Saturday, January 21, 2012

Busy Boxes...Or Whatever You Want to Call Them!

Busy boxes.  Quiet time bins.  What do I do now? containers.  Whatever you want to call them, they all serve the same purpose.  I initially came across this idea at The View from 5'5" and I was in love at first sight!  The original idea is that these boxes will serve as "quiet" activities for the littles during times of the day where quiet is needed:  during a naptime that is transitioning into awake time, during the time before nap, during the time before bed, etc.  However, I am using it for a different purpose.

My daughter is 20 months old and always looking for something new to do.  Frankly, I often run out of ideas.  I mean, I can only color, play with HotWheels cars, roll on the rug, and make her dollies dance for so long.  I came across the quiet time bins idea and thought, "Bingo!".   When I can't think of something to do, I will just go to her Busy Box of the day and pick an activity to do!  Initially, I tried to incorporate 5 categories into each box:  Practical Life, Learning, Fine Motor, Creative Play, Problem Solving.  As I put the boxes together, it was taking me forever to decide on all 5 categories for each box so I figured, hey, I'll just put at least 4 categories in each box!  For reference, the majority of materials I had on hand at home.  If I didn't have something I wanted, I purchased it from The Dollar Tree.  In the end, I probably spent about $12 to create these boxes (I purchased the actual bins from The Dollar Tree, too!).  Also, I came up with some ideas on my own and some ideas were gathered elsewhere.  If I got the idea from someone else, I've provided a link, so just click on it!  So, without further adieu.....

I have a bin for each day, Monday through Friday.  If I am ever at a lull point in the day, I will reach for that day's bin and pick an activity to do.  By the way, I keep these bins out of my daughter's play area.

2 washcloths for folding practice, first words flashcards, stamps & stamp pads, a puzzle, Coke bottle game (she won't get it, but it will be good for fine motor practice).

Color matching felt squares (she has colored blocks that we can organize according to color), spaghetti noodles in a cheese shaker jar (for fine motor skill practice), hot glue crayon rubbing plates,  table setting (cup, fork, spoon, napkin, plate, place mat)

Tinfoil (just for creative fun), hygiene kit (brush, loofah, toothpaste - hot glued shut, toothbrush) for practical life play, shape flashcards, puzzle, clothespins (for fine motor - to pin on edge of Tupperware container)

Peg board strip & golf tees (fine motor), felt shape pieces, child safe scissors (only cut paper) with a magazine (to practice cutting), Etch-A-Sketch

Color flashcards, mini containers of playdoh, flowers for flower vase arranging, pom poms with a spoon (transferring from one bin to another for fine motor practice)

After a month, I plan on switching out some of the activities to add some newness/variety.  I haven't yet used these with Olive, but I think she will like it.  Given that she only gets to see each activity once a week, I think that it will help to keep her attention longer than a normal everyday activity might.


  1. Very cool idea, Natalie! I need to step it up over here! ;-)

  2. This is the coolest, thanks for the tips as I have three children all under five years of age! Again thanks so much.