Another idea I had for our cross-country road trip to entertain the kids was a busy book. I had all kinds of ideas based on books for sale on Etsy, Pinterest boards, and just the knowledge of things I know my kids love. I decided the best idea for our busy book would be to use all felt. It's inexpensive, durable, and comes in TONS of colors. I also knew I'd be able to do more with it faster since it doesn't fray. Over the course of a few months, I came up with around 20 pages. Every single one of them has been a huge hit with the kids. I tried to include lots of fine motor skills (buttons, snaps, zippers) and open-ended play so they could use their imaginations and play with each page indefinitely. I had as much fun making them as the kids have had playing with them. I decided not to bind them in any way prior to the road trip. Since most of the pages have lots of elements and are bulky, I didn't think a book format would work out. I didn't want them to have to turn the page and work on a page that was backed by bumps and bulk. I also didn't want them all to be connected so that I could hand one page at a time to each child. After traveling for hours and hours, I came up with what would work best for us. I knew they needed to have a sturdy, flat backing, be packaged individually, and have a handle to easily grab it. I ended up binding them in a folder-type format that is backed with sturdy cardboard with a small handle on each side. When folded up, they have a hook-and-loop strap to keep them closed. I bought a plastic hanging file folder box to house them, and they fit perfectly. And, since each one has a handle, I can easily reach in and grab one at a time. They're handy since they're all self-contained. I can grab 2 or 3 for my son to play in the waiting room at my daughter's dance class. Or I can keep a few in the car for long errands. Since they're sturdy-backed, they need no table surface to play on.
Have I sold you on them yet? ;-) If so, you can head on over to my etsy store and shop to your heart's content! I listed a bunch of ideas, but let me know if there is anything you'd like that you don't see. I have a lot of fun creating them from scratch!