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When I was pregnant with my first child, I often get comments from well-meaning friends and relatives saying “You are lucky, you are a teacher.

You will know what to do and how to teach your child.” But the truth is, I was never a parent, and as a first-time parent, a lot of things were new to me. And I am pretty sure most parents out there would agree with me that parenting is the heart and hard work. The decisions we have to make parenting even trickier. One of such decision was to limit screen time for my child. We agreed that with increasing reports of the effects screen-time has on a young child’s developing brain, we would not be offering our phones or iPads to both our children anytime soon.

My husband and I love traveling and exploring different places in and out of Singapore, and this passion never quite died down even after 2 kids. But the challenge came when the elder one was no longer entertained by the dangling rattles and toys that were placed on his stroller when we were on-the-go. Meal times outside became battles because no one could hold a decent conversation or even eat in peace with a toddler trying all ways to grab your attention. From there, I started exploring strategies and ways to keep my little ones entertained on the-go.

I started by bringing books to read to my son, and slowly expanded my “busy-bag” repertoire by adding a couple of his favourite toy cars, some paper and crayons for doodling and even stickers since he loved them and peeling the stickers gives him opportunities to practice his fine motor muscles. Now that he is almost 3.5 years old, the busy-bag is still with us whenever and wherever we go. These are some items we have for his busy-bag.

Busy Bag Ideas: Find an unused mesh zipper bag (or any large Ziplocks) to contain all your busy bag materials. Look around your house for recycled paper, unwanted notebooks and writing materials for your child to doodle or write. Put together some open-ended items which your little one can explore. Here are some examples: a. Bread tags – a wonderful item that can be used for sorting, counting, or even threading (just add a ribbon to your bag) b. Playdough or slime (a little messy but these are really popular!) c. Magnets and paper clips d. LEGO Bricks e. Magnetic letters – encourage your pre-schoolers to form words they know f. A favorite storybook – you can have a conversation about the characters in the book As your child grows, the items in your busy bag would start to change and evolve to suit your child’s needs and preferences. You don’t have to spend too much to create a busy bag, sometimes the best resources lie around in your own home!

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