8 Busy Box Ideas

8 Busy Box Ideas

Last week my husband came home with these fantastic cardboard boxes (7 in x 7 in x 2 in) from U-Line that his work had left over from a campaign. My eyes lit up with the endless possibilities. I used about ten of the boxes to store and organize the art and activity cabinet. Some would be used to store fudge to give as gifts for the holidays. My favorite idea was to use them as “busy boxes” (similar to “busy bags”) for the kids!

The boxes are small and portable, and can hold more materials than a regular busy bag. Here are eight different ideas for how to make a busy box using small cardboard boxes from U-line.

This article contains affiliate links. Here is our full disclosure policy.

#1 Mini Sensory Bin with Rice and Bugs

Mini Sensory Bin with Rice and Bugs

A simple sensory bin can be a great busy activity for young children! For this mini sensory bin I used white rice and mini plastic bugs. Feel free to add a measuring spoon, or scoop, and a small container! Bring along a small blanket to place this mini sensory bin on for easy clean up.


#2 Clothespins and Felt Color Matching Busy Box

Clothespins and Felt Color Matching Busy Box

Cut out squares of colorful felt or another non-fray fabric such as fleece. Place colorful clothespins into the box with the fabric. If you can’t find colorful clothespins you can paint plain ones. This is a fun fine-motor and color matching activity that is great for in the car, at your destination, or at home!

#3 Mini Felt Board Busy Box

Mini Felt Board Busy Box

This idea can be used in the car for short trips or even road trips! Glue a felt background into the box with a hot glue gun. Cut out any shapes from any color felt you’d like. This busy box could be used for long or short car trips!


#4 Color Matching Buttons with Egg Carton Busy Box

Color Matching Buttons with Egg Carton Busy Box

Place some colored buttons inside of the busy box. Cut an egg carton in half so that you only have six compartments. Paint the inside of the egg carton with colors that coordinate with the buttons. I used dark blue, light blue, yellow, orange, red and green. This is a great activity for color matching and gaining fine motor skills! This busy box would be great for on the go when you arrive at your destination!


#5 Beading Straws onto Pipe Cleaners Busy Box

Beading Straws onto Pipe Cleaners Busy Box

This is such a simple and easy idea. All you have to do is cut up straws into small bead like pieces, put them into a little container and place pipe cleaners inside the box! You don’t even need to use straws, you could use beads as well. Great for fine motor skills building on the go. An older child may be able to use this busy box in the car While I wouldn’t recommend it for toddlers in the car, toddlers would easily be able to use this when you get to your destination.


#6 Mini Fall Sensory Bin

Mini Fall Sensory Bin

It is great to reuse materials! I had kept the Scented Fall Colored Rice and pinto beans mixture that I used so much this Fall in a container. In the container was also the table scatter from our Autumn Sensory Bin. I placed a small container into the box with the mixture. Feel free to add a measuring spoon as well! This is great for times when a child needs to be entertained while you are busy at someone else’s house. Bring a small blanket to place the busy box on for easy clean up!


#7 Pom Pom Fine Motor Practice Busy Box

Pom Pom Fine Motor Practice Busy Box

You’d be surprised how a simple activity such as transferring pom poms to and from a container can entertain a young child. Baby Bear tested out this busy box and spent a good fifteen minutes transferring pom poms with a measuring spoon into a small container.


#8 Dry Erase Busy Box

Dry Erase Busy Box

If your kids love to draw then this is a great option for you! This makes a great activity for the car and for road trips as well! Tape some white card stock paper onto the inside of the box to create a clean white slate. Measure out a piece of contact paper so that it will fit on the inside of the lid as well as into the inside of the box. The shape will resemble a cross. Peal back the contact paper and place it over the white card stock inside of the box. I left enough contact paper to fold it over the edges of the lid. Place some dry erase markers inside and your kids are good to go! The marker can be erased with a finger or a tissue.

I plan to use these boxes for my kids when I go into labor and they need something fun to do at home or in the waiting room with the babysitter or with their grandma. They would be great to keep at grandma’s house as well or in the classroom for kids who finish their work early. These would also make fantastic Christmas gifts for young children!

If you liked reading about Eight Busy Box Ideas you should check out 40+ Quick and Easy Tot Activities!

Is this your first time visiting Sow Sprout Play? Make sure to stop by our Facebook page and LIKE us – Facebook.com/SowSproutPlay. I update the blog frequently and would also love for you to subscribe to our daily digest in the right side bar.


, ,

  • Ang Johnson

    These are all terrific ideas! I especially love the mini felt board box idea! Pinning and sharing for sure! Hopefully I will make at least one of these next week!!!

    • SowSproutPlay

      Thank you! I’m glad you like the felt box idea! and thanks again for pinning, these boxes really will come in handy!

  • JDaniel4’s Mom

    I love that the boxes keep everything self contained.

    • SowSproutPlay

      Me too! They’re so handy! I’m keeping a variety of boxes around for my kids and will be switching them up when they get bored of them!

  • Tiffiny

    These are great! I do a lot of these activities with my tot, but I never thought to put them in something so that they’re always ready to pull out and play with…no set up required. Thx!

    • SowSproutPlay

      You’re welcome! It’s very convenient!

  • Ann

    Rather than worry about having a separate blanket to use with the sensory box, you could put a rain poncho or emergency blanket right in the sensory box as they both fold up small enough to fit

  • Kathryn Price Smith

    These are perfect for those of us just venturing into busy boxes!! I am recycling the small flat rate postal boxes and also using the many hinged plastic pencil boxes that I have.
    What suggestions do you have for the straw beading to secure the ends so the beads or straws don’t slip off?
    One of my goals is to add ideas to the original busy box that will provide ways to expand the skills and thereby let the box grow along with the child or allow a sibling/friend to use the box at their skill level.
    For instance it would be easy to include a spinner, die or number cube to the boxes with pom poms and after spinning count out that number. The same could be done with the beading, button and clothespin boxes. For self-checking or early learners some type of card or sheet could have the pictorial of the one to one correspondence.
    Thank you for the time you have invested in these great activities!! It is a gold mine for me:-)