As parents of young children, we have found it helpful to have a store cupboard of ideas that we can delve into when needed, that we know will be fun and have a relaxing effect on them.
Our children are often very tired after school, and we don’t have a problem with them watching some TV when they get home from school. Sometimes we do need to provide a good alternative activity, in order to try and limit screen time! When they haven’t quite got the reserves of energy to think of something for themselves, I might attempt to do one of these activities with them. I am not particularly creative myself, and so when I am home alone with the kids, I like to have some go-to activities up my sleeve! In reality, I have just purchased them after some internet searching, but hopefully I get some Parent Brownie Points for effort?!
I’ve put together a list of some favourites of ours including games, toys and activities that we have found helpful for our own children’s quiet-time. I’ve added links to Amazon to save you time if you like the look of them for your own children, or if you need a thoughtful present for a child’s birthday.
I would say they are all appropriate for young children, but some might need more adult intervention than others!
We have a couple of these and I can’t rate them highly enough as a relaxing activity for children! All you need is a little jar of water and away they go. The satisfaction level for the children is high, as the page is quickly filled with beautiful vibrant colour. Even a younger child will enjoy this, and can feel part of the gang alongside their older sibling. For an older child, they can carefully colour inside the lines, and take more pride, but the repetitive nature of dipping the paint brush in the water and “painting” is in itself quite meditive. A little hush comes over the room when our children are doing this.
Scratch and Sketch books are another beautifully simple, but effective, creative activity for children.
This one is a paperback set, cheaper than some and great for a taster. It comes with a fantastic booklet, photographed below, which gives ideas and instructions on how to create decorations, cards, and all kinds of art. I think it would be great for a large range of ages. I think any budding artist would find this inspiring. When the black cards run out, it shows you how to make your own using coloured crayons and paint, which is very clever and encourages children to make things for themselves instead of just asking for a new one!
The Scratch and Sparkle range come in a hardcover book with a spiral binding, complete with scratching stylus, and they feel like a quality children’s gift to give and receive! They are similar to the Scratch and Draw range, and come in a whole range of themes such as Mermaids, Robots, Space and Unicorns. They feel little more special and have extra appeal with the added shine and sparkle.
Scratch and Sparkle Spiro Art needs a slighter older child to manage the skilful swirling wheels with satisfaction, but younger children can manage fairly well with a little adult intervention. Any kind of Spirograph is wonderfully satisfying when it works (I think you need to be around 5/6 years for this), throwing in some sparkle makes it a bit different and the combination of the scratching technique makes it different again.
Since the wave of Adult Colouring books in 2016/7 and after reading the Huffington Post’s articles on the health benefits of colouring, I have come to think of colouring in as an important activity to help children practice quiet time.
Of course, no house with children would be complete without multiple colouring books and pens/ pencils. We know you know this already! When it works, colouring-in is a lovely, relaxing activity for kids, but sometimes it is just not interesting enough to captivate them. I have found that having “special” colouring books, special pens and notebooks, all have re-ignited the enjoyment of colouring and writing for our children.
We think these STABILO-Cappi Fibre Tip Felt Pens are genius with the link together loop! Once you have connected them up, you are never going to lose the lids again! This makes them really handy for car journeys and throwing into a child ‘s back pack, and they are good colours and nice pens to hold too! They don’t roll away which is an added bonus!
We have the smaller sets, but if I had realised there was a bigger set, we might have gone for the bigger set of 24 to have the wider choice of colours, especially as they are often reduced in price and not much more than the small set! Next time!
They come in a sturdy, cardboard wallet, making them nice to wrap as a gift for children. When you first take them out, you will need to thread all of the pens onto the plastic string and make sure that it connects into a loop. Then away you go! Whenever friends or family see these, the mum asks me where I got them from, and so I can guarantee that you will be pleased with these pens!
The ink always washes off the children’s hands easily, and wipes off the tabletop, and I haven’t had any stains on clothes that I can remember! The product claims that they use washable ink, and I think I would have noticed by now if the ink was difficult to get out!
The pens feel nice to hold, and being easy-grip pens they have a shape designed to make gripping more comfortable, and the bonus is that they don’t roll off the surface either.
We recently used ours at a family celebration; the children are all under 8 and so we often do a pass-the-parcel at family celebrations to help keep things fun. I bought the children some cheap notebooks as prizes, and they all sat down like gorgeous children and played schools with them, while the grownups carried on “finishing their lunch!” Happy to report, not a single pen was out of place at the end. Full Marks for this one! They also make a great socking filler for kids, all ages and either sex. Job done!
Simple Games for kids
As you might have noticed, I do put quite a lot of thought into what I choose to buy for our children. I love it if I feel like there is a dual purpose to toys. I was really pleased with this gorgeously bright and colourful version of the game I have always known as Jenga, but of course that is a Brand name, so you will find these under Lewo Wooden Stacking Toys.
With a colour dice, it adds another aspect to the game, as you have to remove the coloured brick determined by the dice roll. I knew our little boy would love this, as the pieces feel lovely to hold, and with the bright colours, they make alternative building blocks and dominoes! Sometimes we enjoy playing a game that we enjoyed ourselves as children, and these kind of games are enjoyable for adults too.
The game comes with a black bag to keep the bricks in, and I can honestly say that I think this will stay in our games cupboard for many years to come!
When I bought it, I of course imagined them playing the game itself, but they seem to enjoy building the tower, taking their time to do it neatly and precisely, just as much as they enjoy taking the bricks out during the actual game!
This is good for younger children to help with their co-ordination, concentration, and for our younger one; we have been told to practice any gripping activities as it can help him with pen grip now that he is learning to write. I recognise that this type of activity could be helpful for developing fine motor skills, as well as using some of the hand and arm muscles that are also used to achieve a good pen grip. They probably should be playing this at a table with fabulous sitting posture! But they ARE relaxing and that is the aim of this!!
Other activities that we use in this category are Kinetic Sand, Aqua Beads, Hama Beads and Puzzles. If you would like to hear more about them, please go ahead and ask and we can review them for you. And if you have any good ideas of your own to add to this list, we’d really love to hear from you, so please leave a comment for us below.
To hear about why we started looking for calming activities for children in the first place, head across to read After School Activities vs Relaxing After School.
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Following a conversation in the comments below, I have added a link to another lovely colouring gift, the Crayola Wonder Colour Books. Here is a link to the Spiderman Colouring Book!