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quiet boxes | Atomic Bee Ranch

Tag Archives: Quiet Boxes

Quiet Boxes: September 2

I actually only put out one new quiet box this time around. I kept the magnetic builder (which you can see in the last post) both because Cam didn’t spend much time playing with the quiet boxes over the last two weeks and because when she did, she played with this.

We have:

2015-09-17 18.56.08Halloween stickers and paper. We found the stickers in the dollar bins at Target and Cam has been all about making pictures lately so I thought it would be another good opportunity. 

Quiet Boxes: September 1

For the next two weeks I have two new quiet boxes set up. Cam is officially transitioning out of her nap. Thankfully she is willing to have quiet time every day and I get a couple hours to do things mostly Cam-free. More often than not she wants to continue doing what she was doing after lunch, but as the two hour mark nears she gets fatigued and needs some guidance. The quiet boxes are a quick go-to that she knows about and I can remind her of. 

We have:

2015-09-01 15.42.34Mega Magnet Fun: Cam has been into tangrams for ages and this was an extension of it. I like that it adds in the extra dimension building the shapes up even though they are still flat pieces. They appear to sell a slightly different version (no color pieces) on Amazon which you can see here

2015-09-01 15.43.13Popsicle Stick Puzzles: I had these foam popsicle sticks and found some puzzles. I’ve had them out for a long time, but I just don’t think Cam was seeing them. The activity is pretty tricky- she has to look at the picture and copy it with her own sticks- but she’ll 

I don’t think this is the place I downloaded them from, but you can get a set of cards here. You’ll have to provide your email address to get the download link. I’m sorry I can’t find where I got them from. 


Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 10

Just two more this week. We have…

2015-08-16 12.07.18Stencils. These are old Tupperware stencils. Stencils are excellent for developing finger control and pencil grip. They’re nice because they’re rigid plastic which makes them easier than some flimsy plastic and paper stencils we have. Cam can press fairly hard against the edge and the pencil doesn’t jump out, tear the edge, or deform it. I’ve seen these in thrift shops so you could keep your eye out or eBay has them inexpensively and readily available.

2015-08-16 12.07.00Blocks and animals. I found some little Jenga-style blocks at the dollar store. I’m not sure how she’ll combine them. She did pull this bin out right away, but she was trying to build something tall and it wasn’t working so she was really frustrated. I was prepping for her birthday party and didn’t have time to step in an help her so I don’t know how successful this one will be in the end. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 9

I moved the quiet boxes into Cam’s room this week since I usually have her do quiet time in there. In theory she could have brought them into her room when she wanted to do them, but more often than not she just wants to read and play with her stuffed animals. Moving them in there, though, meant I had to pare down to two. They’re both essentially repeats from last week.

2015-08-12 09.24.28Magic Mosaic. This one is still out. I’ll see if she wants to play with it again. If not back in the closet it goes on Sunday. 

Sewing buttons. Last week she simply had the burlap sewing on an embroidery hoop. This week I added some buttons and intend to show her how to attach them if she’s interested. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 8

I have to say these are not as popular in our house as they appear to be in other houses. It doesn’t really matter to me though. My intention in creating and setting them out is not to have an activity Cam will surely do, but to have something in reserve for those days she needs some direction or need to have a quiet activity instead of a nap. 

This week we have only two:

2015-08-04 07.28.24Magic Mosaic. This is still available on Amazon (now called Mosaic Mysteries) where it’s kind of pricey, but we found it in the thrift shop as did my mom. Keep your eyes out or go for pattern blocks. It comes with a booklet of designs, but Cam just likes to put the pieces in willy-nilly. She was really excited about this one and has already played with it. I will say it’s hard to get the pieces in once the frame gets about half full, but it’s also a toy that can grow with her. 

2015-08-04 07.28.30Burlap sewing. Yes, again. And again and again. I’ve been working on a lot of sewing projects and Cam really wants to sew too. She’s at that point where she wants to make what I’m making, but has no skills. She needs to practice, but the practice feels tedious and like it isn’t working toward a goal. I don’t know what to do about that, but keep putting out the practice boxes. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 7

I went simple again this week (read: lazy).

Quiet Boxes Week 7

This week we have…

Box 1: Pattern Blocks. Sometimes Cam goes for these, sometimes not. She is actually more fond of tangrams, but I like the variety. I wish she would do designs with them and I go back and forth on wanting to give her a book or pictures with pattern block designs. I can’t decide if that would be too suggestive or just right. 

Box 2: Owl crafts. I don’t usually do crafts with Cam like this, but we got them at our school’s 50th anniversary celebration. Cam loves owls so I thought they might draw her in. 

Box 3: Pencil sharpening. I sharpened her colored pencils last week and she was enthralled. Who knew that would be interesting to her? I thought I’d let her have a try with it. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 6

I am back from my two weeks of teaching summer school! It was tough for our family to have me out five days a week, but we made it and are happy to be getting back into the swing of things. And because we are getting back into the swing of things I went minimal (read: lazy) on the quiet boxes this week. I did not change them out the last two weeks because Cam just wasn’t home so even though I’ve left out some of the same activities they still feel fresh to her.

This week we have:

Poch-Poch. Cam has a difficult time with this one, so it isn’t a bad thing that she keeps playing with it and practicing those fine motor skills and hand strength.

Pattern blocks. I think I need to include a sheet of felt or something with these so she can lay them on a flat blank surface (as opposed to our striped carpet). These are a lot of fun to draw attention to and play with patterns. Pair them with some pattern books for an added literacy piece.

Geo board. This is always a hit when she gets it out. Cam loves to make shapes and tell us what they’re called. 

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 5

Again I only changed out two boxes this week and since one of the new activities went on a tray I kept three from last week. 

This week we have:

Quiet Boxes Week 5

Box 1: Collage books. Kept this one from last week. Cam made a little book and was super excited about it. 

Box 2: Cards and cups. To build structures with. Also from last week

Box 3: Geo board. Rubber bands and a geo board. I wish we had a light table because our board is clear plastic. 

Box 4: Buttons and pipe cleaners. For practice threading and to make necklaces and bracelets. Always a popular activity. 

Tray 1: Poch-Poch. I found this set in a thrift shop. You make pictures with shapes then nail the tiniest nails you’ve ever seen into the cork board to hold them in place. Excellent fine motor practice. The set is available on Amazon under the name Geo Shape Tack. 

 A heads up, I am teaching two summer school classes (Makerspace and sewing) over the next two weeks so I probably won’t be posting much. Cam won’t be home much and I may not have lots of extra time.  

Summer of Mess: Quiet Boxes Week 4

This week I swapped out two of our quiet boxes. 

This week we have:

Quiet Boxes Week 4

Box 1: Mixed puzzles. Cam has been off puzzles for awhile, at least at our house. She didn’t really engage with this one last week so I thought I would leave it out a little longer. 

Box 2: Peg Board. She loves to make shapes with the rubber bands then proudly show them to us. 

Box 3: Tiny Books. I took 2-3 index cards and stapled them in the middle, then folded them in half making tiny books. I also put in stickers, markers, and colorful paper (from the collage box). I made a sample book that shows the story of the Hungry Caterpillar, but we’ll see what she does with all this. 

Box 4: Cups and Playing Cards. These must be tiny plastic shot glasses, which makes me laugh. You can stack the cups and cards to make buildings and houses. I saw this on Pinterest and since Cam likes to build I thought we would give it a try. 

New Baby Busy Bags

We’re going to take a break from the Summer of Mess today. Last week got busy and we didn’t get around to our messy play on Thursday. 

One of my best friends has a two-year-old daughter and is expecting her second baby in about a month. While one of the best things you can give new parents are frozen meals, I also decided to give them something that would help their toddler. It’s got to be hard to no longer have the undivided attention of your parents as well as deal with the stress of a newborn in the house. To both keep her entertained and give her something shiny and new I decided to put together a huge basket of busy bags and quiet boxes for her. And since I’ve been sharing our quiet boxes here I thought I would type up a list of the boxes and bags I created for a 27 month old. Some are more challenging than others, but I figured they would serve well over the coming months. 

  1. Large lacing beads
  2. Popsicle stick puzzles: I printed off three pictures and glued them to large popsicle sticks, then cut them apart.
  3. Farm play set: glass jewels, blocks, farm animals
  4. Collage bag: stickers, paper, colored pencils
  5. Jungle play set: play-doh, jewels, animal figures, colored matchsticks
  6. Color matching: I created a paper with columns. Each column had a colored square at the top. Then I laminated strips of colors that can be set in each column. I used animal pictures, but you could use strips of paint chips.
  7. Fabric squares: This is kind of like a puzzle. See a tutorial here. I made a much simpler version with fabric scraps I had on hand.
  8. Shape matching puzzle: I outlined some foam shapes on a card for matching. Included a Cookie Monster shape book.
  9. Nuts and bolts: nuts and bolts to put together and a copy of Anne Rockwell’s The Toolbox
  10. I Spy jar: I filled a jar with rice and a bunch of objects. By turning the jar she can find the different things hidden inside. There is also an I Spy easy reader.
  11. Toy cars
  12. Chalkboard and chalk
  13. Sticker farm scene
  14. Pattern blocks: This was a set I found at the thrift shop. It had both foam pattern blocks and cards with pictures to make. 
  15. Cups and index cards: For making card houses.
  16. Links and bracelets
  17. Doll with bedtime set: I bought a tiny fairy doll and made her a mattress, pillow and blanket. I also put Joanne Cole’s I’m a Big Sister book in there. 
  18. Left or Right?: This is a book that studies left and right with just photographs a la Tana Hoban. I also printed off a beautiful left and right side butterfly matching game which you can find here
  19. Tweezing: foam cubes, plastic cups, tweezers
  20. Bear dress up: This is one of those wooden sets where you match up the head, top and bottoms.
  21. Marble runs: wooden blocks, large bouncy balls, tp tubes cut in half to make channels
  22. Frog world: based on our water play from the other day
  23. Lacing cards: I printed off these, laminated them and then punched large holes for a shoelace to thread through. 

The dollar store is a treasure trove if you think outside the box. Stroll through their aisles and look for loose pieces, fun games, etc. For about $50 I was able to pull the vast majority of these together and buy bags and containers for them all. The two exceptions are the lacing beads and the dress-up bear. Those are Melissa & Doug and I bought them online.