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How do your kids “wait”? Recently, we were at a doctor’s appointment (with lots of waiting) for my 4 year old when she reminded me, “Mommy, waiting is really hard.” It sure is, kiddo.
Often, when we have to wait, like at a restaurant or doctor’s appointment, we try to play a thinking or guessing game, like I Spy. Or we read a book. Sometimes the wait is really long, and it’s the tech-free busy bags that come to the rescue — ready-to-go bags (sans electronic devices) to keep them occupied, engaged, and thinking. We also bring these bags with us on trips or when we go places where the kids will be away from home for awhile.
It depends on where we are going and how much they’re bringing, but my kids love the small canvas totes from Lands’ End. Other times, I’ll just toss a few things in my “mom bag”.
Below I’ve linked the top go-items (target age: 2-6) for our busy bags. Click on any of the images below (affiliate links) to see the full product description. Keep reading to find out what I love about each one.
These Melissa & Doug sketch pads are small enough to easily throw into almost any bag, and yet big enough for little hands to have creative freedom.
You can’t go wrong with a pack of Crayola crayons. And these are washable. So, let’s say your kiddo draws on a pillow in a waiting room (#truestory), you don’t have to be too embarrassed. It WILL come out.
This portable marker and paper set is cute, fun, AND practical. It keeps paper organized and makes kids feel a bit “grown up” also.
I love this one-piece with pen attached Doodle Pro. Easy to throw into the bag, no mess, and no wasted paper.
Trucks, trucks, and more trucks. My little boy loves his cars and trucks. He will carefully “drive” them everywhere. He will line them up. He will even take two books and make a ramp for them to go down.
And then there are more vehicles. These Melissa & Doug vehicles include some more variety.
These magnetic blocks stay together and surprisingly, can entertain for awhile. They come in a handy pouch and are easy to tidy up. We have two sets in different colors, one for each kid.
Painting without the mess? Yes, please! These Water Wow! require one ingredient — some water for the “paint brush”. Then brush away and watch as the color appears. There are several themes to choose from. Construction, letter and number practice, farm animals, under the sea, safari, and the list goes on.
We called this buckle toy Buckle Buddy in our house. My son went through a phase where he could be completely immersed in buckling and unbuckling for a pretty unlimited amount of time. The best part was that he was simultaneously working on his finger strength and fine motor skills.
Admittedly, I’m not crazy about all the pieces in the Connect 4 Grab and Go, BUT… I love that it’s portable and can help kids work on fine motor skills, visual perception, and problem-solving strategies.
This Connect the Dots Workbook is fun while helping kids develop problem-solving techniques, as well as counting and fine-motor skills. And how fun is it for little kids to see that they helped in completing the illustration?
This MagnaTab isn’t the smallest item, but at less than 12 inches in width, it’s still portable and provides a sensory-based approach to early handwriting practicing. (Available in upper case and lower case options.)
If you are searching for how-to guides on creating your own games and activities for busy bags, Busy Bags Kids Will Love is a wonderful resource and starting point.
oh, and one more thing…
You didn’t think I forgot about the inevitable moment when you hear that little voice go, “Mommy, I’m hungry”, did you? Of course not! Unless we are headed to a restaurant, I try to be as prepared as possible with snacks and drinks because longer than usual waiting often happens, and because kids get hungry. So, here are a few non-plastic items we also take along.
We use the Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags for a few things, likes throwing in some napkins and snack bars. (We love these Lara Bars or seed bars from 88 Acres.) If there are leftovers, we have a secure, clean place to keep them. We’ll use the Modern Twist silicone container or Lunchbots stainless steel container to carry loose snacks. And, just about everywhere we go, we bring this Thermos. My “mom bag” always carries a pack of wipes because, let’s be honest, messy hands and faces happen.
Do your kids have busy bags, and if they do, what’s inside them? I’d love to know how your kids “wait” when they’d rather not.
Thanks for stopping by,