Activity Bags is the brainchild of two homeschool mothers that were looking for (relatively independent) activities to occupy their preschooler while they were schooling their older children. The whole concept centers around gathering together material into gallon-size ziploc bags for self-contained, self-directed activities that a young child can do.
The Preschool Activities in a Bag books (book 1 and book 2) contain a lot of good ideas for the preK to Kindergarten age group. There are activities in both books targeting alphabetical and numberical order, colors, matching, motor skills, patterning, observational skills, puzzle skills, and sorting (check out sample page 6 for the list). After downloading the books I printed off the pages (simply a preference of mine) that detailed each activity and then I went through and pulled out the activities that I thought my son would find interesting. I compiled a list of materials that I would need to find and went on a shopping the excursion the next day. After getting many of the supplies I sat down to “make the bags.”
On each activity sheet there is a description of the activity and a list of the skills that the particular activity addresses. Then there is a list of the supplies needed in quantities of 1, 10, 15, and 20 bags, in case you are participating in a swap. Following that there are instructions for assembling the bag and, finally, an activity bag label that contains the contents of the bags and the instructions for the activity. The most difficult part? Finding the supplies needed to make the bags and the time to assemble them. For example, I wanted to make the ABC-123 match activity that required foam letters and numbers, but I still haven’t been able to find a small enough size from the stores that I regularly shop at.
I have found that storing the bags in a magazine holder seems to work best for me. Since we use a workbox approach in our family, I just simply grab a few bags for the week and place them in my son’s drawers. When he has completed an activity I put the bag back in the magazine holder. That part is super simple.
Overall, though, I am very happy to have made the bags and my son (and sometimes my daughter) have enjoyed playing with them. I think that where this product really shines would be through activity bag swaps. If you could get a group of parents together and each make one bag for everyone in the group and exchange them, then you could cut down on the cost of your supplies and the amount of time needed to assemble the bags.
I also received the Travel Activities in a Binder e-book and I have to say that I was a little disappointed with it. I think that the problem stems from this product being more suitable for slightly older children (my children are 5 and almost 3). Many of the activities require reading/spelling skills (hangman, state bingo, road sign bingo, Mad-lib type of game) or good fine motor skills (connect the dots game). Some of the downside can be overcome by having an older child or adult read the directions or guide the child through the activity, but if you don’t have that person sitting in the backseat with your children that becomes difficult. In my mind, it also defeats the point. I was hoping for some fun games that I could print out and have my child do while we were in the car for an hour or more. While there certainly are some games that my children could play together, there were not enough of them to last for an hour. Definitely check out the sample pages to see if this product would be a good fit for your family.
Price: $15 per e-book, but there is a preschool combo that allows you to purchase both e-books for $27