In addition to being a talented wordsmith, our volunteer writer Susan Young also happens to be a crafty mom! We asked her to share her experience with creating busy bags for her young child. But wait - what's a busy bag? We'll let Susan take it from here ...
When I first saw a post on one of my Facebook groups asking if anyone was interested in joining a busy bag exchange, I was immediately interested. I had no clue what busy bags were but I was keen on joining a group with a common interest and creating some toys which were educationally fun. So you ask, what is a busy bag?
A busy bag is a child-friendly activity that fits inside a little bag (Zip lock bag) that can be pulled out anytime to keep your little ones busy, such as in waiting rooms, eating out at restaurants, or while traveling. Busy bags are usually DIY hand crafted projects that contain an element of learning. Luckily, I had the pleasure to share this exchange with a group of 9 talented crafty moms to create 9 bags for children, ages Pre-K to Grade 1 shown below.
The 1st bag contained a felt ice-cream cone. It’s a very cute and simple creation made of colored felt, cut into ice cream and candy shapes. Your child could ask “What color do you want?” You could respond to your child by asking to build a color combination, afterwards pretend to eat it. Otherwise, sorting, lining them up randomly was another play option.
The 2nd bag was called Sum-Thing’s Fishy. This bag contained 6 foam fish with paperclips, 1 magnet rod, 1 pond, and die. Kids would take turns catching the fish. The player with the highest total wins.
The 3rd bag contained fuzzy straws and beads. Ideas for play were open ended. You could make bracelets, count, shape sort, or make patterns. Your child could practise eye hand coordination threading the beads.
The 4th bag was food cut outs, to learn fractions. For younger children, it was like a puzzle for simple matching.
The 5th bag was a felt ladybug with dots and numbers from 1 to 10. I made this bag so a child could place the correct dots for the number shown. Otherwise, they could count the dots and learn to recognize the numbers.
The 6th bag was a baker’s kit with homemade playdough, cookie cutters, candles, spoon, wooden rolling pin, beaded cut outs, and cupcake holders. Your child could use their imagination and pretend to make anything.
The 7th bag hadcolor matching using clothing pins and paint chips. You would match the clothes pin with the corresponding color. Your child could build good hand dexterity just practising pinching the clothes pins. As developing hand dexterity is the beginning of building strength and grip for writing.
The 8th bag had colored chips for memory matching. Your child would turn the colored portion face down and flip each circle over to match.
The 9th bag contained multi-colored craft sticks with velco at the ends. Your child could build shapes or letters by connecting them together.
Most of us searched on Pinterest to get busy bag ideas. Pinterest is a visual social sharing site that allows you to search, manage, and bookmark large collections of themed images and content. You can build your own collection by pinning them for future reference or uploading your own content to be pinned by others. This site is great for getting inspiration and ideas for creating almost anything. There are many age-appropriate bag ideas which you can pin.
Our goal was to assemble 9 of the same busy bags (Pre-K/Grade level) of $2 to $4 value. The end result, everyone would have 9 different bags after the exchange.
What’s nice about this exchange is that everyone made a one-of-a-kind bag, using simple and inexpensive materials. It’s refreshing to see that imagination, motor skills, and concentration can all be accomplished playing with simple handmade creations. There were no rules or limits on how your child could play. They can make things up and play independently in a quiet environment while practising various skills. It’s also something that parents can do together with their child. I also liked the fact that you can take these bags anywhere, as it’s small and lightweight for transportation.
My take away, from this experience is that I got a chance to connect with a few others in the community while sharing something I like to do - when I have the time to do it! However, it was fun and interesting to see each other’s creations and to see the fruits our labour - seeing the kids enjoy their new toys.