Busy bag or calm down bags came into my radar when I was super stressed about a long road trip with Grace. I wanted some things to keep her occupied for long periods of time. I also wanted her to begin practicing her fine motor skills and concentration.
At 20 months old, the whole keeping her busy during the road trip with busy bags was a total bust. She played with all seven busy bags in a span of 10 minutes. Plus, there was too many small parts that went EVERYWHERE in the car. I stashed these busy bags on the shelf, next to my other failed DIYs, the sensory bottles.
At 27 months old, she saw the busy bags and was interested in them again. SUCCESS!! I created two categories of busy bags for her, one for fine motor skills and the other for counting/matching.
Most of the materials I got from a dollarstore surprisingly easy. I had no idea what you can create so many things with everyday items. I guess I didn't think about these things because I already have the fine motor skills. Duh.
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
Velcro strips or dots (I cut the strips.)
Pool noodles pieces (or you can buy a pool noodle and cut it up.)
Large popsicle sticks
Busy bag #1:
Tie one end of the string to a pool noodle piece. Knot the other end.
Busy bag #2:
Stick the velcro on the foam pieces. Make sure they are stuck on opposite sides so that they will stick when looped together.
Busy bag #3:
Stick the velcro on the popsicle sticks. Make sure you stick the same side on each side of the stick. This is the best way for the sticks to stick together and create bigger shapes.
Busy bag #4:
Cut up felt pieces into squares. Cut a slit in the middle of all the pieces.
COUNTING AND MATCHING
Design or download some numbers and graphics
Print off the images and cut. If you want, you can laminate them too. I took all the images to a copy center to get them laminated. It cost $13 for all of them to be done.
Busy bag #5
Color the clothes pins so they can be matched with the corresponding card. I tried to use crayons and it made a huge mess. Tried markers but I fear they will transfer if hands are wet. (Haven't had this issue yet.)