Busy Bags – What is a "Busy Bag?"

Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to participate in a Busy Bag Exchange through my local twins club.   At a play group this spring, as our then 15-month-old twins played, my mom friends and I discussed (as much as one can discuss while wrangling two at a time) our latest Pinterest pins.  The conversation soon led to busy bags, at which point my friend had the brilliant idea of organizing an exchange.

Busy Bag Main

Fast forward about 5 months when we finally brought the topic up again (yes, you could say we got a bit distracted chasing our toddlers around this summer) and found the motivation to actually get it organized and done.  We thought there might be enough interest in our twins club, and we put out an invite.  We quickly realized there was a huge interest – an interest which led to an awesome exchange with 20 moms participating.  In the end, we each took home a big bag full of fantastically creative and engaging busy bags for our toddlers.  To be honest, I’m still not sure who is more excited about the exchange, the toddlers or the moms.

Part I:  What is a Busy Bag?

To begin this three part series, let’s first start with a simple definition.

Busy Bag 1

Busy Bag (n):  A toddler friendly activity (that fits in a bag) designed to keep little hands and minds “busy.”

Busy bags are great for your kid(s) when you need a few minutes to prep dinner, clean up, or pass out on the couch.  (Ok, so the last one is perhaps not recommended, but we all know how lovely it can be to watch your children happily playing and learning independently.)  Many of these activity bags also provide wonderful opportunities for some parent-child interactive learning as well.  (This is especially true if you have young toddlers as they will definitely need instruction and “demos” in order to play safely on their own.)  Of course, supervision is recommended with all busy bags as some have smaller parts, and the bags themselves are typically not part of the activity, just for storage.

Here are some examples to get you started.  (Please follow any links for tutorials and other resources for each activity.)

1.  Paint Sample Color Matching – This activity is great for color recognition as well as for working on fine motor skills.

Busy Bag 2

Busy Bag 5

Tot School – Matching Color Shades

 2.  I Spy Fish – If you’re handy with a sewing machine, this makes for a great road trip game.

Busy Bag 3

Make It and Love It – “I Spy Bags”

 3.  Popsicle Stick Puzzles – Print out some toddler friendly images, cut them up, glue them to some sticks and you have instant puzzles.

Busy Bag 4

Busy Bag 6

Flip Chick Designs – Popsicle Stick Puzzle Tutorial

 4.  Number Boards Good for little fingers, number recognition, and emerging counting skills.

Busy Bag 7

Crafts~N~Things for Children – Homemade Number Boards

 5.  Noodle Stringing – Simply store some fun noodle shapes and a string in a container, and you have a great on-the-go activity great for impatient little ones at a dinner out.

Busy Bag 9

6.  Worms in the Grass Another great motor-skill builder as little ones will love using the “birdie” to get the “worms.”

Busy Bag 10

Babblin’ Brooke – Worms in the Grass

 7.  Flippin’ Cookies Younger toddlers can have fun just flippin’ cookies while older ones can work on matching and memory.

Busy Bag 11

Unsolicited Advice: Free Printables – Flippin’ Cookies

8.  Pom Pom Color Match – Color code an ice cube tray with construction paper circles, then let your little ones match the corresponding colored pom pom balls.

Busy Bag 13

Busy Bag 14

9.  Cups and Straws – With some varying sized straws and a few strategically drilled holes in a plastic cup, you have an awesome fine motor skill activity for little hands. (How many times are they more interested in playing with the straw than drinking from the juice box, anyway?)

Busy Bag 15

Busy Bag 16

10.  Homemade Playdough and Noodles Some easy homemade playdough combined with a variety of noodle sizes are sure to lead to some fun creations.

Busy Bag 18

Cheerios and Lattes – The Best Playdough Recipe

 (For Ideas #11-20, click here.)

Busy Bag

Looking for more busy bag ideas?  Follow along (via FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Blogger) or visit Part II: Busy Bag Inspiration and Resources for #11-20 and additional websites with busy bag ideas.  


Thanks for visiting!


For more on Busy Bags Ideas, see:

Busy Bags: Part II – Inspiration and Resources

Busy Bags: Part III – Hosting an Exchange

Busy Bags Pinterest Board


Shared with:  Mom on TimeoutThe Epic Adventures of a Modern MomTwo-in-DiapersLittle Becky HomemadeSix Sisters StuffFor the Kids FridaysCheerios and LattesI Can Teach My ChildHealthy Mommy, Healthy BabyKids Co-op




  1. I love your blog! so glad I found it! I’m in love with the paint sample matching… Maybe i need to make this for when my nieces and nephew visit!
    I’m your newest follower!

  2. Hi Holli, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com), and I’m visiting from Fantabulous Friday.

    These are fantastic! Now I have some gift ideas for my nephew. Thanks for sharing!

    Anyway, it’s nice to “meet” you! Hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

  3. ((scrambling to find the Pin feature on my new computer!!)))

    Love this idea. The exchange is a great idea, especially since I was thinking how I don’t have the time to make all of this wonderful activities. I could, however, make a couple, and share!

    I also like to make something, by hand, for each of the kiddos for Christmas. If I start now….

    thanks, as always, for sharing!

    • Yes, the exchange definitely helps. Motivation to get them done and only one activity to do (less to buy/cut/sew in the long run, too). We had a great time with this…and the women in my club did an amazing job with their activities. Thanks for stopping by…hope you find a few you can use. :)

  4. I love it! Awhile ago a moms group I knew had a busy bag exchange– it was great because sometimes you may only need 5 or 6 little pipe cleaners or pom poms to make one busy bag activity, and then you have leftovers. Instead of buying the supplies to make each activity and having leftovers, you can focus on buying enough to make enough of that activity to use up the leftovers, and then swap!

    I’m so excited for the ideas what you’ve shared here- I pinned it for reference!

  5. I love your activity bags, I have just put together a swap using Activities In A Bag that I am doing a review for can’t wait for the little ones to try them out. Pinning to add to our list of activity bags thanks for sharing!! I am a new follower!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

  6. Great ideas!!!! Busy bags are awesome. Here’s a post on the busy bags I made for my playgroup over the summer.


  7. Love these ideas. Perfect for little hands!!

  8. I am so excited to see these ideas. I just participated in my first busy bag swap and I loved it. Right now my Miss 2 years 9 months is busy with her busy bags and I’m catching up on some work! I love these new ideas, pinning this for my next swap :) Visiting from the Kids Co Op.

  9. I love ALL of these ideas! I can;t wait to try some, I know my sweetie will have fun with so many of these! Thanks for sharing at Sweet Saturday!

  10. Awesome ideas! Thanks for linking up to PIN MEme! I’ve pinned & tweeted this!

    Diana Rambles
    Bento Blog Network
    Link Rink

  11. I am so glad someone pinned this. This has to be the absolute greatest idea ever!!! I can so how I can easily modify these for my 4 (soon to be 5) yo when I am trying to sew or engage in other activities that mommy “really doesn’t need help with right now”. Thanks to your group for putting the idea into action

  12. We just finished a busy bag swap, I’m adding a link to your blog and sending some of our viewers your way! Thanks for the wonderful ideas!


  13. I LOVE all this! I am attending a “busy bag swap” in May. I may steal one of these super cute ideas!! Can you please tell me where you found the little containers for the noodle stringing??

    • Enjoy your swap. We had a great time at ours last summer. The mom that made the noodle stringing activity had a couple different types of containers. I’m sorry, but I’m not sure where she found them. I want to say a craft store? Good luck!

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. LOVE these ideas! I’m going to be sharing/making some of them with my local MOPS group. Quick question for you…where did you find the adorable animal (owl, dino, bird and duckies) printout sheet for the popsicle stick puzzles?

    • I believe our mom who made these found them at Just So Scrappy (www.justsoscrappy.blogspot.com). Or, you could even find some clip art you like and then resize to fit your popsicle sticks. Have fun with your MOPS group!


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