I was about 28 weeks pregnant with Olivia when it finally hit me “oh crap, I’m about to have two kids under two”. One of my main concerns (on a VERY long list of concerns) was entertaining Layla during those times where a newborn was going to require the majority of my attention, namely while I was nursing. I needed activities that would not only hold Layla’s attention, but also required little to no parental help.
My solution: busy bags. I created eight of these bags for our “activity box”. This cost me in total $35 and was worth every penny.
Layla has become a pro at her activity box, and it has saved us from more than a few tantrums. If you’re using busy bags/activity boxes, know that the key is taking time to train your child on how to use each activity appropriately so that they do not become frustrated. Practicing activities also allows you to find things you do, or do not, like about each activity, and tweak them to your liking.
So what’s in our activity box?
- Small containers
- Construction paper for labels
- Any color specific objects (cubes, pom pons, popsicle sticks…anything!)
I got all the supplies for this activity at the dollar store (#winning). I simply labeled colored construction paper appropriately, and taped it inside a small Tupperware container. Layla takes out the cubes and sorts them by color, dumps them all back out, and goes at it again! This activity is great because it’s easy to switch up- we have used various other objects that have allowed us to also sort by color, shape, and size.
- Inexpensive cookie sheet
- Magnets (letters, numbers, pictures, etc.)
This is one of Layla’s favorites! I kept this activity very simple- I took some magnets that we already had and put them in a sealed container. Layla takes out the board and the magnets and plays in any way she wants! Done. Could it be any easier? We have a large magnet board in our basement (check out our giant magnet board post for directions on how to make this) but the cookie sheet makes the activity portable. If you don’t have magnets at home I’d highly recommend these:
The alphabet set is a no-brainer. Layla knows all the letters in the alphabet thanks to this and loves finding letters that you call out for her. The picture magnets have really helped in expanding her vocabulary. I wish I was lying when I tell you the kid walks around calling herself “Queen Layla” thanks to this magnet:
Sesame Street box
- Old travel wipes box
- Sesame Street cut outs.
I found a Sesame Street book in the dollar bin at target that was designed to help kids with their cutting skills. God knows I was not giving Layla a pair of scissors, but I knew I could use this somehow. I ended up cutting the pieces out myself and laminating them. I put them in an old wipes box and called it our “Sesame box”.
Layla mainly uses this for creative play with the characters, but we have just begun practicing adjectives using this box. Layla picks a character and we describe it in one word. She usually says a color or an emotion based on how the characters face looks- but it’s a start! The book also had some great little cut outs that made 3-4 piece puzzles for her to work on putting together.
Repurposing items is a great way to make fun kids activities!
One of my favorite things about this activity is that it’s very portable. Around week 37 of my pregnancy my doctor thought I was having appendicitis. If that wasn’t bad enough, I had to go to the hospital right away, and bring Layla until my husband got there from work. Yep, an 18 month old… In a hospital… Mommy hooked up to machines… Unable to regulate her shenanigans properly. It was the makings for a complete disaster. Thank goodness I grabbed this box as I rushed out the door because Layla sat and played so nicely with this until she was able to get out of there. (Side note: 12 hours of testing determined I was NOT having appendicitis, THANKS OLIVIA)
You can easily recreate this activity using any coloring book with characters or animals your child likes. You could even use an actual book that has gotten beaten up/is missing pages etc. (and if you have a toddler I’m sure you have a few of these laying around!)
Check back in for part 2 to find out what else is in our activity box 🙂