25 busy box activities for preschooler quiet time play

busy box activities for preschooler quiet time play

It had to happen, we had eeked out the naps for as long as we could, until it was absolutely physically irrelevant to my daughter’s needs but still…mummy needs an hour down time each day so what to do? Busy boxes! That’s what.

The trick is as soon as the naps stop, is to introduce an hour of quiet time with a special busy box for your child, so that it quickly becomes part of their daily routine….and an hour reprieve for you too!

Putting together a daily  busy box does take a bit of effort and preparation in advance, but it is well worth it to get an hour back of peace that day!

The question is, what can you put inside a busy box each day which will keep them busy and also help them learning through play during that golden hour of quiet time? Well there is lots of inspiration on the net – and of course Pinterest is full of stuff on busy boxes for quiet time. Generally I aim for anywhere between six to ten activities but I really do think this depends on the child – my daughter is always into everything very quickly! – so this should be adjusted according to your child.

Here’s a look at what today’s busy box includes a puppet book, a stencil set, sticker, animal snap, dot to dot, threading, puzzles, straw building and a few little toys.

busy bo

Usually not all of this gets used – a couple of items will normally be left over from the day but I find it takes quite a lot to keep my daughter occupied by herself for an hour!

I’ve listed below a big list of  ideas of what you can include inside – a lot of these sort of things I had lying around the house and then you can pick up lots of bits in the charity shops and also I love having a rummage around in shops like Tiger and Pound Land to see what you can add to the supply. So here goes:

  1. Travel games for tinkering with like Connect 4 for filling
  2. Small world figures and small toys
  3. Dominos for matching into a long line
  4. Snap cards for matching
  5. Bags of stickers – get a truck load of foam stickers like these or sticker sheets from Amazon
  6. Sticker books like the funny faces range from Galt Toys any of the Usborne sticker books are great
  7. Threading activity (- if you don’t have beads and string knocking around you can buy some shapes for threading from Creation Station
  8. Stamping activity – there are so many options out there but we love the stamping sets from Melissa and Doug 
  9. Finger puppets – if you don’t have some already lots of fab cost effective sets on Amazon
  10. Simple books where they can count/spot things by themselves
  11. Simple jigsaw puzzles they can complete by themselves – we love the range over at Ravensburger 
  12. Alphabet letter tracing – lots of fab printables for this over on Activity Village 
  13. Magnetic maze – we found a really good value one at Tiger, but Hape do a really lovely one here
  14. Picking up small items with jumbo tweezers like these & sorting e.g. pom pom sorting
  15. Colouring & dot to dot activities
  16. Duplo for making huge towers plus any of the themed sets – we love the farm animals and creative ice cream sets 
  17. Magnets (alphabet, number or otherwise!) – ELC do a really awesome magnetic pattern board 
  18. Cutting activities
  19. Straw building – have a look at Galt Connecta Straws for this
  20. Bubbles
  21. Etch a sketch – if you’ve got a Peppa Pig fan you can even get a Peppa Pig one!
  22. Peg activity (it is amazing how much they love putting pegs on a pretend washing line – just string one up nearby)
  23. Water colouring – again Galt Toys have some fab options for this we love the Dinosaur one here.
  24. Play Doh – simple shape cutting activities work best for quiet time
  25. Matching & counting/spelling games – take a look over at Orchard Toys we love their Match and Count activity

So there you have it – hopefully that will give you enough inspiration to get you going with your busy boxes (and time for mum!). And if you have any other suggestions of things to include please do let me know in a comment below!

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9 comments

  1. This is a great idea to keep the little ones occupied and giving parents some down-time! I imagine they make great gifts too!

  2. Great list Talya!

    This is especially handy for the busy moms like me 🙂 The article is worth sharing with my friends. Thank you and keep up the great work!

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