Monday, September 8, 2014

Mama Monday: Busy Bags (and a giveaway!)

Good morning, mamas! Today I'm excited to share with you a project I've been working on for a while - Emma's busy bag.
Starting a few months ago at church, our very active little girl just didn't want to sit still during sacrament meeting. She'll throw a little fit to be taken out and it seemed like it was getting to the point where she did it on purpose because the hall was more fun. Not a habit we wanted to encourage.

So I scoured Pinterest and Mommy blogs looking for fun, quiet activities that she could play with in her seat to keep her occupied. I put all of them in a dedicated bag that we keep in the car for restaurants, car trips, doctor's offices - anywhere she needs to be entertained. It's working out great! She loves it. And so do I. Here's what we have going in our bag right now.
The great thing about this is that we can add and remove activities as she gets older. I have a Pinterest board just for busy bag activities, if you want to follow it and see what new activities we add.

From top left corner:

  • Coloring book, crayons, and stickers
  • Lacing cards - Pattern here. I used craft foam sheets and craft shoe laces. You could use yarn, but I find the plastic ends they have on the shoe laces make it easier to thread.
  • Books and puzzles
  • Button snake - Sew a button onto a ribbon. Cut several felt squares and add a button-size slit to the middle of all but one. Hot glue that last square to the end of the ribbon as an anchor.
  • Finger puppets - Purchased from Amazon.
  • Pipe cleaner toy - It's a Pringles can covered in scrapbook paper, with a sheet of contact paper to seal it. I used a hole punch to make the holes in the lid and added the hole reinforcements to make it clear for her where the holes are. Then just cut pipe cleaners to the size of the Pringles can.
  • Pom pom push - Any small tupperware container works. Cut a small, round hole in the top and fill with pom poms.
  • Brown Bear matching cards - I got the idea here. I don't think she has the file up anymore, so I just used our copy of Brown Bear and scanned the pages. I used contact paper to seal it and make it a little sturdier, but I think a laminator would have been nice if I had one.
  • Velcro popsicle sticks - I found the colored ones at Hobby Lobby and then just attached round velcro pieces. Some sticks have two velcro pieces on the same side, others have them on opposite sides so that you can make different shapes when connecting them.
  • Double-sided felt board - I covered a piece of cardboard with the stiff felt sheets (one grey, one light blue) and then cut out a bunch of different shapes from felt. There's food, a nature set with houses and trees and weather items, and just a few different shapes and colors for us to practice together.
  • Random other small items, mostly from Target: foam blocks (Dollar Spot, #targetdoesitagain), toy car (ditto), Play-Doh, and stacking cups.

Her most favorite so far. She says "Boop!" as she pushes them through the hole. On a recent mall outing, we just set this on her stroller tray and she happily played for probably half an hour. As soon as she gets them all in, she holds out the container for you to take them out so she can start over. No joke, I had no less than five people stop me to ask about it and say what a great idea it is and how nice it is to see a kid play with something other than an iPhone while their parent shops (not that we haven't done that before!)
Tied for favorite: She does get a little frustrated with this one because the pipe cleaners bend and are harder to get in. I think I may have to periodically swap these out as they lose their stiffness.
Foam blocks saved my life at Jiffy Lube while we waited for my car to be inspected.
It's amazing how much fun a sticker can be. Just one will get us through 10 minutes of sacrament (or a trip to the grocery store!)
The bag itself is actually a Pinterest project, too. I really want to be a sewer, but I'm not. I can't seem to manage to sew a straight line. So trust me when I say this bag was super easy. I made three - one for  Em, one for her cousin Ryan, and one for our giveaway. I got the fabric from Joann's - they have so many cute patterns it's hard to pick. If you give it a try, I suggest altering the size from the instructions. I used dimensions given by another user in the comments. Make sure to adjust the straps if you want longer handles!
Bag tutorial from Poppyseed Fabrics
Since we love our busy bag so much, we have an extra to share with you! The giveaway bag is exactly the same size and fabric pattern as Emma's, with slightly shorter straps (I was testing something out :)). Included inside: a coloring book and crayons, stickers, lacing cards, pipe cleaner toy, pom pom push, Play-Doh, foam blocks, Brown Bear matching cards, and velcro sticks. Enter with Rafflecopter (below) and the winner will be announced one week from today. (Entries close Sunday, September 14 at 11:59 p.m.). Note: You can enter the "Share on social media" option daily, so feel free to spam your friends and get extra entries

Good luck, and thanks for entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I am obsessed with this, Erika! I am currently making a quiet book and have to do all of these too! So much fun!!

    -Alex H

  2. As you know, no babies for me. But I would give this fun bag to my SIL. I think those little lovebugs would love the pipe cleaners....just a guess?

  3. I love all of these ideas. Now I just need to sit down and actually do them. You're always doing the cutest things!

  4. You are so nice to offer a giveaway! Everything is adorable and great ideas!

  5. You are a creative momma! My kids would love something like this, and it'd be nice to keep them busy during church too.

  6. The Pom Pom push will be a definite favorite.

  7. I'm hoping to win this for my sweet niece. She loves pom poms, so I think the pom pom push would be her favorite!

  8. Such great ideas. I think my 18 month old will get a kick outta these. Thanks for posting this!

  9. This bag is adorable! I've been meaning to make something similar for ages, but "haven't gotten around to it." I'm glad I saw your giveaway before it ended!

  10. The Brown Bear matching cards would be a hit I think. :)

  11. Genius!! Even at 3 yrs old I need this!!! He would love the Velcro stickers and foam blocks for sure!!

  12. This is so cute! My little boy would absolutely love this!

  13. peej needs lacing cards. and a sedative. do you have any of those in there???

  14. So cute! My little boy would absolutely love this!