Quiet Time Box Ideas To Keep Your Summer Sanity

Being organized has allowed me to be prepared to deal effectively with the excitement and fun summer brings.

Quick note: Being organized is a talent of mine.  Being crafty is not.  My system is organized and works well, but it isn’t overly cute. If you are crafty and decide to use some or part of my system, I’d love to see some pictures of it “cute-i-fied!”! Feel free to contact me or tag me on social so I can see it!

I NEED Quiet!

Our quiet time bins have actually been around for about a year now.  So, while they are not new, I am using them in a new way this summer since last summer was not as effective as I had hoped.

I created the bins last year when my youngest stopped napping. I still needed an hour or two of “quiet time” each day in order to be a happy patient mommy come dinner time. 

So, I created a bin for each child for each day.  The idea was that they would play with their bin by themselves in a room alone and be very quiet.

I was proud of myself because it worked well for a few days while the bins were completely new, but once the newness wore off, the kids had a hard time staying in their rooms. They wanted to show me everything they were doing, which honestly, I could understand. 

And I enjoyed looking at their creations and getting excited with them.  But, I wasn’t getting the quiet time I had hoped for.

After a month or two of trying, the quiet room time bins sort of ended up just sitting on the on a shelf and we rarely pulled them out.

So this summer, I decided to try something new.

Quiet Time Buddy System

This summer I chose to have the kids play in teams instead of alone.

Each of my older (almost 7 yr old) twin boys would be paired up with one of their younger (almost 5 and 3 1/2 yr old) sisters. 

Each day we would switch who they were paired up with.

This meant everyone had someone else to play with and to share their excitement with.  Plus, the boys were put into a role of actually teaching and helping their sisters. They read to them and taught them their letters and math facts with various flash cards etc.

The boxes sit on a shelf in our hall closet, but they have been condensed into 10 boxes (two for each weekday) instead of 20 like I had last year. 

And guess what – they get used!  The kids have used them every single weekday that we’ve been home this summer!

Mommy for the win!

quiet time boxes on a closet shelf

The kids rarely come out of their rooms and tend to get along really well. They will sometimes play for a full 2 hours!  It is fun to stop at their doors and listen to the boys reading to or teaching and helping their sisters. 

It is fun to see the various creative things they decide to do with what is in their bin.  They actually very rarely fight during this time.  It truly feels like a huge mothering success!

What Each Quiet Time Box Has In It

First, the bins I’m using are the Sterilite brand latch boxes.  They are sturdy and have lasted well, even with the roughness of my kids. 

Mine are the 7 quart size, but I do wish I had purchased a few of the bigger sizes.

toys and games in my quiet time box

I wanted the bins to be full of quality toys that encourage imagination, critical thinking, and growth. 

We have 10 bins so each pair only gets the same bin once every 2 weeks. 

Each bin includes one thing from the following categories:

  1. Puzzles
  2. Pretend Play
  3. Educational
  4. Books

Since so many friends and family members have requested it, I’ve included a list at the end of this post with links to various items from each category that I’ve included in our bins.

We also have four additional bins and a wagon full of different kinds of blocks and a bag of simple paper bathroom cups that I count as “blocks.” Each day, both sets of kids get blocks to play with and we have enough that they rotate out about every 6 days.

I also give each pair two coloring books (we have over 100 so we just rotate through them) and a bag of crayons each day.

toys to put in bins for quiet time play

Puzzles

Some of what we have in our bins are typical puzzles, but also items I consider puzzle-like.

Basically any toy that makes my kids think about how things go together. Toys they can take apart and put back together fit into my idea of a puzzle.

My kids really enjoyed these Melissa and Doug puzzles so those are one of constants. But, here are links to a few of the non-traditional “puzzles” we’ve got in our bins:

My kids (ages 3 1/2 – almost 7) LOVE all of these.  They all spend hours playing with them.  The Quercetti pegboard set is a bit young for my boys, but they still enjoy it, just not as long as they do the other items on the list.

Pretend Play

I love pretend play – almost as much as my kids! 

I love to hear my kids coming up with stories and pretending they are someone or something else.  I love to hear them interacting and talking to each other. 

Some of our “pretend play” items are basic: we have dolls, cars, and dinosaurs. 

But some are a bit different:

Educational

Most of the education items in our bins came from the dollar store.  They have lots of flashcards, workbooks, and pencils. 

Most of our bins have one set of flash cards (addition, subtraction, letters, sight words etc.) and a workbook.  The workbooks vary from Pre-K to about a 2nd-grade level. 

Some are too advanced for my girls and others are too simple for my boys. But it is fun to listen to the boys “teach” the girls the things they already know.

Books

Most bins have two books: a simple one that my boys can read to the girls and a chapter book for the boys to read if they’d like. 

I rotate these through often, and many times they are just library books so we can save some money and keep a variety for them. But here is a list of some of the most well-loved books that we actually own:

Board Books

Books My Boys Read to My Girls

Chapter Books My Boys Have Enjoyed

Blocks

We have five sets of blocks that are part of our quiet room time program.  I also have a bag full of small bathroom cups that we count as “blocks.” I let the kids paint them and decorate them first so they can create something unique if they have a vision for what to build.

quiet time ideas pin

Quiet Time Boxes For Emergencies

One of the added bonuses of having these is that you can use them in a real emergency. They are ready to go boxes that you can grab and go in the event you need to go somewhere for a few days.

Have Additional Suggestions?

I would love any suggestions you have for high quality, purposeful toys that your kids have enjoyed and/or books your kids love! 

You can never have too many books!

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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

14 thoughts on “Quiet Time Box Ideas To Keep Your Summer Sanity”

  1. I just came across this on Pinterest and I am in love!! I work in a preschool and it’s a constant struggle on what to do with the children who don’t nap. We can’t force them to lay on their cot for the hour long rest time, being at the tables is disruptive to the other children, and when they are given only one toy they get bored within minutes. I never thought to put a small amount of different toys in each! Thank you so much!

    Reply
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  3. Thank you for this idea. In the last few weeks my goal is to get my 12 yr old and 3 yr old on a consistent schedule, but at the same time have a kid friendly learning environment. Organization is my project lately so I’m embracing all ideas and thoughts.

    Reply
  4. Wonderful i love this idea …i have something going on somewhat similar…just need a little more organization and structure…will let you kno how it goes…

    Reply
  5. Thanks so much for this post! It has solved so many problems for me. I’ve been frustrated with the amount of toys/games/activities that never get played with or just end up being spread around the Toyroom in a big mess. This gives me a way to control the chaos and rotate toys in a no-brainier way. I left out the big collections of things they always play with (Legos, trains, duplos, tools, blocks) but I’m planning on pulling out one of these boxes a day at rest time. I put together 10 boxes and ended up using the sweater box from the container store. They are $6 each, a bit more than I wanted to spend but they stack two high perfectly on the expedit shelves from ikea, where I’m storing them. Thanks again! My tired, pregnant body needed this!

    Reply
    • I can’t tell you how happy your comment makes me Joy! Thanks for taking the time and for being so kind. GREAT idea to use the sweater boxes! And good luck with your new little one soon!

      Reply
  6. Love this idea and I’m making it work for my family. What are the dimensions on your boxes? I’m just trying to get a rough idea of what I want. I know it depends on what I put in them! :)

    Reply
  7. That’s a good idea. I have one edition for blocks. Picasso blocks. They r magnetic building blocks. My child , myself as well, loves them. Also just a side note. If you take a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol it will tske the sharpie off your plastic totes so you can rewrite.

    Reply
    • Yes! I LOVE picasso blocks! THANK YOU! And thanks for the tip for getting the sharpie off. You just saved a bunch of bins / totes for me!

      Reply

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