living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!


“Busy” Bags

In my preparation for home schooling next year, I was looking for ideas to help occupy my little ones while I’m teaching school. I LOVE to plan ahead and get really, really obsessed with… well, just about anything. My obsession has to run its course until I have done something about it, then my newer obsession can take over and I can plan ahead for whatever else is months away!

In my planning, I came across the idea of busy bags. And I’m hooked! Basically, you set up a system of “busy” activities for your toddler or preschooler to play with. You can get bins, nice little tubs, or be a cheap-o like me and use Ziplocks. A busy bag should be able to be done completely solo, with only direction from you the first time.


So, here are the ones I’ve come up with. These 5 bags are made from things I had around my house already. The only thing I bought was clothespins, and I also picked up the paint swatches. Everything else was found lying around somewhere!

1. Stringing things.


I already had these Penne noodles in my cabinet, so I just used these. Basically, your child can string them on the yarn. It’s great for fine motor skills too. You could also use macaroni noodles, pony beads, or anything else with a hole!

2. Shoving it in


You could make this a lot cuter, but I just wanted to use what I had, so an old sour cream container it is! I just cut a hole in the lid and cut up some old pieces of ribbon. Your little one can try to see if they can stuff every piece in, then take them out again. There is a magical age, where putting in and taking out, are just so much fun! I may have missed it with Eva, but that’s beside the point. 😉

3. Scooping Beans


This one is a big hit already! Yep, pinto beans and a few scooping things. I just used extra things I had. A 1/2 c. measuring cup, a medicine cup (because you only need one in the drawer!), and a few plastic spoons. We are going to use a tray when we get this bag off the shelf! (On a side note, Grammy has always let our Jackson play with dried beans at her house. They are perfect for excavation work! Now we keep a bag of them on the fridge, that are just for playing.)

4. Sparkles


This is just some old sequins and a little plastic box. I know Eva will love it! We will also use the tray for this one.

5. Paint Match


I LOVE this one. It’s the only one I had to actually make. I picked up paint swatches, and grabbed a pack of clothes pins. Then, I cut the swatch just a little to cut off the name of the paint, and to give me a small rectangle to glue onto each clothes pin. It’s so cute! And you can make this as simple or difficult as you want. You can get the four-shade cards (really difficult), or just do some primary and secondary colors.


I’m all about busy bags right now! The plan is to have around 20 or so, so each bag only gets used about once per week. They are also great in everyday life. To take to church, in the car, or just to use when you’re in the middle of a project. I’m excited to share when I get more busy bags in my collection.

How about you? Do you do busy bags?

❤ Joy

* These ideas aren’t all original to me, however if you look on Pinterest and search on Google, you will find it is almost impossible to know who actually thought of it. So, sorry if I stole your idea, dear reader. 🙂


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The Couch-Bed


One recurring problem for me in raising my children is discipline. I do it, but it often feels too late, too frantic, and sometimes too harsh. I put off their bad behavior as long as I can “stand” it, then overreact. It’s never good. Please don’t tell me I’m the only one!

Then if my children disobey, or obey v.e.r.y slowly, it frustrates me to no end. {And it was really my fault to start with!}

Over, and over again, I realize that my children need me for more than to correct their fighting and bad attitudes. They need special time where Mommy is listening to them and is interested in their lives. They need to be treated like fellow human beings that have their own minds, their own desires, and their own fears. How do I feel if someone tells me I am wrong and never tells me I am right? Or even that they love me? I really don’t want to hear anything they have to say!

So, every little while, I try to make them feel special.

Last night, I actually had a moms’ night out with some other ladies, so I suggested to my husband that they get out the couch-bed and watch movies while I was away. It is one of my boys FAVORITE things ever! It is the grand treat for them! So, after they watched a few movies, they played “house”, and the underneath part of the couch was their bedrooms. It was adorable! And when I got home, I played with them in their “house.”


It means so much to our children to show that we care what is important to them! And it only takes a few minutes of our time.

Here’s to playing!

❤ Joy

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Welcome Home!

We absolutely LOVE it when Daddy walks through the door after getting home from work. I came across this idea on Pinterest & thought it would be the perfect idea for our family. The Johnson family has a Nerf War tradition at Christmas time & I knew this would be a huge hit – anything that involves Nerf guns & ammo in a house full of boys is exciting.

I grabbed some streamer, tied it to the door knob on the outside, strung it up the stairs & around the banister & taped it beside the sign. When Dave came through the door, the streamer lead him to his instructions & the war began. Josiah, Micah & I were all hiding in top secret locations & ready to attack.

Before Dave came home, Josiah & I had a blast getting things ready for the big event. It was also hilarious watching & listening to Josiah hide & try to contain his excitement as we waited for Daddy to find us. We’ll definitely be doing this again in the near future – it was a fun time by all!

Happy Monday!