20+ Quiet Activities for Preschoolers (a must have list for parents)

Peace and quiet…something all parents can appreciate.

When you have a preschool-aged child running around, however, those moments are few and far between. Some kids are non-stop until bedtime.

While it’s tempting to sit them down to watch TV or a movie – and don’t get me wrong, that’s a good idea sometimes – it’s nice to find something a little more engaging for them to do.

So, as we usually do, we searched the depths of the internet and found over 20 great, and more importantly, quiet activities for preschoolers.

Check out the full list below!

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  See affiliate disclaimer at the bottom of the page.)

20+ Quiet Activities for Preschoolers

1) Put together a puzzle

I don’t know about you but I used to love puzzles when I was kid.  It’s such a quiet, peaceful activity.

It can definitely get frustrating at times (especially if you lose a piece) but when it’s all done, it’s so satisfying.

Puzzles not only make great quiet activities for your child to do alone, but they’re also a great activity to do together, especially if you’ve picked a more challenging puzzle.

Here are some puzzles that are appropriate for preschoolers.

2) Play with play dough

I know we’re only at #2 but already this is starting to feel like a list of activities that I want to do. 😀

Play dough is great because you can easily spent an hour playing with it and it usually doesn’t make a mess.

You can either buy it or make it yourself.

3) Build a sponge tower

This is a very simple activity for you to set up for your child – simply cut several sponges into strips, and allow him or her to have fun building towers with it.

(It almost looks like the game Jenga to me.)

There’s a lot of different configurations you make, and it’s sure to keep your preschooler quiet for a little while.:)

Source: Toddler Approved (go here for more instructions)

4) Enjoy coloring books together

This is a timeless activity that we still enjoy as adults, and in our opinion, one of the best quiet activities for preschoolers.

Grab a coloring book and some crayons and you can easily spend an hour or more sitting quietly while you color.

There are tons of coloring books out there – here are some of the best-selling ones.

And if you want to spend some time coloring with your little one, there are some great adult coloring books as well.

5) Learn upper and lower case letters with this alphabet “quilt”

This one takes a few minutes to set up, but the end result is a game that is both quiet and educational!

How to Set Up the Alphabet Quilt:

  1. Draw a grid on a 12″ x 18″ sheet of paper with a pencil and ruler (4 across and five down). Each square should be roughly 3″ x 3″.
  2. Use a ruler and pencil to draw a grid on each colored sheet of paper. These squares should also be about 3″ x 3″ each.
  3. Cut out the colored squares.
  4. On the large piece of paper, write uppercase letters on each square.
  5. On each of the colorful squares, write a lowercase letter that will correspond to an uppercase letter on the large paper.

From there, you can let your preschooler match up the letters!

Source: Mom Inspired Life (go here for more instructions)

6) Create a “threading station”

I loved this idea when I first saw it, so it definitely needs to be shared.

Basically, you cut up a bunch of straws, and add a bunch of pipe cleaners, and throw it all into a plastic storage container.

From here, your preschooler can spend time creating different configurations of the pipe cleaner within the straws.  It’s great for building fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and spatial awareness.

Source: Busy Toddler (go here for more instructions)

7) Play the ribbons-in-a-bottle fine motor skill game

This activity requires two things: a large bottle or jug (a washed out milk jug will work) and a bunch of cut up ribbons of various sizes.

The game is really simple –  put the ribbons into the bottle!

It’s a great quiet activity that allows toddlers to work on their fine motor skills.

Source: Hands on as We Grow (go here for more instructions)

8) Bring out the LEGOs

Playing with LEGOs was one of my all-time favorite activities as a kid. I remember it would keep me occupied for literally hours at a time.

I’m glad to see the popularity of LEGOs hasn’t gone away.

While a lot of LEGOs are probably too advanced for preschoolers, there are still plenty that our young kids can play with.

Here are a couple of my favorite:

Just make sure you don’t step on any LEGO pieces.  It’s not good for your preschooler to hear you scream “F*%K!”

9) Build a marshmallow tower

You have to be careful with this one, because your kids may be tempted to eat it.

All you need for this activity are jumbo sized marshmallows, straws, and scissors.

How to Build a Marshmallow Tower:

  1. Cut straws at varying lengths, making sure to hold the scissors at an angle so that the ends of your straw pieces are pointed.  Make sure to cut different sizes (some long, some short, and some medium).
  2. On a table or floor (or another stable surface) set up your straw pieces and marshmallows.
  3. Start building towers by connecting the marshmallows with the straws.  See how tall they can build it!
  4. When you’re finally done, don’t forget to enjoy a marshmallow treat.

Source: Kids Activities Blog (go here for more instructions)

10) Play heads up 7up

You might remember this classic quiet game from back when you were in school.  We sure do, and it’s been around a long time.

Here’s the basic way to play:

  • Select seven kids to stand in front of the room.
  • Tell everyone else to put their heads down (usually while sitting).
  • Each of the seven kids walks around the room and taps one kid.  Once touched, that kid puts his or her thumb up.
  • The seven go back to the front of the room and say, “heads up, 7up!”
  • Each of the kids who was touched (and now have their thumbs up) get one guess to see which of seven was the one who touched them.
  • If they guess it correctly, they get to change places with the person who touched them, and now get to be in front of the room for subsequent rounds of the games (until someone else switches with them).

We actually wrote a full post on how to play heads up 7up, which also contains variations of the game (including one if you don’t have as many kids to play with).

11) Create a popsicle stick photo puzzle

I know we already mentioned putting together a puzzle above, but this idea was so cool that we had to talk about it separately.

Basically, what you do is glue a photo to a series of popsicle sticks (about 16 sticks for a 4×6 photo).  Then, you cut apart the sticks so you’re left with individual fragments of the photo that can be used as a puzzle.

It’s a simple puzzle, but the fun part is that you can use whatever photo you like.

Source: Mom Endeavors (go here for more instructions)

12) Draw with chalk outdoors

While most of this list has focused on indoor activities, I thought we could take this one outside.

This activity is pretty simple: grab some pieces of chalk, find your favorite spot on the sidewalk, and begin drawing a masterpiece.

Such a soothing, quiet outdoor activity for a nice day. 🙂

13) Make a felt face

A felt face? What’s a felt face?

I thought it sounded weird at first too, but it’s exactly what it sounds like.  A face made out of felt.

Get some scissors and pieces of felt. Take a used cardboard box and cut out a circle (for the base of the face).

Start by gluing a big circular piece of felt to put over the cardboard circle you cut, to act as the face.

Cut out other pieces for the eyes, nose, mouth, hat, and whatever else you want!

Glue it all together, and you have yourself a felt face.

Source: Toddler Approved (go here for more instructions)

14) Read a book

This wouldn’t be a proper “quiet activities” list if it didn’t involve reading.

Grab your child’s favorite book and have him or her spend some time reading (or you reading to them if they haven’t begun doing some reading on their own yet).

15) Glue buttons on lines and curves

Here’s another fun arts & crafts type activity that allows your child to be creative while keeping relatively quiet.

Grab a piece of paper, a marker, glue, and a variety of buttons, and your kid will be ready to go.

Start by having him or her draw lines or shapes on the piece of paper.  Then, glue the buttons to the lines (so instead of having lines of marker ink, you have lines of colorful buttons).

If you don’t have buttons, you can use other things like string, cotton balls, or anything else that can be glued in the same manner.

You also don’t have to use glue if you want everything to be reusable.

This is a great activity for fine motor skills, learning how different shapes and sizes fit together, even how to organize objects by color (assuming you have different color buttons).

Source: Learning 4 Kids (go here for more instructions)

16) Play educational games on the computer / tablet

I know we’d all like to limit screen time, but it’s hard to avoid the magical device that can keep your preschooler occupied and quiet for extended periods of time.

There are SO many educational games and apps you can download today that I think I prefer this to watching TV (even if the TV show is educational).

Yes, it’s still “screen time,” but it’s interactive and educational.  I wouldn’t want my child on it for hours a day (she’ll do that as a teenager I’m sure), but I think it’s fine in 30 minute blocks.

Here’s a look at some of the best apps for preschoolers.

17) Go for a walk

There’s nothing quite like a quiet walk with your little one.  Explore nature, teach him or her about the different things that you see.

And hey, it’s a little bit of exercise for you too.

18) Pretend play

Use the open space of your child’s room, the basement, etc. for some good pretend play.

Depending on what you choose, you may need some props, but here are some ideas:

Good “pretend play” scenarios:

  • Grocery store
  • Pet shop (or zoo)
  • Doctor’s office
  • Camping
  • Restaurant
  • Vet clinic
  • Library
  • Sailboat (tip: use a laundry basket)


19) Sort your “treasures”

Give your child your old jewelry, keys, stones, etc. and let them play around with sorting this treasure into different boxes.

Kids love to explore “treasures” so this is an activity that will keep them busy for a little while. There are lots of different textures, sizes, and colors to experience.

20) Play with magnets

To some kids, there is nothing cooler than playing with magnets.

Whether it’s arranging them on a refrigerator or seeing what you can pick up with them, it can be a lot of fun.

If you don’t have a lot of magnets laying around the house, check these out.  (just watch out for the little ones…the last thing you want is your child swallowing a magnet!)

I also think this magnet science kit is pretty cool.

21) Play with bubbles

Does this even need an explanation? For whatever reason, bubbles are mesmerizing.

I could stare at, and pop, bubbles for hours on end if you let me. And trust me, I’m way too old for that.

Kids love it too, so this is one of the better examples of quiet activities for preschoolers.

22) Build a fort

This one can sometimes be loud if you have multiple kids building and playing in a fort.

But if it’s just you and your preschooler, building a fort can be a fun way for him or her to explore and do some pretend play on their own.

Forts can be built with whatever you have at home – pillows, couches, blankets, etc.  We love using our Nugget for this.

If you don’t have a Nugget (or haven’t been able to buy one because they always sell out), check out our post about Nugget alternatives.

That’s it! It’s quiet time now…

I hope you were able to find some quiet activities for preschoolers that you can use and enjoy.

Kids really love these types of activities and parents love…well…peace and quiet. 🙂

Are there any other great quiet activities for preschoolers that you’ve tried before? Please share them in the comments!

Here are 20+ quiet activities for preschoolers that your child will definitely enjoy. There are a few on this list that you'll like too. :)

Here are 20+ quiet activities for preschoolers that your child will definitely enjoy. There are a few on this list that you'll like too. :)

Here are 20+ quiet activities for preschoolers that your child will definitely enjoy. There are a few on this list that you'll like too. :)

About Eric and Tiffany Matthews

We're Eric and Tiffany, the parents behind Cynical Parent. We're just normal parents who are navigating parenthood with both eyes wide open (probably because there's a kid yelling nearby). And of course, we're pretty cynical. Don't believe everything you read or hear, whether it's on the internet, or from a close family or friend (or even from us!). Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Sometimes you just need to try and see for yourself. :)

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