Looking for some quiet time activities for your toddler or preschooler? You have come to the right place!
To a Mama, Dad, or Caregiver with little ones at home there is no sweeter word then … NAPTIME — at least in our home. A time to recharge, relax, and get (a little bit of) work done while my little ones rest is a very important part of my day.
But as my Sammy turned into a 3 year old, his nap times started to fade. He no longer seemed tired enough to settle into a full sleep, but certainly still needed a bit of quiet time to recharge to make it through the rest of his busy day. So what do we do? Quiet time activities.
There are so many wonderful ideas for quiet time activities. But for my little 3 year old I had one other requirement. They needed to keep my little one quiet and independent – of course – but they also needed to be mess free.
My little guy tends to get very “into” activities and will explore them in ways not always as I intended. Which can lead to rather large messes. So for unsupervised quiet time activities – we need them to be rather clean.
And so, I bring to you,
54 Mess Free Quiet Time Activities for 3 Year Olds!
(Post contains affiliate links) ***Some of these ideas use small parts. Please use your own judgement and knowledge of your child and supervise when necessary***
Now, just before we begin with all of the awesome quiet time activities, it is important to note that it takes a bit of time and preparation to get our little ones ready to love their daily quiet time!
I have made a video for you, sharing how I make quiet time work in our home with my best 5 quiet time tips! (The two freebies I talk about in the video are found within this post labelled “Quiet Time Labels” and “Quiet Time Playmats”). Here is the video for you:
Low Prep Quiet Time Activities
- Printable Quiet Bin Labels. Make refilling your quiet time boxes or bins easier than ever with these FREE printable quiet bin labels! This post shares with you ideas on what to put in each box
- Quiet Time Playmats. These free little playmats are so much fun for imaginative and creative play during quiet time. Simply print off your favourite playmats, or print off all 10! This post shares lots of different ways to play with these printable play mats for quiet time.
- Exploring Toy Cars. A screwdriver and some plastic cars can keep little ones quietly busy for hours! So much fun and learning to be had with this simple activity!
- Crafts with Clothespins: A Clothespin Crown. Some pipe cleaners and some clothespins provide lots of fuel for little imaginations.Puzzles, 10 Benefits of Puzzles. Finding puzzles that your 3 year old can do all on their own is a fantastic quiet time activity – check this link for all of the fantastic benefits of puzzles!
Fine Motor Building Quiet Time Activities
- Magnet Play from Stickers by The Creative Homemaker – check out this awesome idea! Did you know you could turn stickers into magnets? It is so easy, and a perfect quiet time activity too.
- Create a Quiet Book by And Next Comes L – if you are crafty, even just a little bit crafty, this guide to making a quiet book by Dyan is fantastic! And complete with SO many ideas for pages!
- Quiet Time Boxes by Wildflower Ramblings – I love the idea of putting a few different quiet activities into one box for rest time. Choices are a very good thing for my little guy!
- Popsicle Stick Photo Puzzles by Mom Endeavors – the possibilities with this one are endless! Popsicle sticks are great for so many activities and crafts.
- Yarn, Sandpaper, and a Cereal Box Quiet time activities by Modern Parents, Messy Kids. This one is so neat! We have done quite a bit of weaving, so I think my little one would be okay with this independently. And the sandpaper and yarn idea is perfect for little ones who can’t yet weave.
Imagination Building Quiet Time Activities
- Quiet Time Paper City by Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails. As soon as I saw this activity, I wanted to make it with my little guy for his rest time. It is perfect for him (and super simple – so perfect for me too!)
- Felt Mr Potato Head Play Mat by Lil Kid Things (link no longer available). This one using simple felt is such a great idea!
- Portable Road – No sew! By And Next Comes L. I love the open ended nature to this quiet time activity for preschoolers!
- 20 Quiet Time Clothespin Activities By Lalymom. My little guy loves clothespins – and these are such great quiet time activities!
- Photo Lacing Cards by Skunkboy. This idea could be done in so many different ways. I like the idea of tracing the outside of a shape – and using photos would make this very meaningful to 3 year olds!
Creative and Unique Ideas!
- Crazy Straws Felt Threading by Powerful Mothering. These straws make great quiet time activities for kids – I love the idea of using felt buttons to practice threading and fine motor skills.
- Four Quiet time activities for 2 and 3 year olds by My Nearest and Dearest. These ideas are fantastic! Painting the doll house with water is a great activity – and I know the laundry one would be a hit with my little guy too!
Even More Quiet Time Activities!
- ABC Match with stickers and a roll by Happy Kids Ideas (No link available). This activity could be done with so many concepts – or even just as an open ended quiet time activity to decorate a roll with stickers!
- Tracing Shapes with Pipecleaners by Sugar Aunts. This is a great way to make a tracing activity mess free! And a link to FREE printables thanks to Teach Beside Me!
- Duplo Building Inspiration by Money Saving Mom. I love the idea of this quiet time activity using Duplo, though it would take a bit of practice for my little guy to actually use this activity independently. I know he would be calling for some support and help – which is a great opportunity to help him learn about perseverance and trying his best, and moving on to come back to the ones that are a bigger challenge.
- Velcro Dot Craft Sticks by Powerful Mothering. I just love this idea using coloured popsicle sticks and velcro dots!!!
- Felt Ring Chain by Becoming Mummy (no link available). My little guy loves making paper chains (and nature chains too!) He would go crazy for this quiet time activity using felt – and it seems nice and simple to create.
- Fine Motor Weaving by Coffee Cups and Crayons. My little ones would have a lot of fun with this – and it’s a wonderful way to strengthen little fingers too.
These quiet time activities are practically mess free, almost cost free, and hopefully will free up about an hour or so of a Mama’s time! I always find it helpful to use a visual timer so my little guy know exactly how long he is expected to quietly explore independently. If you have an Ipad there are a few neat apps with visual timers for free to download.
I have been happily surprised with how well my little guy has gotten into the routine of quiet time. I offer an activity, but more often then not he finds his own way to quietly explore the materials, or anything else he has in his room. Extending that all so important naptime age, one quiet time activity at a time!
Too find out ALL you need to know about quiet time – and for a FULL YEAR of quiet time activities – that are educational nonetheless, check out my eBook: A Year of Educational Quiet Bins:
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Get Quiet Time anytime, with the amazing idea of Quiet Bins! Find a whole year of educational quiet bin ideas for only $8!