We’ve Discovered the Best Ways to Keep Your Three-Year-Old Busy

It’s a big world out there, and nobody’s more ready to jump in the mix than your three-year-old. From outings to easy activities you can do at home, we’ve got you covered: Read on for our crib sheet for keeping them happy.

photo: Donnie Ray Jones via flicker

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1. Pack a picnic and find a new park in your neighborhood.

2. Make a carwash for your tricycles, scooters, and bikes.

3. Explore emotions with Mr. Potato Head (or use your smart phone to take pictures of each other expressing different emotions).

photo: SL Smith Photography

4. Use vegetable oil, a water bottle, food coloring, and an Alka Seltzer to make easy DIY lava lamps (without the lamps). SL Smith Photography shows us how in this great tutorial.

5. Write secret messages with a white crayon on typing paper, then let your little sleuth uncover them as she paints using watercolor. See how it’s done over at education.com.

6. Create toilet paper tube animals. We love the how-to from Creative Me, Inspired You.

photo: Library Rachel via Flickr 

7. Play hopscotch on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and a pinecone.

8. Practice fine motor skills by stringing a beaded necklace (we like how Schooling a Monkey does it).

9. Get dressed up and have a tea party.

photo: Anna Ranson via The Imagination Tree

10. Cut out shapes from cardboard or sturdy card stock, then let your kiddo “weave” colorful yarn or ribbons around it. You can even make shapes from letters or numbers for added learning. Find out how to turn it into a hanging mobile over at The Imagination Tree.

11. Play balloon tennis with rackets made of paper plates and paint sticks (or just use your hands). We like how Vanessa’s Values explains the game.

12. Let them trace basic shapes onto paper, then cut out the shapes.

photo: This Little Home of Mine

13. Add velcro dots to colorful popsicle sticks and help your little learner form letters with them. Check out this tutorial from This Little Home of Mine.

14. Bake cookies together and let him do the pouring and mixing.

15. Let them draw on your windows with dry erase markers.

photo: Micah Sittig via Flickr

16. Play hide and seek.

17. Go on a scavenger hunt in your back yard. See how we do it by clicking here.

18. Cut strips into paper bags, then use colorful construction paper strips to weave through the bag. The Imagination Tree breaks it down for us in this tutorial.


photo: Laughing Kids Learn

19. Draw, glitter, decorate, and cut paper plate crowns, like they do at Laughing Kids Learn.

20. Throw a few flat sheets over the dining room table and let them pretend it’s a fort, castle, cave, spaceship, etc.

21. Use a cereal box to create a puppet theatre. We love this step-by-step from Sand in My Toes.

22. Head to a free story time at your local library.

photo: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr 

23. Have a dance party.

24. Make a fairy garden. Check out the tutorial at Living Well Mom for ideas.

25. Play follow the leader.

How do you rock your three-year-old’s world? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey


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