Fostering Independent Play with Activity Boxes


activity boxes for kidsAfter what seemed like weeks of constant rain I noticed that my children were becoming restless. They got bored easily, couldn’t maintain focus on a task for very long and were generally more grumpy. You see, we’d been watching a lot of television and their little bodies and brains were simultaneously under and over stimulated. They were getting way too much audio and visual input when they need more healthy brain stimulation like creative play, reading, physical activity, etc…

Like most Americans my kids watch too much TV. To be honest it’s an easy way to keep them distracted while I attempt to get stuff done. Now we love watching a good movie or our favorite shows but when the television became my go-to-entertainment for the kids I knew I needed to switch things up.

I decided to turn OFF the TV.
At first it was difficult. They wanted to watch their shows. They didn’t know what to do. They needed my constant direction.
It was rough the first few days but then I had an idea.

I pulled out our collection of puzzles from the closet and like moths to a flame they devoted their entire attention to this “new” activity. It was then that I realized they just needed new activities to explore. Their little brains needed to be activated. That didn’t mean I had to take them new places or buy them new toys, it was as simple pulling some old toys out of storage.

I then started to create activity boxes.

What is an Activity Box?
An Activity Box is a box/bin filled with similarly themed toys/projects/games that are stored away and brought out for special use or play.

Here are a few examples of our activity boxes.

LEAPFROG TAG READER AND BOOKSLeapFrog LeapReader Reading and Writing System

leapfrog activity box

VTECH TRAINS – VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels – Train Station Playset



PUZZLESMelissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden USA Map Puzzle


MEGA BLOKSMega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag


LEGOSLEGO Bricks & More Builders of Tomorrow


WOODEN TRAINSBrio Classic Train Set


I’m still working on assembling activity boxes that all 3 boys can enjoy. Maybe Lincoln Logs, Gears! Gears! Gears!, cars, action figures, coloring books, etc…

The idea is to group together sets of toys that will hold your child’s interest and then set them aside to specific play. We still have a selection of toys out that are played with on an everyday basis but separating out specific toys for independent play gives them a special purpose which make kids love playing with them (not to mention much easier to clean up).

I will also bring out games like the Let’s Go Fishin’
game. Although the younger 2 still require a bit of assistance when it comes to playing games.

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 1.53.42 PM

The addition of Activity Boxes has greatly reduced our screen time, meltdowns, and need for constant direction from mom. They have also increased the length of independent play, attention span, ability to sit still for longer periods of time and overall creativity.

What would you put in your kids’ activity boxes?


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