Setting Up Task Boxes to Promote Independent Play

November 30, 2021

Are you wondering how to get your child independently playing but it seems impossible? We've got you.

Watch our instagram live with fantastic mum, maker, creator and all around salt of the earth human, Lacey, where we chat independent play skills, setting up task boxes, and what your only job as a parent or childcare provider is.

Then get to work building those play skills :)

Independent play isn't only good for you and your three times microwaved coffee, it also helps children build their higher thinking skills and creativity. It provides rich ground for children to follow their own natural curiosities and dig deep into playful learning. However, independence is like a muscle. It is built over time by engaging in activity after activity.

Thankfully there are a few things you can do to help children strengthen their ability to creatively play by themselves. Researchers found that giving a child a clearly defined task, such as "go grab your play dough bin.", may be more effective at promoting independent play than giving generalized prompts, like "go find an activity to do." (Beaulieu & Povinelli, 2018). This is where task boxes come in handy. The child can choose to engage open endedly with the materials or if they're craving a little more guidance they can select one of the activities inside.

Inside each task box your child will find all the materials they need for a given task, and a rotating selection of 2 to 3 activities to choose from -all stored neat, tidy and organized in one bin, basket or tray. Each of the activities in the task box will be something the child has seen and done before. Co-creating with the child the first time will help them understand the process and equip them to carry it out independently. Then it gets added to the task box and they take it from there!

Here are a few ideas of easy, no prep task boxes with the materials you already have around the house. If you are an Earlybird member you can click each link and it will take you to that activity!


Coloring Task Box


Sticker Task Box


Play Dough Task Box


Bean Bin Task Box

  • assorted beans (the largers the better and easier to clean up)
  • a sheet or drop mat folded and stored on top to ensure easy tidying of any spilled beans
  • rotating bean bin activities which you can find here on the Earlybird platfrom


Mulitsensory Tracing Task Box


Threading and Lacing Task Box


Now place your task boxes in a place your child can easily reach and let them play!


Join Earlybird for activities mentioned here, and over 160 other developmentally appropriate activities to build a child's literacy, numeracy, motor, social-emotional and creative thinking skills.

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