Monday, October 29, 2012

Activity Bags - Schoolhouse Crew Review

I think many homeschoolers run into this problem:  what do you do with your toddlers and preschoolers while you are homeschooling your older children?  At my house, if I am not watchful my (almost) three year old ends up emptying bookshelves, torturing the cats, or helping herself to a snack!  This year has been the first year that I started homeschooling both girls.  Maggie is what I would consider pre-preschool, but she is capable of getting items from the workbox, completing activities, putting them away and putting them in the "turn-in" box.  I knew that the opportunity to review Activity Bags through the Schoolhouse Crew was going to be a perfect fit for us!

What are Activity Bags?
Activity Bags are, quite simply, self-guided activities in a bag that your young child can complete independently.  Designed with little hands in mind each activity is self-sufficient, can stand alone and requires no instructions from a parent.  They are self-correcting and motivating!  Children flourish when they have an opportunity to "do school" like older siblings and activity bags provides a way to encourage learning while keeping those little ones occupied.

Activity Bags is the result of a brainstorm by Paula Reetz and Sherry MacLean.  Activity Bags answer to the question, "what do I do with my preschooler?" during the homeschool day.  You can learn more about Paula and Sherry and the Activity Bags story by reading their bios!

Activity Bags are also unique in that they are designed with the idea of holding a swap in mind.  With a swap the Mom with the activity bag kit invites about 20 other like-minded moms to divide up the activities, each Mom making 20 bags to trade with other Moms.  In the end each Mom ends up with 20 different activities for their child, not to mention a FUN moms-day-out while swapping!

We received three amazing products to review from Activity Bags!  They include:  Preschool Activities in a Bag eBook 1 and 2 plus Travel Activities in a Bag eBook 1.

Preschool Activities In A Bag:
What a perfect way to keep my toddler busy.  Preschool Activities in a Bag are downloadable eBooks full of ideas to entertain and educate your little ones.  Book 1 has 34 activities, book 2 has 33.  Wow!  Together a whopping 67 activities!  The activities vary based on age and skill level but there is, by far, several activities for any child of any age.  I planned these activities with my almost 3-year-old in mind and I was not disappointed!

How we used Preschool Activities in a Bag -
I was so excited to sift through the activities to see which ones would be a good fit for Maggie.  She is still very young but she already knows colors, shapes, letters and their sounds, numbers and so forth.  I picked out 10 activities to try out first, then within 3 days ended up making about a dozen more to keep up with my the demand!  She whipped through the activities, loving every minute of it!  I was caught completely by surprise when she kept asking for another activity, and then another...and then "just one more" and then "just one more" after that!  I now keep a running list on my refrigerator of a few items to pick up next time I'm at the store so I can create another activity bag!

How I made Preschool Activities in a Bag -
You might be wondering how much work goes into making the bags...  I'm thrilled to tell you that it is incredibly simple.  Most items are things you already have around the house.  Stickers, paper, poof-balls, magnets, buttons, beads, pipe cleaners and so on.  It is recommended you store your items in a gallon-size zip lock bag with the easy-open zippers.  This increases your childs ability to open and close the bag by themselves allowing them to get out their activity and clean up with no assistance needed.  Once I assembled about 20 bags I stored them conveniently in a small crate next to the homeschool shelf.   I pulled the activities for the day an placed them in Maggie's workbox.  Using this system she worked independently for nearly an hour!

Both eBooks include instructions on how to assemble your bags and how to host a swap!  Preschool Activities in a Bag eBook 1 and eBook 2 retail independently for $15.00 each for a .pdf download.

For a great deal you can purchase both as an eBook bundle for only $27.00!

You can also download samples of eBook 1 and eBook 2.

Travel Activities In a Bag - eBook 1
We were so fortunate to get a 3rd product to review called Travel Activities in a Bag!  Jumping away from actual zip lock bags, Travel Activities in a Bag offers 14 mixed activities (of several pages each) that are slipped into page protectors and assembled into a binder.  Using dry erase markers the activities can be used over and over again!  Recommended for elementary age children the binder is full of fun mazes, cloud drawing, vehicle bingo, cow-counting and more!   Travel Activities in a Bag is also designed so that you can host a swap with other like-minded moms!

How we used Travel Activities in a Bag -
We drive over 30 minutes to church on Sundays and we have had fun using this binder in the car on those morning drives.  Unfortunately we live on a rather twisty road so I hear a lot of grumbling when we hit a bump and have had some instances of car-sickness.  With that aside --  we are driving 18 hours to Disneyworld in 3 weeks.  Guarantee that this binder will be going with us!  Straight highway driving will make this binder much easier to use.  I am so excited to have some entertaining options for Kayley in the backseat that doesn't leave her staring at her mini-dvd for 18 hours straight.

I highly recommend dry-erase markers that are WASHABLE.  Crayola makes them, I found a pack at Staples.  They cost more but will wash out of clothing, carpet and booster seats if they get dropped.  Don't forget an eraser, you can always use a lonely sock...  I put the dry erase markers and eraser into a zipper pencil pouch in the front of the binder.

Travel Activities in a Bag retails for $15.00 as a .pfd download.

You can download a sample HERE.

Feel free to fill out a survey to receive a sampler of Activity Bags! 

What we thought of Activity Bags:
The pictures will do a lot of speaking for me, but we LOVED them!  I want to try out several more.  Activity Bags offers Science Experiments, Math, Reading and Journals with more items coming soon!  I wish I could give you feedback on hosting a swap but it is good to note that swapping is not essential to loving these bags.  They are a wonderful product standing-alone so do not feel like you have to swap to fully enjoy the bags.

We are sure enjoying our Activity Bags and I bet you will too!  I know a lot of my fellow crew mates reviewed different types of activity bags, to read their reviews follow the linky below!  Have fun!


Disclaimer:  We received Activity Bags free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I think keeping a running list on the fridge is a great idea! My boys ask for a new game every day, and I have run out of games I can make without going shopping again.


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