Rest Time Activities: Preschoolers and Big Kids

When my kids stopped napping we transitioned them from “nap time” to “rest time.” Ask any child between 2 and 5 and they will tell you there is a BIG difference between the two! If you are in this season of life I would cling to the nap for as long as possible! After that, I would make an attempt to keep up some quiet rest time at home. When they were younger they would still occasionally fall asleep. I would find them in a little corner curled up or even sprawled out on the floor somehow asleep on a wooden train set. It was clear on those days their little growing bodies needed more rest. I had some special board books, duplo blocks, chunky knitting cards, tangrams that were favorite rest time activities.

When my daughter went to summer camp last year her camp asked the parents to prepare the girls to have rest time there at camp. They have to spend one quiet/ still hour in their bunk after lunch each day. Her favorite camp rest time activities were reading and writing letters, books (fun to trade with cabin mates) small lego kits, making friendship bracelets, and drawing. After her first year she said rest hour was one of her favorite things at camp!?!? One day she told our younger daughter “we are going to play campaign and pretend it’s rest time.” I saw this opening at went for it! Big Kid rest time had begun.

Set expectations:

This is what as worked for us. The kids all have a separate space for their rest time. In the summer we are all together a lot and even on days they play together well, everyone needs a little break. They can play quietly, read, do certain (non messy) art/ crafts. We set our rest time for an hour. Full disclosure: it took us a while to make it that long. There was some bribery and redirecting along the way but about 10 days in they were all staying in their rooms fairly consistently. The rules are really just that they have to stay in their designated area, they have to stay quiet, and there are no screens allowed.

The more I read about child/ tween brain development it seems more important than ever to teach them and give them space to practice unplugging/ entertaining themselves without a screen. There is so much value in the boredom (the main complaint that first week). They almost had to push through the expectation and disappointment that there was going to be a screen or some other activity. That reality had to sink in before something in their brains switched gears.

Favorite Preschool Rest Time Activities:

Favorite Big Kid Rest Time Activities:

Books / Book Series:

  • Baby Sitters Club
  • Magic Tree House
  • Ball Park Mysteries
  • Who Was Biography series
  • Summer is great time to get them reading some classics that might not get read in school. Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Giver.

Activity Books– I love the Usborne Brand Books. From toddler lift the flap to older kid encyclopedia type books the illustrations and attention to detail in their books are unparalleled. Their activity books have been particularly helpful during Big Kid rest time. My kids have loved this book of mazes and this paper air plane book. I have always noticed that there seemed to be more girl oriented activity books but Usbone offer so many great ones for boys too. Check out the Build Your Own Monster Truck Book or the Build Your Own Deadly Animals (just ordered my son this one- sounds restful, right?)

Small Toys- Classic Light Brights are still around and are still awesome! These blank books have also been a surprising books and “working on my book” has now become a favorite rest time activity. Legos will always be a fan favorite at our house and these Play Stories are perfect rest time activity

Favorite New Find:

We did make one purchase that has made rest time a lot more fun for all of our kids. Our Yoto is the most requested rest time activity for my preschooler and older kids. I originally purchased it for my preschooler since the older kids can read. I thought it would be a fun way for her to get some “reading” in during rest time. We started with some classics Beatrix Potter and their short stories.

The Yoto is a simple, screen free audio reading device for kids. The Yoto is easy enough for children as young as 3 to operate. The books are loaded on easy to insert cards. The only controls are for volume and to change chapter for chapter books. Headphones can also be used (keeping rest time quiet) Through the app, families and also utilize the Yoto podcast and customizable cards with music or other recorded messages.

In addition to use as a rest time activity we also recently used the Yoto on a road trip and it was the favorite screen free activity by far. Our Yoto Mini has been perfect for what we we needed. The Traditional Yoto player offers even more features including improved acoustically engineered sound, battery life of up to 24 hours, room thermometer, and night light.

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