Our Five Ring Circus: 10 Educational Busy Bags Using Items From The Target Dollar Spot

Monday, July 11, 2016

10 Educational Busy Bags Using Items From The Target Dollar Spot

A few weeks ago, I walked into our local Target and noticed that the Dollar Spot was overflowing with back to school items.

I couldn't believe it at first. We had just gotten out of school for the Summer one week earlier! But that didn't stop me from filling up my cart. I ended up returning home with a large bag full of learning materials.

Busy Bags Items from the Target Dollar Spot

These items had a purpose!

Lily will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall right after she turns 5 and will be one of the youngest kids in her class. She is very social and very independent, so I have no concerns regarding her social and emotional readiness. I do, however, want to keep up with the learning and memorization so she's every bit as prepared as her older classmates. She will be starting Kindergarten with children who are already a full year older than her, so I want to give her a bit of an edge.

Liam has been using a lot of picture books and flashcards lately in Speech Therapy. I wanted to introduce some new learning materials before he makes the transition into preschool based therapy in the Fall.  In addition to his early intervention therapies, I spend many hours working with him on my own, so I need to have educational materials on hand.

Sure enough, we started to use these items every day, but our current storage method wasn't working. At first, I kept everything in a small storage container but it wasn't always easy to find what I was looking for.  Our very popular Busy Bags Binder gets used every day, so I was inspired to create a Busy Bags Binder full of educational busy bags!

This method ended up working out SO well!

Learning Busy Bags Binder

Items Needed:
  • A 2-to-3 inch Binder (bigger is better)
  • Binder Pencil Pouches 
  • Small crate to store extra busy bags

Pick up some learning materials, group them into learning skills (early reading, counting, letter recognition, time, money) and place each group of items into a pencil pouch.  Snap them into the binder, create a fun cover and store on a bookshelf within easy reach!

Here are 10 Educational Busy Bags using items from the Target Dollar Spot:

10 Educational Busy Bags using items from the Target Dollar Spot


Early Reading

Activities Included:
  • Phonics Flash Cards
  • Rhyming Cards
  • Rhyming Puzzle Wheels
  • Sight Words Flash Cards
We actually use the Sight Words Flash Cards with Liam, too! Did you know that kids who have Down syndrome often have amazing memorization skills early on? I had no idea prior to having Liam. There are some awesome 3 year olds I know in the Down syndrome community who are already reading! We just recently started, but I'll let you know how it goes!

Early Reading Busy Bag



Activities Included:
  • Telling Time Puzzle Cards
  • Wipe Clean Time Practice Cards
  • Telling Time Flash Cards
    I'm introducing the hours to Lily already. It's never too early to learn!

    Telling Time Busy Bag



    Activities Included:
    • Alphabet Sequencing Puzzle
    • Number Sequencing Puzzle
    • Sequencing Puzzle Cards 
    This is a fun way to learn patterns and letter and number sequences!

    Sequencing Busy Bag


    Counting and Numbers

    Activities Included:
    • Numbers Flash Cards
    • Number Matching
    • Counting 1-20 Flash Cards
    • Number Wheel
    This Busy Bag is more for Liam, but I do quiz Lily on the numbers once a week just to keep her mind sharp!

    Counting and Numbers Busy Bag


    Shapes and Colors

    Activities Included:
    • Color Wheel
    • Shapes and Colors Flash Cards
    • Color Clips
     I love the shapes and colors flash cards because they go beyond the basic colors and shapes. Lily can now easily identify crescents, semi-circles, octagons, hexagons and pentagons and is learning shades such as Aqua.

    Shapes and Colors Busy Bag



    Activities Included:
    • Alphabet Flash Cards
    • Wipe Clean Letters
    • ABC's and Words Flash Cards
    • Lowercase Letter Learning
    • Uppercase Letter Learning
    This is one of my favorite Busy Bags! I use it frequently for both kids. I use the flash cards to teach Liam his ABC's. The ABC's and Words flash cards are great for quizzing Lily on skills she already knows while teaching her to recognize words. She often uses the Wipe Clean cards on her own to practice her handwriting.

    Alphabet Busy Bag



    Activities Included:
    • Money Puzzle Cards
    • Felt Money Set
    • Wipe Clean Money Practice Cards
      I'm already teaching Lily some basic money skills.  The felt money set ($3) is a fun tool for teaching her the basics! It comes with a wallet, bills and coins and everything fits into a handy zipper case. Lily loves to use it for pretend play!

      Money Busy Bag



      Activities Included:
      • Wipe Clean Play and Learn Practice Cards
      • Alphabet Puzzle Cards
      This Busy Bag is just an extension of the Alphabet Busy Bag, but is suited more for Lily.

      Letters Busy Bag



      Activities Included:
      • Lacing Shapes-Robots
      • Lacing Shapes-Fairies
      • Chunky Lacing Shapes
      This Busy Bag is more for honing those fine motor skills. Liam is working hard on lacing right now in Occupational Therapy and it's a good quiet activity for Lily!

      Lacing Shapes Busy Bag


       Magnetic Alphabet, Numbers & Shapes

      Activities Included:
      • Magnetic Numbers and Letters
      • Magnetic Numbers and Shapes in Zipper Pouch
      • Drawstring Favor Bag to hold the magnets
      • Chalk Paint Cookie Sheet
      I made the chalk trays for our road trip to the beach last year and our kids ended up using them all the time! The kids love to draw on them with chalk (roads and cars for Liam) and stick magnets to them! I included the how-to in THIS simple road trip ideas post, but it's easy: Just $1 cookie sheets with a coat of chalk spray paint on them!

      Magnetic Busy Bag

      With just a small amount of money and a few minutes of time, you can create a binder full of educational busy bags that will take you from the toddler years into the school years!

      Learning Busy Bags Binder

      In addition to the busy bags in the binder, I picked up a few $1 puzzles and Wipe Clean Magnetic Lap Boards to slide into the pockets in the binder for more fun!

      Learning Materials for Busy Bags Binder

      I like to create more busy bags as I find items while shopping, so I keep a few extra binder pencil pouches on hand and I store all the extra busy bags in a small crate. I can swap out busy bags as the kids grow and their needs change!

      Busy Bags Storage and Organization

      The Learning Busy Bags Binder is such a simple idea for kids of all ages that results in endless hours of learning and play!

      Educational Busy Bags 
      10 Educational Busy Bags
      10 Educational Busy Bags for Special Needs
      10 Educational Busy Bags Down syndrome
      Learning Busy Bags Binder

      Do you have busy bags for your kids?



      1. This is amazing!! I grabbed a few of those items when I was at Target the last few months, but now that I see this I wish I had grabbed more. Man! I need to run to our Target and see what they have left. You are amazing lady!

        1. I bet they still have quite a bit! I know ours does. Plus all the pencil pouches are out in their back to school section. It's a good time to make one! ;)

      2. Nothing beats the Target dollar section!!

      3. Oh i gotta check out the dollar spot at Target! I so want to find the felt money because Elin loves to play store but paper money is getting ripped up pretty fast!

        1. My kids destroyed the paper money that came with their cash register, too. The set I picked up is great!

      4. Awesome!!! Was just thinking I needed to start really working w/ little guy on colors, shapes, etc ... I hope my Target still has some of these items! Thanks for the cool and easy idea!

      5. Oh wow!!! This is awesome. That's it, I need to make the trip to Target! These are too good not to have on hand...and the book is even better. Thanks so much for sharing!

      6. I love the dollar section! It's so great to see all the educational things they have.

      7. I love your Busy Bags!!! We just got a few supplies from the Dollar Spot the other day, including the telling time flash cards.

        1. Thank you! I love stocking up when they have their flash cards and learning materials!

      8. I love these Busy Bags so much!!! You did a really good job putting them together! So organized and I bet your kiddos loved them! That favor bag is so cute!

      9. We love learning busy bags. These are all such great ideas!! xo ~ Megan

      10. You did so well, mama! I never get to the Dollar Spot in time for the good stuff and of course the back to school stuff is already gone from our Target. I really love the bags you made and the binder. My background is education so of course I see this post and jump for joy! They also make great travel kits - those binders and bags! I'm making some binders for our upcoming mini get away. You rock, as usual! xo Amanda

        1. Thank you, Amanda! I try to go once a week to stock up on the new stuff. It really does sell out quickly!
          The binders have been great! We took them on vacation last Summer and the educational busy bags are a great learning tool for my younger kids!

      11. I love how you organized these and how affordable they are too. Such a great resource for when they are bored :).

        1. I originally created one for Lily to keep her busy during Liam's therapy session. I just try to keep up with it now and add to our binders!

      12. More great ideas, Stefanie! I always love your busy binders!

      13. I LOVE how you packaged these up. Keeping extras in a basket to swap out is a smart idea. I'd even keep one in my diaper bag for restaurants or waiting rooms. Just in case :) Never know when you need to keep a toddler busy ;)

        Katie @ Cup of Tea

      14. I adore these! I guess I love that more than my kids do, haha! We spend a lot of time playing this kind of games)))

      15. Do you always have them accessible for the kids or only when you are out or need some quiet time?

        Also, I loved seeing the felt money being used. I picked it up and second guessed it since it didn't look like real money. I do want something sturdy for her to play with unlike paper money for my 3 year old. Maybe I need to reconsider the felt money.


      I love hearing from you! Let's chat!!!