Caring for toddlers can be an intense job. These little ones are interested in (and into) everything, rarely want to sit still, and approach the world with wonder — which is amazing to watch, but probably leaves you feeling like you don’t have a second to catch your breath.

Unfortunately, being hands-on at all times can be unrealistic — especially if you have to care for another child, make a meal or (gasp) run to the bathroom. For the moments when you need to occupy your toddler, a busy bag might just do the trick.

What are busy bags?

Busy bags are self-contained, homemade toys and games designed to do exactly what they say — keep toddlers busy. These age-appropriate activities promote independent play, help hone fine motor skills and promote early learning. They also make great travel toys and can keep children entertained when you’re away from home.

Check out these three easy busy bag ideas you can make yourself.

Pizza Making Busy Bag

What toddler doesn’t love pizza? Now they can build their own pie with this super simple busy bag.

What You’ll Need:

  • Felt, multiple colors (off white, red, darker red, brown, green, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Items to trace shapes (optional)


  1. Using the sharpie, draw or trace various pizza and topping shapes onto the felt. For circles, try tracing different-sized bowls.
    • Off-white felt: dough
    • Red felt: sauce
    • Darker red felt: pepperoni
    • Brown felt: mushrooms
    • Green felt: green peppers
  2. Cut out the various shapes.


My Own Busy Wallet

Toddlers want to be just like mommy and daddy, so give them a toy that lets them be! The busy wallet is a useful distraction while waiting in long checkout lines or at restaurants. And you can personalize this toy in all kinds of ways.

What You’ll Need:

  • A wallet
  • Various items for the wallet (see below)
  • Scissors
  • Laminating machine (optional)
  • Printer (optional)


  1. Purchase a cheap wallet (try garage sales or dollar stores) or find an old one that you’re no longer using.
  2. Fill the wallet with various items that your child can play with:
  • Pretend money: You can purchase pretend bills at almost any big box, toy or party store.
  • Various cards: You can easily make pretend debit cards, gift cards and loyalty cards. You can also use the fake credit cards attached to junk mail and business cards you don’t need.
  • A driver’s license: Make your little one an ID by pasting a small, passport-sized photo onto 3.5” x 2” piece of cardstock. Type or write in their name, age, height and weight.
  • Small photos of your family.

Tip: Laminating the play money and other paper items will extend the life of the busy wallet. 


Simple Color Matching Busy Bag

This simple game helps toddlers learn colors. The goal is to attach each colored clothespin to the same-colored sheet of paper.

What You’ll Need:

  • Clothespins
  • Construction paper
  • Glue gun
  • Laminating machine (optional)
  • Scissors


  1. Laminate sheets of construction paper. You may need to trim the sheets of construction paper before laminating them. Use a variety of colors.
  2. Cut each sheet in half length- and width-wise, so that you have four pieces of the same sheet.
  3. Using one quarter of each laminated sheet, cut strips that are sized approximately 3” x 11/16” wide (the width of a standard clothespin).
  4. Using a glue gun, apply glue to the top of the clothespin. Take a small strip of construction paper, apply it to the side of the clothespin with glue and hold for 15-30 seconds. Do this for each color.


Busy bag activities can be easily stored in gallon Ziploc bags. Put the bags out of sight so that when you need them, your child is excited to play with a new toy.


About the Author

The Sittercity Military Program will help you find the perfect sitter for your family! Memberships are fully paid for by the Department of Defense for Army, Navy, Marine, and Air Force, including active duty, reserve and guard.

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