Busy Bag Ideas for Indoor Play


These Busy Bag ideas will help occupy your small child when rainy spring weather keeps you indoors!


They say “April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring this mama a case of cabin fever!  It’s finally getting warm enough to go outside, but the rainy spring weather arrives to once again keep us indoors! Ugh…

Just when Emily and I are ready to pull our hair out from being cooped up inside, I start to pull out my assortment of Busy Bags!  Do you know about busy bags?  If so, I must just be way behind the times because I’d never heard of one until my moms’ group recently hosted a Busy Bag swap. 

For those of you like me, not in-the-know, a “busy bag” is an easy, yet entertaining activity which a small child can play with on their own while you need some time to do some chores or take a mini mama time-out from so much time indoors.  They’re small enough to store in a gallon-size plastic bag, hence the name.  Oh and the best part?  I usually find my supplies at Dollar Tree or other inexpensive craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michaels.

If you Google “Busy Bags” you’ll get tons of ideas.  Here are a few that I’ve thought of and that my moms’ group made.  Host your own swap or easily make these on your own for those times you just need a few minutes you need to occupy your children indoors!

Pom-Pom Clothespin Color Matching Game – This is pictured below.  Glue colored pom-poms onto clothes pins.  Take cardstock in corresponding colors and create small flash cards with the color written on it.  Have the child match the clothes pins and with the correct color flash cards. 

Two-Piece Puzzles – Take flash cards with something like shapes or numbers on them and cut them in half.  Place several in a bag and have the child match them together.  Since Emily’s only 2, I cut them in half.  If you child is older, you could cut the cards into 3 or 4 pieces.

Sewing Plates – Punch holes around the edges of a paper plate.  Add a pair of shoelaces for the child to sew through the holes, which is great for working on fine motor skills.  For added fun, use colorful plates and laces! You could even use multiple plates and laces in matching colors to add an additional learning component with color matching. 

I Spy Bottles – Take an empty water bottle and fill 1/2 way with play sand or something similar.  Add small objects like plastic toys, letters, marbles, etc.  Make sure the top is secured tightly, use glue or tape if needed.  The child can turn the bottle around to play hide and seek with the different objects inside.

Letter & Color Matching Easter Eggs – Take an Easter egg and write the same letter on each egg half.  Separate all of the eggs in a bag and have the child match the correct egg halves together. Not only can they match the eggs together, but they can practice spinning them on the floor, shaking them in the bag and stacking the halves together. Emily’s been having lots of fun just matching the egg colors together without the letter component since she just turned 2.

Bead & Shoestring Activity – Place a shoestring or pipe cleaner and several plastic beads in the bag.  Have the child string the beads on the string/pipe cleaner.  As with the sewing plate activity, you could use two or three shoestrings in different colors and coordinating bead colors for further learning.  Note: This activity should only be given to older children, who will not put the beads in their mouth! Emily’s not at this stage yet…

Color / Shape Matching Trays – Buy a muffin tin or ice cube tray.  On the bottom of each hole, tape or glue a different shape (star, circle, square, etc.) or piece of colored paper.  In the bag, place colored pom-poms or shapes to match with the corresponding ones in the pan.

Coin Counting Activity – Make flash cards with different numbers 1-5 or 10 on them, depending on age.  Place the appropriate number of plastic coins in the bag.  Have the child place the correct number of coins on each card to practice counting. 

Matching Game – Buy two sets of the same flash cards or even use something like leftover Valentine’s Day cards.  Place 5-10 matching cards in the bag and have the child match the correct cards together, similar to the game Memory.

Sock/Finger Puppets – Create puppets out of socks, felt and craft supplies like pom-poms, string, yarn, etc. Place 1 or more in a bag for the child to play with and let their imagination run wild!

Pom-Pom Fun – Pictured below, this is an easy one!  Buy two small plastic bins, some pom-poms and tongs. They can practice fine motor skills by using the tongs to pick up the pom-poms and move them from one bin to the other. Emily loves to just throw them in the air or dump them all out of the basket… not the planned use, but if it keeps her busy it works for me!

I hope you’ve found a few ideas your children might enjoy! I know Emily likes quite a few of the ideas in this list.  I’ve found them to be really helpful on these rainy spring days when cabin fever gets the both of us!

If you’re looking for more ideas to entertain your kids indoors, check out these additional Columbus Moms Blog Articles:

Crafty Fun for Inside Days

Playdough and More Homemade Fun

20 Things to Do With Young Kids When You’re Stuck Inside