Activities to Do With 3-Year-Olds

What do 3 year olds love to do?

You can have a lot of fun with a 3-year-old. They are into loads of great toys, their imaginations are really taking off, they can communicate with you and they have oh so much energy.

However they may also be getting increasingly into screen time, and you might find you could do with a few ideas up your sleeve to keep them busy on rainy days or fun activities you can do together outside in nature.

The good news is there are a vast array of fun activities that 3-year-olds love. We 've compiled a few ideas that are good for all occasions. Whether you want to get outside or hide from the rain, get messy or play something quiet and contained, hopefully, this list will provide you with some kid-friendly inspiration.

Activities to have fun outdoors

Playing outside is such an important part of childhood. Not only does being in the sunshine build vitamin D which strengthens their bones, but children are generally more active when they are outside. They burn calories, use their muscles, learn about risk, use and improve the senses, and studies have even shown that children who spend lots of time outside are happier and more relaxed.

If you are stuck for ideas your 3 year old might love:

  • A treasure hunt. Either hide things for them to find (toy bugs are a favourite here or dinosaurs) or have a list of things you have to find on a walk. Finding something for every colour of the rainbow is fun or just pick a few common items such as a feather, a pebble, a stick, a flower etc.
  • Gardening. You don 't need a big garden for this, a couple of pots will do, or you can even find a local community garden or allotment to go and help out with. Gardening is a great opportunity to learn and get really hands-on with nature which children love.
  • Mud. Whether it 's splashing in puddles, finding the stickiest mud you can to squelch in or making mud pies in the garden there 's a lot of fun to be had getting muddy. Plus its great sensory play and fantastic for the immune system.
  • Bubbles. Bubbles are fun whatever age you are and a great outdoor activity. You can get some amazing giant bubble making kits that give incredible results but even a little pot of bubbles is mesmerising.
  • Ball games. Throwing and catching games are much less likely to cause breakages if you play outside and they are brilliant for helping preschoolers with their coordination and gross motor skills.

Other fun activities might be going on a bear hunt in the woods, building a den, having a picnic, searching for bugs in the grass, throwing sticks or paddling in a river, feeding the ducks, or even just lying down and looking at the clouds.

Rainy day activities for 3-year-olds

Sometimes it seems to rain for days on end and you can quickly run out of dry wellies and waterproofs but children never seem to run out of energy. Soft play can be a great option but not every day, so here are a few other ideas for rainy day fun.

  • Make an indoor obstacle course. This is a fun activity for little ones and you don 't need any special equipment.
  • An indoor treasure hunt. This is a firm favourite and can be played in lots of ways. You could create a set of cards with different things you can find around the house then set a timer and take turns seeing how many of the items you can find, or give each person a colour.
  • Go to the library. This is a great rainy day activity as it costs nothing, gets you out of the house and means you 'll have fun new books to read when you get home.
  • Build a den.
  • Have an indoor picnic.
  • Play ball games with a balloon. Balloons are great for indoor games as they are much less likely to cause any damage. You could play catch, see how long you can keep it in the air, or have a balloon and spoon race.
  • Have a dance party. This is a great way to get active when it 's too rainy to go outside.
  • Have a cinema day. Pick a movie, make popcorn and cuddle up on the sofa. (this is especially good after a really active puddle splashing session.
  • Get baking. By the age of three kids are generally pretty capable of and excited about helping in the kitchen. There are plenty of things they can get involved with including cupcakes, crispy cakes, mini pizza 's, cheese straws, fruit kebabs or even just cutting their sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters.

A few other fun activities for 3-year-olds

If you are stuck for ideas to keep your little one busy and engaged here are a few fun ideas that might pique their interest.

  • Have a tea party with their toys.
  • Play at being doctors and have fun bandaging each other up.
  • Make a card and post it to someone special.
  • Get crafty with the contents of the recycling bin.
  • Make and play with Play Dough.
  • Practise balancing, jumping and throwing
  • Wash the windows, they love it more than you might think.
  • Follow their lead. If they want you to be a dinosaur or a rabbit or a customer in their restaurant go for it.

Next up: What toys do 3-year-olds like?

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