Quiet toys or busy bags are a great way to help kids be quiet when you’re in a meeting (or church). This post will teach you how to make children’s church activity bags.
I have a wildly popular post about quiet bags, or church busy bags. The reality is that before I had the luxury of sending these kids off to school I had one, even up to two, kids who needed to attend an event with me and be relatively quiet, even beyond church. I have a quiet drawer for our church items, and a quiet box for other items.
Wanting MORE quiet toys -- check out my tip sheet on doing a busy bag exchange:
Church Activity Bag for Small Children:
1. Books. Of special note are books that have doors that open (or flaps that lift), or things you slide, any book that requires an action is highly prized in this area. Again, I checked at Goodwill, I looked at garage sales and I bought from bargain book shelves. Some of the books have religious tones, but many don’t. At one point my dollar store had these smaller books with GIANT flaps that were SO perfect for little hands. The key to finding good quiet bag items is keeping your eyes open.
2. Coloring, and stickers. Once my kids hit 18 months I bring out the coloring options. I like twistable crayons the most for church. They don’t break and they are plenty sturdy for small hands. Right now my 5 year old gets a notebook, and a coloring book. I have a few coloring/tracing/workbooks that we rotate between.
3. Quiet Toys. I no longer bring toys to church but I do before kids are good readers. Usually just one small, silent item. etch-a-sketch or those draw and erase boards are great. I have had a lot of finger puppets (love the Ikea ones), or sensory bottles. The key is SILENT toys. Also toys with few parts because I have 12 million things to do on Sunday and I don’t want to miss pieces. I also try not to use toys that can easily be thrown or make excessively fun banging noises. Seriously, it’s trial and error on this one. 🙂
I tend to bring 1-2 of of these 3 items. Right now, she gets a book and some coloring, and that is all she needs. When she was younger, it was certainly more (and before she went to nursery I had a GIANT box of church-only toys that I rotated through). This is the boy scouts moms and dads, be prepared.
Busy Bags for Church
When my youngest was about 2 we did a giant busy bag exchange at church and it was AMAZING. It allowed us to build a huge collection for our children’s church activity bags.
Seriously, we all made our own bags (which streamlined the process, and allowed us to buy items in bulk making it, ultimately, cheaper.
They were great for church or quiet time.
Steps to a busy bag swap:
- Get a group of friends you’d like to do it with
- Make a giant Pinterest board with ideas (invite everyone to pin there) — there are a TON of busy bag ideas on Pinterest!
- Make a google doc signup sheet to make sure people aren’t over-lapping activities
- Have a date that you come to exchange.
Besides the fact that you’re cutting a TON of circles or whatever — they are absoutely great! Well worth the time you put in. Be sure to sign up below for the tips to creating your own group sent right to your inbox. It will encourage you to DO IT! 🙂
Quiet Toys for Meetings:
For me, I don’t demand my kids are silent in my meetings. Most of them are attended by mothers, some of which like to color with her or reminice about when they had to bring their own kids to meetings.
1. Polly pockets, and i’m talking the old cool kind. NOW, these have a lot of pieces, which is OK if we are sitting at a table. She LOVES these. I found them all at Goodwill and they have been a wonderful find. Matchbox cars would be the boy version of these.
2. Paper dolls — or, I have found some magnetic doll sets that are really neat.
3. Coloring — color wonder is great. I try not to bring markers to church, but I allow them at meetings (especially color wonder).
4. Tiny dolls — any kind. The girl loves to pretend.
5. Spelling items. We had a similar rotating spelling toy. That was fun for the kids (still in our quiet box).
6. Puzzles — I really like these cube ones. Again, found at Goodwill!
7. Beading — the more you can work on eye hand coordination, the better, am I right? I would bring just a few in a tiny tupperware container.
8. Busy Bags — we did an exchange for these once as friends and they were SO nice. I love them!
9. Letter writing practice. I have had wax pencils, dry erase boards, wipe-off crayon boards, you name it we’ve used it and it is GREAT practice! AND, quiet!
10. Small video games. I also have some old marble games from when I was little. These are louder than I normally care for, but it depends on the type of work I am doing. I REALLY try not to resort to electronics, but you can be sure I’ve thrown my phone to her a few times. I’m sure if I had my Kindle Fire back then it would have been a mainstay.
11. Stickers. Oh baby, do we love stickers. Sticker books, random sticker sheets — you name it, we play it. Big fun.
The main key is rotating through all of your stuff. Much like my shirts, I put the items we last used at the back, and then push forward the other stuff. That way, when you grab from the front, those tend to be newer things that you haven’t done in a while, and will hopefully capture some interest.
Do you have any tips for quiet bags? Share them in the comments, Id’ love to hear more. Even though my 5 year old is in school we still have meetings to go to every now and then. I really don’t miss the weekly toting-a-child-to-a-meeting-phase. I must admit.
Do you have any favorite quiet toys? Feel free to link to them below (I’ll even allow affiliate links of high quality non-spammy type toys).
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FYI– This post was originally written in Jan 2015, and has been updated since then.