Preschool Busy Bag Exchange

 Preschool Busy Bag Exchange 
by Courtney Power

If you already have a Pinterest account I am probably not going to tell you anything you don’t already know. If, like me, you still don’t pin keep reading because I’ve got an exciting idea for you. Preschool Busy Bag Exchange Being a non-pinner I had to google the term when an interest thread was started on my local neighborhood mom’s Facebook page. Basically, it is the same principle as a cookie exchange but instead of baked goods you swap games/activities geared at the preschool age group.

As a mom of a 4yr old and 21 month old with self-professed “paint by numbers” crafting ability, I jumped at the idea of making multiple copies of a kid’s game in exchange for getting back all new games in return. Our exchange was the Wednesday before Spring Break and the activities were lifesavers on vacation. A special thanks to Kelly who organized our neighborhood exchange and to all the other Montclair Moms who participated, you ladies ROCK!

We had 16 moms participate in our exchange. This may seem like a lot, especially when you’re in the throes of making 16 copies of a game, but when you walk away with 15 new games it is totally worth it. Below are pictures of the different games made. [Note: there are 17 items listed because two were bundled together] Some are overtly educational (alphabet match-up), some are just for fun (I-spy bottles) and some build great fine motor skills (anything with clothespins). While this was titled as “preschool” busy bag exchange the games really fit a spectrum of ages. My youngest one uses the I-spy bottle as a shaker and loves the pool noddle threading with no concern for following a pattern whereas my older child can easily do color matching but has been stretched by letter and sound identification.

A picture of my haul!

1) Counting/Shaking Eggs: match egg top and bottom, insert lentils or candy to match the number
2) Connect the Dots: a laminated flip book of connect the dots puzzles and a dry erase marker
3) Color Match: grab color card with appropriate clothespin
4) Number Tracing: trace numbers with monster finger puppet using rhyme to help remember
5) I-spy Bottles: small water bottles filled with rice and assorted treasures to find
6) Pool Noodle Lacing: pool noodle segments of different colors & numbers, pattern cards to replicate

7) Double Trouble: use the loose shapes to recreate the patterns
8) Felt Puzzle: match felt puzzle pieces to outline on background
9) Magnetic Fishing: wooden dowel fishing pole, felt fish with shapes and numbers
10) Color/Number Wheel: grab color or number with appropriate clothespins
11) Popsicle Shape Makers: Velcro dots allow creating of shapes with Popsicle sticks

12) Popsicle Stick Puzzle: line up popsicle sticks to create the puzzle image
13) Lacing Cards: practice lacing shoelace in the holes
14) Playdough Gingerbread House Mats: use playdough to make assigned number of decorations
15) Pipe Cleaner Threading: thread appropriate color and number of beads on the pipe cleaners
16) Colored Animal Sorting: use tweezers to sort animal figurines by color or animal type
17) Alphabet Match Up & Beginning Word Sounds: match uppercase letter bottle cap to lowercase letter or to picture that matches the beginning word sound

If you are interested this would be great to do just before school ends, in the middle of summer when boredom sets in or anytime really. Some thoughts on successfully executing a busy bag exchange. — 16 participants were a lot and more than probably a high threshold level. You want to have enough participants to make the crafting effort worth your time and money, especially since it is generally more cost effective to buy materials in bulk but not too many that it becomes overwhelming and you run the risk of repeat or extremely similar activities. — we used a Facebook event to organize our exchange. This way each participant could post a link to or describe what they planned on making (avoiding repeats). You could also feasibly use a Facebook group to coordinate as well. The communal forum also allowed for sharing of supplies that participants might have had in excess or weren’t using. — the exchange date should be set a couple of weeks if not at least a month from the initial setup time. This gives everyone time to browse for ideas, shop the sales and make the game/activity. — Pinterest and Google are great places to get ideas. There are a ton of very crafty mom bloggers out there. — for all you military mommas out there we had a participant from out of state who mailed in her contribution. If you were organizing for a geographically separated group you could either share addresses or ship to a single POC who would then separate, collate and ship.

The school year is drawing to an end of if you are going to host one of these with your child and classmates, now’s the time to start organizing!

Courtney Power is an Air Force wife and mom to two crazy kids. She lives in Montclair and can’t say enough good things about the Prince William County community and Montclair Moms in particular.