Pediatric Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapists Inspiring Play

Make Your Own Busy Box to Encourage Independent Play

Make Your Own Busy Box to Encourage Independent Play

Unexpected phone call? Last minute Zoom work meeting? Just want some quiet time to drink some hot tea or coffee? A “Busy Box” is a great way to encourage independent play!

Let’s face it mamas (and dads!), sometimes we just need to get stuff done!

A Busy Box can be any box, bowl, basket, or tray with items you prepare in advance and can pull out in a pinch to spark some creativity and keep your kiddo busy. We put our heads together and came up with lots of simple, budget-friendly ideas you can use to create an engaging activity that your little one will love!

You can find many of the items recommended below in our shop on our Busy Box List!

1. Play Dough Scene

Play Dough Scene Busy Box

Create a “theme” box to spark your kiddo’s imagination. Our ocean theme includes play dough, shells, gems, and plants for building, squishing, hiding, and creating- the possibilities are endless!

Below, we packaged a birthday themed box with funfetti play dough!

2. Toy Rescue

Busy Box Mr Potato Head Rescue

Add in some pretend play by wrapping Mr. Potato Head’s body parts & accessories in painter’s tape for your kiddo to “rescue”!

For more Potato Head Ideas, check out our Mr. Potato Head Operation Sensory Bin!

3. Pre-Made Scissor Strips

Busy Box Pre Made Scissor Strips

Draw lines of various length & orientation on construction paper strips so your kiddo can snip and cut the day away!

4. Pom Pom Color Sort

Busy Box Pom Pom Color Sort

Set up a simple, yet engaging, color-sorting station using pom-poms, tongs, and silicon cupcake liners. Find these materials at our shop!

5. Pom Pom Grab

Throw some Pom Poms in a bowl, cut some paper towel rolls up, and throw in our favorite fine motor tools by Learning Resources!

6. Squig Pull

Squigz are awesome and so versatile. Connect a bunch together and your little one will have a great time pulling them apart and hearing them pop!

7. Puzzle Piece Foil Wrap

Grab a few of your kiddo’s favorite puzzles and wrap up the pieces in foil. They’ll love discovering what piece is hiding and completing the puzzles. Drink that coffee, mama!

8. Pipe Cleaner Fun

Bendy, fuzzy pipe cleaners are always a hit. Wrap them around a popsicle stick or thread them through beads. You can always leave a few already completed to suggest some ways your kiddo can play with them.

9. Hungry Tennis Ball

A hungry little tennis ball takes less than a minute to make. Kids can work on hand strength and fine motor skills; but let’s face it, kids just love to “feed” things!

10. Velcro Blocks

Add some velcro strips to blocks. Your little one will love putting them together and pulling them apart.

11. Paper Towel Roll Shape Finder

If you have some shape stickers, draw shapes on a paper towel roll to match and let your kiddo do the rest!

12. Cereal Fun

Draw your little one’s name and provide some dry cereal or beans for them to practice filling in the space.

13. Q-Tip in Straw Challenge

Cut up some straws and pair them with Q-tips for a fun and simple way to keep little hands (and brains) busy.

14. Wine Cork Rubber Bands

Have some extra wine corks lying around? Ya, we thought you might. Pair them with small bands and let your kiddo go wild. Wine corks can also make great stamps- click here to see our wine cork stamp article!

15. Mini Pumpkin Rubber Band Play

Mini Pumpkins make great bases for rubber bands!

16. Paper Towel Roll Designs with Rice

Cut up some paper towel or toilet paper rolls, get creative and make a cute design; add some scoopers and rainbow rice as a filler!

17. DIY Cardboard Geo Board

Cut out different cardboard shapes and make a geo-board! Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

We hope you find the ideas in this article supportive! Especially during this time, when a lot of us are working remotely and trying so hard to keep our kiddos busy and engaged. If you create your own busy box to encourage independent play with your kiddo, share it with us on Instagram or Facebook!

As a reminder, you can find many of the items we used in our shop on our Busy Box List!

Perform activities recommended by Walk, Talk, Play at your own risk with appropriate adult supervision provided. Walk, Talk, Play is not responsible for any injury caused while performing these play activities. 

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