All Busy Bags are available for order at just $3 per busy bags of your choice + shipping.
BusyBagKits are $20 each + shipping.
Please email to inquire for purchase.
You are your child's best teacher! Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Alphabet Match-up busy bag

Alphabet Matchup busy bag
This activity is pretty straight forward – give the alphabet sheet to the child then the letters and let them match up.  But there are actually several ways to play!

To start, we usually dump this bag onto a cookie sheet since the letters are magnetic and will stay on the page better with the metal sheet underneath. Then let the child match the magnet letters to those on the paper.  Another way to encourage color recognition is to have the child place all the yellow letters first, for example.  Or you can work on letter recognition and ask them to only place the letters in their name.

This is a favorite busy bag because of how quick it is to clean up! Once done, swipe into the bag and close shut!  Ta-da! Maybe that’s why I love these bags so much...or maybe because the bags fold down so small (making me feel like there is somehow more space in my small house *wink*); or maybe because it’s a tool to learn and doesn’t include electronics; or whatever the reason, I just enjoy these activities just as much as my kiddos do!
finished product example

The criteria for all Busy Bags includes the following:
> non-messy and/or quick clean up
>totally independent in use
>reusable products
>and interesting enough to last 15-30 minutes

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Bean Counter busy bag

Bean Counter busy bag
According to our Parent Educator with the Parents As Teachers program, many of the children entering Kindergarten can count 1 to 10 but, if you put 5 items in-front of them, they don’t know how to count them….meaning that they don’t realize that numbers are associated with quantities of items.  She said that parents do a good job of helping them learn the sequence of numbers but it’s also VERY important to actually have the child count out items when memorizing their numbers.  Association and visual counting is just as important as is knowing which number comes next!

One of the easiest ways to help a preschooler learn to visually count is by providing objects for the user to see and touch when practicing their counting.  This busy bag, called Bean Counter, is a fun tool to grow this skill.

The bag contains a large handful of dry beans and a stack of 10 index cards; each with one number on the front and coordinating number of stickers on the back. 

Upon opening this bag for my 2-year-old for the first time, I instructed him to use one card at a time and place the beans on each sticker as he counted aloud, then announce when completed.  Well, that smart cookie realized the numbers were also stickers -- right after I gave him the #1, he announced he was done! I look over to see that he’s placed a bean on the actual number….funny kid.  At least he did follow directions!
We then reviewed what he was ‘supposed to do’ and the bean counting took a bit longer this time. :)  He had a lot of fun inspecting the stickers on each card because each set was different.  Plus the cards with higher numbers had smaller stickers and he spent a lot of time just looking at everything before placing beans. 
My 4-year-old jumped in to ‘help’ and he showed more interest in completing the cards in order than focusing on the actual stickers….I guess the activity interest will vary a lot from child to child as well as with each use. 
I’m not a big fan of using flashcards because I’m not diligent enough to present them regularly but….this activity is fun because it’s self-correcting and is self-led play.
upclose of hand counting

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Ideas, smi-deas.... a little history on Busy Bag Central....

The hope for this blog is for it to become a centralized 'meet-up' for other crafting moms as well as being an 'idea-central'....a go-to place when we, as moms, are feeling idea-less and need encouragement for things to do with crafts with our little ones.  

You're invited!
You're invited to leave feedback, to idea-share, and we may even have guest posts!  The product-selling side of this is only for those who don't have the time or resources to create these crafts.  I've read post after post in other mom-blogs of those who wish they could have these but found that it can quickly become expensive if you don't already have lots of craft items at home (which is true for us!).
I also read posts from moms who wish they knew of a nearby Busy Bag Swap (or those who missed entering a swap) and they all wanted a way to buy these bags. Thus, the feature of being able to buy the Busy Bags from this site is really only an enhancement to our idea-sharing.

The Why........
The reason I have become so passionate about these activity bags is because I don't feel like I know what to do with preschool-aged kiddos. My mom wasn't a stay-at-home mom and 99% of my close friends aren't stay-at-home-moms.  I naturally don't know what to do with 2 and 3 year olds because I haven't spent a lot of time with them.....I adore babies and LOVE 5+ year olds but that inbetween age is hard for me.

As a young mom, I have spent a million-bo-gillion hours researching online for activities to do with my little boys and found very little on the internet.  I should clarify, I found a LOT on the internet, just not any one area with lots of ideas.   

When I quit the 'real' working world and my oldest son turned 2.5 yrs, we spent hours playing with toys and trucks and trains.  But as these activities became boring, I ended up feeling lost once I realized that my boy really doesn't naturally enjoy crafts or coloring for more than five minutes.  A year later and my second son was now ready to learn with us (at 1.5 yrs), I then realized that neither of them had developed skills for hand-writing or coloring in the lines or anything similar....and I became concerned since we are nearing kindergarten.  

Now that my oldest boy (4.5 years old) is in preschool and is required to sit through art class, his skill level is greatly improving at a very fast rate.  But with my 2.5 year old, he doesn't have the same learning style plus he doesn't seem to have the same attention span.  I've been using the Busy Bags with him for the last three weeks and one surprising benefit is that his ability to focus on an activity is already increasing!  I am so excited to use these regularly with my boys!

If you are new to this blog, feel free leave a comment or send me a message!  Thank you for reading!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The 3 P’s busy bag – Pinchers, Pom poms, Paper clips

The use of clothing pins or plastic tweezers (or for this bag, called “Pinchers”)….oooh, it’s such a fun item.  At least according to my 2-yr old.  He actually hasn’t said that per say; but once he finds the pinchers, he carries them all over the house and tries to use them on a variety of items.  So I think it’s safe to say that he enjoys using them.  And really, the hand motion of ‘pinching’ isn’t a skill used with many toys; at least not with toys like we have such as tractors and trains.

This busy bag contains a variety of pom poms and paper clips to be picked up and dropped into ____fill in the blank___ and is great for growth of finger dexterity and hand-eye coordination.  Plus the pom poms are just fun to play with!  The large pom poms measure over 1 inch wide down to much smaller pom poms.  And the paper clips are standard and jumbo sizes. Obviously the balls are easier to pickup with the pinchers than the paper clips but I’ve noticed that it’s a good combo -- one item may get frustrating for tiny fingers so they’ll resort to the easier items but will regularly go back to the harder to grasp items…all the while building skills.
option 1 - glass trays
We’ve used a variety of ‘trays’ for the items to be placed into.  Ice cube trays work nicely for the pom poms or jars or plastic tubs or glass cups.  We found also that this became a more time consuming task if the tray had more compartments because my little preschoolers wanted to fill all the ‘holes’ (versus 3 cups).  But I know this will be a repeat hit because of those silly little pinchers!
my cutie pie

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Pop The Popsicle busy bag

This neat busy bag has several ways to play perfect for different levels of preschoolers!  My kids just got a play-kitchen so they are into ‘eating’ with toys and this is a great addition to our assortment of food. Plus they LOVE eating real popsicles so this activity fosters a lot of communication between all of us.

This busy bag has 6 different colors of popsicles with coordinating popsicle sticks. Each stick has text on each side and on each end --- resulting in 4 different ways to play.  Depending upon your preschooler’s age and reading level, the adult is to present the popsicle tops to the child and then give the sticks and point out which end/words to use for the activity. 

Here are different ways to play using the sticks:
Version #1 – For the non-reader, use the end of the stick with the coordinating color dot and letter (first letter of the color and will help build letter recognition and use of sounding out the color name).

Version #2 – For the very early reader (and some non-readers who are good with colors), use the end with the color name written in corresponding color; i.e. ‘blue’ is written in blue.

Version #3 – For the basic reader, use the end with color names written in black.

Version #4 – For readers, use the end with popsicle flavor names written in black. We added a 'cheater' color swab on this end as well since our kiddos cannot read yet. 
Pop the Popsicle

If you end up ordering from us and would like to include your child's favorite colors or patterns, just let me know.  I have a huge variety of paper in my stock-pile so I can tailor this activity based upon user preferences.
We can also tailor the flavor-names written on the sticks.  The flavor list currently used is based off the original flavors of popsicles when they became a popular commodity (back in the 1950's)!


For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Snip-A-Chip busy bag

upclose of snip a chip
This activity is so simple yet so varied in play and great for a variety of age levels!!!
The photo above is an up-close shot of the paint chips with different products holding each 'color swatch' together. Included in the activity bag is one O-ring, one pipe cleaner and two ribbons. The child can string the paint chips (with hole in top corner) on any of the tools that they would like.

For this activity, there are many ways to play. For the non-reader child, the adult can ask them to select their favorite colors and string on a tool. For those who know their letters, the adult can ask the child to look at the titles of the paint chips and find the letters in their name or each letter of the alphabet and so on.

When I presented this bag, both my 4-yr old and 2-yr old were drawn to this activity that I just let them free play which lasted 20 minutes of just exploring each item and how they fit on the different tools! And this bag is so easy to tailor to your child’s color interests as well!!
example of Snip A Chip

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Straw Beads busy bag

Sraw Beads
With a house full of boys, pony beads or any type of bead for that matter is a rare commodity.  My three boys are never given crafts or beads as gifts. (I do have a basketful of tractors though!) I know the act of ‘stringing’ is a good life-skill so this activity is a perfect solution to our bead-less home dilemma!

About a year ago, I found a bag of my old beads that were collected from broken necklaces and bracelets so I pulled them out for my (at the time) 3-yr old and 1-yr old to try stringing.  For the regular little holes in the beads, yarn was too thick and thread was too wimpy.  We ended up using ‘plastic string’ which did work but wasn’t a good solution when it came to a finished product.  After watching the boys try to string the beads, I saw how hard this skill really is!  There is SO much to learn in life!

For this busy bag, I had my 2-yr old help me cut the straws with scissors (and I was on edge the whole time since it was his first cutting lesson!!).  The straws were a very good medium to learn to cut with because it was instant gratification – you snip and ‘pop’ goes the piece of straw.  Unlike when learning to cut with paper, the scissors just slip through and it can be hard to see what has been done. 

The pieces of straw become the ‘beads’ and this bag includes two pipe cleaners as well as two 12” hemp cords/string that will allow for different ages to use tools their little hands can handle best.
my cutie

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Button Snake busy bag

Button Snake busy bag
This fun activity is one of the first I heard of when I stumbled across these types of bags a year ago when I started my {countless hours of} searching.  So many moms bragged that this activity was perfect for the waiting time while out'n'about…in the doctor’s office, at church, etc.  Several ladies also posted that it could be used while waiting in the grocery store but I force my kids to help when shopping, even my 2 yr old helps…I know, I’m a slave driver. *wink*

Plus the plastic baggie keeps it all tidy and neat. Oh, I should point out the benefits of the baggies used for all busy bags…I use only zipper-topped baggies which are needed because:
1. Little fingers can easily operate the open/close zipper fostering self-help skills (whatever we can do to encourage their own clean-up!)
2. Users can see through and identify the activity without disturbing the contents (no reason to dump just to look inside!)
3. Bags ‘file away’ easily in a box or bag without fear of spilling (can easily fold into a purse or diaper bag for on the go too!).

Here's one of my favorite photos of my two year old learning to work with the button. His little chubby fingers are just so precious!

When I gave him the activity and showed him how to string the first shape, I didn't realize that he had no clue how to manipulate a button.  He held it with one hand and just stared!  It was a perfect learning tool for both of us!  Plus, after completing the activity, he very proudly announced "Me did it!" and clapped then asked to do it again!

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rainbow Bright busy bag

Rainbow Bright busy bag
This is one of my favorite bags so far!  My 2 year old has impressed me greatly when playing with this bag.  I didn’t realize he knew so many of the colors; for example, he was enticed by the bright pieces the first time I pulled it out and he quickly picked up a red jewel saying “ooh, red” and then placed it on the red felt swatch….all without me instructing him what to do! 

We played with this again today and he was very excited to match all the items with their colors.  It took a bit of encouraging to cleanup after playing since he was so proud of his work and didn’t want to put it away.  And we learned that it was probably better to dump the bag onto a cookie sheet before starting since the beads tend to roll around and need to be contained during play.

My 4-yr old also enjoys this activity. He already knows his colors so the joy of this bag comes more from inspecting each item and placing them in different orders on the color swatches.

This bag includes 8 different colors of felt, sized 4" by 2", and has 3-5 coordinating items per color. As with all other bags from Busy Bag Central (if you decide to order!), the activity is contained in the usual zippered-top plastic bag....zippered top is important because little fingers can easily manipulate it for opening and for cleaning up by themself. *wink*

It also folds down very small so it's perfect to pack away into our Busy Bag Box of activities or even in a diaper bag if we need a project when out 'n' about. The felt is a good medium for the items to sit ontop because it somewhat grabs the gems and also lets the beads 'sit' instead of roll like they would on paper.

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under "BusyBagCentral" and be sure to "Like" us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways! Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing from the blog.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why - Where - and a Welcome!

Why sell items that other parents can make?

To start, it’s hard for ANY parent of preschoolers to find time to sit down and make crafts. Plus, if you buy the supplies for just a handful of these bags, you’ll easily spend over $70 and have a lot of wasted leftovers (I know from experience!).
The joy of ordering from Busy Bag Central is that you can have activities that are appropriate and interesting for YOUR child without high cost, without time wasted shopping, without sleepless nights due to research and creating, and without waiting for the next bag swap group.  Let us do the work for you!

The criteria for each bag are: 
non-messy and/or quick clean up,
totally independent in use, 
reusable products, 
and interesting enough to last 15-30 minutes.
All busy bags are made in a clean, cat-free, smoke-free environment. And since they are hand-made, some items will occasionally vary (color of ribbon or button size, etc).

>Kits can be tailored to your child’s unique interests (colors, shapes, etc).
>Use of these kinds of activities increases a child’s attention span. By giving your little one(s) a planned activity and requiring them to stay with it for a set period of time, they learn to focus and learn to self-entertain.
>Let us create for you! We do take special orders so that you don’t have to loose countless hours with activity research….let us know what is of interest and we’ll create for you!
>Use of the slider-topped plastic bags. You need them because:
            1. Little fingers can easily operate the open/close zipper fostering self-help skills
            2. Users can see through and identify the activity without disturbing the contents.
            3. Bags ‘file away’ easily in a box, purse, or bag without fear of spilling.

1. Where can you buy: in-person using paypal (I can invoice directly)
2. On the hand-made craft site called Etsy: 
Shipping - I always attempt to charge only the basic fees for postage and packaging ONLY.  Combined shipping for multiple orders is accepted and will generally run $1 per added item. If enough items are ordered to fill a flat-rate USPS box (5 or more items), then this cheaper option will be chosen.

If you are new to this blog, thank you for visiting!!!  You're probably a parent like me looking for ways to inspire and teach your youngster(s)...and you've found the right place.  Please leave feedback and comments on any ideas that might make this space better for you.  Again, thank you for visiting and may you be blessed with ideas as you care for the little ones in your life.