Toddlers are like little sponges, eagerly soaking up knowledge and experiences from the world around them. At the age of three, children are brimming with curiosity, imagination, and energy.
Engaging them in age-appropriate activities not only keeps them entertained but also supports their cognitive, physical, and social development. In this blog post, we will explore a variety of fun and educational activities to do with 3-year-olds that will stimulate their minds, foster creativity, and promote healthy growth. However, please remember to only do what fits your family!! Not every activity shared here will be a fit for you and your kids, and that’s ok!!
As long as my kids are engaged in something, the time stuck inside always seems to go by a little quicker!
Sensory Play Activities for 3 Year Olds
First, let’s call out some of the benefits of sensory play! Sensory activities are fantastic for young children as they help develop their senses, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination. Set up a sensory table or area with materials such as rice, sand, water, or play dough. Encourage your child to explore different textures, colors, and shapes. Add tools like spoons, cups, or molds to enhance their play and stimulate their imagination.
As much as I love sensory play, you may find that some activities are a better match for your family than others. And that’s ok!! Pick what you love an leave the rest!
My kids love these five indoor water sensory play activities when they were three years old! Lay down towels under the activity for easy clean up at the end!
Indoor Sensory Play with Water
Looking for more water activities?! You’ll love 25 Water Activities for Kids!
As I noted, not every activity is a fit for every family! That’s OK! If water play isn’t your thing, then you may find another option that feels better for you!
If you have flowers on hand, then be sure to set up a flower cutting activity before tossing out the dying flowers!
Art Activities for 3 Year Olds
SHOP our favorite art supplies here!
Creativity knows no bounds at this age! Engage your little Picasso in arts and crafts projects that allow them to express themselves freely. Provide them with washable markers, crayons, colored pencils, and finger paints. Set up a designated art corner where they can draw, paint, and create masterpieces. Remember to display their artwork proudly to boost their self-esteem.
PUFFY PAINT RECIPE: mix equal parts regular white school glue (like the classic Elmer’s glue!) and shaving cream. Add food coloring to dye it any color you like.
Also, sometimes it’s fun to mix up art time!! Try these low prep activities like a giant color page, paint mixing in sealed bags, or car drawing (just tape the markers onto cars).
Q-Tip painting it a fun way to use items you already have on-hand!
Cookie cutter stamping, making a cardboard pizza, and setting up a creation station are always hits in our home!
Also, tin foil painting is a another fun and low prep craft you can set up using materials from your home!
Does your 3 year old love art activities?! Check out 40+ EASY Crafts!
Literacy, Storytelling, and Book Time
Letter exposure is so beneficial for kids! Fun activities like a letter scavenger hunt in the pantry, decorating their name on giant butcher paper, or making a sensory bag to practice letter formation are all fun ways to play with letters!
Reading and Story Baskets
Reading to a child at any age is one of the most valuable activities you can do together. Gather a collection of age-appropriate books and spend quality time with your little one, reading and exploring stories together.
Encourage them to participate by asking questions, pointing out pictures, and even letting them choose their favorite stories. This activity not only enhances their language skills but also nurtures their imagination.
If you have some materials that happen to coordinate with a book you have, try acting out the story together as you read! For example, we pulled out our pretend ice cream cones and acted our the Piggy and Elephant book Should I Share My Ice Cream?
Baking and Books
We also love to pair a book with baking! Grab a simple baking mix for cookies or muffins, and read a book that goes along with the baking project! All things considered, this has to be one of my favorite things to do with kids! It’s so much fun to have some fun in the kitchen, and then read aloud a story that pairs with our baking project!
Want more?! Check out 50 Preschool Activities here!
Building Blocks and Puzzles
Building blocks and puzzles are excellent tools for enhancing problem-solving skills and spatial awareness. Invest in age-appropriate building blocks, interlocking toys, or puzzles with large pieces. Encourage your child to build towers, bridges, or simple structures. Completing puzzles together helps develop their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and patience.
Want to try mixing up puzzle play?! Drop the puzzle pieces in some beans to add a sensory component to puzzle time for your 3 year old! Always monitor closely, as beans are a choking hazard.
It can even be fun to take your magnetic tiles or blocks somewhere unexpected! For example, we love building with magnetic tiles in the windowsill – it makes the coolest sun catcher, and your 3 year old is sure to love this!
Similarly, you can mix up how your little one plays with cars by laying painters tape for them as roads! So simple, but super fun!!
Music and Dance
Music is a universal language that resonates with children of all ages.
From time to time make a point to encourage your little one to explore music by introducing them to different instruments or playing a variety of tunes. For example, you may sing songs, dance together, and make music a regular part of your daily routine.
Also, it’s worth noting that music and dance activities promote self-expression, rhythm, and coordination.
Math Activities for 3 Year Olds
There are so many FUN ways to have fun with foundational early math skills with your little one!
Also, don’t forget you can use cardboard to create fun and easy math activities for kids! Here are 3 low prep favorites that my kids loved!
Making 100 is a classic early childhood activity! Help kids count out groups of ten objects! Ten groups of ten allows kids to SEE 100!
Snack Activities for 3 Year Olds
Fact of life. If you have kids, then you know kids love snacks.
Obviously I have to include some fun and easy snack activities on a list of indoor activities for three year olds! Without further delay, here are three LOW PREP easy snacks you can make with your little one!
Try making cookie cutter shaped pizzas, apple donuts, or a muffin tin lunch with your little one.
Another great snack activity is pattern making! Why not bring some early math skills into your 3 year old’s day by making patterns with their snack?! Not only is this fun, but also a great way to incorporate a little learning and conversation at snack time!
All in all, you can’t go wrong with a snack activity when you’re stuck inside with kids!!
Looking for more easy snack recipes?!
You’ll love these 20 delicious and easy snacks for kids!
Pretend Play Activities
Imagination knows no bounds at this age! As a result, this is the perfect age to set up a pretend play area with costumes, props, and toys that allow your child to role-play various scenarios. Encourage them to be a doctor, chef, firefighter, play library or hotel, or anything their imagination desires.
Pretend play helps develop language skills, social interaction, and creativity. For this reason, I highly encourage all families to find pretend play options that feel fun for their little ones!
Engaging 3-year-olds in fun and educational activities not only helps them learn and grow but also strengthens the bond between you and your child. These activities provide opportunities for cognitive, physical, and social development while nurturing their creativity, imagination, and curiosity about the world. So, gear up, get creative, and embark on exciting adventures with your 3-year-old. Remember, the joy of learning together is immeasurable, and the memories you create will last a lifetime.