I had been wanting to put together a bunch of toddler “activity bags” or “busy bags” or just a list of easy, quick activity ideas that could be pulled from a jar and were instantly ready to go. Well, I have a list, but to make them worthy of pulling from a jar, I need to put pictures on the backs that would mean something to my toddler…so I currently have a list and a bag of ready-to-go bags or recycled yogurt tubs filled with prepared activities. I finally made the push to get them done when we started watching a friend’s baby a couple days a week, but I hope to have the final product ready in time for our new 24/7 baby coming in January 🙂
These have been so very nice to have, not just when there’s a baby in the house, but anytime I want to have something fun and exciting for Pen Elaine to do when I’m too tired to come up with something on the spot or hoping to get something done around the house without needing to turn on the television. Plus, she gets really excited about opening a tub or bag to explore its contents. The results of my plan-ahead efforts have been very gratifying, if I do say so myself. Some activities work better than others (due to age/skills or her mood or time they take), but they all provide some worthwhile time-taking, toddler entertainment.
(idea source @ Pinterest: no1hasmorefun)
Pipe cleaners (I got mine from hobby lobby for 2 bucks)
Setup: 10/10 because all you do is open a bag of pipe cleaners and pull out a colander! I did have to demonstrate to Pen Elaine how to create her own masterpieces/statues to get her going a few times, but without the demo, she still had fun playing with the pipe cleaners because they were novel and colorful on their own.
Entertainment value: 8/10 These can keep her busy for a while, and as she gets older, I think she will use the pipe cleaners more for the actual creative idea and not just to sling around, but either way, this bag of tricks can keep her busy for 20 minutes, maybe. If they start not working one day due to her mood, I think I’ll start twisting them into bracelets or necklaces or dog leashes to keep her going. I do have to warn her of the sharp ends to keep them out of her mouth.
Education value: 10/10 I purposely bought a back of multi-colored pipe cleaners that included clearly identifiable colors, so Pen Elaine really does enjoy pointing out the pink ones as soon as the bag gets opened. Also, I think this is a great fine-motor skill builder when she’s actually “threading” them, an important skill to build for eating less messy and for drawing and eventually writing.
Cleanup: 10/10!!! No mess, and she can put all the pipe cleaners back in the bag by herself!