The Best Activities for Three-Year-Olds

Halloween Sensory Bin Ideas

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A roundup of the best activities for three-year-olds with tons of toddler activities they’ll love and will keep them learning and growing!

water table activities for three year olds
Outdoor Activities 

  • Park Day.

    My friend with a master’s degree in early child development once told me the park is free occupational therapy for every kid. I have thought of that comparison every time my three-year-old asks to go to the park. Make it happen! Find a fun park that’s age appropriate. It will be the best way to let them experience different activities that help them physically!

  • Water Table 
    Be prepared for shock and awe at just how much time a little person can enjoy a water table! There are about a hundred different ways to play with them! But a classic water table and included toys have always been enough to keep my three-year-olds so entertained! 
  • Sidewalk chalk.

    There’s something about a large piece of sidewalk chalk and an open canvas outside that makes a toddler or preschooler’s creativity blossom!  
  • Outdoor Scavenger Hunt.

    We have a really easy picture nature scavenger hunt printable that makes this activity a breeze for parents.  
  • Outdoor Obstacle Course.

    Try our Pool Noodle Obstacle Course for an easy and fun way to keep young children active while they have so much fun! 

Halloween Sensory Bin Ideas
Fun Indoor Activities 

These are perfect for working on fine motor skills and keeping kids engaged with fun activities they can do inside. 

  • Sensory bins.

    We fell in love with sensory play during our early toddler years stuck at home during the pandemic. A sensory bin is a great way to keep little hands busy and young kids engaged in an activity for more than five minutes! Grab a filler and some tools like measuring cups and magnifying glass or tongs, throw in a few toys, and kids are set for so much creative fun! Alternately, you could buy a premade kit to make this very easy on yourself.
    It’s so easy to create one! Our first had a few cups of rice, some small toys, and a few measuring cups and spoons. These simple things provided so many fun activity options for fine motor skill development. 
    Check out our dinosaur sensory bin tutorial, and our Halloween sensory bin ideas! 
  • Play Dough.

    Grab our play dough mats and either buy some play dough or try our play dough recipe. forming play dough into a soft ball and shaping into play mats builds fine motor skills. Plus, it’s one of those fun things that’s a great activity for a rainy day! 
  • Toss bean bags.

    We learned how amazing this simple activity is doing Gymboree classes. Kids would toss bean bags to each other and each kid would say their name whenever they caught one. It was an easy way to learn social skills and practice eye-hand coordination. Plus, kids have a great time using physical play while they get over some nerves of introducing themselves to others. This is an easy one you could play with your kids at home!
  • Build sand castles out of kinetic sand. 

    Kinetic sand is heaven-sent for parents of toddlers! It sticks together with less mess, but it gives all the same skill-building opportunities a traditional sandbox may provide.
  • Practice preschool skills.

    So many kids head to school without the basic skills of using a glue stick or scissors. Set up some time to pull out these tools and let kids use them. Grab construction paper, and let them cut out a piece of paper and use glue. Not only are these basic fine motor development skills, fun it’s a fun way to use activities for three-year-olds to prepare them for future educational activities and school skills. 

Watercolor Ideas for Kids
Art Projects

  • Water Color Painting.

    I can’t tell you how much time my kids have spent watercolor painting this past year. We have a blog post all about watercolor painting for kids and why it’s one of our favorite activities for three-year-olds.
  • Finger painting.

    Try shaving cream on dark paper. Or, make it taste-safe and use chocolate pudding as your finger painting medium.
  • Craft Activities.

    I love to check the Bullseye Spot at Target and the Creatology craft kits at Michaels. There are so many easy craft activities that make perfect activities for three-year-olds that you won’t need to prep in advance!
  • Gel Crayons.

    Gel Crayons are one of our favorite art mediums, particularly for young age artists! Check out our blog post all about Gel Crayons and why they’re so fun right here!
  • Dot Painting.

    Hello, q-tips and an introduction to pointillism! This trending art project is perfect for young kids! Grab our free Christmas dot painting download

activities for kids to do at home
Independent Quiet Time Activities

  • Scissor Skills books.

    Our favorite are these books by Melissa and Doug. They make it so you don’t have to panic handing a toddler a pair of scissors! And they really are one of the best activities for three-year-olds to help them prepare for school. 
  • Sticker Books.

    I’ve written a few posts on sticker books for kids and paint-by-sticker books you’ll want to check out. These are the greatest tool I’ve found for keeping little kids entertained and busy during quiet time for kids!

  • Coloring Books.

    We love these My First Big Book of Coloring series. My kids have used every art medium, including paint, and they hold up so well.
  • Puzzles 

    There’s a huge development leap around age three that make puzzles a lot easier to do. I’d start with some large wood puzzles to help them practice and hone their fine motor skills.
  • Look through books.

    When my son started dropping nap time, I’d set him up with a pile of books. A mixture of books he had memorized to “read” to himself and some new books made for the perfect blend to keep him occupied. It was a simple way to help him relax if he didn’t nap, and it was and still is one of his favorite activities!
  • Audiobooks 

    Age three is the perfect time to get kids to listen to and love audiobooks! Check out our entire post about audiobooks for kids: how to get kids addicted to audiobooks

The best toddler toys
Imaginative Play

  • Paper Bag Puppets.

    There are many different ways to create these easy puppets, but we recommend grabbing our free template printable to make this so simple! These lead to hours of pretend play with a great opportunity to teach role play and characterization.
  • Play superheroes.

    One of the best imaginary play toys we purchased during preschool years was a superhero cape. Our little guy would spend hours coming up with role-play games to save the day and fun ideas for new adventures.
  • WOODEN FOOD.

    I babysat a nephew years ago who was three and he played with this chopping playset for literally over an hour saying “I chopping! I chopppppppping!” with glee the whole time. We bought one long before we had kids and pulled it out whenever another kid came over. Every single 2-3 year old is in heaven with this set! Also, the cute fruit version was the perfect two-year-old gift for my son’s birthday. 
  • Food Service Fun.

    I’ve been floored at the amount of time my son fell in love with this ice cream counter set. It’s played with daily! Little ones can practice everyday activities of preparing and ordering food while they work on gross motor skills. We’re now a huge fan of the ice cream scoop set, the cookie set with a cookie sheet, the pizza set, the birthday cake set, and the Make-a-Cake Mixer set. Also, did I mention the engaging activities of ordering food is not only a great game, but these play activities are perfect for learning social skills and social norms.

the Best Board Games for Kids
Best Games

  • Trouble.

    Board games for three-year-olds can be hard to find, but this is an easy one that helps kids practice learning different colors and get a head start on counting and math skills.
  • Memory Game.

    Find a set with their favorite character and practice memory skills with these cards. It’s an easy way to turn one of their favorite things or characters into memory games they’ll enjoy!
  • Let’s go Fishin’.

    I’ve yet to meet a three-year-old who didn’t love this fun game! It’s a simple activity: grab a fishing pole and try to hook a fish mouth from the moving game board. Kids of plenty of fun and stay busily hooked on this game. It’s also a great place to practice fine motor skills!

Read a Thon Readers
Educational Activities/Educational Toys

  • Read!

    I’m a former English teacher, so you’ll hear me preach about reading and building literacy skills all the livelong day! I’m a firm believer in surrounding kids with books, and reading at least five books a day with your kids.
    You can incorporate weekly library trips, attend library story time, or just start a small library and read what you have. It’s one of the most important aspects of early childhood development, and little minds grow exponentially when they are read to!
    Be sure to check out The Best Books for three-year-olds
  • Koala Crate.

    If you want to dive into STEM a Koala Crate subscription is one of the best ways to do this! We’ve been subscribers for years and are always impressed by every box.
  • Lovevery Play kits.

    The Lovevery block set is one of the most fantastic toys I’ve ever seen! It’s a perfect Christmas or birthday gift for a three-year-old. But their play boxes with toys and projects designed for age-specific children is phenomenal! You’ll love the activities for three-year-olds they’ve created! It’s so worth looking into!
  • Magnatiles/Magnetic Blocks.

    These are just about the best investment we made for independent play! It’s a favorite toddler toy because they can figure out the magnets easily. But there are so many great ideas and simple activities to play with PicassoTiles. Plus, they’re an excellent STEM toy! This Deal is hard to beat!
  • Building Blocks.

    If I had to choose one toy only for my house, it would be a solid set of wooden blocks. My kids have come up with approximately a billion interesting activities and their own way to use building blocks. From constructing homes to building roads for cars, to creating support systems for every other toy, I can’t believe the important skills of innovation my kids have learned early due to blocks!
  • Include them in your daily routine.

    My favorite thing about age three is their ability to mimic and learn. When I create space to let my kids in on everyday routines and simple household chores, I let them in on an important piece of child development.
    My kids have learned to work out by my side (and toddler burpees and pushups are hilarious for the record), pick up the house, clean up after themselves, and do some simple food prep.
    If you’re planning on a Montessori preschool, you’ll realize even more what a good idea it is to include them in real-life tasks and learning!

Like these three-year-old activities? Be sure to check out these posts too: 

The Best Books for Three-Year Olds

Toddler Gift Ideas

GoNoodle for Kids

Weekend Children Activities: 105 Fun Family Activities to Do on the Weekend

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