My Favorite Tried and Tested Busy Bags from Pinterest

This past fall I had the daunting task of taking a 24 hour flight with a 2 year old and a 9 month old.  My 9 month old I figured would be happy as long as I held him, but the 2 year old would need toys.  Toys not just for the plane, but for a month long vacation on the other side of the world!  So I put together a backpack with 15 busy bags and here is a list of some of my favorites from Pinterest.

  1.   Colored crafts sticks with Velcro dots to make shapes with. Both Ben and Adam loved these and still use them for restaurants and other outings to stay occupied. From the Tip Garden.
      DIY Toddler Activities - craft sticks and Velcro dots... "Busy bag" okay weird…:

2.  My niece and nephew loved this activity which not only makes kids match patterns, but also colors and fractioned shapes.  From No Time For Flash Cards.This is a simple activity with great cognitive benefits. Matching is the…:

3. This busy bag idea came with a free printable, but I just made my own cards with a sharpie and card stock.  From Teaching Mama.Snowflake Busy Bag {Free Printable}:

4. Lastly, I’m choosing to share a busy bag idea I didn’t make yet, but will for our next trip.  Ben and Adam love building, so I think this will be right up their alley! From How Wee Learn

quiet time activities for 3 year olds:

These ideas are cheap, reusable, and easy to make.  These activities don’t need to necessarily just be used for busy bags and outings or travel, the could just be quiet time activities for a rainy day.  What busy bags do your kids love?

 

Ice Fishing Sensory Activity

ice-fishingWe don’t get a winter vortex in Las Vegas-and I don’t miss the 23 years I scraped windshields in Buffalo.  I do miss the beauty and quiet of snow.  Snow insulates sound.  I grew up next to a busy four lane street and when it snowed there was hardly any sounds from the traffic.  It’s peaceful and there’s nothing more fun as a kid than playing in the snow.  I went sledding and snowman making every winter. My friends and I threw snowballs at each other in the school yard.  My boys will be growing up with palm trees instead.

Since the boys won’t be seeing much snow or feel bitter cold I thought it was time to try some cold sensory art experiences out.


We did this activity with the My Petite Picassos Playgroup and t was a hit.  I used Swedish fish silicone trays from Ikea and filled them with water. After, I added a drop of gel food coloring.  I mixed it using a baby foods phone. You can also use a toothpick or straw.  I pop them in the freezer for about an hour and a half and they were all set. We used it on card stock so the paper wouldn’t buckle. The kids had so much fun!  One little boy painted for an entire hour!

Envelope Animals

envelope-animalsThis was a simple rainy day activity.  It’s gotten to be pretty cold here in Las Vegas believe it or not. This morning it’s 39° out -i’m from Buffalo,  New York that’s cold to me. Even though it’s called the sun is out and shining and it’s a beautiful winter. It even snowed a couple days ago. So as the kids have been inside more we’ve been doing more arts and crafts activities.  The other day as I was paying bills I put some envelopes inside and took out construction paper. I cut out different shapes and show them to Ben and we talked about with the shapes were.   He repeated after me triangle an oval. Then I helped him glue them onto the back of the envelope to create years. I took out some googly eyes we glue those on to the top of the envelope to make guys. Then I added some details to create the face so he could see the animal. I told him what type of animal it is in English and in Hebrew because he’s bilingual.  Then he had fun playing with his new markers and coloring them in.  You could easily include a book like Where the Wild Things Are to this activity.  You can make a whole zoo!  It’s a really cute, fun, cheap art activity with supplies you already have around the house!

Galaxy Salt Dough

galaxy-salt-doughWith the My Petite Picassos Playgroup this last meeting we made salt dough keepsakes. We printed our babies’ handprints and footprints in colored salt dough that we colored with food coloring. As we were coloring with the food coloring we noticed that it created a marbled effect until we blended consistently throughout the salt dough. So the other day when Ben was bored and the weather was terrible outside, I decided that he could make galaxy salt dough.  We used the leftover salt dough from the playgroup and added a drop of blue,  a drop of purple, and a drop of pink food coloring to it.  As the mixed the colors together and created a galaxy a fact. Ben played with it for two hours that morning and the following morning he played with it for two hours.

To make salt dough all you have to do is combine one part flour with one part salt and half a part of water. For a large group like our playgroup I do it in my standalone mixer. After we use it it can be kept in the refrigerator to be used again. We still have leftover from last week that is soft and malleable. For older children who want to make a keepsake or if you want to make a keepsake you can air dry it and bake it in your oven at 200°F for three hours. 

Mama Monday's Pin Party

Tips for a Successful Arts and Crafts Playgroup 

successful-playgroup

This time last year I would be teaching 25-50 elementary aged students in a public school setting.  Everything was as accessible and easy as could it could be for a person to do art with large groups of young kids-I had two large sinks, big tables for them to sit at, and custodians to clean at night.  Having an art playgroup is actually more work, but a ton of fun too!

1.  Choose an age range. Decide what age range of kiddo you’re gearing this toward.  Too wide of an age range would mean projects at different levels to please the kids, plus a similar age is nice for the kids to play together.

2. Send out an invite at least two weeks in advance. I do my invites via Facebook event and this way I can send out notifications to the moms leading up to the playgroup.

3. Decide how you want to pay for materials. Do moms give you a flat fee to attend?  Do they bring their own materials? I run mine like a co-op.  Everyone brings a treat and everyone brings a material to share.

4. Decide what activities you will do with the littles.  I aim to do 3 art activities in 1 hour.  Usually we do a messy project like pumpkin play dough, a paper craft, and a sensory project.

5. Set up all of your materials and projects before. Often I do all of the assembling prior to the playgroup so the group runs more smoothly. Sometimes Ben does his projects the weekend before.

Cake for the moms and applesauce squishes for the kiddos.

Fully assembled rain sticks before playgroup.

6. Have snacks and drinks available. Applesauce packets are great to have on hand.  Don’t forget some paper plates and cutlery!

7. Clean and set up your home.  I put the dogs outside with water, clean the floor, kitchen and restroom. I make an easy dinner too, so it’s done and out of the way.  Put away any toys or activities you don’t want kids to take out.  I put away the Playdough and thin out the toy offering.

8.  Set up a drying area for wet projects. I have a large kitchen counter that we use.

9. Have examples ready and show moms what to do as they arrive.  Art is a visual language so it makes sense to visually present each project.

10. Tidy up a little as the group creates and plays. Ask a mom or two to help or stay after a little longer to help.
Most importantly have fun and watch your kid(s) have fun learning!  Play is so important in childhood development.  It teaches them social skills and creativity-they can’t get that sitting in front of a tv!  I love using the play group as a chance to reconnect with my busy mom friends, get my boys busy, and share my passion.  Have fun creating!