Quiet Bins --> Quiet Buckets

On a whim one day some months ago, I bought this book.  I keep it next to my blue rocking chair where I feed babies and browse through it for ideas when I have a quiet moment.

(Yes, all of these ideas can be found for free online, but I don't like to be on the computer all of the time.  Sometimes a print format is such a blessing.)

Since our newest 4 have arrived, I've felt a strong need for some quiet, independent-but-somewhat-directed play for all of the preschoolers/toddlers.  Quiet bins are perfect for this, but I didn't want to go out and buy a bunch of bins--not even cheaply at the dollar store.  I feel that we have so much stuff around our house already . . . what to do?  What do do?

On the other hand we've begun to buy birthday ice cream in big plastic buckets; 1.5 quart bricks aren't big enough for our growing family.  We have a lot of birthdays each year, and the buckets have begun to stack up . . . what to do?  What to do?

This week I finally put 2 and 2 together!

We now have really cool quiet bins stored in plastic ice cream buckets.   I station the kids around the dining room table, hand each kid a bin, and they can play quietly and independently for 15-20 minutes.  Then we rotate bins around the table, and we've got another 15-20 minutes of quiet, independent play.  Right now I have 5 activities (lots of our buckets ended up outside for water play this summer), and that gives us the potential of 100 minutes of quiet play.  We don't often reach 100 minutes--that's a lot to ask of any toddler--but we have enough really focused minutes to help us all breathe easier each day.

Pom poms, tweezers, and plastic cups are in one bucket.  I am amazed at how many ways the kids can find to play with these . . . from the 2-year old all the way up to the 8-year old!
I threw our lacing beads into another bucket.  They'd gone unplayed with for months.  Now that they're in a bucket, they're a hot commodity!  In the background you can see our counting toys (purchased 2 years ago for $1 at a second-hand sale) that have taken on a new life since being placed in a bucket.
 And we have another bucket in the freezer . . . and 4 December birthdays . . . so I anticipate having a pretty cool collection of quiet bins in the coming months.


  1. I need to do something like this! The three children I have started babysitting simply do not know how to play quietly. The biggest challenge is for an hour in the morning when I am reading aloud our school work. This idea may work for them.


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