and some masking tape. Follow this link to find a picture of the cardboard mailbox: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9KbKnKfv5-s/UJlVukWE18I/AAAAAAAAHy0/0xQbQuaykKg/s1600/Box.jpg Little people LOVE putting “mail” in the mailbox and getting it out. To make it even more fun, write your children letters everyday for them to get out of their personal mailbox!


So, those are my top favorites that we have attempted, or that I find to be fun! I hope this helps all you stay-at-home mommies, daddies, or even full-time working parents who just need a minute to get something done while your children play. Not to mention, the creativity that this type of play harvests!

About Mara Watts


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