Super simple and super fun, these easy busy boxes are for busy people! Take low prep activity ideas for toddlers to preschoolers you can really do and put together for your kids. Look at what you already have, and you will see how easy it is to put together busy bags and busy boxes for kids!

Busy Boxes For Toddlers & Older25 Busy Boxes Simple Ideas for Busy Bags


Use what you have to create simple busy boxes for home or travel!

When quiet time is needed for independent play, with siblings, or with a parent, busy boxes are a good choice to have on hand. Our busy box ideas below are designed around the interests of 3 year old to 5 year old. Feel free to build your own busy boxes to suit your kids’ interests and their ages! These busy boxes are a great place to start for ideas.

25 Busy Box Ideas Everyday items fill boxes


Although I have put together 25 busy box ideas, I only have about 5 out at a time. What do I do with the rest of the items? I store the materials for the other busy boxes in gallon size zip lock bags. Then I use a large storage bin to store those bags when the contents are not in use. Or even easier you can just fill your busy boxes 5 at a time. Whatever you choose these busy box ideas are sure to keep everyone busy!

Keep in mind that our busy boxes are used in several ways. We use some of these busy boxes for independent play, travel, family time, and quiet time. You can fill busy boxes to suit your needs. Maybe you need all your busy boxes to be independent play so strive for activities you know your child will be successful with by themselves. 

Tip: We always have scissors, glue, more paper and crayons, markers or pens available to use any time.

25 Busy Boxes For Toddlers to Preschoolers

1. Nuts and bolts and locks and keys {fine motor}.

2. Foam alphabet letters and objects that correspond with each letter {matching}.

3. Playing cards and clothespins. Put the clothespins on cards to match the number on the card, sort cards by color or suit, put in numerical order, play a more or less game or even build structures! 

4. Paper bag puppets or simple art with paper bags, stickers, and markers.

25 Busy Boxes Nuts Bolts keys Alphabet Math Drawing Paper Bag Puppets

We love Lego activities so naturally, we have Lego busy boxes in our mix!

5. Lego Creator sets are great mini builds with 3 variations. My son can follow the directions on his own.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Best Building Kits For Kids

6. Lego Storytelling with lots of mini-figures, accessories and base plates. He can make up his own stories or we can all do it together. It’s fun in a restaurant.

25 Busy Boxes Lego Play Ideas

7. Lego free play build. Just a box of random Legos. I used command strips to attach some plates to the lid. Now it’s very portable and great for taking just about anywhere.

8. Lego Skittles game. Read more about our Lego Skittles game and how you can make it at home.

Click to get your free brick building challenges.

9. Playdough play. I kept it simple and added a batch of  homemade playdough, play dough tools, a monster truck, and rocks. There are so many neat variations like adding dinosaurs or other mini animals, letter or number stamps, figurines, gems, etc. The possibilities are endless!

10. Superhero books and superhero action figures. We have quite a few superhero duplicates from all our sets. I added those plus a set of I Can Read Superman or I Can Read Batman books for inspiration. he loves to act out the stories and look through them.

11. Mystery bag idea. This busy box is fun to take out when we travel. Can you guess what each item is by just feeling it?

12. Family photos. My son loves to sit and look through a stack of family photos or photos of himself doing different things. Many times, he will come over and want to know more about the picture or to tell him a story about that particular day.

25 Busy Boxes Play Dough Super Heros Mystery Bag Family Photos

13. Scissor skills box. This one is always popular! My son likes to practice scissor skills when he has fun textures and items to chop up. Ribbon, straws, bows, old cards, pool noodles, and streamers are fun choices. 

14. Environmental print puzzles. Cut up cardboard food or toy boxes and have your child make them into puzzles. You can also use postcards and junk mail items.

15. Measuring box. I added my son’s favorite measuring tape, a small ruler, pencil, paper, and various sized pieces of “wood” for him to measure and record. He can find all sorts of ways to measure these things. Usually, he will end up measuring things around the house too which keeps him extra busy.

16. Paper and a roll of painters tape. I folded up and an extra big piece of paper and added a roll of painter’s tape. He can tear off pieces of tape and make a picture of his choosing. 

25 Busy Boxes Scissor Skills Homemade Puzzles Measuring Tape and Paper

17. Pool noodle pieces and toothpicks. Build sculpture with pool noodle pieces and toothpicks. It’s easy and cheap to cut up a dollar store pool noodle and they work so well with toothpicks for building.

ALSO CHECK OUT: Pool Noodle Activities For Kids

18. Crazy rocket balloons and a mini air pump. It’s quite a bit of work to pump up these rocket balloons but they are so cool when you let them go. They fly everywhere and do make quite a loud noise. Despite the noise, he keeps himself quite busy with these.

19. Straw building. I picked up a couple of these sets at the dollar store. Engineer a new drinking straw and see if it works! 

20. Constellations. My son is really into constellations and stars. I took a package of glow in the dark stars and paired it with our easy to print constellation cards. He can lay out the stars to match the cards. This one we will often do together.

25 Busy Boxes Pool Noodle Building Balloons Straws Constellations

21. Paper punches and scraps of paper. I honestly didn’t think paper punching was exciting until I watched my son do it for 20 minutes counting all the punched out shapes as he went along. I gathered our paper punches and scraps of scrap booking paper and he is all set. Every now and then he will grab a glue stick and make a collage. 

ALSO CHECK OUT: Paper Bag STEM Challenges

23. Sensory box or fidget box. This is a random collection of sensory toys. It also makes a great calm down box. I always leave this one available. It has a light-up ball with spikes, a squishy thing or two, a glitter jar, a bendy rabbit, wind up toys, homemade fidget putty, a stretchy key chain and whatever else he is currently enjoying.  

24. Small-sized or travel games. This is definitely a 2 or more player busy box but easy to grab when we are traveling for fun little games on the go. Scavenger hunt games and peg games are fun ideas!

25. Geometric shapes and Popsicle sticks. This activity was originally a post for our A-Z STEM Series this winter. He can do whatever he likes with shapes such as make patterns, pictures, collages, etc. He can also build shapes with the Popsicle sticks. 

25 Busy Boxes Paper Punch Water Beads Sensory Box Travel Games Geometric Shapes

*BONUS BUSY BOX* Not pictured in a box is our homemade slime. It fits wonderfully in one of these boxes and will last a week before you will want to change it out for a new one! Check out this super simple 5-minute slime recipe to make yours. We have a bug slime below.

Bug Slime Sensory Play with bugs and insects Spring activity



Click on the image below or on the link for more hands-on preschool activities.

Preschool Learning Activities for a whole year of play and learning!


  1. These are some absolutely great ideas! Some are too advanced for my daughter at the moment, but I’m pinning this to refer back to. Thanks for the list.

  2. Thank you for the inspiration! Your tips are obviously wonderful for any mom/parent, but for those of us with chronic illness and small kids, finding quiet-time or low-energy activities can be a game-changer. So thanks for sharing!

  3. one of our favourites, especially for sick days, is a box of magnets, metal paperclips and washers for making magnetic sculptures and free play

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