I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Discovery Quiet Time

Quite a while ago, I began one of my favorite summertime traditions: Discovery Quiet Time. As has been said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." One afternoon it became quite obvious that my kiddos, who were too old for naps, needed a bit of quiet alone time. And really, doesn't everyone? I am a natural extrovert, but even I need a little piece of solitude each day to refresh. Regroup. Renew!

How much more do my children, who are just learning proper social skills and who spend nearly every waking minute together in a very small house, need a bit of alone time?!

A Basket full of purposeful activities for non-nappers during nap-time #homeschool @UnlikelyHS

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

And so, our daily Discovery Quiet Time was born. I filled a basket with all kinds of "discovery" type books, magazines, and learning games. And then, laid down the quiet time rules.

  1. Pick two items from the basket. 
  2. Find a relaxing spot somewhere in the house. You can not be in the same room as anyone else. 
  3. Sit quietly with your two items for the allotted time. 
  4. No talking.
Although these rules might seem rather rigid, there is a lot of freedom in these simple restrictions.

Discovery Quiet Time Book

The first time I introduced our Discovery Quiet Time, the kids were a little skeptical. The thought of being by themselves and being quiet for any length of time seemed like drudgery. But, at the end of ten minutes, I announced that they could put their books/games back into the Discovery basket and I heard, "Can I have a few more minutes?" coming from several different rooms.

My oldest two kiddos, especially, love this time of day when they can pull out a few activities with smaller parts and pieces and know that little hands won't sneak in and scatter/destroy their creative efforts.

When we first began this daily habit, I set a timer for 10 minutes. But each day, I was able to extend the time a bit longer. Some days find my littles enjoying over a half hour of solitude. As I had hoped, they pack their discovery items away and return to group activities with a renewed appreciation for one another.

As an added benefit, my children can explore several new topics of interest that we would not otherwise have the time to study. I try to replace the basket items every week or so, giving the kids enough time to peruse through each and every item or focus on one or two at length. Although I place a few of our own books and activities in the basket, most come from the library and are purposefully selected to expand upon a current topic of interest or introduce a new one. (We just acquired a pet fish, so learning about aquatic life and sea animals has been a huge area of intrigue.) They may pick any two items but usually gravitate to the same two choices each day.

My two middle sons cannot read yet, but a thoughtful selection of beautifully illustrated books can captivate even non-readers. Currently, you'll find a few books on the inner workings of the body, The Action Bible, a field guide and a small collection of rocks, a few books on fish and fish habitats, a box of dominoes, Big Backyard Magazines, magnetic balls/links, and Eyewitness-type books about trucks and trains.

Discovery Quiet Time Magnets

In addition to great non-fiction books, other worthwhile items for our Discovery Quiet Time include:

• pictorial flashcards of presidents, states/capitals, and global landmarks
• Sunday school verse packs
• puzzles
• decks of cards
• maps
• field guides
• magnifying glass or other scientific instruments
• biographies
• activity pads
• how to draw-type books with art paper and pencils
• letter writing materials
• handwork/all-inclusive craft kits

This daily routine has proven especially helpful during the summer months when our days are filled with lots of physical activity, outdoor adventures, and a more relaxed schedule. It provides a mid-day retreat for both the kids...and THE MOMMA!

For more information on establishing a quiet time in your home, be sure to visit:
Habits for a Happy Home-excellent series on quiet time for all ages
Toddler Approved-great ideas for transitioning out of nap time and into quiet time

For a few activity ideas to get you started, check out:
Handwork Ideas for Busy Boys
Busy Kids=Happy Mom
Learn With Play @Home
The Iowa Farmer's Wife


  1. This is really useful. We have a reading time after lunch but need to extend this to include our early reader and also the preschooler. Love the ideas which can be used for non-readers.

  2. This is a terrific idea!!! I have a nap time for my youngest, but the other three do need some quiet time as well. Awesome idea. Going to fill a basket today with stuff for this afternoon - after our grocery shopping trip. :)

    1. You'll have to let me know how it goes and what you decide to put in you basket.

    2. I found a basket to fill and when I opened it there were all these old pen pal letters from when I was a kid. So, that entertained the kids for awhile. Then I realized that the fabric in this basket needed to be thrown away - very dirty - so I closed the basket and decided not to use it right now. I ended up pulling out the science human body books that I store under the couch. The kids haven't looked at them in awhile, so that was a good quiet time activity. Maybe someday soon I'll get a cute basket full of fun things. If not...there are more books under the couch. ;)

    3. I found a cute basket at a garage sale today that I plan on filling with very fun, educational stuff...soon. Baby steps. ;)
      I'm excited for you with the whole top 25 homeschool mom blogs - SO close! I'm voting for you!

    4. Thanks. I'm sending votes your way, too.

    5. Thanks. :) By the way, I filled the basket! Yippee!

  3. This is great! When my oldest stopped taking naps we did quite time for awhile. (I was never this organized about it though). Now that he's older, in the summers we have reading time in the afternoons where he'll go find a quiet spot in the house to read. This is great! Will have to implement it this way when the babes stops napping (which hopefully won't be for a VERY long time!)

  4. We have gone from naps to quiet time here. We do an hour every day. I wouldn't survive without it.

  5. I have a basket just like this at home filled with all sorts of similar things. My almost 4 year old LOVEs it. Especially since it is filled with things he doesnt ahve to share with his brother!

    1. It sounds like it is as much of a hit at your house as it is here!

  6. I love your title - Discovery Quiet Time! Wonderful, wonderful habit for all ages. We're still having quiet time from age (almost) 15 down to 4. Great post! And I so appreciate the link to my series.

    1. Glad to include you, Tricia! Your series was so well-written and clearly states the "heart" behind a quiet time.

  7. I'm definitely going to miss naptime someday. It's so nice right now with an 8 month old who still naps about 6 hours throughout the day! These are some great ideas to file away for when she's older :)

    It looks like you've got a lot of great ideas for kids on your site! I'm hosting a Summer Sensory Fun Link Party today through next week, and would absolutely love it if you would link up a post! I hope you'll swing by and visit--it would be great to have you!

    ♥ Bethany


  8. What a great idea!! Love all the cool things in your basket!! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! have a GREAT weekend,
    Beth =-)

  9. I love this! I've been working on "imagination time" (snazzier way to say alone time) with my oldest for awhile now...it's a work in progress (for proof http://sugarsnips.com/?p=484). I definitely think I'll plan ahead this weekend and make a basket like this!

  10. What a really great idea. We are moving house soon but I think I will get this established when we move as my children's quiet time seems to be tv or computers - which is not good for them. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hope it works for you and good luck with the move.

  11. Thank you for this idea. We implemented it before the summer and hope to use it again now we are about to start school again. I've written about our version.


  12. Thanks for the ideas. We do Quiet Time, started out of a need to regroup when I had an infant nursing and 3 older kids. In the heat of our NC summers, after lunch its even too hot for the pool! So mid-afternoon is our down time. I had not selected items before, but instead allowed them to choose books or quiet toys from their rooms. No electronics/ TV etc. I like the basket better as it adds some excitement to the boring there is nothing to do in my room complaints. I assume you do not allow the kids to play with basket items any other time, so it feels new to them when you expect them to go to the basket?
    I have an insane age-range 5,8,&15+ so I am considering more than one basket. My son (15) is not going to be interested in the items I would select for my 5 year old daughter but I can assure you she'd be picking things I selected with him in mind.lol So avoiding that drama with 2 baskets or individual baskets might cure that. Thanks for the great ideas of what to put in said baskets.