Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Child's Play] A Busy Box Tutorial

Welcome back friends, today we are following up last week's Busy Box Swap with tutorials on how we made all our busy activities.  Again, criteria included spending as little as possible - preferably <$15 and trying to use items we already had on hand or things easily found at the dollar spot, dollar store, or craft store.   

I decided to use pom poms because I know a lot of kids can be mesmerized by the bright soft fuzzy craft supply, or maybe it's just my own.  The obvious activity was color recognition with matching and sorting, but I wanted to build another skill on top of just grouping piles of yellow, green, and blue. So I added some number flash cards to help with the second skill set of number recognition and counting. 

Pencil Box
Craft Punch, circle (or a quarter to trace!)
Construction Paper
Glue Stick (or glue or glue dots of any kind)
Cardstock or thin cardboard
Scissors or paper cutter

Overall, the project cost me about $5.  I only had to purchase the pom poms (which there were plenty left over to make one for Ashlynn) and the pencil box.  Pencil box was $1 and pom poms $3.79 from Michaels.  Everything else were things I had on hand.

First up, the flash cards.

Simple enough.  I punched a circle with my craft punch, you could easily trace a quarter, and used it to draw out numbers.  I first placed the pom poms in the shape of the number I wanted, then just replaced each pom with the circle, traced, and repeat.  After each number was traced out, I punched coordinating color circles to glue at the bottom for the child to count. Then I layered the cardstock and glued the cards on construction paper for some punch of color and extra durability.  

There are so many different skills that can be worked here.  Of course, fine motor skills of placing the pom poms on the empty circles creating each number, then counting the dots to help with number recognition. Color matching, orange on orange, blue on blue. You could ask the little one what color poms were used to create each number - use words like under, top, bottom, first, next, last  Which color is under the pink pom pom?  Very simple cards, but lots of language skills can be used in addition to the quiet activity of placing the pom poms on top of the cards.

As for the box itself, this was a true MacGyver effort.  I first used the bottom of a small gift box I had laying around since the cardboard was sturdy, but not think.  I flatten it out and used the sides as the 4  strips to create the cubbies.  I made sure two fit lengthwise and two widthwise properly, then cut a notch in each going about 2/3 of the way down.  I fit the notches into each other and had my grid.  I then used the bottom of the box for the bottom of my grid.  I trimmed the corners so it'd fit the rounded edges of the box and notched it where there was bump from the box's closure.  I then used some hot glue to attach the grid to the base and followed with gluing color swatches to bottom of each grid.  

And yes, make sure your colors match the poms you have on hand!

I stored the flash cards under the sorting grid so everything fits nice and neat into the little box.  New numbers, letters, or shapes could always be added to the collection for more fun pom pom building. 

And that is how I made a quick, cheap busy box during a nap time. Nothing super fancy, but hopefully the options for play steals mom a few quiet minutes for herself.  

I'm so excited to see what everyone is linking up with their busy boxes.  Be sure to add your post - past or present - to the link up below so we can all blog hop and pin our hearts out!

And don't forget to check out the other hosts!

Colleen at Meet the Sullivans
Emily at Dear Owen
Michelle at Ten June
Natasha at Schue Love
Erin at Hello Erin


  1. This is such a cute idea! I love it!

  2. It's seriously awesome! Pom sorter was a genius win around here!

  3. Such a clever idea...I should really make this for Ethan!

  4. That is so clever and super easy! I'm goin to have to do this for Ellie! Also I love how you incorporated so much learning!

  5. I remember having so much fun with pom-poms as a kid, why didn't I think of them now? I think we'll be getting some ASAP. Great idea, thanks for sharing!! :)

  6. I love this idea! Definitely one I want to make soon!

  7. This was such an awesome idea for a link-up! I love all of the ideas and I am pinning them. I am always looking for way to keep my son occupied in certain situations and working on his skills :) Seriously thanks so much for this!

  8. So simple and so awesome!!! I'm going to make this for Arden before baby arrives!

  9. This is genius! I love that you guys did a post to explain it because this is totally something I could do! (Before the instructions, I wasn't so sure! LOL). Simple, easy, educational. Perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I'm so glad you like it, that was my hope to show how simple it really can be. I know I see all the pinterest ones and get overwhelmed like 'i could never make that... plus time', so doing this was almost a challenge to prove I could since it's usually just laziness holding me back. I'll be honest too, making one for someone else's child gave me more motivation haha.

  11. So glad you are enjoying the link up! Some of the ideas shared are perfect for those times you need well-behaved kiddo - doctor appts, restaurants, sanity in the car, etc!

  12. I remember loving the little tiny fuzzy craft bears. Remember those? I had a whole collection and would play with them. I wonder if they still make them haha

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