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Boredom Busting DIY Busy Bag Ideas for Preschool Kids

A busy bag, also known as an activity bag, is a portable container filled with various age-appropriate toys and activities designed to keep young children engaged and entertained, especially during road trips, long waiting times or hospital stays. Busy bags are a fantastic thing to have around for young children and are great boredom busters. They are ideal to slip into your bag for long journeys, medical appointments, visiting relatives or any other accession where your little ones might need entertainment or distraction. A busy bag is incredibly easy and cheap to put together, they can be themed in any way that you want and they can be switched up to keep little minds entertained.

These bags are typically pre-prepared by parents, and caregivers, or even purchased pre-made, and often contain a variety of items that:

  • Promote creativity and independent play
  • Encourage the development of fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and problem-solving abilities
  • Are quiet and mess-free, making them ideal for use in restaurants, cars, aeroplanes, or doctor’s offices

Busy bags can be customized to suit a child’s specific interests, age, and developmental stage. They can be themed around holidays, seasons, or even learning concepts. Busy bags are a great way to keep children entertained and engaged while also promoting their development. They are also a lifesaver for parents and caregivers who need a little peace and quiet time! You could store all your busy bags in a busy box and even set up a busy bag exchange with friends to help keep things fresh.

All you need to get started making your own busy bags is some kind of bag such as a large pencil case or a food storage bag. Here are some great ideas that my son loves to create your own busy bags.

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Grab a bag and fill it with Lego pieces. You could pick up some of the mini-build sets that you can usually find in the pocket money section of shops or you could just grab a selection of bricks from a classic Lego set.


A couple of different coloured pots of playdoh and a couple of cookie cutters and you’ve got hours of creative fun. If you’re feeling particularly creative you could make your own playdough and print and laminate some small mats to go in the bag with designs for the child to copy.


Throw some small toy cars in a bag and off you go. You could even make a road system on paper that can be folded up and popped into the busy bag as well then the child can drive their cars around on it.


Either put a deck of snap cards into a busy bag or you could make your own snap cards by cutting pictures from a magazine or catalogue or printing pictures for your child to colour so that they can make their own snap set. If your child has a lot of medical procedures then you could take photos of the different medical supplies and professionals that they come across regularly then print and laminate them to become a snap set to help familiarise your child with these items.


Create a threading busy bag by putting some cord or pipe cleaners and a selection of colourful buttons or beads into a bag. Make sure there is a good knot on one end of the cord so that the items don’t fall off as your little one tries to thread them. This is fantastic for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.


My youngest, the Dinosaur, spends a lot of time in the hospital as he has leukaemia and he likes to play Doctors. Put together a bag with things like plasters, bandages, medicine syringes (like the ones you get with infant paracetamol), a stethoscope and surgical gloves and your little one will have a handy medical busy bag.


Head to your local DIY store and pick up a selection of nuts and bolts in various sizes. Not only will this busy bag help your child to develop their fine motor skills but they will also develop their cognitive skills by correctly matching the sizes.


Print off some sheets with different lines (straight, curly, zig zagged, squared etc.) on them and pop them in a busy bag with a couple of different pens. If you wanted to you could even laminate them and use dry-wipe erasers so that your child can trace the lines to develop their writing abilities.


Just like the writing busy bag, print off some sheets with different shapes or types of lines on them and pop them in a bag with some children’s scissors then your child can practice cutting. The Dinosaur loves cutting and sticking activities.


This is another busy bag that will help to develop the skills they will need in school. Take a piece of paper and draw some largeish circles on it, write a different number in each circle then add the paper to a bag with some small objects such as buttons, paperclips or coins. The child then needs to place the correct number of items in each circle.


Throw a couple of small coloring books, some crayons, pencils or felt-tip pens in a bag and you are good to go. You could even add a few sticker sheets to help make this creative activity even more exciting. 

Number Recognition

Fill your bag with counters and a grid marked 1 – 10 then call out a number from 1-10. The child searches for the called number on their bingo card. If they find it, they place a marker on that number. The first player to cover all the numbers on their card shouts “Bingo!” and wins the game.

Noughts & Crosses

You can easily make reusable noughts and crosses game to go into a busy bag by using felt. You will need three colours of felt to make this. Take one colour and cut it into a square then mark it with a noughts and crosses grid by either drawing the lines with a thick marker or by sewing. Take the second colour and cut out circles and mark them with a nought. Take the third colour and cut out squares then mark them with the cross shape. Put all the pieces in the bag and off you go.

Sensory Bags

This simple sensory busy bag is perfect for engaging young children’s sense of touch and exploration. Add a variety of different items with different textures such as pom poms, dried pasta, paper clips, or craft sticks to a bag. Ensure there are enough items for the child to explore comfortably. Encourage your child to explore the bag by touching and squeezing it. Ask them to identify the different textures they feel and describe them using words like “rough,” “smooth,” “soft,” and “hard.” You can also hide small items like buttons or beads inside the bag for them to find using their sense of touch. Another rich learning experience would be to add a small scented object like a cotton ball with a few drops of essential oil to the bag for an olfactory experience. Ensure the scent is safe and age-appropriate for young children.

Busy bags offer a treasure trove of benefits for young children. They spark creativity and independent play, fostering the development of fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, and problem-solving. Additionally, these portable bags provide quiet entertainment during long journeys or waiting times, keeping children engaged and reducing meltdowns. From enhancing learning through play to offering a sense of calm in stimulating environments, busy bags are a valuable tool for parents and caregivers to support their children’s growth and well-being.

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