Are you familiar with the term “quiet box?” If not, I highly suggest you get to know it! This DIY marvel is good for so many things and can truly be a busy parent’s best friend.
This time of year, a quiet box is especially wonderful for entertaining younger kids while their big siblings work on homework. But that’s not all it’s good for. A well-planned quiet box can provide calm and engaging activities on a daily basis. Just imagine all that you could get done when your child (or children) are occupied with one of these boxes for an hour each day!
We started our first quiet box over two years ago and since then, I’ve learned a few things. First, a desktop file box is a great container to use for a quiet box. The files allow for easy storage of lots of worksheets, while the box is big enough to also fit larger, quiet box staples such as felt pieces, craft sticks, beads and clothespins.
Once you’ve got your file box, make an extra-special label for it and fill it with the following things:
1) Printables and Worksheets
There are literally thousands of free printables available online these days. Simply pick something that interests your child, or even a skill that you’d like him to work on, and do a quick Pinterest or web search. You can even laminate many of these sheets so your kids can use them over and over again with dry-erase markers or crayons.
Our favorite types of printables for this purpose include:
- Color-by-number sheets
- Intricate geometric pattern coloring sheets
- Number and letter writing practice sheets
2) Paper and Basic Art Materials
These include crayons, markers, colored pencils and stamps and inkpads. The key is to only put one or two of these things in the quiet box at a time and then rotate them out every few weeks. Again, a small dry-erase board is another great way to save on paper.
There are also a lot of handy step-by-step drawing websites available for kids. Or, if you prefer your kids to work in a book instead of on a screen, check out the Ed Emberley series. We love the Fingerprint Drawing Book in our house!
3) Clothespin Activities
There are all kinds of printable quiet time activities involving clothespins online, so it would be wise to grab a couple of packs when prepping your quiet box. The activities range from coloring matching to counting and spelling exercises.
4) Felt Activities
Felt is an especially appropriate medium for younger kids — and there are so many ways to play with it. Cut out cupcake bottoms and tops in different colors, as well as sprinkles, chocolate chips and cherries, for a fun make-believe baking activity.
Make a threading snake (great for developing fine motor skills) by gluing a button to each end of a piece of 1/2-inch thick ribbon. Then cut out different shapes from various felt colors and cut a small slit in the middle of each. Show your child how to slide each piece onto the ribbon to create the snake.
5) Yarn Activities
Did you know pieces of yarn stick to low-grit sandpaper? Cut up pieces of yarn in various sizes and colors and give your child a piece of 60-bit sandpaper to use as a canvas for her creation.
Another idea is to practice sewing with yarn. Craft and sewing stores carry plastic needles, as well as plastic grid paper, which you can use for a sewing activity. Little kids will simply enjoy threading the yarn in and out of the holes, while older kids may like to attempt some basic cross stitch patterns.
6) Bead Activities
Try stringing beads onto pipe cleaners for younger kids and making necklaces with bigger kids. Many children also enjoy making elaborate designs with Perler beads.
7) Reading Activities
Don’t forget that quiet time is also a great time for learning. Be sure to include a few of your child’s favorite books in the box, as well as some audiobooks (always a good way to pass the time). Math or sight word flashcards are also great educational materials to include.
I hope this list has inspired you to get started on your own quiet box at home. Just remember, the key is to keep things fresh, so be sure to rotate in new materials every couple of weeks.