Kindergarten Busy Bags: Part One

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the brilliant concept of busy bags.  The premise is simple: make several reusable activities that will entertain your child.  Store them in Ziploc bags and grab a few when you’re running out the door to go to the doctor’s office, restaurant or airport.  By spending a little bit of time creating the activities up front, you save infinite sanity when you’re on the go later.


Nine other moms and I came together to have a busy bag swap several weeks ago.  Each of us made ten versions of an activity.  (I was the official pom-pom push maker.)  Then we met up for a play date and swapped our creations so that each of us ended up with ten different busy bags.  My 2.5 year old, C, has been playing with at least one of them every day since and I have been amazed by the number of times that one of the activities has helped prevent a public meltdown.


There are hundreds of busy bag ideas for toddlers and pre-schoolers but it’s much harder to find anything for children who are kindergarten age and older.  So I teamed up with one of my favorite new blogs, Boy Mama Teacher Mama, to create printable kindergarten busy bags to pass on to you.  Over the next three weeks, we’ll share six activities for you to print and make: 3 that build math skills and 3 that focus on literacy.


First two items up for grabs?  Subtraction Submarine and The Color Wheel.  Click on the “Read More” tab posted after the picture of each activity to see assembly directions.


The Color Wheel


[learn_more caption=”Click Here to Read More”]


  • Color Wheel printable (available in the righthand column).
  • Scissors.
  • 6 large clothespins.
  • 1 large label.
  • 1 black marker.
  • Lamination sheet to protect the wheel.  I bought a pack for $10 at Target.


To make:

Cut out around the edge of both color wheels (the black and white one and the colored one).

Lay both wheels back to back and laminate them.
Then, cut around the edge of the wheel, leaving a 1/2 inch border to ensure that the lamination seal lasts.
On a label, write six color words: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  You are using a black marker so that your child relies on the letters (rather than the color of the writing) to figure out what word is written.

Cut the label into small strips and stick each one on the end of a separate clothespin.  Then, place all supplies in a Ziploc bag.


To play:

  • Starting with the colored side, attach each clothespin to the matching colored pie piece.  For example, clip the clothespin labeled “red” to the red pie piece.
  • When that version of the game becomes easy, turn the color wheel over to the black and white side to repeat the activity.



Submarine Subtraction

[learn_more caption=”Click Here to Read More”]



  • Submarine Subtraction game board (available in the righthand column).
  • 2 dice.
  • 18 counters: paper clips, beans, pennies, pom poms, etc.
  • Optional: lamination sheets to protect game board.
  • Optional: baby food jar to contain dice like the photo below.


To make:

If you are going to use a baby food jar to hold the dice, place the dice inside the jar and tighten the lid.

Then, place all supplies in a large Ziploc bag.  How simple is that?!


To play:

  • Roll both dice and determine which number is larger than the other.
  • Count out the larger number of counters and place them in the first circle.
  • Put the smaller number of counters in the second circle.
  • Subtract circle two from circle one and place the answer and correct number of counters in the third circle.


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About Malia Hollowell

Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4.5, 3 and 1}. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education {go Stanford!} and spent seven years teaching in a classroom. Since starting Playdough to Plato in 2012, her ideas have been featured in Parenting Magazine, Pinterest's Top Educational Pins and Kiwi Crate.


  1. I love this! I just heard about busy bags, too. I have a 4.5 year old and I have been looking for older ideas… I love the submarine!

    Stopping by from your link at ABC and 123 Learning Coop.

    • Thanks for stopping by and saying “hello”!

      • Hello! I have been looking through your blog and love the ideas that you share. I recently joined a busy bag swap and would love to make your color wheel game. It is my favorite color wheel that I have found. I love the two level play with the name words on the reverse side. However, I can not seem to find a way to print the color wheel. I am probably missing something simple, could you please help me? Thank you, Brandi


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