I’m a little ashamed to say, but I don’t really worry about entertaining my preschooler and kindergartener. They are pretty good at entertaining themselves. However, if they start to melt down and I ABSOLUTELY need a minute, I can put on a movie and be confident they will leave me alone for at least a little while.
My toddler, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. The times that I really need my kids to all play nicely by themselves seem to coincide with the times that he most desperately needs my attention. Wouldn’t it be great if there were one place to go to find a bunch of ideas for keeping these young kids occupied during moments of desperation? There is. I am happy to be a part of Teach Me Mommy’s A-Z of Busy Bags series, bringing up the rear with Z is for Ziplock.
To be honest, I signed up for the letter Z, because it gave me the most time to come up with an idea. I was pretty sure I wanted to do something with zip-locking bags, because there are plenty of easy ideas for entertaining young kids…you could put any fun substances inside (paint, shaving cream, ketchup) and kids will have a great time just squeezing it. I thought maybe an I-spy bag would be fun, filled with sand and objects to hunt for like a coin, button, or marble. However, my husband thought all those choking hazards combined with tiny granules that get everywhere was a disaster waiting to happen.
I ended up settling on this Solar System I-Spy activity. It’s a fun sensory experience for my toddler, while using the checklist as a game makes the activity both educational and fun for my preschooler and kindergartner as well. With older kids, this activity could be combined with my free, printable Solar System cards or Relative Sizes of Planets activity for extra astronomy learning.
- paper (for printing first 2 pages of Ziplock Solar System I-Spy Busy Bag printable)
- 2 laminating pouches
- 1 quart size ziplock bag (brand not important)
- inexpensive hair gel (preferable clear, blue, or purple — I used about 10 ounces)
- glitter (preferably gold, silver, or both)
- blue food dye
Supplies & Tools:
- First, print out the first 2 pages of the Ziplock Solar System I-Spy Busy Bag document, if you haven’t already done so.
- Laminate the checklist to make it reusable when using a dry erase marker.
- Cut out all the objects on the first page.
- Laminate all the objects that you just finished cutting out.
- Now that they’ve been laminated, cut the objects out again leaving a border to ensure liquid does not seep inside.
- Fill the ziplock bag with hair gel. I used approximately one third of my 26 ounce bottle, but you can use more or less as desired.
- Sprinkle in a little glitter to represent “stars.” (I didn’t really use too much. Maybe 1/4 teaspoon each of silver and gold, though again, exact quantities are not important.)
- Add the space objects to your bag. I added mine in one big pile, but I also had to spend 10 minutes separating them all from each other. I recommend adding a few at a time so they don’t overlap, and then sealing the bag and squishing them to the bottom before adding more. Almost done!
- Lastly, add some blue food coloring to your bag and squish it around to make the “I-Spy” aspect of the activity more challenging. I added 6 drops total.
To use the busy bag, your child simply has to press on the outside of the bag to find each of the items on the checklist. Depending on how much food coloring you use, this task can be easy or hard.
If you like this activity, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to be notified of all new projects and free printables as well as obtain access to a page filled with exclusive subscriber freebies. Also, be sure to check out all the wonderful ideas in the A-Z of Busy Bag series!
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