Break Up The Monotony With “The Finding Place”

How to add a little mystery plus structure into your daily routine

Before the Pande-monium, I worked full time. So my time with two kids T-5 and S-3 (which my husband just informed me would be an excellent Star Wars droid name) consisted of supper, bath, brushing, books, bedtime, wake up for morning rush and repeat. We had our precious weekends where I tried to make the most by planning outings and special together time. 

But now we’re together. A lot. I needed something to help break up the monotony, particularly when the weather is less than ideal.

Thus, “The Finding Place” was born.

Inspired by the adorable show Tumble Leaf, I introduced “The Finding Place” as an almost daily part of our routine. It originated last year as an elaborate way to celebrate Advent and was a very Pinterest-inspired thing. Since it was a huge hit, I kept it with some more sustainable modifications. I realized my kids don’t need constant Instagram-worthy activities, they just like the concept of a daily “surprise” no matter how simple.

What is it exactly? Here’s what I do…

Every night after bedtime I try to put a book or two plus something else for my kids to do into a simple 16” X 11” X 7” box which serves as “The Finding Place.”

Sometimes the book is from the library or it might be one we haven’t read for a while. Very occasionally it’s a new book (thanks to Dolly Parton and Friends of the Marion Library!). Usually, it’s super low key and there are days I forget to throw something in so I say “hold on” and my kids wait as I grab a couple of random things. Some days like holidays or birthdays I’ve thrown in something extra special.

There are also days we don’t get to it, and that’s great because it will be waiting for us tomorrow. 

The Finding Place Example
Here is an example of The Finding Place I threw together with things we already had (a board game, book, and rainbow stacker toy)

(Here’s the real genius)

The Finding Place provides motivation to get through lunch and rest time and help tidy the house a bit so we’re “ready for The Finding Place”. Then once we open it, it’s a lovely screen-free distraction that usually engages us together, or keeps them busy so I can start supper.

I’m not a strict routine person by any means, but this has helped anchor our days while still adding an element of mystery for the kids to look forward to. It’s also a sneaky way to add extra reading into the day (I have a library degree so I’m constantly scheming).

These are some things I’ve thrown in:  

  • Craft supplies (especially activity packets we’ve picked up from the library, our church, or other amazing agencies in our area trying to help keep kids entertained and learning—if you’re one of the people doing that, THANK YOU!)
  • Baking ingredients (on their birthdays there was a box of cake mix for us to make together)
  • Loose parts 
  • A box of pasta to cook as we read Strega Nona 
  • Random stuff I picked up from the dollar section at Target (It’s a dangerous place) or garage sale/thrift store accouterment 
  • Seasonal activities (Egg dying kit, Valentine’s card making, Pride-themed coloring sheets, etc.)
  • Playdoh or kinetic sand
  • Toy cars and masking tape to make a “track”
  • Origami paper
  • Building toys with a prompt “build a tall tower”
  • Yoga dice
  • A board game
  • A DVD from the library and bag of popcorn
  • Coloring book
  • Puzzles
  • A premade scavenger hunt that I just had to stick around my house and only took maybe 5 minutes to print, cut, and hide—but was super exciting for the kids to do

Our Finding Place recently had little notebooks and story dice (Target👍) and my 5-year-old didn’t want to stop “writing stories” even to eat supper❤️

Preschool Storybook

I hope this inspires you to try out adding a little surprise into your own routine!

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Olivia grew up just outside of Cedar Rapids in Mount Vernon, IA. She moved to Pella, IA for undergrad and loved working in the library, so she continued her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her Masters of Library and Information Science. She originally intended to be a higher ed librarian, but an internship at a public library working with kids convinced her to change her plans. After 9 years working as a full time children’s librarian, Olivia is now embarking on an exciting new chapter as a full time mama.


  1. Olivia,
    This is genius! We homeschool and I feel like I am winning at life when I strew something the night before for my kiddos to engage in in the morning. I love the name so much. Definitely stealing it!
    Hooray for your new adventure as a stay at home mom. Best gig ever!


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