If you missed part 1 of this article head back to my last post (Busy Bags/ Nursing basket Part 1) and check it out!
So if you are expecting, and creating this box for your older child, I have one piece of advice: PREPARE IT EARLY! I was luckily able to get the remaining contents of this box together fairly quickly- but a surprise reappearance of
morning sickness all day sickness, along with a baby who decided to make an early entrance into the world nearly left this box pretty empty.
Here are the remaining activities that Layla loves, and continues to use nearly 3 months after her sisters arrival.
Wipe Box Monster
- Empty wipe box
- Decorating items such as construction paper, stickers, googley eyes etc.
- Items to feed the monster (see below for suggestions)
I’ve seen this cute little monster box around, and for round one I spent a lot of time making it super cute awesome looking. Bad choice- Layla ripped him apart the first day. Your toddler doesn’t care if used used sparkly paper or giant goggley eyes. I pieced the poor monster back together with construction paper and tape and she loved it just the same.
What I love about this little monster is that (assuming it lasts the beating your child will inevitably give it) you can use it for a variety of activities! When I first saw this, it was being used to feed the monster words from the same word family. Clearly, we are no where near being able to do that, so I adapted it for skills more at Layla’s ability level. We have used the box for practicing:
- Colors (we used pom pons- but you can use anything that has a variety of colors). I would assign a color (Ex: “Lets feed the monster BLUE colors”) and she would feed the monster until we used all of that color, than we would switch the color.
- Shapes- Tangrams are the perfect size for this. Repeat as above but this time with various shapes. We started with circle, square, triangle, heart and star, and have been able to progressively add more difficult shapes like rectangles and hexagons.
- Letters- Use your monster with letter cards (if you don’t have any- just make your own with construction paper and marker) to identify letters, or to match upper and lower case letters together
- Motor Skills- Sometimes I just give Layla a bin of random objects and let her feed them to the monster. Since the objects are a variety of shapes and sizes she has to figure out how to fit them in there. Sometimes the objects are too big to fit and we talked about how you can figure that out- she actually began using the words big and small frequently, and correctly thanks to this activity.
We have even begun some VERY basic spelling. Since Layla knows her letters we are working on spelling her name, Mommy, Daddy, and Olivia. I tell her to feed the monster the name and we try to lay all of the letters of her name out and than feed them monster.
Brown Bear Activity Cards
- Brown Bear Printables
- Laminator (if you have a Beckers or Lake Shore Learning nearby these tend to be the least expensive for laminating).
I know its the teacher in me, but I love nothing more than a FREE printable. I came across this fantastic set of activities to go with the book “Brown Bear Brown Bear”- and seriously what kid doesn’t love this book?
I printed these activity cards and laminated them (lesson learned with the wipes monster- make your activities as indestructible as possible) and placed them in a bag with one of the four copies of this book that we have. These cards are great because they work on a variety of skills from matching and colors to counting and sequencing!
My favorite set of cards in here is a pack that allows your child to match the animal illustration from the book to the real life image of that animal.
You can find this activity pack here.
- Printable alphabet road cards
- Toy cars (The dollar store had TONS of them)
Its not just a boy thing, kids love cars. When I taught first grade the appearance of cars in the indoor recess bin could often bring on fighting that looked like the beginnings of World War Three. There are tons of great ways to use cars for learning, but in this busy bag I chose to focus on letter identification. These fantastic printable letters are a FREE DOWNLOAD from ‘Young and Lively Kindergarten’s’ teachers pay teacher page.
I opted for the lower case letters since Layla already had a grasp on upper case, but if letter identification is a new skill you are beginning I suggest starting with the upper case letters. Better yet, print them both! You can use these to identify letters, match upper and lower case letters, or even to spell! Driving the car over the letters also helps kids to develop an idea of what its like to write these letters as well.
- Flash cards of any type! Choose cards that your child has shown an interest in, or are related to skills they are currently working on.
I wouldn’t often suggest flash cards, and I would never recommend that you use these to “drill” your child- but these cards actually worked great as an addition to our activity box. This was without a doubt the easiest bag to put together. I chose alphabet cards and sight word cards for our bags. I really just allow Layla to use these in whatever manner she wants- its really interesting to see how the mind of a toddler works. Sometimes I will give her sorting activities like “find all the animal cards” “find a card with the letter b” etc. but you can see her little brain working on the concept of sorting when you allow her to do her own thing. The sight word cards with pictures were more of a hit for us than the letter cards.
- Construction paper
- Writing pad
- Coloring book or printable coloring pages
This final bag is filled with items for artistic play. Around 18 months old Layla got really into coloring, stickers, and trying to duplicate images that we had drawn. This bag is great because I don’t need to go hunting down each item she wants, they are all together! The stickers and blank writing pad were the favorite for us. Older children may be able to handle more advanced items such as stamps and markers- but don’t forget the purpose of these bags is to give you a break! So keep it simple 🙂
What was your favorite busy bag that we created?