Monday, August 30, 2010

The Bin of Quiet Time Fun

If you have preschoolers, if you have busy toddlers, if you need rainy-day activities, if you're looking for something cheap and entertaining... this is for you. There is no brain work behind this and I promise your kids will enjoy it.

I raided the Dollar Store a couple of weeks ago looking for things my boys could count, organize, sort, lace, pattern, etc. For less than $15 I walked away with a bin full of things that my boys love playing with. Several times a week they ask to "do quiet time activities" and they proceed to entertain themselves for at least an hour by staying busy on the floor with lots of odd things.

Here goes...

* A package of colored paper clips to sort in an ice cube tray. Or, for a rockin good time, my boys pick them up with tweezers and put them in the tray. (I can hear you oohing and aahing right now...)

* Lacing cards... also a great way to work on tying shoes.

* A bag of colored rubber bands to sort. To make it interesting, I have my boys use tongs or tweezers and ask them to grab a certain color, carry it to the other side of the room, and drop it in a bowl. (Wow! I hear more oohs and aahs!)

* Clothes pins are a huge hit. Then enjoy clipping them anywhere they can find, or, if I've got a lot of patience, I'll tie yarn between a couple of chairs and let them hang up socks on the line.

* Glass flower stones to sort. I haven't figured out why this is fun, but my boys have a riot scooping stones from one cup and passing them on to the next cup. As boring as I think it is, I suppose they're fine-tuning their hand-eye coordination and motor skills... ?

* Colored foam shapes - again, to sort and organize. Grady Lee also uses these for "action math" rather than doing math with pencil and paper. ("If you have six red triangles and take two away, how many are left?" Etc.)

* Colored beads to lace or sort. (And, FYI, a cheap magnifying glass is a sure-fire way to make things interesting.)

* Colored pom-pons to sort and organize.

And the list continues. Got dice? My boys have races to see who can be first to line up several dice with the same number showing. Got dry beans? Another great scoop-and-drop relay game.

Drum roll please: For any of my Charlotte friends, you are more than welcome to borrow The Bin of Quiet Time Fun. Seriously - just let me know if you're interested.

But what about you... what simple and cheap things do you do at home to keep young kids busy while hopefully teaching them a thing or two? I'm all ears for ideas.


  1. Those are great ideas Sarah! thanks for sharing them. I can't wait to go out and put my bin together :-) Carter has just (mostly) gotten out of the put-things-in-mouth stage, so I think we could handle this!!! Hope you're well. Got a good chuckle over your comment the other day of being excited for the pool to close soon :-) Geneva

  2. What a super great collection of 'quiet' time activities! We have several of the items you listed but I have them here and there. What a great idea to group them in one bin so they're all together and handy!!! Looks like so much fun. We also don't have the bulk of items, I'll have to find out where our closest dollar store is. We do not pass one on our day to day outings...

  3. I love a good quiet time activity! All of your ideas are super wonderful & I agree with Michelle, how fabulous to group them together in one bin! You are a wonderful & creative mom!

  4. LOVE your ideas, Sarah! Thanks for sharing ... now to hit the dollar store! :) As for another idea... My friend told me about filling a 9x13 with water and then making little boats to sail (popsicle sticks / dixie cups / etc.) Cutting straws to be shorter and then using them to blow your "boats" around the "lake." ...Dixie cups for pouring water back & forth, seeing what will foat and what will sink, etc.... I haven't tried it but I know it would be a hit in our house.

  5. :-) It would no longer be "quiet" time would be "Jackson, get those OUT of your MOUTH!!!" You are so creative!!!

  6. Hey! I found your blog from your facebook post. It's so nice to "see" you! What a beautiful family you have. I hope you are well. Love and blessings to you :) Pam (Bower) Bailey

  7. This is awesome! I think they might like it b/c when they're little they're not allowed to play with all the little 'choking' hazards - so when that stuff opens up to them they're really excited. My kids are currently on a dice kick. Thanks for the ideas!

  8. You're such a creative momma...we'll be copying some of those ideas. A fun thing we did to teach about how plants 'drink' water was to get some white flowers and put them in cups with water with a few drops of different colors of food coloring. It's fun to watch the flowers change colors over a couple of days. Keep the ideas coming! :) We're going to be stuck inside in winter before we know it! :)