Busy Bags: Activities to Engage Curious Preschoolers

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The fact that preschoolers are curious, energetic little beings is both a blessing and a curse. When you’re trying to get school done with older children, get dinner on the table, or wait more than 2.5 seconds for an appointment, that energetic curiosity can be maddening.

Those are the times when you need quiet, self-contained activities that preschoolers can do on their own. Those are times when you need Busy Bags Kids Will Love.

Busy Bag Activities to Engage Curious Preschoolers

What are busy bags?

Busy bags are self-contained, screen-free, fun, and educational activities. Dubbed busy bags because they’re often stored in zip-lock bags, these activities can provide that sanity-saving quiet parents need while engaging kids in meaningful play and exploration.

busy bags for preschoolers

Busy bags aren’t just for keeping kids out of your hair. They’re a fun way to connect with preschoolers and:

  • Promote early learning concepts such as number sense and letter recognition
  • Encourage creative, imaginative play
  • Develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Provide quiet, but productive activities for preschoolers

My 3-year-old niece and I had a blast playing with the busy bags I made for her to try out. Except one. That one she declared to be “too hard for me, Aunt Kris, because I’m a baby.”

The kid cracks me up. Um, girlfriend, if you can articulate that idea that clearly, I have a feeling the activity isn’t too hard for you.

What is Busy Bags Kids Will Love?

Busy Bags Kids Will Love is a 100+ page, full-color book featuring 52 busy bag activities with easy-to-follow directions – and photos for the visual learners among us – on each page.

early learning activities for preschoolers

The book is written by Sara McClure, a former classroom teacher who now homeschools her children. Sara began using busy bags in her own home to keep her young son engaged while she worked with his older brother.

Busy Bags Kids Will Love includes tips on creating and storing busy bags, along with a list of 100 things your child should know before entering Kindergarten.

Each section begins with a detailed explanation of the skills and concepts that preschoolers should be exposed to and how the busy bags in that section address those skills. So, more than just showing parents how to create activity bags for kids, the book increases understanding of early childhood development and how to encourage age-appropriate play and exploration.

Who can use busy bags?

Busy bags are versatile to use and inexpensive to assemble. This makes them ideal for:

  • Homeschool parents
  • Parents and grandparents of preschoolers
  • Teachers and daycare workers
  • Childcare providers
  • Cool aunts {grin}

My sister used to love for Brianna to babysit my older niece because Brianna always brought games and activities with her. She actively engaged my niece instead of just plopping her in front of the TV while Brianna played on her phone. I wish we’d known about busy bags back then.

How do you use busy bags?

The possibilities with busy bags are endless. I love that the 52 activities in Busy Bags Kids Will Love are broken down into four categories:

  • Math
  • Literacy
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Just for Fun

This breakdown makes it easy to find just what you’re looking for if you want to work on a specific skill. It’s also perfect for ensuring that you’re covering a balanced assortment of skills.

screen-free activities for preschoolers

I made one bag from each category to try with my niece. Most of the items I needed to make the bags were things I already had around the house. For those supplies that I didn’t have on hand, most were available at the dollar store. I went to a craft store for one item (though a well-stocked dollar store would probably have had it – ours seemed a little picked over) and splurged on a sturdy bottle for another of the activities.

You can put the bags together yourself or host a busy bag swap with some friends. A swap allows participants to get a variety of bags while keeping the prices of assembling them low. Busy Bags Kids Will Love provides simple, practical tips for hosting a stress-free busy bag swap.

Once the bags are assembled, you can pull them out as needed and keep them rotated so that the activities are fresh and engaging for your preschooler. The bags are designed so that preschoolers can complete the activities with minimal supervision. Many of the activities include tips for making the activities self-checking, as well.

Busy Bag Activities Kids Will Love

Have you made busy bags with your preschoolers? What’s been successful for you?


NOTE: This article was written by Kris–the former owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. 

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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