It can be pretty tricky with toddlers on the road. Keeping them entertained for hours on end when you’re doing an epic road trip is exhausting. Travelling around Australia means that toddlers generally only get to see the back of their parent’s seat because they are too small to see out the window. When we left on our trip our girls were really little and we soon found out how hard it was to keep them busy. The best idea we found to keep young ones amused was Busy Bags.
What is a Busy bag?
Well for me it’s a zip lock bag that contains an activity that will keep the kids entertained (not always quite) when they get bored. There are lots of activities you can choose but some ideas are either play, motor skills, educational or just colouring in.
Some idea we made
Pipe cleaners and beads – Sure it can be a little messy but the girls love threading the beads onto the pipe cleaners and making jewellery. This idea works really well in the car when using a Tupperware container. That way the beads don’t roll away.
Play-doh in a balloon – for a mess free activity we put some play-doh in a balloon and tie it up. They can mould it all different ways and squeeze it without making a mess.
Hand puppets – when we went to the Koala hospital we purchased two Koala puppets. The girls loved being silly with each other trying to make the puppets say silly things.
Colouring in – Finding a colouring-in book with some thick pencils for easy grip kept our daughters entertained in the car. The loved scribbling on all the pages with different colours.
I Spy – I found a great free printable that the girls can sit down and play I, spy. I laminated the two sheets so it can be reused over and over again. Miss M loves sitting down with her images and circles off what she can find.
Shapes, colours, numbers, letters – I absolutely love these printables, especially shapes, and numbers Bingo. I found a lot of fabulous resources on pre school moms website.
Laminated worksheets – we printed off lots of different blank worksheets such as a blank face, Australia animals, alphabet, snowman, Santa etc and then we laminated them. We gave the girls white board markers and they could draw all over them making a new story up each time they made a new picture.
Stickers – Our 2-year-old loved stickers. It’s a simple activity but it keeps them busy taking the stickers off and making a picture with them. Just grab a sheet of stickers and a black scrap book and let them go crazy.
Puzzles – Our 3-year-old really loved puzzles, she could spend lots of time trying to work out which piece went where. We found lots of great puzzles that had large pieces in our local Kmart.
Reject shop – Your local Reject shop has loads of cheap activities. Recently we grabbed feathers, face masks, paddle pop sticks, clay, stickers, kids scissors (the list goes on) and just created activities from them. It was so cheap! The face masks were a really great idea for them to draw all over.
New Toys – we had a couple of small zip lock bags with new toys. The great thing about Toddlers is they don’t need expensive toys to be entertained. We just went to Kmart and grabbed a handful of $2 toys and the girls loved it.
Books – Leap Readers were fantastic books to have on hand to keep the little ones busy. They could turn the pages themselves and drag the reader over the words so it would read to them. They especially loved the Disney books so they could see their favourite characters.
Busy Bags are pretty simple once you get organised and there are lots of idea’s online to get you started. Pinterest will be your best friend when searching for some Toddler Taming ideas.
Some tips from us to you:
1. My husband was pretty clever to make the girls a centre console to make everything easy for them to grab. We simply went to Bunnings and purchased a box to fit between the two car seats. We also got two storage boxes and attached them to the top of the storage box. It made life so much easier (and much less turning around for me) as the girls have a drink and food, toys and pencils beside them all the time. Plus it’s easy to pull over and get an activity out of the Busy Bag box when they get tired of being in the car.
2. Because Toddlers only have a short attention span we made sure we only gave them one activity at a time. It reduced the chaotic mess at the end of the day.
3. We didn’t want the novelty to wear off so we had a rule that the Busy Bags stayed in the car. They can only be used on long driving days (or when we really needed them to be quiet).
4. Have lots of fun creating it as your child will have lots of fun playing with it.