Sunday, February 23, 2014

Project: Busy Bag Swap

If you've read any of my posts, then you how how much I love Pinterest and all around DIY.  I have been seeing Busy Bag Ideas for toddlers for quite some time, and although I make loads of stuff for the kids to do, and we do many activities, I loved the idea of having special things that only get pulled out when I need them sitting for a little bit so I can accomplish the important task of making dinner.  My husband has been having more late meetings (the joys of living on the East Coast and working with loads of folks on the West Coast and across the dateline), which means lots of dinners are things I can either throw in a crock pot or throw in a baking dish and into the oven and forget about it until the timer goes off.  Sometimes, though, I need to be at the stove, and it would be significantly easier without little ones at my feet!

Another reason this happened recently was that I had run into a friend from elementary school (I live in my hometown) back in October when I was working a craft fair.  She had a little girl just younger than my boys and just older than my daughter and had recently moved back into the area.  Of course, the logical thing to do was to add her to my Facebook, and I was so happy I did! Not only did I get to reconnect with her through that and share mommy moments, but she had remained in contact with many of my other elementary school friends, and before I knew it, I had reconnected with most of my Girl Scout Troop from elementary school.

Recently, there had been a death of one of my college professors, and although it was over a sad note, I was also able to reconnect with my classmates at college.  Lo an behold, everyone has kids the same ageish as mine!  With January typically being slow for me after the holiday season I decided to organize what I had always wanted to, A Busy Bag Swap!

I got the idea from Life Lesson Plans who posted about swaps from Coffee Cups and Crayons.  I began by posting a blurb right on Facebook as my status, with an explanation of what a busy bag swap was, and asked my friends who wanted in.  From the friends that posted they were interested, I then created an Event on Facebook giving us about five weeks to work on it and pull it together.  I sent out invitations through the Facebook Event with further details and this is exactly (minus some names and location stuff) what I put in there:

Ok, ladies! I am putting you on this event to schedule our Busy Bag Swap! I picked this date because it gives us each about a month to get our bags together, and it's conveniently just before Valentines Day, so we can give the bags to our tots for the holiday!

This is what we do: I have three kids. I would like a bag for each of my kids, so I will make three different busy bags. We each need to say how many kids we want bags for - Like C. - if you would like a set for each of your boys, you make two different bags (Like I am making three). If C. and I were the only two in this, we would make a total of five bags (Hey, I want my kiddos to have the super cool things I am going to make for your kiddos, too!)

We will store them in those Ziplock Bags with the zipper - those seem to be easier for the kiddos to open and close on their own.

First step: Say how many kids you need bags for!
Second step: Announce what kinds of bags you plan on making so we don't have any duplicates.
Third step: Make up your bags.
Fourth step: We'll pick a place to meet up one evening to meet each other, swap kiddo stories, and have mom time without little ones and husbands. We range from City 1 and City 2, through City 3 and up to City 4, so we will compromise on a meeting place, and I am sure folks would be willing to carpool.

Here we go:
I need bags for each of my three kids.
I will be making the following bags:
A Play Doh Bag
A Fishing Game Bag
A Button Snake Game Bag

Your turn! This will be awesome!

Most everyone responded, but to be sure, I picked a day that "registration" was to close, and published the final list of mom's participating in the Event along with the final kiddo number count, too.  I didn't want to exclude any of my friends, but we needed a final count within a reasonable amount of time to finish these!

For my Play Doh bag, I grabbed the printables from Planet of the Apels. I picked the ones I liked and printed a set for each bag on glossy photo paper from the Dollar Tree.  From the Dollar Tree, I also snagged these adorable plastic containers with lids that were 4/$1. (they don't have them online so I cannot add the link).  I had planned on making play doh, but we had enough of it unopened in my house, that I just broke it up and put it in the smaller containers for the bags.

For my Fishing Game bag, I made up a fish template, and cut out a bunch of felt fish.  Since I work a lot with felt, I had plenty of this to spare.  I then sewed a washer on a ribbon between two layers of felt at the mouth, and just repeated that a bunch of time to have schools of colorful fish.  For the rods, I took dowels and wrapped a ribbon around them.  I also drilled holes in magnets, and strung the ribbon through the magnet.  

Hot glue is my friend.

For my button snake bag, I picked up some nice grosgrain ribbon, threaded it through some big primary colored buttons, and stitched the ends closed on my machine.  Then, I cut out hearts, squares and circles from primary colored felt, and cut lines in the middle so the kids could button them.  Lastly, I had made up in Microsoft Word some pattern templates, and printed those so the older kids could try to match the patterns.

I didn't take loads of pictures, because I didn't think this would turn into a post.  When we did meet up, I came home with some seriously awesome Busy Bags.  I wrapped them all up, and did give them to the kiddos for Valentine's Day.  They were very excited about their new games, and eager to learn how to do all of them. They are not part of the kids toys, and are now only taken out when I need them sitting at the table while I cook, but this was a wonderful experience!

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