A quiet time activity jar, or boredom jar, filled with screen-free activity ideas designed to keep kids quiet and calm is one of the most useful tools parents can have.
What Is an Activity Jar?
An activity jar is a container filled with activity ideas written on slips of paper or craft sticks. When quiet time is needed and you want to limit screen-time, a child pulls an activity idea from the jar.
Why Use an Activity Jar?
There are many reasons why a parent might want to have quiet time jar. It comes in handy when parents need an older sibling to be quiet during a younger sibling's nap, when a caregiver needs to make an important phone cal, or just before bedtime when children might have trouble settling down.
One of the benefits of having a quiet time activity jar is that no one has to pull an activity idea out of thin air. There is no thinking involved! This is particularly good for tired parents, and for kids who are whining, "I'm bored!"
In addition, the quiet time jar offers an alternative to turning on a TV show, a game on the iPad, or a quick video in order to keep kids quiet. The activities in the jar build brain power, boost kids' creativity and help teach them that the answer to boredom is not to go straight to a screen.
How to Make the Quiet Time Jar
Making and maintaining a quiet time activities jar is easy, especially with our free printable list of activities!
Jar or other container. We upcycled a cardboard salt container.
Slips of paper or craft sticks
Optional: decorative paper
Optional: our printable list of activities (fill out the form below to get it)
If your child enjoys arts and craft activities, they can decorate the jar. This has the added advantage of giving them a sense of ownership over the jar and activities.
Write one activity idea on each craft stick or slip of paper.
Place all the activity ideas in the jar.
Use as needed!
You know your child best, so choose activities that you know will appeal to them. This is a great time to brainstorm with them about their favorite screen-free ways to keep occupied at home. Get ideas from our printable, or look through our giant list of Indoor Activities for Kids. Adding ideas to the jar can be an ongoing endeavor.
Screen-Free Activity Ideas for a Quiet Time Jar
Here are a few ideas to get you started. You may need to adjust the activities to suit your child's age. Additional quiet time activities are on the printable, as well as blank slots to create your own.
- Look at, or read, books and magazines
- Draw or fill in a coloring book
- Put together a puzzle
- Listen to an audiobook (with headphones)
- Make a collage
- Play with toy cars on a homemade road
- Pattern play with felt shapes
- Cutting practice
- Stringing beads
- Calming sensory jar like a sink or float jar or ocean in a bottle
- DIY Dot to Dot
- Sorting playing cards; more sorting activities here
- Matching memory game
- 10 quick and easy activity ideas for 2-4 year olds (free printable list)
- 10 Screen-free boredom busters for 5-10 year olds (free printable list)
- Quiet activities for family read aloud time