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.  And speaking of tons of fun, grab our Editable Sight Word Games to make learning exciting and engaging!

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 preschooler 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 stop a looming public meltdown.

There are hundreds of busy bag ideas for toddlers and preschoolers 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 for busy bag ideas?  Subtraction Submarine and The Color Wheel.

The Color Wheel

To get started, I gathered together a few supplies:

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

I cut out around the edge of both the black and white and colored wheels.


Then, I laid both versions back to back and laminated them to make them stick and give them some extra durability.

I cut around the edge of the wheel, leaving a 1/2 inch border to ensure that the lamination seal would last.
On a label, I wrote six color words: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  (I used a black marker so that my son would rely on sounding out the word instead of looking at the color of the writing but you could color code for newer readers.) I cut the label into small strips and stuck each one on the end of a separate clothespin.
With the prep work complete, I invited my five year-old to start pinning the color words to the color wheel.
And when that version of the game became too easy, he turned the color wheel over to the black and white side for some extra challenge.  This busy bag was perfect to bring along to any appointment I had and kept him entertained!

Submarine Subtraction


To prep this busy bag, I first grabbed my supplies:

  • Submarine Subtraction game board (HERE)
  • 2 dice
  • 18 counters: paper clips, beans, pennies, pom poms, etc.
  • Optional: lamination sheets to protect the game board
  • Optional: baby food jar to contain dice like the photo below
Since I wanted to keep my dice contained, I placed them inside the baby food jar and tightened the lid.
My son rolled both dice and determined what number was larger than the other. He placed that die above the left hand circle and laid the smaller die above the middle circle. Then he counted out a matching number of pom poms and placed them below each die. He subtracted circle two from circle one and showed the correct answer in the last circle like this:

And voila! I had two amazing busy bags ready to grab and go while we headed out the door!

Want More?

Head on over to our shop to grab our super fun Editable Sight Word Games for more learning activities!

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  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.

      1. 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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