Busy Bags 101

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Busy Bags 101

Have you seen the phrase Busy Bags floating around online and wondered what all the buzz is about? Not sure what a Busy Bag is or how to make them? Well, you have come to the right place. Busy Bags 101 will guide you through the basics of Busy Bags and the potential of hosting a Busy Bag Swap.

Busy Bags 101

1. What is a Busy Bag?

Simply put a busy bag is a bag that contains an activity that your child can use on their own with little supervision or instruction. Busy Bags are meant to be engaging and to help keep a young learner busy while mom is teaching older students, while waiting at the doctors, or while traveling in the car. Wanna see some busy bags in action? Check out these busy bags being used by toddlers.

2. How do you make them?

You need two key components: the bag (plastic slider or fabric zippered pouch) and the activity. I prefer the fabric zippered pencil pouch with clear window for durability and portability. The type of activity you choose to put into the bags depends on the age of child and the amount of time needing occupied. You can make an activity. You can buy an activity from the dollar store or you can gather items from around your house to make a themed activity bag like Scientist, Office, or Princess!

busy bag examples


3. Where do you find ideas for them?

All over the internet you can find tons of ideas, but you could easily get overwhelmed! I have created some pinterest boards broken down by ages to help guide you in your activity selection. If you need a pattern for finger puppets, then check out my Turkey Felt Finger Puppets.

Ages 12 months to 2 years old

BB 12 mths


Ages 2 1/2 years to 4 years old

BB 2 yrs


Ages 5 years and up

BB 5 yrs

Fall Busy Bags

BB Fall

Christmas Busy Bags

BB christmas


4. Fun things to include in your Busy Bags: 

We have found lots of fun things at Dollar stores, garage sales, and online. I’ve included some suggestions of things you could use to create some more awesome busy bags!

5. How can I host a Busy Bag Swap?

There are a couple of ways to host a swap. The first is to just ask your friends and family to sign-up for an activity and make a bag for each person in the group. This sounds pretty easy in theory but you run into lots of hesitation from people who REALLY want to make Busy bags but are a little intimidated. You may get lots of interest but very few people to actually sign-up.

A more feasible approach is to pick the activities that you would like to have made and create a google doc, facebook event, or blog post that people can sign-up. Make sure your chosen activities are linked to a place online of how to make them (via blogs, pinterest, or your own blog post of what each activity is). Set the date, time, and place of where the swap would take place.

Be sure to communicate with your group members to be sure they understand what is expected of them in the swap.

Third option would be a make-the-bags at the swap event. You could provide all the materials to make the busy bags and charge a fee for each participant. This could work very well for those who have friends that are not crafty or creative but really want to participate. I have also offered to sign-up for spots for a friend by making the bags for her and charging a fee (usually $1-2 per activity bag made.)

If you love busy bags and need help or want to view my google doc please contact me via facebook or leave a blog comment! I am more than willing to share tips and tricks of how to run swaps with a few moms and a ton of moms:)

Have you seen my other Busy Bag posts:

About Thaleia

Wife, Mother of four homeschooled children, Frugal, Creative, Blogger, Student, Christ-Follower.
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21 Responses to Busy Bags 101

  1. Elise says:

    Timely post! I’ve been thinking about putting so e busy bags together for my two-year-old. Thanks for the ideas!
    Elise recently posted..Italian Beef In The CrockpotMy Profile

  2. Cynthia L. says:

    This is a really great idea. I really love the idea of a swap. Kids get tired of what they have at home and would find it a special treat to get a new bag!
    Cynthia L. recently posted..Blind Spot Nut Butters – Great product, great companyMy Profile

  3. These are great! I need to make some again as soon as we aren’t in the middle of a move.

  4. I’m a “Grandma” not a homeschool mom–but what a great idea for Christmas gifts for the grandkids! I can also see these as super ideas for the long plane or road trips when the kids come to visit! Thanks for all your creative ideas!

  5. Andrea says:

    This is so smart! I usually bring my ipad to keep my daughter quiet while we are waiting in public places, but this sounds like a much better idea. I think it would be so much fun to have a Busy Bag Swap. I’ll have to round up some friends. Great idea!
    Andrea recently posted..Food Allergies in Children – My StoryMy Profile

  6. Lauren says:

    What great ideas! Thank you for sharing at our Pinning for Play link party!

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  8. Jenni S says:

    Love his idea! I’m going to try and host my own exchange. Is love to see the google doc you use and any ideas or tips for a first time organizer 🙂

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  10. Beth says:

    I love busy bags! I was able to participate in a swap when my little man was a toddler and those bags have served us well for years! I’m going to take a look at your ideas for ages 5 and up, because I’m always looking for things to keep him occupied and somewhat quiet during school time.

  11. Loved busy bags when mine stopped napping! They used them for quiet time.
    I can’t wait to check out some ideas for the 5 and up crowd! Sounds like a good idea like you said for when I am working on school work with one child.

  12. ThaleiaMaher says:

    I have an entire pinterest board dedicated to the over 5 crowd! Hope you check it out: http://www.pinterest.com/Something2Offer/busy-bags-5-yrs/. Hope you find something fun and easy to make.

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