Here are 20 free, printable busy bags full of fun kid’s activities! Busy Bags (or Activity Bags) are a popular item to make and use with toddlers and preschoolers. They are perfect for road trips, waiting at the doctor’s office, independent play, or quiet time.
What is a Busy Bag?
Busy bags are a quiet activity which can be a life saver for moms. Busy Bags can be made from simple materials you have on hand.
You can make your own busy bags using:
- printable activities
- favorite books
- paper punchers
- index cards and stickers
- small toys (plastic animals or characters)
- travel games (Memory or Cards)
- flash cards
- play dough
- clipboard, paper, and pen
- cardboard tube and pom poms
- finger puppets
- paper clips and cardboard
- small pieces of fabric with different textures
Busy Bags can be made from things you prepare ahead of time.
Here are a few great ideas:
- simple or packaged crafts
- DIY board games
- dice games
- “surprise” items you see at the dollar store that you know your child will like to tinker with
- beads and pipe cleaners to make bracelets or to sort beads onto
- use popsicle sticks to make simple shapes
- matching games
- do a dot markers and free printable dot marker pages
We like to store our busy bags in little zippered pouches like these. They are the perfect size and we can see the activity that is inside. They fit nicely in the car or a bag or purse. You can also use a ziploc bag.
Keep little hands busy. Here are 20 awesome, FREE Busy Bag activities that you can print for your toddler or preschooler.
Save time…just download, print, and play these free printables!
- Printable Play Dough Mats for Every Season – Just print, laminate, and add play dough. These play dough mats allow for creativity while finger and hand muscles get stronger as they work with the dough.
- Counting Cookies – Count the sprinkles and match it to the correct numeral. These are also fun to use in a play kitchen.
- Magnetic Mr. Potato Head Printable from 2 Teaching Mommies – Print the pieces onto magnetic sheets of paper or put adhesive magnets on the back. Create different Mr. Potato head combinations on the fridge or on a magnetic cookie sheet.
- Make shapes using Birthday Candles – Arrange extra birthday candles or toothpicks to make these simple shapes.
- Printable Roads for Matchbox Cars from Crafty Kids Academy – If your little one loves matchbox cars, then these printable roads are for you! Perfect for being on the go. Another idea is to challenge your child to create their own roads and neighborhoods to drive their cards through.
- DIY Velcro Sticks and the Printable Idea Book to Copy and Create Designs from Living Life Intentionally – The printable idea book is an awesome resource, but kids can also just build and create with the velcro sticks on their own.
- Count and Match with Printable Number Burgers – These are fun to count and “make” hamburgers. Use a spatula and add them to your play kitchen.
- Flower Matching Cards from Learn with Play at Home – Not only are these beautiful flowers, but matching them is great for visual discrimination and symmetry.
- Printable Ice Cream Cone Games – These can be two player games or your child can play on their own.
- Bug Color Matching – Pair the ladybug to its matching colored leaf.
- Pig Shape Matching – Find the matching shapes on the pigs and pair them together.
- Dr. Seuss Hat Matching from Joyfully Weary – Print two copies. This printable is a challenge and will strengthen visual discrimination!
- DIY Sticker Puzzles – Trace foam stickers on a piece of paper and challenge your child to match the stickers to its outline. I encouraged my kids to keep the back on the sticker and just set them on their outlines (instead of sticking them) so we could reuse the activity. These are fun to make with different themed stickers or for holiday themes.
- Lego Mystery Challenge – You need a paper bag and a handful of Legos. In our experience this inspired more lego creations and play.
- Lego Copy and Build Printable Cards from Fun at Home with the Kids – These are a challenge and will be a hit with your Lego lovers. If you are taking this busy bag in the car, you may want to include a tray of some sort for the legos to sit on.
- Printable Shape Memory Game from And We Play – Use these as a matching challenge or if you have two players, play a game of Memory.
- Color Matching Bugs and Flowers – Pair the bugs with their matching colored flowers.
- 3 Little Pigs Finger Puppets – Print and tape to make the finger puppets. Use them to retell this classic story.
- Dinosaur Shadow Matching Puzzle – Match each dinosaur to its shadow. Great for visual discrimination.
- Connect a Rhyming Train – Find the rhyming pictures to make a rhyming train. This will be a hit with your train lovers.
Do you know a mom with a new baby and a toddler? Make her a few busy bags and they will be a big hit with her and the older child.
How Often Should You Change the Busy Bags?
I often get asked how often I change up the activities in our busy bags. The answer is it depends on the interest of the toddler. As long it holds their attention, keep it. If your toddler doesn’t spend time invested in the materials inside the busy bag, then it is time to switch it out.
Check out how we made a Toddler Busy Box. They are great for at home learning activities, crafts, and more. They are larger than busy bags and are great for rainy days, babysitters, and quiet time.