Need something to keep your little one busy on a budget? These Toddler Busy Bags can be put together for about $1 per bag! These busy bags are great to pull out when your little ones need something to keep their hands busy.
Toddler Busy Bags for Under $1
A few years ago, I was bound and determined to get through the rest of the winter with my sanity intact. Living in 400sq feet with an active toddler doesn’t exactly say “peaceful household” to me.
Since my little one was too young to sit and play or read quietly yet we had to come up with something fun that we can do in short bursts of activity. Enter toddler busy bags.
Busy bags are small activities or special toys that you keep separate from other toys and games and you can pull them out for a “special” activity to do when you really need them.
What are Toddler Busy Bags?
Toddler busy bags are small collections of items (that are usually related but sometimes not…see the last one on my list!) that are easy to pull out when you need something to keep your little one’s mind busy for a few extra minutes. They are generally something that the child can do on their own with minimal assistance. (Obviously, you still need to supervise your child at all times!)
How do you make Toddler Busy Bags?
My favorite way to get started making busy bags is to head to the dollar store and put together little things that I know my little one will love to play with. You can start creating a bag with a theme or begin putting finding fun things and then putting them together after you have everything collected.
Toddler Busy Bags Ideas
Busy bags take a little effort to put together but they are very inexpensive to make and you can make a whole cupboard full in one afternoon. Below are some of the busy bags that we’ve put together. These are great for a toddler-aged child that needs to have something to do while you are working on housework, homeschooling older kids, or just need a little peace and quiet moment. We get our supplies from the local dollar store.
—If you have a slightly older child, check out these Busy Bags for Preschoolers.
Painting Art Toddler Busy Bag
I don’t trust my littles with real paint yet when they are this small (or markers, or anything that leaves a stain after our little “crayon incident”!). This little craft is the perfect solution. They learning painting skills without making any kind of mess! This craft can be done just about anywhere but we prefer to do it at our table.
What You Need:
- Construction Paper
- Container for the Water
Using the water, let your little one “paint” on the construction paper. No real color is being produced of course, but it looks like a real painting when the construction paper is wet! Bonus…you can reuse the construction paper for other crafts when it dries or reuse it for a new painting session!
This is one of my favorite activities because we aren’t creating a lot of paper waste.
Sensory Bags for Toddler Busy Bags
My littles love these little sensory bags, especially when they are getting a little wild and needs a slow activity to calm down. You can toss just about anything that’s not sharp in these so go all out at the dollar store coming up with fun themes!
What You Need:
- Freezer Bags
- Hair Gel
- Masking Tape
- Beads, Wiggly Eyes, plastic toys, or anything small and not sharp
Start by taping around the edges of the freezer bag, leaving only the top un-taped. This just helps with a little extra sidewall security. Open the bag and place about 1/2 bottle of hair gel into it. Add in beads or other fun things to touch. You can also add in food coloring to dye the gel or glitter! Seal the bag and tape the top shut as well. We use these on a flat surface where the littles can push around whatever is in the bag. A favorite right now is the dinosaur bag! (We found those in the party favors section of the dollar store.)
Imaginative Play Toddler Busy Bags
An important element in any preschool is imaginative play. We have a couple different bags filled with “real life” items that we use for play. Some of my little one’s favorites are the bags with play dishes and the bag with play food. I’ve seen these at the dollar store, and we picked our play food up at a garage sale.
My littles will either play with these bags on their own or we will go through them together, and I’ll name the items as they pull them out. I really love to get out the dishes bag for them while I’m working in the kitchen so they can “work in the kitchen and bake” too!
All Kinds of Textures Toddler Busy Bag
This one is always the very favorite bag! And it just happens to be the cheapest and most random one to put together! This bag is filled with random things that all over different textures like a strengthening tube, felt pieces, bean bags, sponges, and other random items we’ve collected.
Everything in here is very different and they have fun pulling everything out and touching it all. This is a great busy bag for toddlers with texture and sensory issues.
Those are just a few bags that we’ve put together. I know I haven’t even spent $10 on all the items in them but they keep the littles busy with activities for much of the day and I love that they are either learning art skills, life skills, or working on texture/sensory issues.
These toddler busy bags just add a little more “extra” into our day instead of being bored with being stuck inside.
Your little one might enjoy this fun little Sensory Bottle as well!
Have a little bit older children? You need to see my post on Frugal Preschool Busy Bags too.
Looking for more fun DIY projects that you can make with and for your little ones? My book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self Sufficient Life has over 130 recipes, money saving ideas, and simple living tips…including an entire chapter of kids projects and recipes!
Have you ever put together toddler busy bags? What are some that you have done?
This blog post about toddler busy bags was originally posted on Little House Living in January of 2014. It has been updated as of December 2018.