23 Quiet Time Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers {And Why I think It’s Important to Teach them to Self-Entertain}

quiet time activities for preschoolers and toddlers

It’s no big secret that I have 8 kids.  In my 19 years of mothering, one of the best lessons I’ve tried to teach my littles is that it’s not mommy’s job to entertain them 24-7.  From early on I wanted my children to learn how to enjoy time by themselves using their minds in different ways, that would keep them occupied in a positive way.  It’s an important skill to have!  If your child constantly needs flashy noises, lights, action, and fast paced activities… what are they going to do when they get to school and are expected to sit in a desk and listen to a teacher?  OR what will they do when they get to school and at times are expected to work independently and finish an assignment?

One way to accomplish this is creating quiet time every single day.  Early on, quiet time is a nap where baby can put him/herself to sleep and self sooth.  As they grow older and naps become shorter and non-existent, quiet time is still an essential part of the day!  Now, this doesn’t mean you just put them in a room and shut the door… BUT it does mean providing ways for them to make choices of quiet ways to spend an hour alone, with out relying on mom to entertain them.


I’ve put together a list of ideas for you!  To keep it fresh, you could create 4 or 5 activity boxes and rotate them weekly, daily, or monthly.  Here is a list of ideas to inspire you on your activity box making quest.  Then at a designated time each day (either before or after lunch is usually when I do it), let your little one(s) know it’s quiet time, offer the box of special activities, and then let them enjoy!  Of course, you’ll need to figure out the best way to keep your child safe during this time… and if your child(ren) isn’t used to self entertaining, you may need to start with a shorter time and grow into something longer.  One easy way to start is to let them color or play with playdough in the ktichen while you are preparing a meal.  The longer they can self entertain, you can start offering new ideas and let them play in a play room or bedroom while you are in other areas of the house.  Eventually the idea is to create 60 minutes of quiet time with the expectation that they have to stay in their room (with the exception of a potty break), and they have to stay quiet.

A few guidelines:

Visual TImer

Set the Time Span

To help with understanding the time span of Quiet time I have used different timers for the kids. I started with an egg timer that I picked up at IKEA, but that was still hard for the kids to understand. A couple of months ago we spotted a great deal on this Visual Timer and I snagged it. It has been VERY useful in our quiet times ever since because it stays green during quiet time and then rings and turns red once the time is up! I recommend getting a timer of some sort to start off your quiet time endeavors to help the kids put a boundary on your expectations.

If you’re not set on a timer, you could also look for a music album that will span your desired down time. We have a favorite that plays for 47 minutes and when it stops the kids can be done.

Helping them get to Sleep

Ultimately, I would love it if the kids fell asleep during their quiet time. 🙂 Listening to music, drawing the curtains or blinds, and shutting the door can all help in getting the kids to relax enough to fall asleep. This is also a great time to lay down a read a book together and talk about the morning.

23 Quiet Time Activities

Quiet time Rice Bottle

I Spy Rice Bottle

  • Empty out a water bottle and allow it to dry.
  • Gather about 15 small objects that will fit through the bottle top
  • Fill up the bottle with layers of rice and objects stopping about an inch or two from the top
  • Secure the top of the water bottle with a glue gun or super glue. Allow to dry and you’re set to go!

Quiet Time Mini Tornado

Mini Hurricane Bottle

  • Empty one water bottle, then drop in some food coloring of your choice. You can also add some glitter.
  • Stack the bottles together and duct tape them together making sure to seal them tightly.
  • The kids can swirl the bottles and create a mini tornado as it travels from bottle to bottle.

Leap Frog Scribble and Write

Leap Frog Resources – Leap frog is one of my favorite resources for the kids. They have learned the basics of the alphabet, numbers, and shapes.

Scout Pal

LeapFrog My Pal Scout – Grandma got our youngest two these and they are a fun animal to have during quiet time. 

Quiet time puzzles

Puzzles – Wooden puzzles are an ideal quiet time activity. The Melissa and Doug are my favorites and I have been able to find several at a kids-resale store and at garage sales. These last a long time and several of ours have made it all the way from the first to our last little one!

Homemade Playdough – here is an awesome recipe that will keep for a long time!  This is not only fun, it encourages fine motor skills, which prepares them for kindergarten!

Audiobooks – Have the kids lay down and listen to a book while they rest. This is a fun way to keep them engaged in literature that is too difficult for them to read.

Personalized Picture Book – Pick out several of your favorite pictures and print them off. Laminate them and put them in a book for your kids to look at. They will enjoy getting to look back on memories and will be great story starters as well!

Sticker Activity Book – A sticker book is a great way to keep the kiddos busy!  

Quiet Time Books

Toddler Books – Lift the flap books, Search and Find, My first Words

Quiet Time Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Books – Dr. Seuss is classic!

best books for kids ages 5-7

Best Books for Kids Ages 5-7 – Is your kiddo ready to read more than a picture book? These are great choices and will keep them turning the page!

Coloring – Nothing tops an afternoon of coloring! You may even be tempted to grab some crayons and color too! 🙂

Water Wow

Melissa & Doug Water Wow Coloring Book – These are great because the reusable pages reveal colors when you get them wet, but skip them mess! The water pen is easy to fill and easy to hold for your little one!

Crayola Color Wonder Marker Sets – Color Wonder markers are a perfect way to have the kids color without having to worry about a mess of color afterward. This is a easy solution to quiet time coloring!

Lego Table Quiet Time

Lego and Duplo Building – Lego is a perfect quiet time activity for your kids! This is especially great for older kiddos that still do well with some down time during the day. If you are looking for a solution to keeping everything together while they are building, here is a Lego Table you can make yourself.

Magformers ball

Magformers – We received a set of these for Christmas and THEY. ARE. AWESOME. Not even kidding…these magnetic building toys are well made and worth the investment! The kids can create and recreate as they want and as you add to the collection there some really neat creations I have seen the kids make!

Fort – Something as simple as a sheet hanging over a bed is a perfect fort for the kids to read, color, or just rest under. There’s something special about a fort…the make-believe aspect is such a creative moment for the kids!

Disc Flashlights – If you have a dark enough area during rest time these projection flashlights are a lot of fun. It takes me back to my days when I was a kid and looked through these View Masters!! Anyone else with me on this one?!


Kiwi Crate Kaleidoscope – Kiwi Crate is a fun monthly subscription in which the kids get a box mailed to them each month filled with fun and engaging crafts and activities. Once they are done with the activity they can use them for quiet time. One of the Fab Gals was able to review the Kaleidoscope crate and her family LOVED it! Check it out here!

Quiet Time Kiwi Crate Shadows

Kiwi Crate Shadow & Light – The shadow and light project is a great one for quiet time as well. Let the creativity flow with these characters! Or create your own characters with craft sticks and construction paper!

Starfall.com Starfall is a fantastic learning resource for kids! We have enjoyed learning the reading process from letters of the alphabet all the way to reading poetry and short stories. Check it out!

Leap Pad – There are so many possibilities with the Leap Pad! Favorites from Scout to Cinderella and practice on math skills to reading fluency. We have had a Leap Pad since the first generation and I am so impressed with all of the new features on the 2nd and 3rd ones that are now available.


School workbooks – Are the little ones excited to start school like their big siblings? Get them started with a school workbook!

I hope there are a few of these that you can try out in your own Quiet Time! 

More than 23 quiet time activity ideas for your toddler and preschooler... which will save your sanity!  Plus learn why I believe it's important to teach your child to self-entertain.

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