Whether your child is transitioning out of naps, or you need a quiet activity to keep him or her occupied while you work, these quiet-time activities will allow your kids to explore, create, and play on their own.
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Quiet-Time Activity Books
This Quiet Time Activity Book is a great interactive tool for busy toddlers. As they turn each page, there’s something new to learn, from shapes, to different textures, to tying shoelaces. Check out Etsy for a more personalized activity book!
Reading with a Theme
Visit your local library at least once a month to stock up on themed books or whatever your child is interested in. Even just decoding pictures in books is a great start for literacy!
Let your children’s imagination soar while they experiment with social and emotional life roles. From costumes and dress-up clothes to mini kitchens and stuffed animals, find what your child is interested in and encourage open-ended play. Search KIWI’s craft section for DIY eco-costumes!
Action Figures and Dolls
Setting out a few action figures and dolls is a great way to encourage imaginative play—kids can create their own worlds and stories with just a few toys.
Trains, Planes, and Automobiles
From airplanes and cars to wooden train tracks, kids can spend time building (and rebuilding) the tracks as part of their playtime. For younger children, you can help them set up a track beforehand.
There are endless building toys for young kids on the market. We recommend open-ended toys like magnetic tiles or wooden blocks, so kids can be free to use their imaginations!
Building Block Challenge Cards
Challenge cards are the perfect activity to test the skills of your LEGO-loving kids. Gather your bin of blocks and use Lalymom’s free printable challenge cards, with prompts such as “Build something that starts with a C!” or make your own, and let your kiddos start creating!
Puzzles are a wonderful tool for building fine motor skills in children. Choose from large-format floor puzzles, wooden peg puzzles, sound puzzles, or evening matching puzzles for letters, words, numbers, and more.
Learn your ABCs and 123s through refrigerator magnets. Lakeshore Learning also offers this Magnetic Designer to create your very own dot pictures or Turn & Learn Magnetic Gears with interchangeable pieces to design a one-of-a-kind spinning show.
Crayola has a great line of Mess Free coloring books in practically every favorite character from books and movies. Or, try a LCD writing tablet in a variety of colors. Water drawing mats are great for younger kids who want to draw, stamp, and trace!
For fans of the best-selling Press Here board book, Draw Here is an activity book for preschoolers that uses our favorite yellow, red, and blue dots to instruct kids in an interactive way. A quick Google search for “How to Draw Books” will also give you countless ideas for your budding artist.
Printable Coloring Pages
Find free printables, both coloring and activity pages, to let your children color or paint. We suggest allowing your children to conduct the Google or Pinterest search with you.
Whiteboards and Chalkboards
Allow your child time to free draw whatever comes to mind, or practice their letters, numbers, and shapes with either dry erase markers or chalk.
Playdough and Clay
Follow our instructions to make your own non-toxic playdough or homemade clay. There are some wonderful eco-friendly tool sets (look for wooden sets or those made from recycled plastic) to help your kids make innumerable creations.
Whether store-bought or a DIY recipe (like this one from Eating Richly), kinetic sand is soft, moldable, and provides hours of sensory play time.
Gather beads, cut-up straws, hole-punched paper, and some yarn or string—kids can make a necklace or bracelet out of almost anything!
Make your own simple geoboard with Little Bins Little Hands’ easy-to-follow instructions. Geoboards make for a great STEM activity as children use their fine motor skills to create different shapes and designs.
Sensory bins provide many opportunities for creativity, exploration, and discovery. Happy Toddler Playtime offers more than 100 sensory bin ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. To get started, grab your favorite large bin!
Busy Bags (Host a Swap!)
Let’s face it, toddlers are BUSY little people! Create your own busy bags (Teaching Mama gives you the 411, but you can also do a quick Pinterest search of “busy bag ideas”). Consider hosting a busy bag exchange where you make multiple bags of one activity with a group of your mom friends and then swap them with each other!
Looking for something new each month? Lovevery and KiwiCo offer subscription boxes to help kids of all ages explore, create, and learn about the world around them. Each box contains new toys and activities to keep your kids entertained.