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Quiet Boxes for Little Ones

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Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings

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My son has not been taking his naps lately.  He turned three in August and I knew it would happen one day.  We are still trying, but he is winning.  Now, during his little sister’s naptime, I give him a Quiet Learning Box.  This is a work in progress.  He doesn’t want to be in his room alone, and he still struggles with using the contents respectfully.  So he uses these during the “would-be nap time” as well as parent-directed times.

I filled our boxes {contents listed below!} with various items and activities from our Busy Bags and things that used to be on our Tot Trays.  We stopped using Tot Trays a while ago because my baby daughter was getting into them, and my son needs to be more directed and given a certain time to utilize the contents of a learning activity.  I am following his lead! 

When I give him a Quiet Box, I empty the contents with him and set each of the activities up around the room.  I don’t know if this is the best way, but it shows him all the fun learning he could have, so it encourages him to explore.  We are still working on what works best!

To be honest, it is difficult for him to concentrate on something independently.  He also would much rather be playing with a truck or swinging a sword than doing a learning activity.  But! If I am sitting down with him, he will get excited and can be very engaged in the task for 10-15 minutes.  So we are slowly working towards Quiet Independent Time with these Boxes.  My favorite thing about them is that, even though I won’t get them out every day (we are out an about about two days a week), I love that I know what activity he did last so there is no guessing for me if I think it’s a good time for him to work quietly.

I was originally inspired by Carisa at 1plus1plus1equals1, and I printed out my box labels from her too!, to make Preschool Quiet Boxes.  She writes extensive posts on how her daughter is learning with the boxes.  She also includes a sensory element to her Quiet Boxes, which I am not doing because my boy has to be well supervised when we have Sensory Bins out.

Now onto my boxes!  I made five boxes, bought from Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and labeled them with Carisa’s labels (I just put clear tape over them), and filled them each with 2-4 books and various puzzles, manipulatives, and printables!

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings


Books: Rain by Donald Crews, When This Box is Full by Donald Crews, Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Melissa & Doug Music Sound puzzle (my son loves this!)

Bolts and screws in 4 different sizes for little hands to learn a great practical life skill!

Little wooden cubes (from Dollar Tree) and Block Puzzle Templates from All Our Days

Melissa & Doug alphabet floor puzzle

Imaginets shape templates and little pieces

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings


Books: Trains by Gail Gibbons, Swimmy by Leo Lionni, Cock-a-doodle-doo

Lauri peg board and pegs

Unifix cubes for play and early math learning

Lacing cat from Melissa & Doug (his favorite!)

Melissa & Doug numbers floor puzzle

Build A Rainbow printable from All Our Days

Tape Measure for fun

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings


Books: There’s an alligator in my bed by Mercer Mayer, Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom Deluse, Hi, Cat! by Ezra Jack Keats

Melissa & Doug Dressin’ Joey

Color sort printable with paint chips from All Our Days

Magnet Dots with a magnet board

Melissa & Doug colors floor puzzle

Stackable Lego Duplo printables for number recognition from All Our Days

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings


Books: Sam and the Tigers by Jerry Pinckney, Truck by Donald Crews

Popsicle sticks with velcro on the ends to make shapes

Bead lacing from Melissa & Doug

Counting with Legos printable

Lauri butterfly foam shape frame

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings


Books: Freight Train by Donald Crews, The Mitten by Jan Brett, A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Eady

Betty Lukens felt barn book (he loves this!)

Counting with bears and printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Magnet pick up wand

Melissa & Doug shapes floor puzzle

Quiet Boxes for Little Ones from Wildflower Ramblings

More Quiet Box Ideas!

I hope my Quiet Boxes for Little Ones helps with more ideas to keep your little one busy and engaged during the nap strikes or times that they just-plain-need independent time!  If you have made Quiet or Preschool Boxes, I’d love to see them, so please share in the comments :)

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  1. Your boxes look great. I’m trying to revamp our quiet time boxes so they can be used with more than one child, since my second child has joined his sister in no nap land :)

    Thanks for including links back to our busy bag activities.

  2. We have been trying something like this too! We are still experimenting, but it’s giving my oldest some time to explore by herself and play with the smaller sensory related items (that would normally be out of the question with a small toddler running around).

  3. These look great!! They would also make great boxes for when older siblings need more attention for school work! I’m pinning this to my (CarlaINHouston) Toddler “School”!! board–thanks for sharing it!!

  4. so many great ideas! I see some I had never thought of before. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be sharing this post with many. pinning!

  5. Love these and how you detailed each picture and the contents. My son stopped napping about 2 1/2 and from turning 2 would not nap every day, by 2 1/2 it was very rare. Now at 3 1/2 he takes a nap about once every few months, unless he is sick. It was a challenge getting him to stay in his room too, be consistent! He’ll get there :)

    1. Thanks Renee!! Yes, it is hard for them (and you!) when they don’t have a quiet time. He is slowly getting used to these! Thanks for visiting :)

  6. I just started doing something like this with my Kindergartener today! :) He has been doing quiet time for a long time now, but I wanted his quiet time to be more educationally directed. So far it’s been going well, but I’m sure we’ll have some tweaks to figure out as it continues. Good luck with your son. It was a hard transition to go from napping to doing quiet time when my oldest was 3, but he eventually got it!

  7. Love the ideas. Personally, if my goal was for independent use, I would have tubs classified by type of activity. Puzzle in one tub, lacing activity in another, books in another, etc. I think that’s why its working for you to pull out the activities and spread them out throughout the room. Kids benefit from classification of objects and order, and it helps them to see things in smaller chunks rather than a bucket full of various items, which may be overwhelming.

    1. I agree that classifiying them would help. These boxes are great but they are not age appropriate for a just “not napping” child. Try to go with more independant toys that they can actually manage. Once you get it figured out, they will actually play. I think they maybe overwhelming as well.

  8. I love this post and how you adapted the idea to work for you! I also will often open the box with her and spread things out, it does seem to help get her going on her reluctant days. Some days she is completely independent with it all and others she seems to “need” me to show her the fun stuff inside and some ideas for play.

    1. Thank you, Carisa, that means so much coming from you — thank you for sharing your ideas and resources!! ♥

  9. I really need to do this but the idea overwhelms me! I like how you have a variety of activities and books!

  10. Thanks for sharing these great quiet box ideas as my weekly linky party at Crystal and Comp. I’ve pinned it and shared on my facebook page. I’m not sure any mom can have too many ideas for a quiet box. :)

  11. Great ideas! I am featuring you on my blog for the “Hearts for Home Blog Hop”! The link will show up on Thursday:)

  12. Very nice! I am also featuring you on the HFH blog hop. :) I have done a few busy bags for some of my kids but these are so much better! I love the activity combinations. Thanks so much!

  13. What a great idea. Amazingly, my 4 year-old still naps most days, but it would be nice to have a few quiet activities as go-to quiet time activities on those days that he doesn’t nap and his little brother is.

    1. Wow, lucky you :) My son has been doing well with a one hour quiet time. I usually only give him one or two of these activities at a time right now :)

  14. Your quiet boxes are really cute. My Mom was just telling me last night I should do something like that (because my activities are in large boxes and are heavy to get down). Thank you for sharing the contents of your boxes. They look like a lot of fun.

  15. Love this idea! I home school my 7 year old but have two other littles at home so this would be perfect for them while we are doing school. My question is, how big are your boxes? I have a couple but a puzzle would not fit in them. Thanks!

    1. I got them at Bed Bath and Beyond — they are about 14 inches by 8 I’d guess… any size that suits your needs would work — or you could put out a puzzle of the day with the box?! Thanks Courtney :)

  16. Megan Francis says:

    Hi Amy, Thankyou. Thankyou, Thankyou for saying that this is a work in progress for you son. I have been trying different sorts of montessori type things with my son and we do lots of arts and crafts but it never seems to go or even start as planned. On the net it all seems as though all the kids are settling down do all these activities and going along swimmingly and I was beginning to wonder if there was something not quite right with my dear son that he wouldn’t follow initial instruction or follow my lead. I try not to worry as he’s counting, has a massive vocab and is riding a bicycle and is not yet three and therefore is learning quite well without a lot of “learning activities” at home. It’s just nice to hear someone on the net say it’s a work in progress for them too. Thankyou

    1. Megan! I’m so glad you wrote — it shows me that I should write more about this. Because actually, my son has ditched the quiet boxes, he would prefer to either have legos or his trucks and tractors with a blanket full of lentils to move around. At three and a half, he still does not like to color or paint. We have been doing many more simple activities instead of crafts…. I will write a post about this soon! Thank you for commenting and your son is more than fine so don’t worry! <3

  17. Hi, I love your post and want to try your quiet boxes. Could you tell me what size/volume your boxes are please? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Alicia, the boxes can fit a 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper — they are probably 9×14 or so? Thanks :)

  18. Hello! I am a mom from Spain and I found your blog in Pinterest when I was looking for ideas to rotate toys. I liked your page in Facebook and some days after I saw your post there about this one. I read it and I love it. My son is 3 and half and naptime is disappearing here. I think it is a great idea and I wrote about it in my blog, mentioning your blog and a photo of your boxes as I dont have mine yet. :)
    Your blog is so beautiful, I became your follower! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m so glad that this post was helpful to you, Alessandra!! Thanks so much for the kind words and for following :)

  19. Thank you for sharing our Preschool Busy Boxes post in your round-up, Amy! I love what you’ve done with your Quiet Boxes for Little Ones — must pin! :)
    Renée @ NextGen Homeschool

  20. My 5 year old has been a non-napper for over a year. I need quiet, alone time more than he does. I have found music or stories on cd really help him not to feel alone and help him stay in his room longer. Also, a candy reward for staying put until I get him out helps. He loves to use quiet time for outside play time, so when he asks to play outside, I usually say yes and just watch him from the window while I catch up on house work. :)

    1. You can download several of Robert Munsch’s stories for free online. They are so funny and read by him, very entertaining! He wrote “Love You Forever”.

  21. Thank you for adding mine to the list. I just now figured that out. I’m still a beginner with blogging and I have no idea what I’m doing. Your site is awesome!

  22. Hi Amy, I started with the quiet boxes here and I am very frustated because my son didn’t like it… He is 3 years 7 months old, I put a puzzle, some lego pieces, a book, some animals from Wild Republic. He played with the animals for 15 minutes, then he took the book and kept it in the shelf with the rest of books and closed the box as saying “it is enough”. I dont know where I am doing wrong. I acept advices! Thanks

  23. I would pay someone to assemble these it me. I love the idea!

  24. hi, I just saw your Quiet Boxes post and they are amazing, great idea, thank you for sharing it. but i got confused you have 5 boxes and you explain the content also, so the box that you use for friday , you will use it agan the next friday? hope you get what I mean, these boxes are prepared for every week? thank you so much

    1. Yes, it is for every Friday — but i try to change it up after the week or when they get bored of that day’s contents :)

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  26. What size bins did you use for your quiet boxes? They fit books and puzzles but don’t look too big.

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