10 busy bag ideas – fine motor for three year olds


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I love the idea of busy bags or boxes. They can be taken away for long car journeys, days out, nights away, planes or just for a quick grab and go. I find it handy to have a set of activities in case our three year old needs something familiar during busy days to calm down with. Fine motor is an easy area to develop on the go and with small resources.

1. Pom poms and a whisk

pom poms and whisk for fine motor

So simple. So easy. Pushing as many pom poms through a whisk as possible. You can throw in some tweezers for added fine motor challenge or count them as you put them in/ pull them out for some on the go maths.

You can do loads with a packet of humble pom poms. Check out this post for more ideas.

Assorted pom poms > https://amzn.to/36OtHLS *

2. Lacing / threading

child threading beads for fine motor task

We’ve got a mixture of wooden beads and string and other items we often use for this. You can throw some pasta into a bag for this and some string and it’s an easy way to do some fine motor work on the go. Again you can repeat patterns, colour the pasta, count the pasta and so much more to get even more learning out of it. Shoelaces are an easy to way to replace lost strings and because they won’t fray at the ends they can be more useful than string. You can even laminate pictures of characters your child likes and hole punch to create your own threading tool.

You can find some Melissa and Doug lacing toys here https://amzn.to/39USmjE *

3. Pegs and matching.

You can do this with numbers, letters of the alphabet, letters of your name and any phonics. All you need is to write out onto plain pegs whatever you’re wanting them to match to and a piece of card to match the item too. For younger ones, this can be colours or shapes etc too.

4. Cheerios and pipe cleaners

You can replace Cheerios with Fruit Loops if that’s what you have and just throw in some pipe cleaners. You might want to just focus on the fine motor or you might want to extend the challenge. Adding a sticker with a numeral to the base of the pipe cleaner can get the child to relate numeral to quantity.

5. Nuts and bolts

child playing with wooden toys

We bought this Melissa and Doug toolkit a very long time ago and it often gets a bit neglected now in amongst all his other toys. Sometimes it’s nice just to get something out of a busy bag which has been forgotten to give it some love. Lots of work for little fingers to do to get bolts on and off.

Tool set > https://amzn.to/36IZUEc *

6. I Spy bag

A bit of a quick makeshift plastic wallet/ food bag I spy bag. You can fill it with rice or grains and throw a few familiar toys in there. Adapt the I spy however you see fit for your child as initial sounds might not be appropriate for all. You can use colours, size, shape etc as suits

7. Cotton buds and paint

A slightly more manageable way to paint on the go. Just pack some cotton buds and a small pot of paint to dip into. You can create patterns using the colour or write out letters, numbers or their name. They can follow the paths you create to paint over. Alternatively, you can use pages of a colouring book to fill inside the lines etc and improve control/ finger grip.

8. Foil and play food

wrapping toy food in foil

I saw this on Pinterest (sorry, it was so long ago that I don’t have the link) and loved the idea of it. Cut up some pieces of foil and pack them into a bag along with some play food in different shapes and sizes and get your child to think about how they can wrap the item up in the foil. The folding, pulling and wrapping will give their little fingers some agility and precision.

Wooden food > https://amzn.to/2QF43mV *

9. Sticker alphabet match

Just some simple stickers with some alphabet letters written on. You can then write the letters of the alphabet on something else, a picture etc and they find and match. The peeling and sticking helps fine motor. The matching could be lower case to upper case or simply matching as at this age recognising the letters is a big step. You could do it for numbers too.

10. Good old colouring books

Crayons, pens and colouring books are quick, easy and cheap to grab and go. Because they’re so low maintenance, sometimes we can forget how useful they can be for calming fine motor activities.

We use these kind of bags to pack these sorts of activities up to take with us.

https://amzn.to/30aVkfs *

Have you got any go- to activities which your little one loves on the go? Sometimes I feel like the simplest activities are the ones he enjoys the most! Please leave your ideas in the comments or tweet me! @sentimentshed 🙂

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Sentiment Shed

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