I have to say it.
Florida is just too damned hot. And winter, however briefly we experience it, can honestly feel too cold.
Okay, the truth is, I’m gonna bitch about the weather because I’m intolerant to extremes.
Why can’t we have 74 degree weather year round?
I mean, if Florida isn’t going to participate in the display of the 4 seasons, can’t it at least just settle on a decent temperature year round?
Nope, we’re way too hot most of the year and then we have a brief period of way too cold.
All that said, my kids and I spend a good deal of time indoors and home throughout the year. That is, unless we plan a day at the zoo, quick trip to Disney, a family vacation, or take off for one of our race days/weekends.
And, it’s so easy to get into a really boring routine when you’re at home 98% of the time. Not to mention, super easy to get sucked into screen time battles. You know … because the kids are tired of the same old crap, and you’re a little more than tired of dealing with them.
So, I decided to come up with and share a list of indoor activities for 3 year olds. In case you’re like me, getting stuck in a rut and would like some inspiration to do something different every now and then, this list will help inspire you to mix it up more often!
More Than 30 Indoor Activities For 3 Year Olds
Crayons, colored pencils, and markers, oh my! Grab some coloring books, print coloring pages, or dole out some blank pages and color until the little one loses interest.
Well, we all know that will feel like 2.5 seconds, but coloring and doodling will be great for fine motor development, among other benefits to coloring.
2. Play with Play-Doh
As I’ve learned from using Play-Doh for an activity in our monthly subscription box from The Preschool Box, Play-Doh can be used for educational activities instead of just making crazy shapes, cutouts or stamps. But, those will entertain little kids for a good while, anyway.
Do counting activities, cutting, stamping, and shape creating with Play-Doh.
3. Drawing (Scribbling)
Have your child choose crayons, colored pencils, markers, or a pencil and let them doodle away. Don’t be surprised if your child does a large-scale scribble and calls it a boat, though. And that’s okay. This is a great exercise in creativity and fine motor development to get them ready for tracing and writing.
Now is the perfect time to print some tracing or special activity printable worksheets as you introduce your little one to following instructions.
Keep the mood light, though. Tracing isn’t easy and expecting perfect circles probably isn’t reasonable at this point. Just get them used to the idea that they need to follow instructions and be encouraging.
5. Read books
There are benefits of visiting the library with a toddler, but it’s important to also continue reading at home. Reading with your child “stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world.”
Borrow books from the library, buy secondhand books, and/or join a monthly book subscription box for kids. We’ve used BookRoo and love that each book comes individually gift wrapped and the box includes a card with a link to more activities you can do after reading your books!
6. Do puzzles
Simple puzzles or big, doesn’t matter. Puzzles will keep your little one’s brain active and provide fine motor fun.
When your child is ready, work your way up to tangrams like these.
My son has been enjoying turning basic shapes into more complicated shapes. He gets frustrated at times because there’s no physical barrier to keep his shapes into place, but thoroughly enjoys when he completes a new challenge.
7. Play games
There are a few awesome games out for 3 year olds these days, so you’re not stuck making up activities if you’re creatively challenged like me. We start our little ones out playing games as early as we can and one of our favorite toddler games has always been Move and Groove by Thinkfun (which I reviewed here). My son also loves the game Roll and Play by ThinkFun.
8. Build a blanket fort
The kids like the various tents they have, but they enjoy building blanket forts more. I sit back and watch their minds at work as they figure out how to use chairs and blankets and get them to stay put.
The 3 year old needs more help building his fort, but loves the end result… even if it’s to tear it down a few minutes later.
9. Create with boxes
Make little (or big) houses out of all those boxes you get on your doorstep. I mean, HELLO Amazon Prime! If you’re anything like our house, you’ve got stacks of boxes to recycle every week!
But, these extra boxes finally have more use! From houses to pretend cars, get a little creative (and crafty). Plus, your kiddo can draw and color on them to his heart’s content!
11. Build with blocks/bricks
12. Play dress up
13. Play pretend
Turn on some fun kid music or even your own favorite tunes and dance like crazy! Play stop dance, dance with your child in your arms or on your feet, or both of you dance wildly around the living room.
16. Play with stamps
17. Let them help with cleaning
I’m a firm believer in having my children start chores at an early age. I want to raise responsible children to be responsible adults, but I still like them to enjoy helping mommy while they’re young.
When my little one gets irritated with me for leaving to wash, dry, or fold clothes, I offer to let him help me. And, most of the time, this changes his attitude completely. When I include him in my chores, he’s less fussy and much more talkative.
I take a lax approach to chores, but I do have a wonderful list of chores toddlers can do with some help. This gives little ones a sense of gaining independence and helps me to bond with them.
Make some chores fun and don’t get super anxious about their cleaning skills. Just let it go and let them have fun.
18. Let them help with cooking
If you can pre-measure ingredients, getting a 3 year old to help with cooking can be entertaining. Messy and time-consuming, but entertaining.
This will help build motor skills and you can discuss math and all kinds of foods.
I also find that when I include my little ones while cooking, they’re more prone to trying different foods. Recently, my little guy was hanging with me while I was cooking dinner and he kept trying all the vegetables I was cutting up. This makes my mama heart happy, especially in the midst of their picky eater phase!
19. Take selfies/pictures
You’ll cherish looking back on old photos later when the kids get older. A year can pass by and you’ll look back on a picture and realize just how much your child has changed.
20. Let them take a bubble bath
Playing with toys in the bubble bath can be a fun thing for little kids and a huge relief when they’re having emotional days. With either of my kids, sometimes offering a bubble bath during a tantrum eases one pretty quickly.
Sometimes my kiddos will ask for a bubble bath out of the blue. Between the toys and making bubble beards, it provides plenty of entertainment and a nice relaxing break for me in the process.
We use this fantastic natural bubble bath, too, because we had issues with the oldest when she used standard bubble baths.
21. Have a tea party
22. Practice cutting
23. Play with Matchbox cars
24. Give toys a bath
25. Make an indoor obstacle course
26. Watch a movie or tv show together
27. Create pictures with stickers
28. Do educational activities
You can create your own dry erase activity book with educational pages like tracing letters, numbers, etc.
Or, like we’ve been doing this year, subscribe to an educational subscription box service like The Preschool Box that already has some awesome educational activities ready to go. I personally love this route because I don’t have to spend much time planning, if any. And, it’s giving my little guy a fun way to learn a little bit every week beyond just doing tracing worksheets.
29. Have a puppet show
30. Do arts and crafts
There doesn’t have to be any big planning here. My daughter was inspired by the watermelon on the pocket of her nightgown, so she cut and glued construction paper to make a watermelon slice.
31. Create and play in sensory bins or bags
For little ones when you don’t want a mess, a sensory bag (or squishy bag) may be the best option. I mean, it’s a little bit of cook and prep work, but not terribly difficult and makes for a relatively mess free way for the kiddos to play with something new.
Sensory bins and bags provide an opportunity for kids to work with their senses by seeking and touching objects in different mediums. Plus, a squishy bag can be used to draw or write letters and numbers with their fingers.
32. Give yoga a try
33. Do an indoor scavenger hunt
34. Do sorting activities (sort things by color, shape, size)
So, what do you think of these indoor activities for 3 year olds? Have you ever given them a try? Was there anything on the list that you haven’t tried yet?