It’s finally happened. The day has officially arrived. Our little nugget has given up naps. I knew it was coming…she stopped napping at school a long time ago. And our pediatrician warned us that the preschool years were generally when kids decide to stop napping. That being said…I’m not very excited. On the one hand, it’s nice to no longer worry about getting home at a certain time, so that we don’t miss a nap. But on the other…I really cherished that 1-2 hour break in the middle of the day. A little peace and quiet that allowed me to get a few of my own things accomplished, rest, and recharge. When it suddenly disappeared, I realized just how much I cherished that quiet time. I also realized that a little bit of quiet time (on her own) was also beneficial for our little nugget – whether she was sleeping or not. And so, I created a handful of Quiet Time Boxes!
I initially came across the concept for quiet time boxes one night when I was perusing Pinterest. The idea is really quite simple…a box filled with a few different engaging (and fairly quiet) activities that promote independent play and exploration. Keep in mind that you want to tailor the boxes to your individual child – based on their age, interests, capabilities, etc. If you’re going to let your child utilize these boxes (mostly) unsupervised, you want to make sure that you give them items that you know they will not choke on, use to decorate the walls…well, you get the idea.
Before I set out to make my own quiet time boxes, I scoured Pinterest for lots of ideas. I especially liked the following three posts:
- Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Amy at Wildflower Ramblings
- What’s in the Preschool Box (Week 1) from Carisa at 1 + 1 + 1 = 1
- 5 Brain-Boosting Busy Boxes for Toddlers from Tricia at The Good Mama
I started making a list of ideas (adding a few of my own along the way) and then I set out for the Dollar Store, and the Dollar Spot at Target, to acquire some supplies. I purchased my plastic tubs from Target (they were each less than $1). And then I tossed everything together.
Quiet Time Boxes
I wanted each of our boxes to contain a few different educational components – they are as follows:
I really can’t think of a better quiet time activity than reading, and our little nugget LOVES to read. I knew she would enjoy the opportunity to look through (and develop her own story lines for) some new books! I found a few board books at the Dollar Store, and then grabbed a handful of the I Can Read! books at Target (utilizing a Cartwheel coupon).
Do you know a child who hates to build and create? I’ve yet to meet one. Honestly, I love seeing what our little nugget comes up with when left to her own devices (with a few tools, of course). And these engineering box components are all inexpensive, and easy to put together. Pair some pipe cleaners with an empty toilet paper tube that has some holes punched in it. Grab a few more pipe cleaners and a handful of plastic (or paper) straws and you’ve got another engaging activity…the challenge of sliding the pipe cleaners through the straws! Last but not least, snag some Velcro stickers from your nearest craft store, along with some wide, colored popsicle sticks, and you’ve got another fun building experience. Your kiddos can let their imaginations run wild, while practicing their fine motor skills at the very same time!
We are always looking for ways to practice our ABCs and letter recognition, and these quiet time box ideas are perfect! I found the small box of letter blocks at the Dollar Store, and the ABC puzzle pieces came from the Dollar Spot at Target. I utilized the upper and lowercase paper letters (that we had made for our ABC Hunt activity awhile back), and paired them with lettered clothes pins. The clothes pins have uppercase letters written on one side, and lowercase letters written on the other. The idea is for your little ones to attach the clothes pins to their corresponding paper letters. And lastly, I reused another one of our favorite letter activities, where our little one matches the letters on a paper towel tube, by covering it with its corresponding dot sticker. I simply tape a piece of construction paper around an empty paper towel tube and then write the letters on with marker (in random order). You can switch this up each time…with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, a mixture of both, numbers, sight words, etc. Get creative!
Promote those fine motor skills with a few different lacing activities. I always seem to be able to find a lacing activity each time I visit the Target Dollar Spot. I love the adorable zoo animals, and unicorn sets I found on my latest visit. I’ve also thrown the button snake (that I made for my daughter when she was just a baby) into the mix – it’s a great threading activity.
Counting and number recognition are also big on our list these days, so I figured I should also incorporate this concept into our boxes. I snagged a few different sets of number & counting cards from the Dollar Store. I also reused an empty egg carton, writing the numbers 1-12 in the different slots. My daughter then uses a pair of mini tongs to drop the appropriate number of mini poms into each of the slots. It’s a great counting tool! Lastly, I’ve paired a die with a piece of paper and some dot stickers. I sectioned the paper off into 6 different areas, gave each area a number (1-6), and added the adequate number of dots into each square (to match the dots on the die). Our little nugget roles the die, determines what number is face-up, and then puts a sticker into the corresponding square. This is one of her favorites!
I stumbled across this cute felt tea and cookies set in the Target Dollar Spot one day and I thought it would be perfect to include in a quiet time box. Our daughter could have a little tea party with all of her stuffed animals! I tossed in a couple of small paper plates we already had on hand. I also found a set of small (light-up) stubbly, bouncy balls at Target – they provide a fun textural and visual element. Our little nugget also loves this simple color-sorting activity (one that I shared previously in our Learning With Poms post). Grab a handful of colorful poms, along with a set of small plastic cups that match in color, and your kiddos can sort the poms into their proper cups. Bonus: Get a little bit of fine motor skills practice, by using a pair of mini tongs to complete the task!
My mother-in-law almost always brings a set of these memory game cards with her when she comes to visit, and our little nugget loves to play with them. You can usually find an abundance of these card sets at the Dollar Store, or in the Target Dollar Spot. We’ve even cut some out of our Highlight’s High Five magazines from time to time. 🙂
Our daughter loves little animal figurines (we have several different Toob animals around the house). These animal figurines always seem to lend themselves to some fun, imaginary play. Lately, our little nugget is obsessed with dinosaurs, so when I came across this container of Dino Figures in the Target Dollar Spot, I knew we needed a set for our quiet time boxes. I couldn’t resist getting the Safari Animals set too!
I put together a total of five boxes that we rotate through on the days that our little nugget is home during the middle of the day. And I’m happy to announce that they have work like a charm! Our daughter is always excited to see what the day’s quiet time box holds, and she often makes requests for which number box she wants, on a given day. When I hand her a box, I usually help her unpack it, we place the different activities in different areas of her room, and we talk about each one, before I make an exit.
These quiet time boxes keep our little nugget fully engaged for at least 30-45 minutes. When I walk in her room at the end of quiet time, she is always so excited to show me all of the different things that she has accomplished. And I love observing where her imagination takes her…she sometimes develops different activities of her own, that I had never even considered. 🙂
I’m grateful that these boxes are not only a huge hit with out daughter (and educational, to boot) but that they also provide me with enough time to check a few things off of my to-do list, and sit down to relax for a minute! I plan to continue using these boxes for quite some time…rotating different items into the boxes every month or so. I guess you’ll always be able to find me roaming the aisles of the Dollar Store (or Dollar Spot at Target) for more great ideas!
Have your little ones stopped napping? Do you still try to allocate some quiet time into each day? Do you use quiet time boxes? If so, I’d love to hear all about what items you like to use in your quiet time boxes…feel free to share in the comments below.