Lots of Busy Play Ideas to Keep Kids Busy

These materials and activity ideas will definitely come in handy to keep kids busy when I just gotta get something done!

I have been trying my best to prepare myself and the kids for when the baby gets here in a couple of months. Right now, I’ve been thinking about how in the world am I going to preoccupy the kids when the baby needs to be fed, or changed, or just needs all the attention that a baby needs!

Henry’s pretty good about keeping himself busy, but George, a toddler, on the other hand needs a lot of attention and I can’t just set up any project and have him do it on his own.

Hence the busy play activities that we’ve been doing! I’ve been trying all sorts of activities with George lately to see what keeps him busy [and what doesn't] and have found a few winners that can captivate his attention for at least 15 minutes, if not more.

These also have been coming in handy now for when I want to get dinner on the table, or need to work on something quick.

[No worries, I'll still be 'hands on' with him at other times throughout the day!]

16 Materials to Keep Kids Busy

16 Materials to Keep Kids Busy:

[Please take into consideration if you have a child that still puts stuff in their mouth a lot.]

  1. Ribbons.
  2. Pipe cleaners.
  3. Pom poms.
  4. Game pieces.
  5. Nuts and bolts.
  6. Styrofoam.
  7. Measuring cups.
  8. Pots and pans.
  9. Tissue paper.
  10. Plastic cups.
  11. A tub of water.
  12. Clothespins.
  13. Play dough.
  14. Straws.
  15. Tupperware.
  16. Blocks.

Edited to add Rubber bands. I’ve had great success with rubber bands keeping the kids busy.

Lots of Busy Play Ideas to Keep Kids Busy

What to do with these materials to keep kids busy?

Most of them you can just hand them to the toddler and just let them explore and see what happens!

Here are some more ideas for busy play:

  • Add a bottle to the mix with ribbons. Let your child work on fine motor skills by pushing ribbons in and out of the bottle.
  • Add a colander or a strainer of some sort with big enough holes to fit pipe cleaners through and let your child poke the pipe cleaners through the holes. You could also use a spice container with large enough holes to fit the pipe cleaners through!
  • A muffin tin with pom poms adds a lot of entertainment [think sorting by colors or size], and so does any container with a wide enough lid that you can cut a small hole in it to poke the poms poms through.
  • Game pieces such as Dominoes, or Scrabble pieces, have a lot of potential and can be used for the piece itself [to make roads and such] or for what’s on the piece, older kids can sort by numbers or letters.
  • Have a stash of nuts and bolts to bring out to keep a toddler busy. Drawer knobs and screws work too! [Bonus: great fine motor practice!]
  • A chunk of Styrofoam can provide countless entertainment! Add tools to the mix and let your toddler ‘fix’ or make things. A hammer and tees are also a great addition. And if you have a bunch of pieces of foam, they can be a great alternative to blocks!
  • Simply a set of measuring cups can come in handy! Throw them in a bowl with some big spoons and they can mix something up for you!
  • Along the same lines as the measuring cups, pots and pans are great too! Let them mix and match the lids or stir something up for dinner.
  • A bag full of used tissue paper. Let your toddler rip it up into pieces, sort through it, transfer it from one bag to another, or just throw it around! [Yeah, it'll be a little messy... but kids love to cleanup with a vacuum too!]
  • Leftover plastic cups from a birthday party [or two or three]? Just hand a stack to your toddler. They’ll find something to do with them.
  • A simple tub of water. Lay down a towel in your kitchen and set the tub on it. Only fill it as full as you’re comfortable with them spilling. Because if you’re not able to monitor, it might very well end up dumped. Add in measuring cups, spoons, or toys that don’t mind getting wet. Or even do a bathtime for their lovies. Added bonus if you color the water with food coloring! [It may stain though.]
  • Clothespins and a bucket of some sort that they can clip them onto and you’re good to go. They can clip them on, or fill it up, whatever suits them.
  • Play dough. Enough said. Add in toys that they love like machines [tractors, cars, trucks, etc], animals, or kitchen utensils. You’ll be set for a good while.
  • If you’re comfortable with your child having a scissors, hand them some straws with a pair of scissors and let your child cut them up. If not, have straws some already cut up handy with some yarn, or a shoestring, and thread away.
  • Let your toddler raid your Tupperware drawer. Stacking up the bowls will be fun enough, but they can even match up lids to their counterparts. And then take them apart and start over again
  • Get out the blocks! Legos, wooden blocks, whatever you have. Make a game of transporting them from one place to another and they’ll be busy for a while. An older child can do some sorting by color or size, or make patterns.


That should help out for a little while at least after the baby comes! As well as the ‘witching hour’ before dinner…

When do you need to keep the kids busy the most?



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