Tag Archives: Busy Box

20 Month Old Busy Box

I put together these activities for a friend’s little girl.  While mommy is serving in Iraq, I thought this busy box might help to keep her little one busy and hopefully even allow her dad some much needed time off from entertaining.  Most of the activities are homemade, repurposing items from around the house as is my norm. I housed them in a simple decorative box.  J’s own “busy box”  is kept in a closet and the activities are only brought out at certain times throughout the week.  This helps keep it’s novelty.  Some of the activities are repeats from the 1 year old Busy Box I made my niece awhile back, though I tried to make them a bit more difficult for the older age.  You’ll also notice that these activities are mostly ones I’ve mentioned in previous posts.  When I make a busy box, I try to pick the most successful activities from J’s experience, many of these are motor skill activities.  Some of these activities are things Ella can enjoy now and some she will grow into in the next few months.

You’ll have to excuse my poor decorating abilities.  That is certainly not my forte.  Most of the original toys that I made for J aren’t decorated at all.  J never seemed to mind, so hopefully little Ella will look past the covers and still enjoy the meat of the activities!

1.  Pushing Puff Balls – this is a fine motor activity and has always kept J entertained; see this post for more info

2. Color Sorting Pipe Cleaners – again a fine motor activity and I added practice with colors; this is probably the favorite homemade toy for J; see this post and this post for more info

3.  Color Wheel – practice with colors and fine motor skills; you can use the wheel in other ways too. See this post and this post fore more.

4. Puzzles -These foam puzzles were one of the best buys for J. They were just $1 at our local grocery store and I picked them up on the fly one time.  When I saw them there months later, I bought a few more as gifts. I bring the color puzzle on plane trips sometimes since there are few pieces and it’s very light. 

5. Family Bag – this is similar to J’s family magnet pics.  I added each family member’s name to Ella’s pics, laminated them (with contact paper) and gave her a little purse to carry them in.  J has loved his family pics since before he was one.  I thought adding the names could encourage name recognition.

6. Seed Family Worship CD – I had previously sent one of their CDs to my friend while she’s in Iraq, but thought her daughter might like one too.  These cd’s are really great and not just for kids IMO.  They are an excellent way to help us write God’s Word on our hearts.  See this post for more.

7. Fish Counting and Matching file folder game – J has a similar matching game, I just made this one a bit more durable by adding it to a file folder for safe keeping.  The envelope holds the laminated fish cards to match as well as the fish to place on the counting page.  I found the counting template here from Tot school and have used it many times with J.

8. Sponge Jewelry – a fine motor activity and again a favorite of J’s, simply thread the sponges onto the pipe cleaners.  I found a greater variety of sponges for Ella’s jewelry.  A girl needs to match!  See this post for more info.

1 Year Old’s Busy Box

I thought I would share a recent gift I prepared for my one year old niece.  I called it her “Busy Box” and included some homemade activities that she can enjoy both now and over the next few months.  She is the third child so her house is already overflowing with store-bought toys and they really need little more.  So I thought a little creativity was in order.  Afterall, toddlers LOVE to play with anything that isn’t technically a toy anyway!  Many of these activities were J’s favorites at the same age (the ones with stars) and I threw in a few extra… 

The box itself was a simple photo box.  I wanted it to be small enough to hide away (some activities will need adult supervision) and cute enough to be displayed if wanted.  This also meant activities needed to fit inside the box itself.  I finally decided on…

1. Pipe Cleaners in a Bottle **

All toddlers love a good game of In and Out.  This is just one more way to get some practice!  I used an old container of Puffs from J’s baby days, decorated the outside and punched holes in the lid.  I filled the bottle with colorful pipe cleaners.  It’s also a good idea to fold and twist the pipe cleaners in half to make them sturdier.  As a pretoddler it will be easiest to simply remove the lid completely and let her take the pipe cleaners in and out but as she gets older, simply add the lid and the activity becomes more advanced.  If I could’ve found my colorful Sharpies/reinforcement stickers, I would’ve given each hole a specific color.  This allows one more difficulty by trying to match the colored pipe cleaners to the corresponding colored hole in the lid. 

Another option is to use colorful straws, but I chose pipe cleaners since they’re so versatile.  She could also use them to make shapes, letters, jewelry,…  Oh and this makes a GREAT plane activity. 

2.  Colorful Flowers

Again and In and Out game, or just a way to focus on colors.  I used colorful foam to make the flowers and added a tin flower pot.

3.  You’ve Got Mail

I cut out envelopes, stamped and addressed each one with recognizable family names.  I intended to create my old mailbox with a box, but decided to go with this cute store-bought mailbox instead.  She can learn to open and close the mailbox, of course play the In and Out game with the mail (do you see a trend?), and when she gets old enough for name recognition she can play mailman and pass out the mail to the intended recipient. 

4.  Clothespin Drop

I bought some of the old clothespins (without the spring) and gave each one a different colored tip.  She can play the In and Out game (yes, again!), try to drop the clothespins in the tin flower pot and hear the nice clangy sound they make, and when she’s much older can fit the clothespins around the tin edge since they fit perfectly.

5.  Half-Dozen Eggs **

I mentioned this activity in an earlier post.  It was such a winner when J was younger, that it had to win a spot in E’s Busy Box.  It takes literally no work, just an egg carton and some plastic eggs.  ** I also meant to add puff balls inside each egg, but of course forgot. 

6.  Cupcake Magnetic Puzzle

This was made completely out of the colorful foam.  The muffin tins and cherries are glued down but the cupcakes themselves can be removed, rearranged and replaced (because of the magnetic backing).  Since she is so young, cupcakes work great.  Any color cupcake will fit on any muffin tin.  

This is an activity where a parent needs to be nearby since it includes magnets.

7.  Photo cards **

I printed and laminated family photos.  This is a great way for her to learn each family member (they’ve recently moved away from home) and I’ve never known a toddler that didn’t enjoy playing with pictures! 

7.  Colorful Dice

I threw this in last minute since J has a set and enjoys them.  I found these at Michaels.  For now, it’s just something to toss around (they are rubber so they bounce), but eventually it’s a way to practice counting.