Big M took a nap the day after we got home from visiting the in-laws for Christmas for the first time in literally months! It was a reminder to me that her napping days are essentially over. And if I plan to get any work done (and let Lil’ M continue her daily 2-hour nap), I need to brainstorm ideas to keep her quietly entertained. She is great at independent play, so long as I keep it spiced up with a constant rotation of fun that does not require parental assistance… She wants to ‘do it herself!’ Enter, the quiet time busy box.
Quiet Busy Box #1: Build A Snowman
I plan to come up with as many of these as I can this year, and share them with you as I do! My first brainstorm – build a snowman. Last year, our felt indoor snowman on the easel was a huge hit, but there’s no empty wall space to hang felt in her room. She’s as obsessed with snowmen as ever, like every other child in America thanks to Frozen. I had been kicking around ideas using golf tees since my golf bag is full of them, and it has sat essentially untouched in the garage since before Big M was born… a few Pinterest uses incorporated golf tees with Styrofoam, and I realized I could use Styrofoam balls stuck together with golf tees to build a snowman!
Styrofoam balls of various sizes
Felt (black, red, white)
Buttons (two sizes, large and small)
Other adornments :plastic jewels, snowflake sequins, googly eyes
Toilet paper roll
Cost: Less than $10 (Styrofoam is expensive! $10 will buy enough for one large, or two small snowmen)
Prep Time: 1 hour
Clean-Up Time: Less than 5 minutes
The most expensive part of this whole box is the Styrofoam balls, by far – the bigger ones are $5+ each, but she will be able to use them again and again. I found them in all different sizes at Hobby Lobby. I had originally planned to use the golf tees to attach everything – but I’m clearly a golf cheat and use the extra long tees, so I had to rethink that plan. I did use the golf tees to stack the balls – I inserted them into each ball by about 1-2″ with hot glue and then filled the opening to make sure they weren’t going to come out.
Since the golf tees were too long, I decided to use round toothpicks, cut in half, to attach the adornments to the snowman. I attached half toothpicks to the buttons, googly eyes, and jewels with hot glue. Note to self: hot glue will damage your fresh manicure, the first one I’ve had in over 6 months!
Guru Tip: Allow hot glue to dry, firming slightly before adding toothpick. This will help it stay straight, and hold firmer until fully cooled.
Next, I used the felt and half a toilet paper roll to create a hat and a scarf for the snowman. One nice plus – the felt sticks on its own really well to the Styrofoam. I threw a couple extra golf tees in to use as arms or legs for the snowmen. I put everything into a plastic shoe box, and it was ready to go!
I brought the box up to Big M in her room, and she couldn’t wait to get her hands on it. I showed her how to join the Styrofoam balls together and push the pointy toothpicks into the Styrofoam to decorate the snowman. One demonstration and she grabbed it and said, “I can do it!”
She carefully looked at her snowman, and said, “I think something is missing…” And then with a grin spreading across her face, “He needs a smile!”
I put enough Styrofoam balls in the box to make two snowmen at a time of varying sizes. As usual, Big M’s threenager creativity and imagination always exceeds my grown-up one. She used the googly eyes for the second one and declared her a girl. She told me she needed a tutu and a snowflake crown… so back to my workshop I went!
I helped her disassemble the first round of snowmen, and left her to her own devices… I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out two of our other Quiet Time activities: Spider Web Jumble and Pin the Tail on the Turkey. You can find all of these, as well as other great ideas from our favorite kids activity bloggers on our Quiet Time board on Pinterest!