Busy bags are awesome! They can be used to help kids practice new skills, follow directions, and learn to work independently. Busy bags also give moms a chance to step back and not be the main source of stimulation, which is important for both moms and kids.
So, what’s the downside?
They can be time consuming to put together and for moms and teachers time is something we never have enough of. That’s why a bunch of mom friends and I have organized a busy bag swap. And not just any busy bag swap–we use ours as a chance for a Moms Night Out!
But, before I get to the how to part, I should probably explain exactly what a busy bag is, right?
A busy bag is a self contained activity that a child can play or complete all by him or herself. All of the necessary supplies are placed into some kind of container (often a plastic bag) that the child can take out and play with. They can be fine motor activities, math practice, reading activities, file folder games, any game or activity that can be done independently.
What is a Busy Bag Swap?
A busy bag swap is basically a mom-made activity co-op. A bunch of moms each agree to make multiple copies of one busy bag to swap with everyone else. Each mom only has to make one activity and gets to go home with one of each at the end of the night.
How to Organize a Busy Bag Swap:
Determine what types of activities you want to swap.
We are very laid back about the types of busy bags we do. In our swap we take traditional busy bags as well as consumable activities, such as art supplies or a science experiment.
We also do activities that would be appropriate for toddlers through primary school age kids. The moms in my swap are fine with getting an activity that may not work for their kids. They save them for when they are older or give them as gifts to kids who would love them. This may not be what you are looking for, decide what would work best for you.
Decide how many participants you want to include.
The more moms you invite the more busy bags you get, but the more you have to make too. We started small and got larger as we went and let people participate even if they can’t make the event.
Ask anyone who you think would enjoy it, but don’t be surprised if you get a lot of “nos” at first. If they aren’t familiar with how easy a busy bag swap can be it may sound like too much work at first. Give moms a chance to jump in after the first one if you have room.
Choose where and when you’ll have the swap.
Our busy bag swap is a Moms Night Out, no kids allowed.We choose a fun activity and meet up to socialize and exchange bags.
For us it’s the perfect situation, we get a well-deserved night out and come home with tons of fun activities for our kids.
We’ve done a tapas night, met at a restaurant, had a wine tasting, and have plans to try a night of painting and volunteering as a group this spring.
Find a way to keep track of the details.
Everyone involved needs to know how many people are coming and what activity they are bringing. We also include the number, ages, and genders of our kids.
You can use an Evite, a Google doc, a Facebook group, an Excel spreadsheet, a Sign-Up Genius form–anything that allows everyone to see the details of the swap.
Make your busy bags
Pick a busy bag and start crafting! Here are some fun ones to get you started:
- Lady Math Game Busy Bag
- Shoe Tying Board
- Fine Motor Weaving Busy Bag
- Rainbow Lacing Busy Bag
- Cookie Jar Math Busy Bag
- Pool Noodle Building Busy Bag
- My Busy Bags for the Kiddos Pinterest board