Quiet Time Learning Bins for Little Ones

I have recently been trying to get a bit more organized in two areas:

1. Keeping my toddler engaged while I work homeschooling my Kindergarten daughter and vis versa.

2. Maintaining a peaceful nap period every afternoon.

I wanted some fun educational resources for my little ones to be able to work at independently while I rotated between working with each of them one on one. We also have a daily rest period after lunch when everyone goes to their special place (in their bedroom or elsewhere) for a quiet time or nap time according to their age. This is a time for us all to refresh ourselves with rest or quiet independent play. I find it essential for this mommy to have this period during our day to revitalize myself for the rest of the day. It allows me time to write, read, nap if necessary, and do a few clean up tasks here and there.

How do I keep everyone engaged but quiet during these periods?

I heard about the idea of quiet time bins in years past, so I knew it was about time to get creative and make something of it for our home. This one simple idea is a great solution for both my dilemmas mentioned above.

We compiled 5 individuals boxes for each child with 5 different activities for 5 days of the week.

I found these simple plastic organization shoe box bins at my local Dollar Store.

In each box, I picked out various age appropriate activities. I wanted educational, logic building, hands on, creativity inspiring activities, so we chose the following:

Toddler/Preschooler (2-4 years):
Beginner Puzzles (I found some cheap box puzzles at Dollar Store that I put in small ziploc bags)
Playdough (a few cans of playdough with cookie cutters -again, playdough is from Dollar Store – 4 colors for $1) – this is just an activity we use during school time because of the mess involved
Wedgits
Day & Night Logic Game
Pattern Blocks & Boards

Other ideas: Kumon First Step Workbooks (w/beginner scissors) – we have used and enjoyed these books in the past! Another favorite is My Book of Easy Mazes for this age group.

Kindergarten (5-7 years):
Sewing Cards
Magnetic Dolls Dress Up
Advanced puzzles (Stored in small ziploc bags and cut out small image of completed puzzle from original box)
Zoologic
Never Bored Kids Book or Kumon Cutting Workbook (with scissors, glue and other supplies)

We labeled each box according to the day of the week for its use. This allows the activities to be rotated and continue to be fresh with each week. Each day, I work for a 30 minute period with my toddler and my daughter plays with one of her boxes or works on independent school work. During rest time, if my toddler doesn’t sleep, as happens occasionally, I will also allow him to pull out a box. My daughter listens to books on tape and may occasionally play with her daily activity box during rest period as well. I have found it works the best keeping one busy at the counter while I spend some quality time with the other.

This is just a simple tool to keep everyone busy and engaged and your home running smoothly during these periods of your day.

For other ideas, check out these posts:

Quiet Time Bins – Keeper of the Home

How to Make Quiet Time Activity Bins – Nice Girl Notes

Quiet Time Bins – Holistic Homemaker

This post includes affiliate links to product recommendations that we use and love. Please note we do receive a small percentage of each purchase made through our links that help to support this site. 

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

30 Responses to Quiet Time Learning Bins for Little Ones

  1. Jen b January 5, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    What a great idea! I plan to homeschool my 8 and 11 year old next year, and I have a toddler that I must find ways to entertain when I’m focusing on a lesson. This should help. It also teaches independent play from a young age.

    Thanks.

  2. Dove November 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    These are some great ideas- I’d love to be able to pin it but your pinterest button doesn’t work (at least not for me?)

  3. Chelsey Gray November 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Hi just found your blog! I have really enjoyed it. I just saw that you have a Titus! And so do I! I love the name and you are the first one I have “met” that has a child named that!

  4. Lindsey North October 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Great ideas, thanks for sharing. I already have a big bin for my toddler to go through while I’m working with older brother, but I like the idea of breaking it into days of the week and having a few items instead of a whole bin.

  5. Kelly October 26, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    I haven’t seen the Never Bored Kids Books before and they look like just what I need for my 6 and 4yos. Just ordered them on Amazon. Awesome.

    Also, some others have asked about the books on tape. I also have a hard time finding quality books on tape. My library has very few good ones. I once heard of a book on tape “lending” service that was online. Am I making this up or could someone lead me in the right direction? :) Thanks!

    • Kelly October 26, 2012 at 9:57 am #

      Just to clarify…I say “books on tape”, but obviously mean CDs or MP3 format. Thanks!

  6. Monica October 26, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Quiet time bins, what a wonderful idea. Usually I have the younger kids nap but for quiet time it gets kind of tricky with my older son. He doesn’t nap. I usually just tell him to read a book or do some activities in his activity book but I will consider making some nap time bins! Great idea.

  7. Allyson @ All Our Days October 25, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    Our family loves activities that our children can do independently while having fun and learning. Our October series, 31 Days of Busy Bags & Quiet Time Activities is filled with ideas for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and young children. Most of the busy bags are from materials that many already have around the house.

    Quiet time bins have also been a huge blessing for our family! Here’s how we use quiet time bins and what we put inside them.

    Our kids also love listening the Songs for Sapling CDs during quiet time. We’re hosting a giveaway of 2 CDs during our October series.

  8. Allyson @ All Our Days October 25, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    Lindsay, I’d love to share the link to this post next Tuesday on a Quiet Time Tuesday post. Is that okay?

    • Lindsay October 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Sure thing!

  9. Tara October 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Oooh, great ideas! Thanks!

    I have a question for you about your toddler’s nap time. Is he 3 years old? I have a son who will be 3 in a couple of months. Recently, nap time has become a major battle. I am curious at what point do you say it is okay not to sleep and okay to be up doing quiet activities? Some days he seems fine with no nap, other days he has a meltdown at 3pm and then doesn’t sleep as well at night.

    I am struggling with being mean about this and punishing him for disobeying and getting out of bed. :(

    • Allyson @ All Our Days October 25, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      You could try having him play or look at books quietly in his bed. If he’s tired enough, maybe he’ll still fall asleep.

    • Lindsay October 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      Yes, my son is three years old. If I find that he is not going to sleep and keeps getting up after 30-45 minutes, I will allow him to get an activity box and play quietly in his room. It does happen occasionally as he doesn’t seem to need as much sleep. My 5 year old took daily naps right up until about two months ago. It seems different with each child.

    • Nola October 29, 2012 at 8:57 am #

      My 3.5 year old just last week gave up the nap for a quiet time instead. My clue was that she was not going to sleep at night. I tried no nap during the day (instead did quiet time) and it worked great for us. No problems with the transition. But, she is 3.5. I think at 3 it would have been more of a harder transition eg. some days needing it, others not. Each child is different and has different needs from day to day. I would try either a shorter nap (say to sleep by 1 and up at 1: 30 or 2…you have to make yourself go and wake the child) or try the if they are not sleeping by ___ time then do the quiet time. Fiddle with it and see what happens.

  10. Heather October 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Love your recommendations! I added them my 3 year old son’s Christmas wish list for grandparents. :)

  11. Nikki October 24, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Thanks for this! What do you have on hand for your one year old?

    • Lindsay October 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

      My one year old really is not a toy girl. She just loves crawling around and exploring. Right now her favorite thing to do is play with a cup and spoon and mix it around. She also loves our little kitchen set for the same reason. She has one little riding toy as well, but she’s pretty content just cruising around.

  12. kara October 24, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    Thank you Lindsey. I just sat down to look up some ideas to keep my preschooler quiet during quiet time (without the use of electronics) and your post popped up in my email. I do have one quiet time bin but the idea of a new one each day is AWESOME! It may hold her interest longer as well. Just an FYI..I made a lot of the activities in my bin because we are on a tight budget. Color wheels with clothes pins (you can do the same with numbers on the opposite side), number puzzles (print out a picture and cut in strips, labeling each with a number 1,2,3…etc), bean sorting (chopsticks and dried beans with two small cups), and many more. I love hearing more ideas!

  13. Kory October 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm #

    Oh, as far as the books on tape, we haven’t done a lot of those but there’s an usborne book called ‘farmyard tales’ that comes with a CD (we just put it on our ipod). Our 3.5yr old LOVES it, though my one complaint is there’s no ‘turn the page’ cue.

    The other one we use is sparkle stories (http://www.sparklestories.com/brand), which doesn’t have books, they’re just audio stories, but our girls love those too! :)

  14. Kory October 23, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    This is so brilliant and such perfect timing it brought tears to my eyes (though I’m sure the pregnancy hormones are helping with that too, lol). Thank you!

  15. Jessica October 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    This is awesome. I’m really excited about this idea. I too would love some good suggestions for Audio books. My daughter loves them as well but we run out of ideas for good stories and where to get them. Thanks.

  16. Carly October 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    All our days blog is currently doing a series with ideas for busy bags/bins. Well worth checking out because many of them you can make with what you have a home already.

    http://allourdays.com/2012/10/color-sorting-busy-bag-activity-bag.html

  17. Amy Clark October 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    What books on tape do you use? I feel like we’ve run out of the library’s appropriate selection. I’ve purchased some, but it doesn’t feel like the best use of resources, since they do tire of them eventually….

    • Lindsay October 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

      I had a hard time finding good classics available at my library as well, so we finally decided to get an Audible.com subscription. In this way, we can keep the audio books and use them with the younger kids, and its more reasonable via subscription then purchasing one by one. I know there are some websites out there where you can get some classics for free in the public domain. We just stick with the classics, Winnie the Pooh, a little Princess, chronicles of narnia, etc. my daughter also loves the Classical Kids series which takes classical music and sets it to a story about the composer. she listens to those repeatedly. They never get old.

  18. Melissa @ Kids in the Sink October 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I’ve heard of quiet time bins too and now that my 3 year old is starting to be the age where her toddler brother bothers her, i need something to engage them both! Great idea! Thank you for the great post to help keep my kids out of trouble and off of each other’s backs.

  19. Rachel @ Intentionally Simple October 23, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    This is a wonderful idea!

    My oldest is just 2.5 so I don’t need to implement this for schooling purposes just yet but it will be fun just having a different learning activity to do every day of the week!

  20. Nola October 23, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I have wanted to do this and never have completed it. I should get going on it!

  21. Melissa October 23, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Thank you so much for this post! It came at the perfect time! I have a Kinder that I homeschool, a toddler, and another baby on the way. I find it extremely difficult to have school time with my oldest as my toddler tends to just roam during that time–which usually means he is making a mess or interrupting us. Also, my toddler does not nap well and I have been looking for a solution to our quiet time problems. I think I have found it!!! Blessings!

  22. Kristin October 23, 2012 at 4:49 am #

    LOVE!

  23. Heather October 23, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    This is a great idea! I have been trying to figure out some new ways to engage my kids while I am working with the other. I might be making a trip to the Dollar Store soon!