Quiet Time Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Some kids are great nappers, and some kids struggle with taking naps, but regardless of which type of kid you have…they all drop their nap eventually. Usually this is somewhere around age 3 or 4. If you’re like me, you dread the day your child no longer wants to take a nap, as that is sacred alone time! Fortunately, there is a solution to this: quiet time activities!
Many parents have implemented quiet time in place of nap time, where instead of taking a nap, the child plays quietly for a designated time instead. This allows you as the parent to still have that precious time to yourself despite your kid no longer napping. The transition can be difficult though, as children this age may struggle to play independently for an extended period of time. Recently, I came across the idea of putting together boxes of quiet time activities for my former-napper to help streamline this time and keep him engaged. I thought this idea was brilliant and wanted to share our set up and how we organized these quiet time boxes.
Why Do Quiet Time Boxes Work?
The idea behind quiet time activity boxes is to set aside particular activities that are exclusively for quiet time. Offering children the same toys to play with during quiet time that they play with all day, every day is not very exciting. Having special boxes that ONLY get pulled out during quiet time is a lot more likely to hold their attention since they are only getting to use these activities during that time.
There are several different ways you can set up your quiet time activities:
- Create various themed boxes – these can be types of activities (i.e. arts & crafts, puzzles, imaginative play, etc.), interests your child has (i.e. dinosaurs, sports, animals, etc.), or a mix of both. Let your child pick out the box they want to play with each day.
- Create one box designated for each day of the week. You can put a mix of different kinds of activities in each box, and then pull out only the box for that particular day. This way they are only playing with each set of quiet time activities once per week, and they won’t get tired of them as fast.
- If you don’t want to set up 6 or 7 bins, you can just do 3 or 4 to rotate between. You can rotate daily or weekly, depending on how quickly your child wants to switch it up. Alternatively, you could just have a special shelf with toys or activities that are exclusively for quiet time, and let your child pick out 3-4 to play with each day.
We decided to do one box for each day of the week. I chose this because my son tires of activities very quickly, so switching it up daily seemed like a good idea. I also wanted to include a variety of activities in each box, instead of doing themed boxes. Below, I will share what I’ve included in our boxes. But of course, there is no right way to do these! Do whatever works for you and your child.
How to Set Up Quiet Time Bins
First, I made a list of some activities I could include in my bins. I was specifically looking for activities that 1) matched my son’s interests, 2) were low-mess, and 3) he could do easily by himself. I listed out some things we already had, as well as some things I knew I could grab at the Dollar Store. We hit up Dollar Tree and grabbed about $20 worth of awesome quiet time activities!
Activity Ideas for Quiet Time Boxes
What’s in Our Bins
After gathering together plenty of activities, I purchased some clear plastic bins to organize them into. I decided to just do one bin for the weekend, so I got a total of 6 bins. These are the ones we got. At $3/bin, this cost us $18.
I randomly sorted our activities into each quiet time box, making sure to include a variety of types of activities in each one. I also made sure to keep roughly the same amount of activities in each box. Here’s what we ended up with for each day.
- Elephant puzzle
- Animal matching cards
- Pattern blocks
- Pumpkin Counting and Pumpkin Patch Shapes activities from my fall preschool activity bundle
- Highlights hidden pictures activity book
- Dinosaur puzzle
- Finger puppets
- Mini dinosaurs (wild animal version here)
- Dinosaur flash cards
- Number matching cards (similar)
- Autumn Matching and Candy Corn Number Puzzles activities from my preschool fall activities set
- Under the sea felt scene
- Zebra puzzle
- Dinosaur racecars
- Alphabet matching cards (similar)
- Autumn Patterns from my fall preschool activity bundle
- Bugs felt scene
- Letter construction (similar)
- Opposite matching cards (similar)
- Dinosaur puzzle
- Mini building blocks
- Reusable sticker book
- Leaf Symmetry matching activity from my fall activity bundle
- Skeleton puzzle
- Hashtag blocks (similar)
- Mini magnadoodle
- Color and shape matching cards (similar)
- Unbe-LEAF-able Colors and Leaf Counting activities from my fall bundle
- Highlights hidden picture activity book
- Funny faces felt scene
- Dinosaur puzzle
- Spiral art set
- Lovevery sewing kit from the Analyst Playkit
- Fall Counting Cards and Color Puzzles activities from my fall activity bundle
- Wooden stacking rocks (similar)
- Funny faces sticker and coloring book
- Dinosaur felt scene (not pictured)
After I assembled all the boxes, I added a label to each one to designate the specific day of the week. I made each day’s label a different color. Since my son can’t read yet, this will help him be able to identify the correct box for each day. I made the labels in PowerPoint, printed, and laminated. I attached them to each bin with a hot glue gun.
*The seasonal activities from my fall preschool activity pack will be rotated out every few months. Other activities will be swapped out as needed.
So far, these quiet time activity boxes have been a success for us! Quiet time has gone much more smoothly since implementing these. My son also has a few other things in his room that he can access during quiet time as well. These include books, coloring books & drawing materials, and his Leap Frog. Quiet time certainly doesn’t have to be limited to only what’s in the box! The purpose of these quiet time activities are just to help streamline things and create more options.
What activities would you include in your boxes? Let me know in the comments!
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