Ten more things to do with your three-year-old

  1. Build a fort and spend some time in it with your child. You’ll get bonus points if you turn off all the lights and use flashlights.
  2. Make an indoor “sandbox.” Fill a large box with rice, dry beans, or wheat. Hide objects in the grain for a treasure hunt, and provide spoons and bowls for transferring objects.
  3. Clean something. No, seriously. Give your child a rag and a spray bottle full of water and your little “helper” will be content for many minutes.
  4. Make a giant picture. Tape a sheet of wrapping paper (white side out) to the wall and provide paint, markers, crayons, or whatever you have. Just keep an eye out for the surrounding walls. Duller brown-paper wrap or bags make great canvases for chalk.
  5. Play a game. Even if your child can’t follow the rules, you’ll still enjoy setting out the pieces together and moving them around.
  6. Play flashlight tag. Get out two flashlights and turn out the lights. Move your flashlight around the room and tell your child to “catch” your beam. Reverse roles.
  7. Paper cup bowling. Set up six paper cups in a triangular formation on the floor. Roll a tennis ball toward them and see how many you can knock down.
  8. Paint cookies. Make and roll out some basic sugar cookie dough. “Paint” the cookies with paintbrushes using a mixture of 1 egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon water, and several drops food coloring for each color. Bake as directed.
  9. String art. You’ll need some string, white glue, and a piece of paper. Pour some glue into a saucer or small bowl. Soak pieces of string in the glue and arrange on the paper. Let dry horizontally and thoroughly before displaying. If you child is squeamish about messy hands, keep a wet washcloth handy.
  10. Play a color-matching game. Find three containers, such as bowls, and cover the bottoms with different colors of paper. Walk around the house and fill the bowls with objects that match the colors in the bowls.


  1. We love the sand box idea. We got a almost brand new little tikes sensory table on the side of the road. WE cleaned it up and put beans, snow, and rice, and what have you in the winter.

    Great list.

  2. Fun, fun ideas. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely be trying some of these with our little guy.

  3. We have done the sandbox thing. And I usually give my 3yo a rag and spray bottle. But for the 1yo I give them a baby wipe and let them clean what ever they can reach. Keeps them busy for a long time. They also like to rinse the dishes while I load. And have them sort the silverware into the proper spots in the drawer while you put away the other dishes.

  4. What wonderful ideas!! I must confess, I have been a little uncreative with the last child. Poor Boo is content to watch a cartoon.