One of my favorite things on Pinterest is cheap, homemade toys. There are some pretty creative ideas on there, and if you are lucky enough to have a toddler or preschooler in your home, you can spend hours getting inspiration on everything from toys and learning games, to themed play dates and creative snacks. My friend Emily, of Emily in the Kitchen, recently showed up at a homeschool activity for our older children with a bag full o’ activities for our littles, and this PomPom activity that she found on Pinterest was one of the things she brought along with her. Come to find out, there is a whole mess of toddler and preschooler activities that are designed to be included in something called a Busy Bag, which, I have learned, is a stash of simple activities that you have handy (in a bag) to take along with you and keep your little ones busy while you are out and about, running errands, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc. Is this not a brilliant concept?! Not to mention that it doesn’t involve handing over your iphone to your 2-year-old to distract them with a game of Angry Birds (which means that you can keep your iphone and play Angry Birds yourself while your toddler plays with the stuff in their Busy Bag! Double bonus!!).
Anyway, the original source of my pin is a blog that I have determined is pretty much the mother load of activities, crafts, games and ideas pertaining to babies and children from 6 months old right up on through kindergarten. There are a TON of ideas on her blog, and everything is wicked organized into categories, which makes it easy to get inspiration for what you are looking for. It’s a wealth of info, seriously, check it out.
The PomPom toy is pretty simple. All you need are scissors, an empty container with a lid (I used a sour cream container, obviously washed and dried), and some pom poms. I got a whole bag of them at Hobby Lobby for $2.99 (but if you are better organized than I am, bring your 40% off coupon and get them for even less!). You also don’t need such a big bag, but I figured that there will be other uses for fluffy pompoms in the future, so it didn’t hurt to stock up a few extra.
Anyway, once you have your supplies gathered, you just use your scissors to cut a few holes in the top of your lid. You want them to be large enough for the pompoms to fit through, but not small enough that your child has to use a little effort to get them inside. I started small, and tested my pompom against the opening as I enlarged it, so that I didn’t accidentally make it too large. I initially worried that the plastic would be rigid potentially might scrape His Majesty’s hand when he played with it, but I tested it a few times, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. A commenter on the original source mentioned that you could heat the edges to soften them if you were concerned, but I didn’t find that to be necessary with this container.
That’s it. Cut holes in the top of the container, and you’re ready to hand it over to your kiddo for a test run.
And, the verdict is… He liked it!!
He also enjoyed showing his big brother how to play with his new toy, and throwing the Pom Poms. Everywhere. Which made the activity even more fun for him, especially when our ancient, senior cat started to play with the stray pompoms. Understand that this was HUGE for my boys. Puffy does not play, at least not if other people are actually around to witness it. This could very well be a once in a lifetime viewing for them.
So, the fact that this activity was cheap, required no skill other than basic knowledge of how to use a pair of scissors, AND entertained His Majesty in 3 different ways (watching the cat play, throwing the pompoms, and of course, using the toy as it was originally intended) means that it scores pretty high on my list of awesome toddler activities. I’d say it was $3 well spent. Plus it’s small, can be stored easily, and could easily be carried along in a busy bag, should you feel so inclined as to make one. And, if you’re feeling fancy, you could Mod Podge some paper or fabric onto your container and hit it with an acrylic sealer to make it pretty (or just buy a pretty container and cut holes into it).
So, have you made a busy bag for your kids? What’s in it? Do you have any activity ideas that you think Christopher or His Majesty would enjoy? Do tell!