75 Everyday Activities For 3 Year Olds

ideas for 3 year oldsThis summer my daughter and I have had a lot of time to play. Extra time in fact because she decided when she turned 3 to give up naps. With her brother home from school for the summer my attempts at forcing the issue have been met with refusal. I am going to try again in a month when her brother returns to school but in the meantime she has quiet time, earlier bedtimes and lots of simple activities like these peppered throughout the day. For simple activities for 3 year olds that don’t usually make it into a full blog post follow me on Instagram and you can see more everyday ideas.  If you have a younger child check out our similar list of 75 TV Free Activities For Toddlers. These activities for 3 year olds have been the bulk of what we’ve done this summer. Big projects are fun but day in and day out this is what we do.

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  1. Playdough with dry spaghetti.
  2. Fill a table with  books and read, read, read.
  3. Doodle with smelly markers on cardboard from your recycle bin.
  4. Play doctor with dolls.
  5. Take a walk and hunt for colors.
  6. Play with puzzles.
  7. Look at family photos together.
  8. Create with peel and stick jewels.
  9. Read through catalogs.
  10. Build a fort. preschool ideas
  11. Play eye spy with favorite book.
  12. Eat lunch outside.
  13. Play in a box.
  14. Paint with watercolors.
  15. Play with stickers.
  16. Play sports in the yard.
  17. Play-Doh and sequins.
  18. Play The Cupcake Game.
  19. Play Simon Says.
  20. Make a balance beam out of painter’s tape and walk it!
  21. Play in a kiddie pool.
  22. Color with Color Wonder markers and coloring sheets.
  23. Water some plants
  24. Play with Magic Nuudles.
  25. Play with Play-Doh and Duplo together. how to keep a 3 year old busy
  26. Dance.
  27. Play with a light table ( easy DIY here ) .
  28. Play with cold cooked spaghetti.
  29. Cook together.
  30. Play with water, rice, beans, gravel etc… in your water table .
  31. Play with the hose.
  32. Dress up some dolls.
  33. Take silly pictures together.
  34. Play hide and seek.
  35. Cuddle.
  36. Play with stamps.
  37. Make some window clings .
  38. Paint your toenails with kid safe nail polish .
  39. Run Through the sprinkler.
  40. Write in a journal with markers, stamps and crayons.
  41. Go to the beach.
  42. Learn about emotions with Mr. Potato Head.
  43. Go to the library.
  44. Read with a sibling.
  45. Call Grandma ( or Aunty, Uncle… you get the picture.)
  46. Help clean.
  47. Play dentist with dolls.
  48. Finger paint.
  49. Draw with chalk on black construction paper.
  50. Go to a local elementary school and play at the playground.75 ideas for 3 year olds
  51. Play dress up.
  52. Take markers and paint onto the porch for art outside.
  53. Duplo
  54. Play School
  55. Mix sidewalk chalk and other toys for pretend play outside.
  56. Bubbles.
  57. Scrap paper collages.
  58. Hunt for magnets with a magnetic wand in a bowl of uncooked oatmeal or rice.
  59. Jump in puddles.
  60. Build a tower out of recycling.
  61. Wash the car.
  62. Backyard nature hunt . Tape painters tape sticky side out on a window or wall and have your child stick what they find on it.
  63. Take some pictures.
  64. Have a tea party.
  65. Practice cutting.
  66. Make a ramp with cardboard and drive matchbox cars down it.
  67. Read books outside.75 simple activities for 3 year olds
  68. Play-Doh with pipe cleaners.
  69. Wash play cars, scooters and bikes.
  70. Go for a hike.
  71. Play with Play-doh and egg molds.
  72. Play airplane or train with your kitchen chairs.
  73. Wash windows with water and vinegar.
  74. Turn snack bars into shapes and practice using a knife at the same time.
  75. Play alone. Yes it’s more than OK, it’s awesome to let kids play alone. We don’t need to entertain them 24/7 !

What is your family’s favorite everyday activity ? Not listed? Add it in comments and tell us why your kids love it!

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  1. Liisa Direen says

    That’s a great list, thank you. I’d like to share of my favourite activities with my 3 yr old son. I have a container of junk I have collected, scraps, bottle tops broken toys etc. and we set it up as rubbish tip. He loves getting his toy Rubbish truck and moving the junk around and taking it to the pretend rubbish dump. Simple and entertains him for ages 🙂

  2. Lori Morales says

    Luv the of handy fun! We play with shaving cream quite often on paper, a tarp, cardboard or even the tub. Adding food coloring and sponge brushes if we feel like making it rainbow fun.

  3. EMMA ASTILL says

    Dishwashing liquid some food colouring and a straw. Blow Bubbles above the height of the container then place a piece of paper over the top to make a cool bubbly picture.

  4. says

    Allison, this is an amazing collection of activities. I have been doing a series of everyday activities and the different developmental domains. I just had to add a link to your activities to the end of my post on Cognitive Development. Of course, I have pinned & shared on fb, & twitter, too. Thanks for all the work that went into this post.

  5. says

    I just stumbled across your blog via Pinterest, but I have to comment! This is a great list of everyday activities to do with a preschooler, but my favorite part about the list is that it isn’t activities for “girls” or “boys”. It is just a great list of kid friendly activities! Thanks so much for sharing!

      • Susan Morris says

        A hard time labeling kids? Since when did calling a girl – a girl – and a boy – a boy – become labeling? It’s what they are!?!?!?! What is wrong with you people???

        • Allison McDonald says

          I am referring to labeling an activity as something a boy would like vs what a girl would like. I don’t do lists like that – I have taught far too many kids who have busted all gender specific activities for me ever to write something like that and feel like there was any girth to it.

    • Gabriella Taylor says

      Well, she did start this off saying these are activities with her 3 year old daughter. Yes, a lot of the activities don’t depend on the child’s gender, but there are girl specific ones in there. Unless, of course, you’re raising a boy on dress-up and dolls, although that would be unorthodox.

      • Suzanne says

        So Barbie’s friend Ken and GI Joe aren’t dolls? When children play with dolls it’s an opportunity to discover how they interpret the world. Nothing unorthodox about that.

        • Melissa says

          My son has trucks, planes, duplo, Batman, an Elsa doll, multiple Disney figurines ranging from Buzz Lightyear to Cinderella…toys are just toys until we put a gender label on them.

  6. Laura says

    When my son was little I would roll out butcher paper onto the kitchen floor and tape it in place. Then he would paint all over it and we’d use it through out the year for wrapping presents. You could use plain brown paper as well. Stores sell it in rolls. We also used to go for a hike in our local park and turn over rocks and look for lizards and snakes! we used to make Christmas ornaments together too. He’s 25 now and we made some together this year. Good memories:)

  7. Katie says

    Sometimes it’s a lot of fun with my niece to take different colored construction paper, kids scissors, and a glue stick and just let them cut out different shapes and glue it to another piece of paper, they can also color it. If you’re worried about a mess, you can use a plastic table cloth. Also fun to have a mini chalkboard and paint with water and a paintbrush 🙂 going to some place like a park with ducks and feeding then is always a lot of fun.
    I’ve also had a lot of fun making bread with them and letting them dump ingredients in and watching it rise. Always fun to put food coloring in too

  8. Katie says

    This is brilliant! I have a three year old niece and all she ever wants to do is play doctors with me. As much as I love her, I absolutely hate playing doctors now.
    This list should keep us busy and hopefully distract her from the doctor game

    When I was younger, we used to get a glass of washing up liquid and food colouring, blow bubbles through a straw and put a piece of paper underneath, keep blowing until the bubbles overflow and you get a lovely picture xx

  9. holly says

    My 3 year old has always loved tying knots in a 2 foot length of rope- tying chairs, trees, back of the seat in the car…keeps him busy and QUIET for hours! At some point I will get him a book of knots to see if he can follow the instructions.

  10. helen says

    Thanks for the tips!! Duly noted! A simple game my kids have enjoyed since they were babies is you screw up a piece of paper and put it in one hand. Then you pass it quickly from one hand to the next and then suddenly stop with the paper in one of your hands and turn both your fists down. The child then has to remember which hand the paper ended up in. It’s great when you’re out and about and need sudden entertainment.

  11. Marie says

    If you have long-ish grass (clover works well), you can tie the end(s) of a blade of grass into loops and loop them together into a chain. With my three year old, I tie the knots and let her loop the next one in. After you get a long chain, you can decorate yourselves or a chair or a tree with the chains. When she gets older, she might be able to tie the knots herself.


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