Last Updated on January 1, 2023
Trying to keep your 3-year-old preoccupied is much easier than you think. There is an abundance of activities that they will enjoy, and you will too!
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in and discuss some fun activities that can be done regularly and without much effort.
Top 21 Best Activities For 3-Year-Olds
Toys, toys, and more toys
At this age, kids start recognising different shapes, letters and numbers. They like to play with wooden blocks and functional toys such as “push”, “pull”, and “lift”. Three-year-olds are much more independent, so don’t be afraid to get the large toys and ones they can play with alone.
They also start to learn colours and coordination, so look for toys that encourage those skills. It’s also an excellent time to get some board games.
Plenty of puzzles
Try doing puzzle games with them using pictures of animals or shapes. Doing puzzles that kids love is a great way of spending time with them and challenging their cognitive skills at the same time.
My little one loves singing songs and counting in different tones, using her voice in different ways. We have tried karaoke using various singalongs, which are plentiful on YouTube.
Visit a zoo
One of our favourite outdoor activities for 3-year-olds is taking them to the zoo or farm. Visiting a zoo in the UK regularly can be expensive and difficult for some. But farms are much cheaper and more accessible. Visiting a farm is a great way for children to get up close and personal with some of their favourite animals.
Play in the pool or bathtub
Using an outdoor pool for your child to splash around and play is a great way to encourage outdoor play and get familiar with water. This can be useful if you’re planning to start them on swimming lessons in the future too.
Take them to softplay
Now that your child can climb, jump and run, it’s time to take them to softplay. It’s also important to teach them how to play safely with other kids, which is why softplay is a good opportunity for kids to mix.
Get them interested in nature
Kids this age love seeing different animals (such as squirrels, cats and dogs) and playing with children of the same age, so take them on walks in the local park. They enjoy looking for things by themselves so when you are at the park, let them find treasures on their own (like bugs or rocks). It’s also an educational way of discovering different types of plants and animals in their habitats.
Also, take them on a hike near water or the forest. A good time for this is right before naptime because the fresh air will help them sleep better at night.
Riding bikes and scooters
Now that your child can walk independently, it’s time to get them their first bike (with training wheels). Older kids might also like scooters or even rollerblades! This is a great age to introduce them to these types of toys because they are much better on their feet now, so they should be able to handle the physical challenge.
Encourage more reading
Reading is always good from a young age, but it’s unlikely that your 3-year-old will be able to read by himself. Therefore, always encourage them to go through magazines and books by themselves. Discussing pictures and talking about what we read and see is excellent for communication and improving their chances of picking up reading quicker. My child loves looking at animal books and collecting miniature toys of those animals.
Use a PC or laptop
This is a good time to introduce your child to a computer or similar device (not a phone or tablet). Kids love imitating adults, so by using a keyboard, they can sit with their parents and slowly begin to learn the alphabet. They may even start typing out their own jumbled-up story!
Also, learning how to use a keyboard and mouse has many benefits. For example, they can use the mouse to paint.
In this day and age, an older sibling may already be using a console, and the chances are that your 3 year old is grappling for the controller. If so, you can perhaps introduce your child to age-appropriate video games at this stage, which can improve their hand-eye coordination and other skills depending on the type of game.
Enrol them in classes
My little one also goes to gymnastics class, which she absolutely loves. But you can also introduce them to dance classes, karate and many more different activities at this age. This will help improve their listening and social skills.
Go to the cinema
At three, many kids can now sit quietly and patiently through a movie at home. So why not let them experience the big screen? For treat time, I love going to the cinema with my daughter. We usually pick out a movie that looks funny, sit down before the show, and try to guess what will happen by reading the synopsis.
At this age, kids love to play dress up. For example, my 3-year-old likes to wear different clothes and pose in front of the mirror. She can easily spend an hour trying on different outfits. This is good because now she likes to dress herself in the morning (but not so good when she fusses with the outfit I choose!).
At 3 years old, it’s time for your child to start imitating adults with roleplay and costumes. My daughter started doing this at around 2 years old. There are a lot of costumes available online for them to dress up in and try imaginative play, such as being a policeman or a particular Disney character.
Eye-spy and other games
At this age, my little one loves to engage in some of the popular fun games that we’re all used to. For example, she likes to play “I Spy” where she lies on the floor and points to things around her. We also play games like “Simon Says” and “Hide and Seek” for fun.
Also another fun activity we do is play “Pass It On”, where we both sit on a chair and pass the toy to each other in turn.
Try some painting
If you’re interested in art, try getting your child paints and paper where they can have fun creating their own masterpieces.
Most 3-year-olds love painting but make sure you use washable paint, because it can get messy! For example, we love to paint on plastic plates or pieces of cardboard, with a waterproof membrane underneath to keep the area clean. If you don’t mind the mess, finger painting is great fun and very engaging too.
Try some crafting
Kids start developing fine motor skills at 3 years old, so it’s a good time for them to start using scissors and paintbrushes. Older kids may enjoy doing crafts or building things with small tools.
For kids that like crafts, perhaps get them some bits and pieces from Hobbycraft and try making something they really enjoy. For example, you could make some binoculars from loo roll, or a photo album from some mounting board and cutout photos.
Move onto LEGO
This age is all about building play structures, so let them run wild with their imagination.
This is also a good age to move on from building blocks to more complex LEGO. Sit and build something together. Some LEGO kits come with instructions on how to build a car or something similar. Use these instructions and go through them with your child until the end result is accomplished.
Host a puppet show
Most three-year-olds love some light-hearted entertainment. Keeping young kids busy with a sock puppet can be so much fun. You’ll be surprised how enjoyable this can be.
Plenty of fun activities for 3-year-olds involve bubbles, and blowing bubbles is one of the best. Kids get incredibly excited at the site of bubbles and especially when they get to blow big ones and chase after them too.
If you’re restricted to indoors, you can run a hot bath with some bubble bath. Get in the bath tub with your little one and enjoy the soak and bubble time together.
As you can see, there are so many great ideas and fun activities for 3-year-olds that you really are spoilt for choice.
Try at least one or two of these per day, and you’ll see how quick and fun the day can be. Not only are these fun ideas that can entertain, but in many cases will encourage sensory play and improve motor skills.
Ash is a proud father of two wonderful kids; a hyperactive young toddler and her sports-crazy older brother. When Ash isn’t running around doing fatherly duties, he’s researching and writing up articles on improving the well-being of children and their parents.