Nothing can replace engaging with your kids – teaching them through play, games, role playing or just having a good ol’ giggle. But let’s be real, being that engaged mom sure takes a heck of a lot of energy, and sometimes you just need to have a moment to recharge before the next round of “Dolly goes to school” begins.
We’re talking about getting half an hour to sit down for a cup of coffee (and actually drinking it while it’s still hot), or putting away the laundry before it finds its way onto the (desperately-needs-to-be-mopped) floor.
And your kids can truly benefit from quiet time as well – they can practice independent thinking and learning, and have a chance to let their little bodies take a much-needed break.
The challenge, of course, is actually getting your child to engage in the whole act of “quiet time” – playing independently without the need for supervision or yelling “mooOOom, can you (fill in the blank here)?” Trust me, we’re not naïve enough to think that it’s as simple as telling your child that quiet time is starting and expect them to just run off to their bedroom and play. But trust us when we say this – pull out any of the toys on our list below, and your odds of a successful quiet time will automatically increase 10-fold.
These toys are truly magical, and have swept our own children away to Quiet Time Land many-a-time. Give it a try, we almost guarantee (I mean, there’s no guarantees with kids, right?) you’ll be in relaxation or get-stuff-done mode in no time.
Just a note before we get started: we’ve listed the manufacturer’s age recommendations for each product, but you know your child best, and often times kids are more-than-ready for these toys before the recommended age. Worst case, if they’re not able to do these activities independently, tuck them away for a later date.
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1.) Perler Beads
These colorful beads are nothing short of genius for craft-loving kids, and ours have been transported away for hours (seriously!) creating trinkets and treasures with them.
There are many different sets to choose from to cater to your child’s interests – from princesses to race cars, but we’ve found the Tray ‘n Cards Pattern Kit for Classic Beads to be the most attention-holding product. This set comes with a large see-through pegboard and 32 patterns that fit underneath in a sturdy tray. Snap them together and your child can add the corresponding bead colors based on the pattern. They can make awesome detailed creations while working on hand-eye coordination and fine-motor skills (bonus!).
We suggest investing in a large bucket of beads to accompany this set like the Perler Beads 11,000 Multi-Mix If your child becomes a little bead-a-holic like ours, you can purchase additional Pattern Pads for extra designs and the ultimate Bead ‘n Carry activity kit which has a snap-shut lid for protecting any unfinished projects and mini compartments for color sorting the beads (which alone can keep your child busy for hours!)
Recommended age: 6+
Perler also has a Junior Tray ‘n Cards with larger “Biggie Beads” that are a perfect introduction for younger kids (especially those with older siblings working with the classic beads who just want to be part of the fun).
Recommended age: 4+
WHAT MOMS LOVE TIP: These Perler Beads also make great necklaces and bracelets by threading them onto string or pipe cleaners. Another great activity for quiet time!
2.) Sticky Mosaics
OK guys, if you have a crafty-creator type child, you have to place your order for these Sticky Mosaics right. now. Every time our kids choose this for quiet time we jump up and down inside because we always get so much done – it keeps them engaged for a very long time while they create their mosaic masterpieces.
The final outcome of these Sticky Mosaics projects are pretty impressive, with hundreds of small tiles being used to fill-in large cut out designs. Kids can work on them independently thanks to an easy-to-read number legend, and easy-to-peel, thick foam mosaic stickers (some sets even include gems and jewels).
Each set comes with 4+ projects and they come in a variety of themes, including Unicorns, Pets and Dinosaurs. They even have Sticky Mosaic jewelry boxes!
Recommended age 5+
If you have a preschooler, try the “My First” Sticky Mosaics line which features larger pieces and no legend – kids simply need to match color and shapes. Great for working on fine motor control too!
3.) Ed Emberley’s Drawing Books
Ed Emberley’s drawing books are pure genius. Our kids love following his easy-to-follow instructions on how to draw anything from a lowly ant, to an elaborate monster – all by adding simple lines and shapes one at a time.
You’ll be blown away by the pictures your kids will draw after using these books, and they are so addicting (we may, ahem, have been caught “testing” them out after bed time a few times). We have tried almost all of Mr. Emberley’s books and recommend Ed Emberley’s Funprint Drawing Book as a great starting point as it ups the fun-factor by requiring a finger or thumb print for every drawing.
Recommended age 6+
4.) Usbourne Sticker Books
For some reason, all kids seem to be enamored by stickers, but we’ve found that most sticker books fall short on truly engaging them for large chunks of time. Not these, however, from Usbourne – who makes many of our favorite high-quality, gorgeous activity books for kids.
For older kids (recommended age 6+) the “Build Your Own” series are totally engrossing. Pick your child’s favorite thing-du jour (cars, trucks, planes, dinosaurs, robots, etc.) and you’ll find a book that lets you “construct” them with stickers – adding different parts and details to complete the picture.
Usbourne’s Mosaic Sticker Books include thousands of small stickers that can be added to scenes to create awesome mosaics…just think how long that will take, hurrah!
For the younger set (recommended age 4+), we love, love, love their Sticker Dressing series which takes the idea of paper dolls to a whole new level. Your kids can use the detailed stickers to dress up anyone from Knights to Pirates to Princesses.
If your kids enjoy these Sticker books, we also recommend the popular “Paint by Sticker” series where you can create stunning images. There’s a “Kids” line for 5-9+ year olds, and also plenty of choices for older tweens and teens too!
5.) Hape Quadrilla Marble Run
Next on our lovely list of quiet time wonders, is the Hape Quadrilla Marble Run sets. With solid wood construction and remarkable design and longevity, we go crazy over anything from Hape – and their Quadrilla line is no exception.
All offer great fun with spirals, drops and spins, and can be constructed in various layouts by following easy Lego-style instructions. Your child can also put their imagination to the test and create their own configurations.
We suggest adding on the Wooden Marble Run Catcher Trays so marbles don’t end up collecting dust under your furniture.
Recommended age 4+
6.) Cardboard Color-a-House
We have to admit, we almost didn’t put this next one on our list because we never really want our kids to do it without us! Just look at this adorable little hideaway! These Cardboard Color-a-House are super easy to assemble (but that part will likely require your help), and your kids can then color and doodle away for hours upon hours, decorating it to their hearts-content.
It doubles as a fun playhouse with interactive features like an open/close windows and door. Put this in their room and you may not see them until dinner time.
Recommended age 4 +
We’ve got some major Lego lovers in our brood, and they have tested more sets than we’d like to admit. But they are still the toy that gets them most excited while holding their attention for a crazy-long time. Once your child is old enough to follow the instructions and independently build, your house will be clean, meals will be prepped and closets will be organized. Yes, miracles do happen.
Some of our favorite sets are the Lego Creator 3-in-1s, which allow your child to build 3 totally different things out of the same pieces. That’s 3 times the quiet time!
We also give extra points to sets that have a high level of “playability” – that is, once they are built, they become something exciting and interactive to play with. Our top pick for playability has to be the LEGO City Passenger Train which comes with a motorized engine and 10-speed remote control, plus tracks, platform and mini figures to ride around.
Recommended age varies by set, but mostly 6-12
For kids who aren’t ready for the jump to “big kid” Legos quite yet, we highly recommend the Lego DUPLO Train. The battery operated engine and train car can be connected to move around the easy-to-build track and can be easily integrated with other Duplo Legos you already have.
Recommended age 2-5 (but we’ve witnessed many older siblings enjoying this set too!)
8.) Kinetic Sand
Kinetic Sand’s motto, “Squeezable sand you can’t put down”, couldn’t be more true. It moves like a thick liquid, but is dry to touch, creating a cool sensation that kids are fascinated by. It’s easy to mold, and there are plenty of different sets with various tools and molds to suit your kiddo’s liking.
We have found lasting joy with the Construction Playkit and pull double-duty with our Playdoh tools to add additional fun.
Recommended age 3+
WHAT MOMS LOVE TIP: Clean-up is pretty easy with this sand as the particles stay stuck together, but we still recommend putting a large sheet pan under their workspace to make tidying up foolproof.
9.) Snap Circuits
This toy may not look like much from the dated box cover, but it is one of the most brilliant hands-on learning/building toys we’ve found. The best set to start with is Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit which comes with over 30 pieces which can be snapped together on a plastic grid to create 100 different electronic projects like a flying saucer, police siren, and clap-controlled sounds. All the pieces are coded so it’s simple for a child to follow the instructions themselves.
Our kids love these so much, and are happy to spend time by themselves carefully crafting each creation – when it does “comes to life”, they are often so proud that they need to “interrupt” quiet time by showing it off…but not to worry, they’ll be running off shortly thereafter to make the next one!
This Jr. Set can also be added onto with additional upgrade kits (UC-30, UC-40, UC-60) with more parts and instructions to take their projects to the next level.
Recommended age 7+
10.) Think Fun Games
We are totally infatuated with ThinkFun. This company has the most engaging selection of 1-player logic games, it’s hard to pick our favorite! We’ll highlight a few that get the most play-time by our kids, starting with the Laser Maze (recommended age 8+), because really, what kids don’t think lasers are cool? Their task is to reflect the laser beam using moveable mirrors to hit their target. There are 60 cards of varying difficulty that kids can easily set-up to try and “beat”.
Another awesome ThinkFun game for this younger age group is Rush Hour Jr. (recommended age 5+), where the goal is to slide an Ice Cream Truck past blocking vehicles to the exit. With 40 challenge cards from beginner to expert, this one is great for teaching problem-solving skills, and can hold our kids’ attention for a good 30-minutes. And if they can’t figure one out on their own, the solution is on the back of the card…so they don’t have to come running to you for help. Woop woop.
And we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t mention Tipover (recommended age 8+). This one works in a similar manner where a challenge card is selected and the game board is set up accordingly. The objective here is to get your “guy” from the start to the finish by walking along crates and tipping them over to create a path. The tipping part is what really pulls the kids in – being able to knock something over without getting into trouble? Winner winner.
BONUS! We’ve got one more gem we just had to share:
11.) Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Wooden Blocks
To round out our list, we can’t forget the one toy we think every child should own: a well-made, solid set of blocks. We recommend the Melissa & Doug 60-piece Standard Unit Blocks which are smooth-sanded and come in a sturdy storage crate (which can be flipped upside down and used as a large block itself).
Kids can create anything their hearts desire with these blocks. We’ve seen them used to build zoos, army bases, princess palaces, cities, and race tracks. The options are only limited by your child’s imagination. Truly a fabulous toy, and one that is independently played with every day at our house.
Recommended age 3+
So there you have it, 11 toys that will give you some freedom back into your days, while enlightening your children and allowing everyone to take a break. I hope you’ve enjoyed this free report and find these suggestions useful because seriously you guys, these are life changing toys!