Your toddler is into everything… literally, everything. That adorable little makeup storage kit that’s filled with your essentials? She’s into it. Your meticulously packed monogram tote bag? Yep, your tot’s *way* into it. Your smartphone? Well, of course; your two-year-old is a tech guru already. Instead of repeating “No, don’t touch” over and over, just redirect your mini-me’s interest! It’s time to get to know busy bags. Whether you’re at home or on the road, a busy bag does exactly what it says — it keeps your child BUSY.

Mother and daughter indoors

Before running out to the store (or your fave shopping site), try DIYing these bags on the easy level so that even the super time-crunched mom can put together a rad one. Making a busy bag doesn’t take the special skills that most Pinterest-esque kids’ activities/crafts do.

1. It all starts with, well, a bag. But, not just any bag. Something that’s clear and completely closes. That puts zipper baggies at the top of the materials list for this project. You’ll want to keep your child busy for more than a few moments. So, you’ll need a bag that’s bigger than the snack or sandwich kind. Think freezer or gallon size.

2. Personalize it with a theme your kid will love. One of the truly genius parts of creating a busy bag is that you can use whatever theme you want. Let’s say your toddler adores everything princess. You can toss in sequins and sparkling princess stars. Other easy fillers include colorful craft sticks (your budding builder can engineer a stick sculpture), blocks, soft modeling clay, tiny plastic animals or puzzle pieces. There are no real “rules” when it comes to what’s inside! That said, safety is king. Never, ever put anything that’s a potential choking hazard, is sharp or in any way could injure your child in the bag.

teacher and kids playing with geometric shapes

3. Maybe they could even — gasp — learn something. Busy bags come with bonuses galore. Not only do they keep little hands away from just about everything else, but they give your child a full-on sensory experience. Sight, touch and even smell or hearing all make their way into these DIY gems (try adding old school scratch n’ sniff stickers or jingle bells). This means your child has the chance to explore, make discoveries and actually learn. And, this is all while she thinks she’s just playing. Shhh! Don’t tell her that.

4. Have busy bag, will travel. Oh yeah, the other absolutely awesome thing about these nifty little do-it-yourself gadgets is that you can throw them in your baby bag, purse or the car and go. Stock up and make more than a few at one time. When you decide to go out for an impromptu dinner, get a call from grandma that she wants you (and the kiddo) to come over right now or haven’t fully prepped for an afternoon out, grab a few selections from the “busy bag bin” and you’re out the door! They’re even awesome distractions on a long flight.

What kind of busy bag will be a hit with your toddler or preschooler? Share with us on Twitter @BritandCo !

(Photos via Getty)