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Mama Travel Hack: Busy Box

A few months ago someone sent me a video that showed how a mom created a "road trip box" to keep her kids entertained during long car rides. I loved the idea and decided to create one of my own for the little birds to use during the plane and train rides to Calabria. It was easy to make and today I gave Chapo and Amore Chi-chi a little sneak peek. I let them explore their individual boxes and it was by far a 10/10 hit. They were well entertained (and quiet) for a good while.

[Note: I won't let them play with it again until the trip. I don't want the boxes to be familiar and not exciting by the time we actually need them]

And so, because I love a good Mama Hack, I'm sharing the details of the Busy Box that I made as sort of a way to pay it forward. Keep in mind that each child has different interests, so this will likely need to be tweaked to suit your own little one. But the main point is... you can keep young kids entertained in a quiet, confined space for hours without buying much. To put this box together, the only things I had to purchase were the case, the counting cubes and velcro dots. (if you want links to those, send me a message and I'll share them) Everything else was made from stuff I had at home. Each of the two kid's has three individual activity boxes, and then there's an extra box that holds extra "stuff" that either of them can play with.

Here are Amore's boxes:

First Box:

  • (4) silicone cupcake liners

  • Several little pom poms in the same colors as the cupcake liners

  • Several unsharpened pencils with removable erasers in the same colors also

She can use this box in a couple different ways:

  • Sorting the pom poms by color into their corresponding cupcake liner

  • Pouring the pom poms from their bag into the liners

  • Taking the erasers off the pencils and putting them back on

  • Sorting the erasers by color

  • Using the pencils as drum sticks (that girl LOVES the drums)

Second Box:

  • (4) pipe cleaners sticking out of a squishy rectangle (it's some sort of padding material that came in some package I got)

  • (4) pipe cleaners sticking out of a face drawn on cardstock that looks a little weird to me, but whatev

  • A bunch of cut up straw pieces

  • A bunch of beads

She can use this box to:

  • Slide the straws onto the pipe cleaners sticking out of the rectangular thing

  • Slide the beads onto the "hair" of the weird face

  • "Clean up" and put the straws and beads back in their bags (she enjoys putting things away, one by one)

Third Box:

  • Color matching game that I drew on cardstock

  • Pom Pom caterpillar game

  • Index cards

  • Post-it notes

  • Triangular crayons that don't roll

  • Stickers

  • Counting cubes

She can use this box to:

  • Play the color matching game by matching the little picture to the appropriate color

  • Stick the pom poms onto the caterpillar/peel them off (there are velcro dots on the pom poms and on the caterpillar)

  • Color/Draw

  • Use the stickers to decorate her box

  • Play with the counting cubes

Here are Zion's boxes:

First Box:

  • A bunch of cards that show different things you can make with colored popsicle sticks

  • Popsicle sticks painted in corresponding colors

  • Counting cubes

He can use this box to:

  • Create the pictures he sees on the cards

  • When that gets old, I'll time him to see how fast he can do it

  • Build different things/create different patterns using the counting cubes

Second Box:

  • Rectangular piece of cardstock with 12 boxes drawn on it

  • Clothes pins with each month of the year written on them

He can use this box to:

  • Pin the months of the year on the card in the correct order

  • Talk about the special days/events that fall in each month (birthdays/holidays/baseball season/snowy days/beach days/ etc.)

Third Box:

  • Stickers

  • Mazes

  • Pencils

He can use this box to:

  • Decorate his box with stickers

  • Complete the mazes

  • Draw his own mazes or have someone draw new/unique mazes on the back of each printed maze

  • Play tic tac toe/dots & boxes/hang man on the back of the printed mazes

And that's that. In the "extra stuff" box I have more counting cubes, post its and index cards for them to get creative with. In addition to this box, I'll bring books, Chapi's mp3 player, a ruler, and their cameras so that there will be an abundance of things to keep them occupied when times get rough.

If you end up making your own "busy box", share the details with me. I'd love to see what other people come up with.

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