First I created a set of preschool boxes with age-appropriate and interesting activities. Every afternoon I would tell them it was quiet time and to choose a preschool box to take to the table. I would set the timer and if they played quietly and independently until the timer went off, then I would put a treat in a cup for them. They couldn’t have the treat until they were all done playing. They could choose how many rounds of quiet play they wanted to do (but the more they did, the more treats they collected!)
- Magnets (and things that were magnetic)
- Rubber band boards
- Wiki sticks
- Lacing buttons (with string and pipe cleaners)
- Lacing beads and boards
- Small legos
- Sensory buckets (with corn, beans,spoons, baby food jars, and small toys)
- Finger puppets
The possibilities to fill these boxes are endless. You can find lots of ideas for preschool boxes on pinterest. You can always add more boxes later or switch them out every few days so the boxes seem “new” and “special”. We keep them in a low easily-accessible area for toddlers.
When the timer goes off, I get really excited and shower them with verbal praise “Great job! You did it! You played quietly by yourself the whole time! Here is your treat.”
After I put the treat in their cup I aske “Do you want to do it again? You can earn another treat!” (remember, no eating until ALL done playing, so don’t give it to them every time the timer goes off, they collect in the cup. The growing stash of treats is a huge motivator for the kids to keep going). If they want to do another round, ask them if they want to switch boxes or if they want to keep the one they have. I usually encourage them to stick with one activity during each short session to minimalize mommy help and to help them learn how to stick with activities for longer stretches of time.
I was really truly amazed at how quickly my toddlers picked up on this. They love this quiet time SO much and really depend on the routine and rhythm of this activity.