Busy Bags

School is back and that means “Tot School” is in session.  This year our “Tot School” is going to look VERY different as Little Miss A now attends Kindergarden 2-3 days a week!

We are also gradually progressing away from “Tot” activities and transitiong into preschool activities like reading and writing! 

One of the most important parts of our Tot school are “Busy Bags”

Busy Bags are;

  • A 5-10 minute activity, contained in a bag.
  • Designed to be independent and self directed. (Once introduced, the child should be able to do the activity with minimal parental assistance)
  • Contain a variety of skills including fine motor,  numeracy concepts, letters, colours, anything! 
  • Inexpensive – Using every day home items or cheap craft items.
  • Hands On – Hands must be kept busy! 
  • Rotated after a week-forntnight.

Each week we put out 5 Busy Bags.  Now that Little Miss A is only home 5 days a fortnight I am planning on keeping them out for a fortnight.  

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#1 – “Cupcake Counting”

  • – Write numbers on the end of oversized paddle pop sticks
  • – child places the right number of cupcake pegs on the stick! 

I love using pegs because they are great for fine motor!  They help to develop grip and control strengthening little finger muscles. 

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#2 “Love Maths” –

  • Place the love hearts in size order! Biggest to smallest, smallest to biggest
  • The random hearts are for matching, patterning, sequencing, sorting! Possibilities are endless! Can they sort them by colour/pattern? Sort by size?
  • Make a size pattern (big, small, small) Make a colour pattern? (Pink, purple) 

This one is especially for Valentines Day coming up! I often like to theme the activities depending on special days, seasons, holidays.

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#3 “Peg My Name”

  • Make a laminated card with your child’s name on it.
  • We “beautified” it by adding her name onto a pony picture
  • Write the letters of their name onto some pegs. One letter on each peg! Don’t forget to use a capital letter for the first letter and lowercase for the rest! –
  • Now they select the right letter peg and add it to the corresponding letter on the card!

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 7.50.23 AM#4 “Learning Letters” – I bought this great little book from Kmart for $2!

  • I tore out the pages and laminated them, making them reusable!
  • I only place 3-5 cards in the bag with a whiteboard marker.
  • I only put the cards in, once we have gone over the letter one on one*
  • Once she has written in the card she wipes it off with a baby wipe!

*As part of our tot school we are focusing on 3 letters a week.  Once we have completed a few introductory activities on this letter, I put the corresponding card into the busy bag.

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  • I have had these laminated colour cards from my classroom for years!
  • Little Miss A lives to line them up, match them and add the same colour button! Easy!

I create the bags each Sunday and place them on top of our toy rotation trolley in a little basket.  

 

I collected the little clear pencil cases from various cheap shops! Once the activity is finished for the fortnight I place it into a clear snap lock bag and into a large storage container ready for in a few months to place out again!

Little Miss A (and sometimes even Master O) are free to grab a bag and complete an activity ANYTIME they want to.  There are also times I “madate” they play with a busy bag.  During Master O’s homework time or when they need a little quiet and calm time or in a month or two when Mummy is feeding the baby! I don’t “prescribe” an amount of time they play with the activity as generally it is just until they finish the activity which is usually 5-10 minutes.  Somedays like Monday’s she wants to do all the bags at once and by the end of fortnight she is showing little interest in ANY of them.

We love busy bags, as they give us a quick, educational, answer to “What can I play Mum?” as well as ensuring that some of the time during the week is devoted to play based  activities that cover a variety of educational concepts. 

As we change our activities around I will be sure to share them with you! 

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Busy Bags

 

Today is our second installment of Thoughtful Thursday and this week it’s all about keeping little ones busy!  Kerina (Kaz) from Living on a Latte is sharing her organised and smart idea to help keep little ones entertained and educate them at the same time, now that’s what I call clever!

Tell us about yourself…

Hi I’m Kaz and I am a coffee addicted, primary school teacher, who is very happy being a stay at home mum to my two beautiful little girls. I love all things to do with organisation and have an obsession with containers. Finding the perfect container to store something in is the ultimate buzz ! 

Tell us about your blog….

My little blog (Living on a Latte) is nearly a year old. I love my blog because I get to share all the things I love – Organising, parties, camping, shopping finds, kid’s art’n’craft, “Project Life:, decorating and so much more. As a teacher I loved having a community of sharing ideas and great finds. With my blog and the fabulous blogging community I have found, I feel that I can keep that spirit of sharing going!

 Tell us about your smart idea!

One of the best things I have created in the last year to make my life easier is my busy bag collection.

A ‘Colour Sorting’ Busy Bag

My ‘Busy bags’ were I suppose you could say an invention of necessity. I had a 3 month old baby with reflux that didn’t sleep well during the day or night as well as a not quite two year old who wanted her mummy to do lots of things with her.

Busy bags saved my sanity and kept both my girls happy.

Lacing Fine Motor Busy Bag

 A busy bag is basically a small bag that holds everything you need for a child to “play” or “explore’ an activity. Busy bags are truly magic. You can have everything organised in little bags to whip out when needed. Everything your child needs is right there. I could whip out a bag whenever I needed to without straining my sleep deprived brain. When I introduced a new bag it would take me a quick minute (or less) to show her what do and then I could leave her to it. Most of the time I would just check on her occasionally. I’d walk past in the middle of cooking tea, trying to settle bubs or popping a load of washing on. I’d praise what she was doing or give her that quick helping hand. But the great thing was if things were completely crazy, she didn’t need me and she could happily play and learn independently.

Colour Matching Busy Box

 I have made a few busy bags which I have shown in a few different posts on the blog and many more I haven’t. I will hopefully share some new ideas soon. In the meantime there are lots of ideas for busy bags on the internet. I have found so many and pinned them on Pinterest. Feel free to come and check out my Pinterest boards. You can find the link on my blog. If Pinterest is not your thing just Google busy bags for oodles of ideas.

To find out more about Kaz’s amazing organisational skills and her clever ideas head over to Living on a Latte.

Someone please remind me to make some of these bags for Little Miss A!!!  Maybe it will stop her from playing with my lipstick and nail polish!