Toddler Life

11 No Prep Busy Boxes for Toddlers & Preschoolers

No Prep Busy Boxes for Toddlers and Preschoolers No Prep Busy Boxes for Toddlers and Preschoolers No Prep Busy Boxes for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Busy boxes are a great way to keep toddlers and preschoolers occupied for those times that you need a few minutes of quiet. Whether it’s to care for a new baby, make time for working from home, getting dinner on the table or just a few minutes of me time, busy boxes will keep little hands busy when you need it the most.

In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I started to seriously think how I was going to handle two little ones at the same time. Hannah would be staying at home with me, instead of attending daycare. She is a great kid, but I knew the change of pace would be challenging for us both. Among the solutions I brainstormed, busy boxes were a hit.

Busy boxes were an easy solution for me and have made things so much easier for us since Grace has arrived. Busy boxes (also known as busy bags or busy bins) are small bins of toys that your toddler or preschooler can use independently, giving you some peace, for at least a few minutes. They are filled with small toys or activities that don’t require parental supervision or set-up.

Hannah gets one bin per day, and I usually take it out either when Grace is fussy and needs a bit more attention, or during nap time when I need a few minutes to clean the house or have some downtime.

No Prep Busy Boxes for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Materials for Busy Boxes

There are lots of tutorials on making busy boxes from scratch floating around Pinterest. These are great, but, y’all, I want these boxes to give me MORE time, not stress me out by giving me more work to do by creating them from scratch.

Instead, I opted for pre-made materials. You can find the materials for your busy boxes in a variety of places. I found most of the materials from The Dollar Store or Amazon. Target would be another great source.

Most of my busy boxes contain sets that encourage pretend play. This is because Hannah absolutely loves imaginative play and it entertains her for hours. I did throw in some artsy materials and building stuff, but I mainly stuck to what I knew would actually keep her busy!

I also looked for materials that we already had (you know, those little sets of toys that kids play with for two minutes, then are lost in the jumble of the playroom).

Just plop the toys/materials in clear containers like this and voila, they are all ready!


Here are the busy boxes I have for Hannah so far:

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Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Kid K’nex Blinkin’ Buddies Set

This was given to Hannah for Christmas. She loved it for a week, then the pieces ended up scattered all over her playroom. By putting it in a busy box, it’s become so entertaining again. Here’s a similar set.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Building Toy

This was a random find from The Dollar Store. Hannah builds all kinds of things from these using her imagination. Any building material would do.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Doc McStuffins Playset

Hannah loves Doc McStuffins. We got this set for Christmas. Again, it ended up at the bottom of one of her many bins of toys, and she stopped using it. Since it’s been added to our busy boxes, she adores it again.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Doggy Play Set

I combined a set of little doggy figurines from the Dollar Store with a Playmobile set with a dog and owner (ignore his missing hair!). Hannah loves any kind of pretend play, so she loves acting out stories with her doggies and owners.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Doll Set

This was a gift Hannah received. Hannah calls these her ‘little girls’ and plays for hours with them. Here’s a similar set.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

My Little Ponies

A random assortment of ponies with a few brushes and clips. These are all gifts, but I combined them to make a set. Here’s a nice set if your kiddo loves the My Little Pony TV show.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Foam Building Blocks

These foam blocks are from The Dollar Store. I envisioned Hannah building and sorting with these, but she had her own ideas and used them in a role playing game where they became pretend food, money and about a million other things. The point is to let your child entertain himself/herself, not try to control the play.

I’ve also read about adding shaving cream to the foam blocks to make them stick together. Haven’t tried this yet, but I’ll keep you posted!

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Alphabet Stamps and Notepad

Who doesn’t love stamps? I couldn’t resist throwing in some letter recognition in this box, but any stamps will do. I may add some colouring materials too, as I know she’ll want to illustrate the pages of her notebook.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Bunny Playset

Hannah loved her doggy busy box so much, I added a bunny box as well, also found at The Dollar Store.

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Small Puzzles

These are always great for spatial awareness. They have few enough pieces that she doesn’t need a lot of help to complete these puzzles. She is obsessed with them and takes great pride in completing them!

Busy Bins/Busy Bags

Minion Lego

Like any three year old, Hannah loves the Minions. This busy box is made up of a few small sets of Minion Lego. At this point she does less building and more role-playing, which is fine with me! You can get similar sets here and here.

Busy Box Supplies on our Wish List:

Here are a few materials I’ve been eyeing for my next set of busy boxes:

Play Foam

Magnetic Blocks

Playmobile Camping Set

Play Dough Mini Set

Busy boxes have been a lifesaver in our house. They keep Hannah occupied when I need a little peace and quiet, or when I need to tend to the baby. Investing a little time in creating these boxes is well worth it!

What do you do to keep your toddler/preschooler busy when you need a minute? Share below!

No Prep Busy Boxes for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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