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Traveling with a toddler can be quite a challenge, especially if you have nothing to occupy them. Having a little one sit still for such long periods of time is nearly impossible. Try making busy bags with some of the following objects and activities to make travel a little easier.
Busy books are a great addition to busy bags. Kids love these books, and many can play with and “read” them for hours. Pick one or two of their favorite books for their bag. Alternatively, coloring books and activity books with dot-to-dot pages and mazes can be great fun.
Colorful pipe cleaners and Styrofoam shapes
The colorful pipe cleaners that you can find on the craft aisle are great for making all kinds of fun things, including stick figures and bracelets. If you add in some Styrofoam shapes like circles, they can make objects like snowmen. Have some google eyes and other neat add-ons, and let your child’s creativity run free.
Kids love finger puppets, and you can find them in multiple places. Have a baggy or two of finger puppets that your child can play with alone, or that you can play with him. You can make it even more fun by the two of you making the finger puppets during travel. This would obviously work best on a plane ride, as you yourself would be less occupied, but your child will love completing this activity with you.
Color Wonder markers and paper
Kids love to color, but you also do not want them making a mess on the plane or in your car. Go with Color Wonder markers and paper instead. They only color on the designated paper, so your child can have tons of artistic fun without you having to worry about the mess.
Beads and string
Making necklaces and other jewelry is always great fun for kids. Have some string and beads in a baggy. They can make, unmake, and remake stringed bead patterns the whole trip. Just be sure to also pack a bowl or bead tray to keep the beads in one spot.
Skewers and cut up sponges
Cut up some different color sponges into small squares, rectangles and other shapes and place them in a baggy. Have skewers that they can push through the sponges. This provides most kids with long periods of fun.
Moms all around are learning the hours of fun that popsicle sticks and Velcro can provide. Purchase some Velcro circles and popsicle sticks. Let your kid help you color the popsicle sticks if you like. Place the Velcro on the ends of the sticks so that your child can connect them to one another. With this activity, they can create different shapes from squares to railroad tracks as well as anything else their imaginations can create in between.
What is your child’s favorite topic at this time? Dinosaurs? Superheroes? Princesses? Whatever it is, have some coloring sheets and other activities related to this topic and a manila folder. Fold the manila folder in such a way that it is three sections with the edges covering the inside- almost like a trifold board. With your help, your child can make a presentation of their favorite topic. If there are any shapes that need to be cut, do this at home prior to your trip to cut down on mess during travel.
Purchase some felt sheets and some felt shapes. You can also add some letters, numbers, or other educational items in them. Show your child how they can create a work of art by simply placing the shapes onto the felt sheet, then undo it all, and do it again.
Either buy or make lace-up boards. If you have never heard of these, they are simply cardboard shapes that your child can then lace regular string or shoestrings through. There are many shapes that include animals, tennis shoes, houses, and more. They not only keep your kiddo busy but they also start the training for shoe tying.
Tips for creating busy bags
Be sure that you add a few different activities into the busy bag because children can get bored pretty quickly.
If your child has some favorite activities, allow him to choose some to add to the bag. However, do not let him see everything you add. Children love to unpack and “find” things. Even toys that they have not seen for a few months are like brand new objects to them. It will be much more interesting for him to discover the busy bag activities while you are traveling than for him to know what is in there. If you have space, it can be helpful to have an extra busy bag put away just in case your child gets bored. This would be especially helpful for an extra-long trip. You might also consider saving the second busy bag for the trip home.
Expecting to spend long periods of time with a toddler on the road or in the sky without giving them something to do is asking for a headache. And while technology can be helpful to an extent, allowing your child to stay on your phone or tablet for hours at a time is not always the best choice. Try these busy bag ideas or walk around your home for random supplies you see. Sometimes just putting items in front of a child, even if you have no specific ideas for them, can lead to some incredible works of art.