5 Quiet Toddler Activities – Ideas for Independent Play

Would you like to sit by me?  I have an activity for you!

Magic words for my two year old daughter.

“Yesh Mama!  Tibity!”  She’ll say.

Quiet activities to do with toddlers

Five ideas for “Sit By Me” Toddler Activities

Todders are some of the most BUSY people. Many of our “must do” activities for the toddler years involve exploring, going, moving, but we’ve all got to sit (relatively) still sometimes too!

These are the kinds of things I’ll get out for my toddler when I’m trying to get something done with my other kids and we’re all sitting at the same table.  They are quiet, quick to grab, not TOO messy and don’t require lots of supervision. This post contains Amazon affiliate links which support the work of Creative With Kids at no extra cost to you.

5 Quiet Activities to Entertain Toddlers


Make marks on a piece of paper and show your toddler how to cover them with stickers.


5 Activities for Toddlers to do at the Table

Rip and Tear!

Give pieces of paper and a bucket and show your toddler how to rip off pieces and put them all in the bucket.  I cut mine into strips to make them more tempting to tear up. As I mention in this post about art with toddlers – destruction can be VERY satisfying to kids this age.

5 Quiet Toddler Activities at the Table

Contact Paper!

Now you’ve got a bucket of paper bits, contact paper is in order!  Tape down a piece of contact paper sticky side up.  Show your toddler how  paper pieces stick to the contact paper and let them take it from there.


5 Simple Toddler Activities


After a quick contact paper art piece we grabbed this collection of boxes for a mini treasure hunt.  Use any random assortment of Things That Open.  In the smallest bin or bag put something like cotton balls and a few “treasures.”  Put all of these containers together and let your toddler figure out how they open as they search for the treasure inside.  Once they get at it you can ask them to put it into the different boxes, hide it for you and so on.

It’s simple, but toddlers love to  tote around treasures – toddlerhood is the ‘Load and Tote Phase‘, and whether they are loading up boxes or bags, this game of hiding treasures is a favorite.

Mix it All Up

Once you’ve exhausted your supply of quiet toddler activities what can you do?  Mix it all up!  At the end of this play session (during which I was doing a writing lesson with her big brother) I re-taped the contact paper and asked her if the cotton balls would stick to it too.  Then I handed her a pen to see if she wanted to draw on her masterpiece.  This gave my older son and I long enough to finish up what we were doing before my toddler reclaimed my attention.

More Resources for things to do with toddlers when you’ve got to keep them busy:

Does your toddler have a favorite activity for independent play?  Let us know in the comments, we can all use more ideas!


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  1. says

    Great selection of activities – We’re big on playdough and stickers here. I buy sticker activity books in bulk (can’t really get stickers cheap otherwise here) and when I need to get anything done they come out.

  2. says

    Lovely ideas! We often use stickers in our creative activities together but hadn’t thought of the idea of covering marks and putting in specific spots – will definitely try that. I will need these more and more when my new baby arrives in March!

  3. says

    My kiddo has recently discovered scissors. So I save old magazines and scrap paper and let her go at it.

  4. Chrissy says

    Great ideas thank you :) !!! When I need to do something in the kitchen, I fill the bowl with water and washing up liquid to make bubbles and let my toddler drive his cars through/under the bubbles. I usually tip the water away – it’s great fun but things don’t get too wet! It’s now one of his favourite things to play and my 6yr old also gets involved!!

    • says

      You’re very welcome. She used to like to put stickers on a paper and then rip them off again – another simple activity. The foam ones work well for that :)

  5. says

    Love the idea for contact paper with the torn construction paper. Going to do that right now after I pin this!

  6. says

    Awesome ideas with the stickers and ripped paper!! Will be doing with my 16 month old tomorrow while the older kids do their schoolwork! Thanks =)

  7. says

    Love your activities!!! If you can place the paper for stickers and the contact paper on a slanted surface the slant will help those little fingers develop a good tripod grip. That’s why desks in 1900 were slanted! Try turning a closed 4″ notebook placing rings at top and making a slanted surface! Continue the great suggestions!

  8. says

    It’s hard to get quiet time with toddlers around..love the activities..will def try some with my daughter..new to you blog and um in love with it:)

  9. Galina says

    I am yet to find an activity that will truly get the interest of my 19-month-old son, that is besides trying to destroy everything his almost 5-year-old sister does. Boxing sounds like a very good idea and not tested yet. Who knows we might be successful too:) When I need some quiet time sometimes a box of wipes can be very entertaining:)

  10. Shweta says

    These activities sound like real fun. My daughter is 17 months and she puts anything in her mouth that she can lay her hands on. It will be interesting to see what she does if I put pieces of paper and cotton balls in front of her.


  11. says

    I’ve discovered that anything that feels like a version of what I’m doing is a huge, huge hit. So, if I’m working with polyclay, he gets the PlayDoh. If I’m painting, he needs to get to do that too. I also keep some activities in reserve to be used only when I need that “quiet” play. Anything that makes him feel like we are doing something special makes him feel like we are working together, and that’s always a hit. :)

  12. Robin says

    I have a flat bin (like the kind used for sweaters under the bed) halfway full with rice. I have a few dollar store sets of dinosaurs, animals, etc as well as cups, spoons, sifters, cheap around the house stuff. Lay down a vinyl tablecloth, we use a really old holiday one, set the rice box down and open the lid. I keep the sets in big baggies so I rotate them in and out. I know not all kids can resist throwing the rice, but most of them last for quite a while with the texture and “treasures” before it gets out of hand.

    • says

      Brilliant! I love those big flat bins for containing sensory play like that. Your idea about the various bagged sensory sets is great, thank you!

  13. Jeanette Burgess says

    I remember my youngest sitting at the table with me when he was about 3-4 years and I was trying to study. He’d open one of my textbooks and copy the words out on paper, complete with the printed ‘g’ shape, saying that he was doing his homework. Great memories now he’s all grown up.

    • says

      Aww, my 3 year old is into pretend writing right now. She talks to herself as she writes little unreadable notes and I recognize her copying my own tendency to mutter a little as I write :)

  14. says

    What a great post. As a blogger, student, and stay-at-home mom, this is something I struggle with. I need to work and get stuff done, but my child needs my attention. Definitely doing ALL of these! (PS. I’m sharing on Facebook and pinning this post!)

  15. Joann Sheeler says

    I provide childcare in my home. One of my moms is expecting and planning to nurse. This would make an awesome “baby” gift for use when she’s feeding the baby. Thanks for all the ideas in one place.

  16. Melissa says

    I know that this would be a choking hazard with some kids but my little one loves playing with coins and a piggy bank. She fills and dumps over and over again. She loves the different coins and it feels special to her because she gets to play with money.

  17. Sunni says

    I put things in a bunch of plastic Easter eggs and let my toddler open them up. Sometimes I put in snacks (Teddy grahams, Goldfish, etc.) or sometimes I put in cars, stickers, pieces of Play Doh, wood blocks, cotton balls, magnets. Nothing she can choke on, of course. If I put in stickers, then I give her paper for the stickers. If I put in magnets, I give her a cookie sheet to put the magnets on. It’s a little bit of prep the night before but it keeps her occupied!

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