Quick and Easy Busy Bags for Traveling with Kids

In a stroke of genius at 9 pm the night before we would be traveling, I decided to throw together some busy bags for the car ride with the kids. I scoured my Pinterest boards for 30 minutes looking for some fun ideas that would keep the kids occupied for 4 hours, then I pulled out all my craft bins, dug through the junk drawer, and searched high and low for interesting things the kids hadn’t played with before.

I was in full supermom mode. My creativity could not be stopped! The ideas just poured out of my head and into those ziplocs. I’m such an efficient human being that I even had time to photograph everything the next morning before we left.

I didn’t spend any money on the busy bags. I just went through some of the more neglected areas of my home to find things the kids would think were interesting and put together some little crafts from items already on hand. I’m sharing what I came up with as a jumping point for putting together your own busy bags with items already on hand. You know, in case you get the idea 5-10 minutes before leaving on a 4-hour road trip.

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Draw our family on craft sticks with colored pencils.
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Pipe cleaners and clothespins for open-ended play.
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Tiny stuffed animals they had never seen before.
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Small book made of colored paper with a sewn seam and an upcycled Johnson’s first aid kit crayon holder (with new crayons!).
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Colored paper, foam shapes, a glue stick and a couple of small markers for open-ended arts and crafts.
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A couple of Highlights magazine, a coloring book, 2 notebooks, and one read-aloud book.
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Some easy readers.
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A small collection of junk drawer items….keys, phone, a small timer.
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A fix-it/McGyver bag with more junk drawer finds.
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Drawing prompts and colored pencils. I cut out some pictures from magazines and glued them to some paper as a jumping point for a larger drawing.
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A story-telling bag. People, animals, and other small items.
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Busy wallet – my favorite! This thing is stuffed with all sorts of goodies….pen, notepad, “business cards,” pictures, coins, play money, coupons, etc, etc…
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Miscellaneous “back-up” items, play-doh, thread, dental floss.

 

And how did they like all this cool stuff!? I wouldn’t know! They didn’t play with any of it. About 3 minutes before we got into the car to leave, my husband informed me that the DVD player was working, so they just watched movies the whole time.

*sigh*

I DID give each of them a dental floss and they got a huge kick out of pulling it all out of the container.

I have used some of these items in subsequent road trips and also added a small bag of Legos. My 6 year old especially liked the little books and crayons because she’s into writing right now.

My children are still at an age where everything is interesting, so perhaps the busy bags were a waste of my time. I know some of our best car rides happen when we just point out neat stuff (cows!) and listen to their ideas and answer questions about those things.

But I’m still keeping this stash of busy bags. I anticipate we’ll be able to take our children out in public again soon and it will be nice to have something to keep them, well…busy!

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