Friday, November 4, 2011

Busy Bag Exchange & Ideas

I keep seeing ideas for Busy Bags all over on Pinterest and other blogs that I come across. 

My cute friend Kristin set up a Busy Bag Exchange, you probably remember me mentioning it before, and had QUITE the turn out.  Anyone that signed up had to do so by a certain date and sign up for a specific activity so everyone would know how many bags to make of their activity.  She had 27 people sign up for the Toddler age group and 20 people signed up for the Preschool age group.  Me?  I signed up for both.  That means that I came home with a whopping 47 activities! 


I may have gone slightly insane in the process of making 47 busy bags for the exchange but I am telling you, it was SO worth it!  If you ever get a chance to do a busy bag exchange, I highly recommend it. 

My kids (including the older ones… though K and A may not want to admit it ;)) have been having so much fun with them.  We haven’t had a chance to really go through all of them yet but I wanted to show you a couple of fast favorites.

For those that may not know what a Busy Bag is, it’s basically homemade activity, usually for little ones, that fits into a gallon size zip top bag.  Whoever came up with the idea is a GENIUS!  I have no idea who to credit…

THANK YOU to the Busy Bag Goddesses!  {I figure it MUST be a woman… or women, no?}

Some busy bags are great for fine motor skills, some for learning, and some just for pure entertainment. 

And now… some of our favorites, so far:

Pipe Cleaner Fun

busy bag 13

Just take an old food container, clean it out, poke holes in the lid (just big enough for a pipe cleaner) and VOILA!  B loves this one.  It kept him quietly busy for 20 minutes when I introduced him to it.  I think another of my cute friends made this one… Sharlee.

Pom Pom Stuff In

busy bag

I think Kristin made this.  C, B, and H all love it.  Just burn a hole in the lid of an airtight container, just big enough for a pom pom to fit through.  Easy Peasy!

Gel Writer

busy bag 1

Take a dollar store bottle of hair gel, fill a gallon sized zipper bag, add up to 1 T. of glitter and a few drops of food coloring.  Zip bag closed making sure you have no air pockets.  Mash the bag until it’s all incorporated.  I like My kids like to smash the imprint of my hand their hands into it.

Felt Fishies

busy bag 5

This is the one that ALL the kids love, after all, who doesn’t love to go fishing?  My friend Maria made this one but she doesn’t have a blog so I can’t link you :(

I don’t know where she got the template for the fishies – maybe she just made it up.  But just trace 2 of the same fish shape in every color of felt you plan to use.  Hot glue them together with either a small magnet, paper clip or soda can tab inside near the mouth.  She had some of the paper clips slightly sticking out.  Glue a googly eye on and you’ve got your fish! 

To make the ‘pole’, just take a small wooden dowel, tape some yarn or string near the end, glue 2 round magnets to the end, sandwiching the string.  Ta da!!

Chalk Blocks

busy bag 8

Ok, I’ll admit it, THIS is my very favorite!  Maybe I have an obsession with chalk.  Maybe.  But you can’t tell me it’s not totally awesome!  Four small blocks of wood, painted with chalkboard paint.  So simple and yet the possibilities are endless.  C likes to take one block at a time and fill the whole block up with white chalk (hence the white-ish block in the pic).  The girls like to draw one pic and spread it amongst all 4 blocks then take their picture apart.

Felt Shapes

busy bag 12

I think this one is totally clever.  H really likes this one.  So does C.  I haven’t really let B play with it yet because I’m pretty sure he’ll find fun in throwing the little pieces EVERYWHERE!

It’s a DVD case with a piece of white felt clipped into the clippy things (I’m sure that’s the technical name) on the inside.  Then just cut a bunch of different shapes out of felt in all lots of colors.  H likes to make designs with it.  C just thinks it’s cool that felt sticks to felt.

So, are you ready to host your own busy bag exchange?  Go for it!  Just make sure you invite me.  ;)

I’ll do another Busy Bag post once we’ve had a chance to go through a few more of them.  I need to show you the ones I did, also.

**To see more Busy Bag ideas, click here**



Kristen said...

How cool! I love all these ideas and would love to be a part of one of these exchanges. Sounds fun and challenging! Glad to find you on the tt&j linky party!

Chamorritamom said...

I really like all your ideas! I am going to need to try some of these out. I could really use some quiet activities. Came by through be different Act normal link party and now your newest follower!

Charlotte said...

I just need a little clarification on the Gel Writer project. You said a dollar store bottle of gel. What kind of gel are you talking about? Is it hand sanitizer gel? I would really like to do this project for myself. Oops, I mean my grandchildren!! :-)

Brooke said...

Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry. I will be fixing that right away. I meant to put HAIR gel. Let me know if I can help with anything else.


Sharlee said...

This was so awesome! I'm glad B loves the toy, it was a big hit for J several months ago. I was really lucky to be able to make it. We need to do it again, but like after the holidays...

Natasha said...

some really great ideas

Would LOVE it if you could share this on my link party Serenity Saturday over at

Natasha xx

Vanilla Bean Crafts said...

What a fun idea! I can't believe there was 47!! Thanks so much for linking up to Vanilla Bean Girls today!!

Jen said...

Very cool! All of the activities your shared are ones my kids would love! Hey, come link up to my new party, the Head to Head Showdown at

Shiloh said...

Oh wow! What an awesome idea! The busy bag exchange and the ideas you had. Definitely something to keep in mind.:)

Carrie said...

Such an easy and great activities!

I featured it over at my new blog, Big Ideas for Little Learners.

Thanks for sharing!

rachel b. said...

Thanks for sharing these! I've heard of swaps but no one does them in my area so I've setup a site for centralized idea-sharing:

Also, for those that can't or don't have time to make a variety of bags, we do offer to sell all bags featured on our site! If you ever want to consider being a guest blogger on our site, just let me know. We'd love to have you!
p.s.We're also on Pinterest under "BusyBagCentral" or under my own pins "RachelMayBailey"!

Toddler Busy Bags | crystalcoastfamilyfun said...

[...] (Preschool activities) [...]

Jackie said... did you do it for people with multiple kids...I have twins and each kid wouldmneed one of each or they would fight.....

Brooke said...

I guess you could just sign up twice but that would also mean you need to make twice as many bags. I have 2 little boys that normally fight over things like this but because there were so many to choose from they didn't mind having different activities to play with.

Brigette Keeney said...

I love your post on busy bags, I have made a bunch for my own kids and they are addicted! I did a roundup of bags we have made on my blog and linked to your tutorial, you can check it out here: Thanks for the inspiration!

Brooke said...

Brigette, I love your post! You did a great job putting it together. Thanks for linking back to me.

Busy Bags | Babes in Deutschland said...

[...] Chalk Blocks- This is Grayson’s favorite bag from a swap, I’m not sure if he likes coloring or erasing more? Inspired by Bablin’ Brooke. [...]

Haley said...

Love Love Love the busy bag ideas. Im planning on doing the chalk blocks for a group of children. Do you have any ideas where I can get cheap blocks. What size would you recommend?

Brooke said...

Haley, I would say just scrap wood... 2x4's would work great. Cut it into smaller chunks (maybe 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 or 3x3). Sand the edges so they won't give the kids splinters and then paint.

I'm so glad you like the ideas. Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any other questions!

Busy Bags | Life Lesson Plans said...

[...] Chalk Blocks- This is Grayson’s favorite bag from a swap, I’m not sure if he likes coloring or erasing more? Inspired by Bablin’ Brooke. [...]