A "Busy Box" is a great tool to pull out when you need your child to be entertained independently and you don't have a lot of time for preparation, setting up or cleaning up.
The idea behind the Busy Box is to prepare it ahead of time so that you have it on the ready for when you need it. Another great thing about them is that if your child needs to be entertained when visiting or staying at someone else's house, it's easy to throw in the car and bring with you.
We find that our Busy Box works well because we don't pull it out at the drop of a hat. It is saved until we really need it and it always contains some things that they don't normally have free reign at. This is where the appeal lies and why it's an effective tool for us
So, what type of things would you put in a Busy Box?
My tips for what to put in.
1. Only put in things they can use independently without your assistance
2. Make it age appropriate. ie. No small fiddly bits for littlies etc
3. Less mess, less fuss. Leave out things that will make a mess your child can't clean.
4. Keeping materials etc in individual tubs/bags/boxes inside the Box will help keep it clean & easy
5. Include materials that are open-ended. ie.things that have more than one use
6. If you focus primarily on creativity you may find they are able to use it for longer
Contents of our current Busy Box for our 3 year-old
- Very special textas/markers that are never used any other time. They are scented and one side rolls patterns and the other for drawing.
This little box inside the Busy Box contains
-sheets of stickers -coloured popsicle sticks -Bingo Markers & -clear glue
There are little tubs and ziplock bags that contain
- foam farm animal stickers -mini pompoms -googly eyes & -shiny jewels
A small modelling clay kit
(We have access to play dough all the time but this is something a little different & therefore special)
Different types of papers: - coloured paper -white paper -drawing & writing notepads
-sheet of foam -long roll of plain paper
Busy Box in Use
Madeline's independent creation from her Busy Box
- Make smaller boxes with more specific themes like these ones by "Famiglia and Seoul" to use while travelling
- Try using egg-cartons for little activities like "The Good Long Road" did and check out her ideas for a busy bag
- Here are a few more activity ideas for busy bags from "Z is for Zel"
- If you plan on using the busy box frequently (ie- every night while dinner's being prepared) you will need to keep rotating items in there to keep it fresh and interesting, and/or make up a bunch of Busy Boxes for different days.
- There are so many other different things that you could include in your Busy Box. This time I didn't include things that we have access to all the time, like: play dough, books, sticky tape, pencils, toys, games, puzzles etc. but when I change around the contents I can always add a book she's never read before, a toy she's never played with before etc. Remember, the more enticing and interesting, the more likely it will hold their attention.
- Use ziplock bags as a handy alternative. Label each one and store all together in a plastic tub to be pulled out at random as needed.
- Think about your child's interests and what keeps them focused for the longest. Try and work out activities or materials that work with that theme. eg. if they love everything about trains, you could try and work in some train activities, stickers, train tracks etc.
- Re-evaluate. If it turns out there are things in your Busy Box that your child is asking for assistance with, change those items for things they can do independently. You'll learn through experience.
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