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My children spend more time playing on my phone than I do! There is always some new app they want to fidget with or some show on Netflix that apparently looks much better on my tiny S4 screen. I will admit, when we are out and about, I tend to give the kids my phone to minimize the bickering and the numerous “are we done yet” questions. However, when I’m ready to use my phone, surprise, surprise, it’s dead! I’m currently on strike and refuse to let them use my phone. As an alternative to the phone, I decided to create travel-size busy boxes to keep the kids occupied when we are away from home.
A busy box is exactly what its name implies-a box that keeps kids (sometimes adults) busy. Although you can fill a busy box with almost anything, keep your children’s interests in mind. After all, you want them to engage with what you put in the busy box . For example, although some kids might find reading a periodic table a fun activity, I know mine wouldn’t. Your best bet is to have your child help you decide what to put in the busy box. After all, they will be the ones using it.
Busy box contents
Mini ‘I Spy’ Bottle
‘I Spy’ containers never get old. My kids are 10, 6, and 3 and they all love exploring their ‘I Spy’ jar. To make this jar educational in nature, the kids must hunt for letters, shapes, and colors. This one is a hit on car rides because the kids can all take turns using the jar. Feel free to check out the following post for directions on how to make color rice.
Mini mind jar
Usually the kids use their mind jars to calm down when their emotions get the best of them. My regular size mind jar is in a 32 oz Gatorade bottle and can be cumbersome to carry around. I filled this empty glitter tube with equal parts water and oil, glitter, blue food coloring, and mini pom pom balls. Even though it is much smaller than most mind jars, it is still just as soothing to look at!
Popsicle sticks puzzle
Popsicle sticks or craft sticks are fun to work with because they are inexpensive and with a little creativity, you can create many things to keep the kids busy, for instance, a popsicle stick puzzle. To create the puzzle, I painted a butterfly across several popsicle sticks. Once dried, I separated the sticks and voila, a nifty butterfly puzzle.
Popsicle flash sticks
My daughter loves practicing with her number flashcards. However, the cards are a little big for her to hold and she tends to drop them a lot, especially when she is using them in the car. Since popsicle sticks are much easier for her to hold, I made her these flash sticks! They fit perfectly in the busy box and are great for traveling.
Pom Pom Tic Tac Toe
Again we found another use for craft sticks! This time I chose to make a tic tac toe grid with the sticks and use pomp oms for markers. The kids love playing with this when waiting for our meals to come when we eat out.
Creating a travel size busy box doesn’t only keep me sane, it also preserves the battery life on my phone. These boxes are great to use when you bring the kids out to eat, to doctor’s appointment, or if you are going to be out for a long time and need to keep them entertained. I would love to hear your ideas for other things to include in a travel-size busy box.