How to Organize a Summer Busy Bag Swap

“Mom, I’m bored!” “Mom, the Wi-Fi isn’t working!!” “Mom is it cool if we surf down the stair on sleeping bags?”  For those moments during the summer when you need to bust their boredom, when the Wi-Fi goes out, or when their imaginations highjack all common sense, busy bags to the rescue! So, what exactly are Busy Bags? Summer Busy Bags are bags filled with age appropriate activities, arts, crafts, games, etc. to occupy your kiddos.  If the thought of having to research various activities and purchase all those supplies to place in your kiddo’s busy bag sounds overwhelming and totally something you don’t want to be doing this summer I am right there with ya!! Which is why I invited other mommas to participate in a Summer Busy Bag Swap, after all, many hands make for light work! Last summer was our first Summer Busy Bag Swap and it turned out so successful that we did it again this year.memorial_africazoo2016 054

How it Works:

1-Invite Families to Participate

Invite 5-10 families with children around the same age as your kiddos-if you have school aged children invite other families that have kiddos all school aged (5 & up), if you have toddlers and preschoolers invite other families with toddlers and preschoolers, etc. Also, instead of putting together a busy bag for each child we put together a busy bag for each family. This way everything is equal and fair because let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be cool to have a family with one child be expected to buy bags for each child in a family with four children. Once you have a confirmation from the families put together a Facebook group message or Facebook event where everyone can communicate easily.

2- Decide on a Budget & Activity to Swap

First indicate what the budget is for each activity. This will ensure that any awkward moment like one family bringing 10 $30 board games to swap while another brings 10 $1 coloring book doesn’t occur. For our swap we kept the budget at $1-$5 per activity. Once you have established the budget request that everyone share what activity they plan on contributing to the swap in order to ensure that there aren’t duplicate activities. Need some ideas? BusyBag1








  • Play dough
  • Water balloons
  • Magnets
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • Marshmallow & Toothpick construction
  • Paints
  • Highlights Magazine
  • Make your own Silly Putty
  • Make a Tornado in a Soda Bottle
  • Paper Aiplanes
  • Moon Sand
  • Legos
  • Coloring books
  • Crossword Puzzles
  • Mad-libs
  • Dominos
  • Uno
  • Finger Paints
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Stamps
  • Origami

Remember your activity need only be as complicated or time consuming to collate as you wish. There is no shame in grabbing a kit already assembled at 5 Below, like we did last year and again this year….meanwhile the other mommas really brought it with Salt Painting, Scavenger Hunts, etc.

3-Pick a Date, Time, & Location for the Swap

Because this is supposed to be an activity that helps moms it is recommended that you meet at a park. This way no mom feels obligated to clean her house, kennel a rambunctious puppy, or give the illusion of a tidy playroom. BusyBag6Added bonus, kiddos can go run and play on the playground while moms assemble bags. Chances are everyone will not be available on the same day and time-that is okay! Just have that mom drop off her activities and bag with another mom and she can pick it up at a later date.memorial_africazoo2016 046

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If the first swap runs smoothly organize a second and third, this way you have enough activities to keep your crew busy all summer long! Want to add to the fun? Make each swap a theme! Arts & Science, Math, Camping, History, etc. the possibilities are endless! Have fun with it!!

I am so thankful for the amazing mommas who contributed to our Summer Busy Bag Swap. This summer I have implemented the no screens until 3pm rule and I fear I would have succumbed to the moaning, whining, &, yes, even crying (tween) if it wasn’t for the Summer Busy Bags.

Happy Swapping!!