Ideas & Activities for 3 Year Olds
My three-year-old is a super busy little guy. He’ll work on one activity, switch to another, or call for me to come play with him. While I LOVE playing with my little man, sometimes I run out of ideas or just need him to do some independent playing by himself for a little while.
Cue – the list of 30+ things for your toddler to do (even if they can’t go outside).
Whether it’s rainy, freezing cold, or you’re finding yourself in some other life-changing situation where you can’t (or don’t want to) head outside, here’s a list of 30+ activities for your 3-year old that you can do inside!
These 3 year old activities are easy for parents to set up and let your child play, while others require a little more supervision. Regardless of your plans, these fun toddler activities and ideas will help keep your little one entertained for hours.
36 Activities For Your 3 Year Old (That You Can Do Inside!)
1. Mess Free – Paint in a Bag – This project is EASY. What you’ll need is a zip lock bag, a paper to go inside it, and a few paint colors. First, drop globs of paint on the paper and then slide it in the zip lock bag and seal it up. Let your child smush and smudge and drag and draw all over the paper!
2. Water Doodle Mat Drawing – A water doodle mat is pretty awesome. So awesome and mess-free that I actually let my 1-year-old play with her big brother and I didn’t even flinch about them doing it on my new rug. The water doodle mat is reusable and easy for all little ones to figure out and enjoy. Check it out on Amazon right here.
3. Toddler Dance Party – “Into The Unknown”, “Where You Are”, “Down By the Bay” – trust me, Amazon Music and Alexa knows them all. It’s time to dance it out and let your toddler show you their best moves. And it’s super cute to hear your toddler say “Alexa, play Moana!”.
4. Sorting Games – You can create a sorting game with almost ANYTHING. Grab some colored balls and have your child sort them into matching colored buckets. Color a different colored dot in the bottom of each section of an egg carton and have your child find something that matches that color.
5. Play in the Bath – Someone once told me that if your child is having a tough day, put them in water or outside. My kiddos LOVE baths, so even if they’re not dirty, give them a bath and let them play! These are some of our favorite bath toys, along with plastic cups for pouring, and dinosaurs.
6. Build Towers – Grab some blocks and get building. Whether you use lincoln logs, squishy blocks, or these foam blocks we got a great deal on, get creative and make towers or castles.
7. Play with Kinetic Sand – We LOVE Kinetic Sand. If you’ve never felt it or tried it, it’s a must and a huge hit for toddlers. Out best decision was to get this giant pack and dump it into a large plastic tote for storage and playtime. Now it’s easy to use for playing with very little (to almost no) cleanup.
8. Play PlayDough (make pizzas, roads, cupcakes, etc.) + Cookie Cutters – Use playdough (or make your own!) and let your toddler get creative. Adding cookie cutters to the mix can make it fun and let them make new shapes and creations.
9. Bake with Mommy/Daddy – If you can, let your toddler bake or cook with you. Pull up a sturdy chair, find a spot on the floor, or use a helper stand (we love this one!) to get your 3 year old nice and close and let them pour, dump, measure, and stir with you!
10. Play Puzzles – Puzzles are so good for your toddler’s brain development. Find a few things they love and let them spend some time working on putting the pieces together.
11. Grow Water Beads and Play/Pour Them – Never seen water beads? Get on it! These little beads grow in water and are a fun sensory toy for your toddler to play with. Get two bowls and a measuring spoon and let your 3 year old transfer the beads from one bowl to the other.
12. Toddler Balance Beam – Set up a small board in your home and put it flat on the ground. Let your toddler practice their balance and gymnastic skills at home!
13. Read – Read, read, read! Whether your child wants to “read” to himself, you’re reading to him, or you’re reading together. Interactive books like this one are a great way to keep your toddler busy on his own!
14. Stickers – Stickers on ANY paper can make a 3-year-old’s day. If you’re looking for a specific sticker book recommendation, we love these!
15. Cutting Practice or “Projects” – If your toddler is ready, let them practice their cutting skills. They might make strips or other cut outs and be SO proud of themselves. Use junk mail, magazines, or construction paper! We found these scissors to be the perfect size for our toddler and I wasn’t as terrified he was going to cut himself with them. Win-win!
16. Make Pasta Necklaces – Get the macaroni or the penne pasta out and let your toddler string the pasta on a piece of yarn or string. If they want to get more creative and colorful, they can color the noodles with markers or you can dye them before they make their necklace!
17. Sensory Noodle Bin – Put noodles of all kinds together in a big tote. Use measuring spoons, bowls, cups, and other kitchen utensils to let your 3-year-old dig and play. Tip: this toddler activity can be done with dry or cooked (and cooled) noodles for different textures!
18. Color on Dry Erase Boards – Still have some dry erase boards and markers lying around? Your toddler will love drawing and wiping. Also, don’t worry, they don’t all smell horrible – these would totally be worth a try.
19. “Wash” Dishes and Practice Pouring – I remember doing this as a kid, and my toddler LOVES it now. Let your toddler stand at the sink and pour water into cups, use bubbles, and just play in the water “washing dishes”. Pro tip: set up a towel on the floor before they start washing.
20. Create an Obstacle Course – Get creative! Use pillows, a hula hoop, a fun toddler tent or climber, balls, or a jump rope. Set up a fun obstacle course to keep your toddler busy and tired out!
21. Play with Balloons (Volleyball, Kickball, Don’t Drop the Ball) – Don’t let the balloon hit the floor, play kickball, or catch. Balloons are a great way to build your child’s hand-eye coordination without stress. Tip: if you’re worried about the balloon popping and little pieces going all over they make a balloon cover you can get here. Who knew!
22. Paint on Ice Blocks – Freeze of chunk of ice and get our your child’s watercolor paints. Let them paint on the ice!
23. Trace Your Child and Let them Color and Draw on It – Get a large piece of paper (this roll is HUGE), or tape a few together, and trace your toddler. Let them add a face, clothes, and more to the picture.
24. Set Up A Scavenger Hunt – You may think your toddler is too little for a scavenger hunt, but don’t be so quick to judge. Draw or cut out pictures and have them find that item in the house for their next clue! If you want something to give as a gift or if you’re finding you’re constantly making a scavenger hunt, this would be a great addition to your toy bin!
25. Build with Cardboard Boxes – If you order from Target and Amazon Prime as much as I do, you probably have a few cardboard boxes around. Let your toddler build a tower, a house, a car, or anything they can dream with the boxes!
26. Color on Cardboard Boxes – Remember all those cardboard boxes? Some of them come with the cutest designs and pictures on them (I’m looking at you Target). Set your toddler up with some crayons, markers, or paints and let them go wild!
27. Build a Fort – Pillows, blankets, couches, chairs. Use it all! Let your toddler design the fort and build it together. Complete with snacks of course.
28. Build with MegaBlocks and Legos – Legos and MegaBlocks are a great way to get your toddler’s imagination going. Let them build whatever comes into their head or suggest a fun challenge or competition.
29. Bring Snow Inside to Play With or Make Your Own Snow! – Grab a bucket or pan and fill it with snow from outside (or make your own with this 2 ingredient recipe). Give your toddler a spoon, a little shovel, and some buckets to play with the snow inside. Hint: a towel underneath is a really good idea – just sayin’.
30. Make Homemade Ice Cream – Make homemade ice cream together in a bag! So easy and your kids will love getting to make it together (and eat it together ;)). Check out the how-to here.
31. Make Music (Bucket Drums, Kleenex Guitars) – Flip over that bucket or clothes basket and let your toddler start drumming. Or grab an empty kleenex box, put a few rubber bands around it and add an empty toilet paper roll to the top. Voila! A homemade guitar for your little one to serenade you.
32. Use Your Busy Bag! – Use your Busy Bag and let your child choose what they want to play. Learn how to create an on the go busy bag for your toddler here!
33. Free CREATE Time – This activity can be really fun for kids of all ages. Grab whatever you have (boxes, cardboard, paper, magazines, markers, paint, glitter, googly eyes, etc.) and let your child make whatever they want. Give them lots of free time to explore and create.
34. Make Sock Puppets – Find those socks with a hole or without a match and let your toddler make some fun sock puppets!
35. Write a Story and Color It Together – Fold up a few pieces of paper and staple them together. Write a story with your toddler and draw pictures to go along with it!
36. Use Large Paper and Draw a Town on It (Play with Cars, Polly Pockets, etc. on it) – Remember that huge paper we talked about earlier? Well, grab it again and this time draw a town on it! Let your toddler help you design and draw the town, then make it come to life by playing cars or Polly Pockets on it.
Fun Indoor Activities For Your 3 Year Old
These fun indoor activities for 3 years olds will help pass the cold winter days when you can’t get outside! Or even those rainy days when you might be wondering what should I do with my 3 year old today.
Do you have other favorite indoor activities to do with your 3 year old? Or have you tried some of these? Let me know in the comments below!
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