How to Organize a Busy Bag Swap


For the last few months, my daughter and I have been participating in a play group through our local Moms Club. This group is specifically for little ones around Abby’s age.  Abby looks forward to playing with her friends each Monday morning and I look forward to conversation with moms who are in a similar stage of life as me. With this group, we often find ourselves swapping stories about sleep issues, picky eaters, and how sometimes we would give anything for just 5 minutes to ourselves! We were all so excited when one of the mamas, Shannon, brought up the idea of organizing a Busy Bag Swap!

A Busy Bag is a bag filled with a small activity that a young child can do on their own, without adult supervision. Perfect for those times when you need a few minutes to yourself to finish cooking dinner, throw in a load of laundry, or *ahem* use the bathroom alone! In a Busy Bag Swap, each mom comes up with one Busy Bag activity and brings enough of that activity for each child. Everyone leaves with a big bag full of fun boredom busters!

Interested in hosting your own Busy Bag Swap? Here’s how:

Invite other moms to participate: As I mentioned, we did this with our play group but you could invite any mommy friends you think would like to participate. Neighbors, moms from your child’s class, family members, etc.

Choose your activity! There are lots of ideas here and on Pinterest. We each “claimed” our activities via email so there were no repeats.

Gather Your Supplies – For my activity, I was able to find most of the items needed around my house and purchased the rest at Hobby Lobby. The Dollar Store, Target, or any craft store would be great resources as well.

Prepare Your Bags – Make one busy bag for each child who will need one, plus one for your own child. In our case, we had a few sets of siblings who shared bags. One bag per household should be enough.

Swap Busy Bags – We filled our bags assembly line style. We each started by taking a gallon sized freezer bag and worked our way around the table by filling the bag with one of each activity.


Play! – Abby absolutely loves the Busy Bags and asks to play with them often. Sometimes she asks me to play with her, which defeats the purpose of independent play, but I don’t mind. I love seeing her little mind at work! I’ve even begun bringing a bag or two in my diaper bag in case I ever need something to keep her occupied when we’re out and about.

Here are some ideas for activities you can include in your own Busy Bag:

  • Cut up colored sponges into building “blocks”
  • Print out pictures of animals and cut them in half to make a matching game.BBS2
  • Find plastic golf balls (with holes in them) and pipe cleaners to create a weaving game. Abby calls it the “octopus game.”bbs3
  • Create a color matching game using pieces of colored paper and small colored objects like buttons, feathers, and pom poms.bbs4
  • Use an empty ice cube tray, pom poms, and spoons to create a fun scooping game. You can also use a small pair of child-friendly tweezers instead of a spoon. This is great for their hand eye coordination and fine motor skills.bbs5
  • Kim found animal themed lacing cards. If you can’t find them in stores you can easily make your own using pieces of foam paper, a hole punch, and shoe laces.
  • Make a “Pom Pom Drop” by taping paper towel rolls to the wall.bbs9
  • Glue round pieces of velcro to each end of colored popsicle sticks for a fun shape building game.
  • Pom Poms – These are like candy in my house! Abby loves to put them in a bowl, dump the bowl out, and repeat.bbs10

Abby and I were thrilled to go home with a bag full of fun new activities! Putting my own bags together was fun, quick, and easy – what more could a busy mom ask for?

Have you ever participated in a Busy Bag Swap? What kind of activities keep your kids busy?