When my oldest son gave up naps almost a year and a half ago, I scrambled to set up some quiet time activities that would keep him entertained for half an hour so that I could have a much needed break in the middle of the day. Fast forward to today, and we have a system that works really well for the two of us.
What are our tricks? Drum roll please…
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The Time Timer
You know when preschoolers ask, “How much time is left?” My son is no exception. That’s why The Time Timer (Amazon affiliate link) has been a must for us. I would seriously be their spokesperson if they asked. When I pull down the little tab to 30 minutes, my son can easily begin tracking how much quiet time is left because the red slowly disappears. Brilliant, right?!
Setting Up Our Routine
Before quiet time began, we walked around the downstairs brainstorming activities. We found a book that looked interesting from our bookshelves, talked about things he could make with our playdough, pulled out the LEGOS, etc.
Learning any new routine is hard for kids, so I stretched Big Brother’s quiet time in baby steps. The first day, he worked for just five minutes. When he was finished, I showered him with compliments and gave specific examples of awesome things he’d done. (“I loved how you looked in the craft box after you finished putting away your play dough.”) We stretched his quiet time five minutes longer every day after that until he reached his max of 30 minutes.
25 Fun Quiet Time Activities
I don’t want to mislead you – quiet time is NOT one of Big Brother’s favorite times of day. He would much rather play Checkers with me, ride his bike or watch an episode of Wild Kratts. But I know being able to entertain himself for a little while is an important life skill and having these quiet time activities help him be more self-directed later.
To make quiet time a little more exciting, I try to set up a fun independent activity for him a couple times a week. In case you’re in need of a little quiet time inspiration, here are some of our recent favorites:
Draw different faces, noses, hair, eyes and mouths on pieces of construction paper. Invite your child to use the sheets to create faces on tracing paper.
Give kids an eyedropper and an ice block filled with colorful toys in this fun Rainbow Ice Tower Excavation. (Fun at Home with Kids)
Create a secret code kids can use to crack messages. (Hands on As We Grow)
Invite kids to morph family faces with these silly magnetic magazine cut outs. (Tutus and Tea Parties)
Let children play with their Magic Pipe Cleaners.
Make a simple ABC letter match magnetic tray. You can easily make this harder by writing lowercase letters and having kids cover them with the uppercase pair. (We Can Do All Things)
Give kids lacing cards made from family photos. (Skunkboy)
Download audio books from your local library. Some of our favorites are The Magic Tree House Collection, Winnie the Pooh and Geronimo Stilton. This quiet time activity is one of our favorites!
Set up an invention station with your clean recyclables and a roll of duct tape. Empty paper towel rolls make great rockets, egg cartons transform into dinosaur feet and toilet paper rolls turn into awesome binoculars.
Create a play dough station with cookie cutters, a rolling pin and stamps. We love this Cotton Candy Playdough recipe from Mama Miss and if your children are in the mood to color mix, try this out.
Invite your kids to play with water in this low-mess Turkey Baster Squeeze.
Turn a pasta strainer into a fun lacing activity.
Give your children these Mystery Image Sheets and invite them to find the hidden pictures by dabbing the numbers with dot markers. (Free Homeschool Deals)
Set up a low mess, easy prep art activity with watercolor paints.
Invite your kids to build a jumbo-sized floor puzzle.
Pull out your DIY portable activity kit. (Mama. Papa. Bubba)
Have your children spend some time stamping ABC stamps onto our free printable stamping sheet.
Set up a scissor cutting station. (Lalymom)
Type in the words your boys and girls are learning into our 30 Editable Sight Word Games, print them and let your kids practice reading and writing.
Invite your children to race LEGO cars on a homemade race track. (Frugal Fun 4 Boys)
Make scratch art paper. (Itsy Bitsy Fun)
Halve some lemons, pour a little paint on a plate and invite quiet timers to do some citrus stamping. (Chicago Botany)
Turn a cereal box into a weaving loom. (Kix Cereal)
Have kids build LEGO alphabet letters with these free printable cards. (Wildflower Ramblings)
Grab a roll of contact paper to make an awesome mosaic wall. (Mama Smiles)
Let kids hunt for words, numbers, pictures…. anything with Squish and Seek.
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So many awesome ideas! I love the site word squish and trace a face!!
Thank you, Laura!!
These are brilliant ideas for quiet time! I’m a nanny and my 5 year old nannigan usually plays his ipad during his younger siblings nap time (which can last up to 2.5 I hours!). I hate for children to depend on devices and television for entertainment for too long; I try to plan quiet activities for atleast part of naptime but I can only get so creative haha. I’m so happy that I came across these activites, and I certainly am looking forward to introducing some of them to my little nannigan. Thank you so much!