Looking for easy activities for 3 year olds? From crafts to outdoor activities, discover everyday, fun things to do with your child.
If you’re like me, you’ve found your child playing with the same toy, day after day. Despite the piles and boxes of toys at home, even you’re out of ideas on what he can play with. Perhaps he’s even blurted those dreaded words: “I’m bored.”
As much as I’m a fan of independent play, we can still do plenty to keep our kids engaged during the day. You may have even found yourself getting bored of the same activities or thinking of ways to switch things up.
So, I’ve compiled my favorite activities for 3 year olds, the kind of play that are simple enough to do on a regular day without much fanfare. At the same time, these are also the activities that have been the most fun for all my kids, especially at the three-year-old stage.
After all, three-year-olds are past the stage of early toddlerhood and can participate in more independent activities. But at the same time, they’re not “big kids” yet and may still need some guidance.
Activities for 3 year olds
Take a look at my favorite things to do that any three-year-old would love. I listed them by similar categories to make it easier to find ideas.
Granted, these ideas aren’t new, but that’s the point: you likely have these items already in your home (while some don’t even need any props). Because sometimes all we need is a helpful list to check through, a refresher to remind us of what we can do.
Rest assured, planning activities for 3 year olds doesn’t mean expensive outings or excessive toys. In fact, kids are wired with the curiosity to find delight in the simplest of things. These activities will do exactly that:
Arts and crafts activities
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- Coloring books. Your child can likely hold crayons and begin to color within the lines. Grab coloring books and your box of crayons and spend a few minutes coloring pages.
- Play dough. I love giving my kids play dough and letting them create whatever they want. To keep from drying out all the play dough, I only bring out a few tubs at a time.
- Sidewalk chalk. Go outdoors without leaving the house by drawing with chalk on your sidewalk. Or if you do decide to leave the house, sidewalk chalk is perfect to take with you to the park. Stuck indoors? Use a chalkboard easel (like this one that we have) to draw with.
- Water brush and pad. Always a hit, a water brush and pad gives your child a chance to “paint” without the mess. I love bringing out paint, but these are a fantastic alternative when you don’t want the accompanying mess.
- Glue stick and colored paper. Teach your child how to start gluing with glue sticks. They’re a clean alternative to liquid glue and allows him to practice fine motor skills, especially with smaller pieces of paper. Cut up colored paper, practicing with larger pieces first, then cutting them smaller and smaller.
- Stickers. Another activity to practice fine motor skills with and also make for a fun craft. Help your child by lifting a corner of the sticker and allowing him to peel it off himself. You can even have him stick them onto a blank “card” you can later give to a loved one.
- Lego blocks. I regularly rotate toys, and each time I bring the box of Lego out, the kids go crazy for it. They’ve used Lego blocks to build just about anything, and for three-year-olds, the blocks make for easy building.
- Toy cars and trains. Another bin I also rotate are toy cars and trains. These can make for fun, imaginative play, as three-year-olds love to see how cars and trains move. My kids have spent hours playing with cars and trains without getting sick of them once.
- Bubbles. My kids came home with bubbles one day from preschool and spent the next several days doing nothing but blowing bubbles. So much so that I had to get a refill bottle of bubble soap. You can show your child how to blow bubbles, and have him catch or pop them as well. Battery-operated bubble machines are also fun and convenient.
- Puzzles. Are you still bringing out large wooden puzzles? At three years old, your child will likely be more challenged with at least a 24 to 48-piece puzzle. Give him a chance to practice on his own, or at most, you can help by sorting the pieces by color.
- Board games. Board games aren’t just for big kids! Games like Zingo, Candy Land, and Hungry Hippos are a big hit for the younger ones.
Household games, items, and tasks
- Cardboard box. Any time I get a huge shipment in the mail, I make sure to save the box. Because more than likely, my kids will find ways to play with it. Boxes can be cars, beds, houses, spaceships, you name it. Your child can draw on it, flatten it on the ground, and use it to dance. The options are endless!
- Baking or cooking. Do you have a simple meal to prepare or a treat to bake? Involve your child in the kitchen! Have him fetch items, practice tossing seasonings into a bowl, or wash ingredients.
- Sensory bins. Kids love the feeling of dipping their hands into a bucket of items. A few examples for sensory bins include dried beans, dried elbow pasta, uncooked rice grains, sand, or water. Add plastic toys like dinosaurs or figurines and the sensory bin can serve as a fun, new environment for pretend play as well.
- I Spy. Play a game of I Spy! Find simple objects to give clues with that he can see in the room. The gist of the game in case you haven’t heard of it is: spot an item, then say, “I spy with my little eyes, something [fill in the blank].” You might say “…something yellow,” when talking about the yellow flowers in the dining room.
- Chores. Make household tasks fun at a young age with simple chores. You’d be surprised how much your child can do around the house. Focus on his learning, as opposed to getting it done right.
- Yoga poses. Now is a great time to engage him in simple yoga poses. Model the poses and have him hold different positions. Encourage mindfulness by spending a few moments breathing deeply and clearing your minds.
Places to go
- Children’s museums. I love museums catered to kids, as they often offer a hands-on experience for little ones. Go right when they open so you don’t battle the crowds.
- Library. Find fun activities at the library, from story time to magic shows. Many libraries also offer simple toys to play with, and of course tons of books to choose from. Make it a habit to go frequently and bring home several books to read. Want some ideas on what to borrow? Join my newsletter and grab my Read Aloud Book list! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you:
- Park. From playgrounds to wide, open spaces, parks allow your child to explore, run around, and play—all outdoors. Bring a ball, kite, scooter, or picnic blanket to change things up as well.
As you can see, you have plenty of “boredom-busters,” activities for 3 year olds you can do any day of the week. Keep things exciting by alternating among the activities or when you feel your child’s excitement waning.
With these activities, you also don’t need to get many new items, if any at all, because most can likely be found at home. Stick to one activity per day—don’t feel compelled to fill every hour with an activity. Downtime is valuable, too.
Now you have plenty of ideas and activities for 3 year olds — enough to banish those dreaded words, “I’m bored.”
Get more tips:
- Easy! 12 Ways to Teach Preschoolers about Money
- How to Spend Time with Your Family (Even as a Busy Mom)
- 52 Children’s Books for Three Year Olds
- Preschool Outdoor Activities for Summer
- 10 Physical Activities for 3 Year Olds
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your copy of the Read Aloud Book list! You’ll get hundreds of favorite selections to read aloud with your kids. Get it below—at no cost to you: