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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Busy Bag activities for young children

Having a young child out at a restaurant or in church, one realizes there is a lot of "sitting" time where a young child requires something to maintain attention while waiting for food or the end of the church service. These bags are also great to just have in the car or diaper bag for backup for any reason.

I have searched many ideas on Pinterest and loved all the ideas. I am definitely not finished making bags for my little one (and future little ones), but here are the ones I have created so far. Many ideas came from different Pinterest pins on my board, so I will not really take credit for any of the ideas. I just wanted to show how I put my bags together in hopes it may help other parents.

I am open to other suggestions or any questions you may have.

These can be used for many different activities. Sort by color. Sort by size. Use to count. Use to make patterns. The possibilities are endless.


Use shoestrings with a bead tied to the end so anything added will not fall off the other end. Then let your little one add beads. Do a pattern, do all one color, just bead. Whatever you want.

Use pipe cleaners instead for a little more stability for younger hands.

Use milkshake straws cut into smaller pieces (rather than colored uncooked noodles so they don't break so easy) instead of beads. Or provide both in the bag.


This bag contains a wood base with two holes drilled in to insert short pegs. There are small wooden spools for the child to stack on the pegs.

An old spice container can be used to "poke" short dowels into for fin motor skills.


Use a small container with a hole in the center of the lid to poke small pom-poms through. Great for fine motor skills. (I added a rubber grommet to prevent cut fingers) You can also do this for buttons (which I have since added to this bag)

Make a small "I-Spy" bag with rice and small buttons of different shapes styles. This one has different animals, shapes, etc inside.


Put different stickers inside with blank paper cut in half so it fits in the bag. Then your child can play with stickers wherever you are. The blank paper works for drawing or coloring as well, so again, multiple activities in one bag.

You can add colored pencils or crayons to the bag if you choose.


Use regular or mini versions of PlayDough containers for this one. I took plastic cake-pop sticks and cut them into smaller pieces (sealing the ends with hot glue so nothing gets stuck inside). Then you just place the dough on a flat surface and let them "poke" the sticks in it. I got this idea from the local Child Development Center.


I put pony beads in a snack sized ziplock bag and included a small plastic bottle with lid for little one to place beads into. The beads can also be put in the different ice cube trays shown.

The q-tips can be placed in the ice cube tray on the left as another type of sorting activity. I know you can get different colored q-tips if you want to sort by color, or just use one to let them just explore if they are really young. Just watch your child very close with this bag.


I have different colored buttons in a sorting container. There are colored wooden cubes in a zipped bag. I got paint color cards from the local Menards and put them on index cards, then used contact paper to laminate them. The disks just have colors on one side and numbers on the other. (They are wooden disks I glued paper to and covered with Mod Podge to protect.) I have also added cards which have one color with several pictures of objects of that color that I laminated.


I took crafting foam and cut up different shapes in different colors. This helps with color as well as shapes. You can add cards with patterns for the child to follow to extend the activity. (See pattern cards in the next activity)

The popsicle craft sticks have foam glued to them for color also. You can create colored envelopes to place the sticks in or just use to learn colors.


I glued small magnets to different sized craft pom-poms so they stick to the small magnetic white board and won't fall off. The cards are not finished (as I have not cut them up and laminated them yet), but they can be used to follow color patterns. You can also include pictures the child can "paint" with the pom-poms.


I printed pictures of different animals, then glued them to colored card stock to make them sturdier. I "laminated" them with contact paper to preserve them. This bag has LOTS of different animal pictures to help little one learn animals or "play" as she wants. It keeps her busy for 30 minutes or more at a time.

Add words for the different animals for older children to match.


I used a label maker with magnetic label tape and made upper and lower case letters. This is more for older children (mine is not old enough quite yet) but the letters will not fall off a table/bench/lap using the magnetic white board or cookie sheet. This will help child learn letters, upper vs. lower case, and beginning spelling.


I sewed this to hold large crayons, or longer colored pencils. Fold it in half for the crayons, or leave it long for the colored pencils. This just keeps them all together nicely rather than a mess in a bag or tattered box.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cookie Dough Protein Dip

I love cookie dough! I have learned how to make it without eggs so it is actually safe to eat. They bake just fine, so this is how I have been making it for a couple years now. This is not the healthiest thing to eat, but it is delicious.

I wanted to create a dip for apples, grapes, pretzels, graham crackers, or whatever. I wanted it to be a little healthier as well as have more protein so it is good for pregnancy or breastfeeding. I made a recipe that can be altered to taste and is delicious. Plus, no flour!

So here goes:
4 Tbsp Jif Natural creamy peanut butter (or any flavor nut butter). (I have also used Biscoff
           Cookie Butter for this and it tastes even more like cookies)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 container (7 oz) Philadelphia 2x Protein regular cream cheese
4 Tbsp Good Grains Flax Chia Blend Ready-to-eat (this can be omitted or you can use just flax seed,
1/2 cup old fashion oats - dry (can be omitted)
1/4 c mini chocolate chips (or nuts, raisins, dried fruit, mini m&ms, whatever)

Mix the peanut butter and brown sugar till creamy. Add vanilla. Stir in cream cheese till mixed well. Add powdered sugar and flax chia blend till incorporated. If adding oats, add now. Stir in chocolate chips (or other mix-ins).

Enjoy with fruit, graham crackers, pretzels, or simply eat with a spoon.

So how bad for you is this dip? Not as bad as you would think. Here is the nutrition information if using the above ingredients:

Servings: 12
Calories: 137                  Sodium: 68 mg
Total fat: 6 g                   Potassium: 77mg
  Sat: 2 g                          Total carb: 17 g
  Poly: 1 g                         Fiber: 1 g
Cholesterol: 5 mg             Sugar: 11 g
                                       Protein: 4 g
Vitamin A: 3%               Calcium: 6%
Vitamin C: 1%               Iron: 3%