So I love “quiet boxes” (and “quiet time” however rare it may be sometimes!) and here is one of my favorite quiet box activities because it’s cheap, easy, and hours of fun: an indoor sand bin!
This is just an old (and I mean ancient, I’ve had this thing since high school!) under-the-bed storage bin filled about halfway with play sand that I got from Lowes for about three bucks. I put in some wooden blocks and a bunch of matchbox cars (Kai’s newest obsession) and with almost zero effort, I have bought myself literally hours of quiet time! This is such a great calming activity that fosters a gigantic amount of independence, imaginative and sensory play, spatial and cognitive awareness, and builds fine motor skills to boot. Kai will use this first thing in the morning and before bed or rest time, and it is rather soothing…especially when I add a little distilled lavender oil. It also gives him a sense of ownership and responsibility because he is able to take the cover on and off, spray the sand with some water if it is “too dusty,” and can use his mini broom and dustpan to clean up after himself. (Though a sheet under the whole thing really catches most of the sand that might try to escape.)
It sounds so simple because it really is, but I just had to share it because it has been such an absolutely amazing addition into our day. This is literally his favorite thing, and we didn’t need to spend a bunch of money on a special sand table or sensory bin. Even though we love water play (and have another old bin for that), he really gravitates towards this because he loves making up scenarios for the cars (mostly they get stuck and need a tow), building ramps, and just digging itself can be so calming, even more so than water play for some kiddos. I love it because I get some of that much needed “quiet mom time” to take a little break, and I absolutely adore listening to him talk to his cars and make up little stories about what’s going on in the sand. It’s also been interesting to hear what other things might come up, like a friends name that he hasn’t seen in awhile may be driving one car, or he might start having a conversation with himself about what he wants to do or really, just chatting about whatever is on his mind outside of the cars getting towed, and that information is invaluable to me as a parent. This is a super win-win, hands down!