Although things are starting to open up a bit depending on where you are located, most of our kids are still at home. Whether you have kids of different ages that you are trying to homeschool or if you are trying to work from home yourself, it can be a challenge to keep the younger kids occupied. It’s especially difficult to keep kids quiet or calm while being cooped up in the house and there’s only so much screen time you can handle. If you are at the end of your rope and just want some peace and quiet, keep reading for my list of the top quiet calming activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
Puzzles are great because they are quiet, teach problem solving skills and depending on the ages of your children, they can be worked on independently. The other bonus is there are puzzles for all ages. You could have a 4 piece puzzle for your young toddler or a 500 piece puzzle that you work on over days as a family.
I also like puzzles because they can be a great way to introduce different concepts or reinforce things you are already learning about. Rosebud has become interested in maps and space lately, so I bought her two puzzles. One is of a map of the U.S. and the other is this wonderful puzzle of our solar system. She enjoys seeing the pictures of the planets close up.
2. Sensory Bottles
I’ve seen different names for these bottles. Some people call them sensory bottles, discovery bottles or calm down jars. Basically, you fill a bottle with water or another base material and then add interesting things to it. You glue the top shut and let your child look at the bottle. There are literally a million different ideas out there. Here are some ideas for your bottles.
- Color mixing: Add drops of food coloring with the water in the bottles and see how different colors mix.
- Alphabet: Add water and beads with the letters in a bottle and then see if your child can find the letters.
- Princess: Add water, glitter, jewels and let your child choose a color. See if your child can find all the jewels.
- Shapes: Add water, a color and different shaped items. See if your child can name the shapes.
- Beach: Add sand, water, shells and or rocks. Play beach sounds for a nice relaxing activity.
3. Marshmallow Sculptures
All you do is set out a tray with marshmallows and tooth picks and then let your child create a master piece. This is a wonderful activity to help with those fine motor skills that is perfect for preschoolers. Toddlers can do this as well, but need more supervision. This activity lets kids use their imagination and it is quiet. If you don’t want to use the regular marshmallows, there are these foam marshmallows that would work.
4. Jewelry Making
Here’s another activity that is great for strengthening those fine motor skills. Depending on the age of your child, this activity will look different. If you have a young toddler, you may want to use yarn and pasta with close supervision. They have bead stringing sets that you can reuse. These sets are great because they are sturdy and perfect for a toddler’s little hands.
If your child is a little older, you can use string or gimp with pony beads and make something that resembles jewelry. In my experience, boys and girls alike enjoy making bracelets or necklaces for themselves or family members. If your child is s school age, you can get an actual jewelry making kit and see what they come up with.
5. Audio Books
I love audio books because they are a great way to keep a child occupied for a few minutes while you need to get something done. You can find audio books on Amazon on CD or digital download. Right now Audible has stories that you can listen to for free while the children are out of school. There are many people who are reading stories on Youtube as well. This is still screen time, but it’s a form of reading time that can capture your child’s attention.
6. Felt Story Boards
To go with books, felt story boards are a wonderful way to make reading time interactive. The wonderful thing about felt boards are they are super quiet. You have lots of options here too. There’s everything from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the felt alphabet to dress up. You can either buy kits to cut out at home or ready made kits.
7. Sensory Bins
Similar to the sensory bottles, there are a million ideas out there, but I’ll focus on the quieter options. Sensory bins can help your child practice fine motor skills, math, science, imaginative play and they can be very calming depending on what you put in them. Here are some ideas.
- Cotton balls and or pompoms for scooping/pouring, sorting by color, shape and or size, add tongs to help your child practice fine motor skills.
- Water, scoops, cups, shells, plastic fish. This works well for an ocean theme or as a calm down activity. Water. Has been proven to have a calming effect.
- Small world: Fill a basket with mini dolls, doll furniture, little animals etc. Let your child’s imagination come alive.
8. Matching Games
Here’s another activity your child can do independently. There are matching games out there to fit any theme or interest. You can make your own or buy them. Matching games help children learn to sort and classify items. Rosebud loves this cupcake shape matching game and this cookie alphabet puzzle where you match the letters. To help her with her counting, I got her this popcorn game that has cups with the numbers on them and you have to count out the pieces of popcorn to match the cups.
You’re probably thinking, how can blocks be quiet and or calming, but these foam blocks are wonderful for toddlers. They are light weight, quiet and have several shapes to build with. Blocks are great for helping kids with spacial awareness, learning shapes and sizes, creativity and allowing them to experiment. If you add little animals or people, they can get even more involved in their play.
10. The Quiet Basket
This is the ultimate basket for you mamas who need to work a bit longer or desperately need to escape the noise. One way to use this basket is to have a quiet time as apart of your child’s routine every day. Here are some ideas of what you can put into the basket.
- Dry erase board or book with small pack of markers,
- Sensory bottle with an I Spy card,
- Mini felt board with story set,
- Etch a Sketch,
- Water game,
- Lacing cards,
- Small bag of legos,
- Mini puzzle,
- Sheet of bubblewrap with the small bubbles.
I hope you are able to find some peace and quiet at your home. How are you keeping your children occupied while you work from home? Tell us in the comments.