When my kids were younger, I participated in a busy bag swap with other moms in our playgroup. It took some work upfront, but we ended up with several new games perfect for my kids. Here are all the details of our exchange.
Before anyone starts working on their busy bag activities, you need to know exactly how many people will participate. The number of participants dictates the number of activities each person needs to make. For example, if six people participate, each person would make six busy bags — one for herself and one for each of the other participants.
How It Works
Each person chooses a busy bag activity to make. I made a fishing game. I cut out felt fish each with a small magnet inside. I also included a fishing rod made from a wooden dowel and a string with a washer tied to the end. Because of the magnets and washer, this activity is better suited to preschoolers. Since there were eight of us participating, I made eight sets of the fishing game busy bag.
Other activities brought to the busy bag swap were popsicle stick puzzles, a popsicle color matching game, a felt patterning activity and a bird and worm game with a clothespin as the bird and pieces of pipe cleaner as the worms. You can find several busy bag activities online.
Each person makes a set of the activity for each of the participants. Include everything needed for the activity. Include instructions if needed. Many of the activities are self-explanatory. Put all of the materials necessary for the game in a plastic baggie or in a small plastic container with a lid. The materials should be contained.
Schedule the exchange far enough ahead of time that everyone has enough time to make their busy bags. You’ll want a location where you have enough space to set out all of the busy bags. We each placed our activities in a separate pile on a large dining room table. We then went around the table and grabbed one of each of the activities.
Tips for a Successful Busy Bag Exchange
Choose participants who have kids about the same age. It’s easier to create age-appropriate activities when all of the kids are at similar developmental levels. Ask each participant to tell you ahead of time what she is making. This prevents duplicate activities. With a little planning and coordination, you can end up with a whole set of new games.