Activities for 3 Year Olds: 20 Ideas

Activities for 3 Year Olds: 20 Ideas

They’ve reached the grand old age of 3. Now your child can do adult things like dress and feed themselves – and even make friends – they might seem all grown up. But with all these new-found skills, what can you be doing to keep them entertained? And what can they do to entertain themselves? Well, we need to talk about activities for 3 year olds.
Here, we’re sharing both fun games and learning activities for 3 year olds. So, get ready for playtime!

In this article: 📝

  • What should a typical 3 year old be doing?
  • How do I keep my active 3 year old busy?
  • Things for 3 year olds to do outside

What should a typical 3 year old be doing?

Is there such a thing as a typical 3 year old? Just like the grownups they’ll turn out to be, every single one of them moves at their own pace, with their own likes and dislikes.

Yes, there are some things that you can safely expect to happen in their third year. But if your little one is not yet chatting away confidently or fully potty trained, there’s still plenty of time for them to develop these skills.

  • They’re talking. On average, 2 year olds know somewhere between 50 and 200 words. By the age of 3, your little one could know more than 300 – and may be able to string them together into proper sentences.

  • They can do things more independently. Getting dressed, eating, even going to the bathroom. Adulthood’s on the horizon!

  • They might be ready to make friends. (With a little help from you.) At the age of 3, your little one may be becoming aware of other people’s feelings. This can make them better sharers – and friends.

  • They may be much more agile. Kicking, throwing, catching balls, hopping on one foot, running, riding a tricycle. All things a 3-year-old might be learning to do. It makes for a lot of fun!

  • They can just understand so much more. Counting, remembering stories, and recognizing and naming colors, objects, and pictures.

  • Creating and imagining. This can mean scary things like monsters under the bed, but it makes for an amazing resource in creative play.

  • Starting to write and draw? Some kids at 3 can write a few capital letters and draw simple figures. An almost inexhaustible activity for 3 year olds.

How do I keep my active 3 year old busy?

As they’re developing so quickly, a 3 year old is likely to be continually on the hunt for new things to do.

That’s a crucial (if sometimes exhausting) part of their growth.

But don’t worry. Keeping your 3 year old busy can be easy with these activities.

🎂 You might also like: 12 Birthday Party Ideas for 3 Year Olds

Indoor activities for 3 year olds

On a rainy day, when you’re not sure how to entertain a 3 year old, here are some activities that can help:

  • Books. Picture books, story books, even catalogues or magazines. Reading or just looking at pictures with you can be a great way for your child to learn what’s going on in the world around them.

  • Having a chat. Just talking to each other is a great learning activity for a 3 year old. Everything you say to a kid helps improve their language – and they feel like they’re being listened to. Try the big questions: What do you want to be when you grow up?

  • Easy baking. Cooking is science in action. Sprinkling some flour and getting their hands messy is a delight for 3 year olds.

  • Paint (by numbers?). Fill in the numbered gaps or let them get creative (with precious things protected!).

  • Drawing. As creative as painting but less messy. They can try to draw family members, with speech bubbles to practice writing.

  • Play dough! The soft, colorful doughy stuff is a 3 year old’s dream.

  • Imagining a story. Dream up characters and crazy plotlines – and you can even draw them too. It’s a great way for your child to use their imagination.

  • Dance party. Dance away to some Disney tunes (or your fave songs), or come up with a dance routine together.

  • Build a fort. By the age of 3, your little one could be ready for the world’s best game for kids: building a fort and being king (or queen) of the castle.

  • Dress up and role play. Who’s the princess? Who’s the superhero? Or who wants to be the storekeeper, doctor, chef, or firefighter? All that’s needed is some imagination and some old clothes for costumes.

  • Free play. How to entertain a 3 year old? Let them entertain themselves! Solo free play is when they’ll take risks, push boundaries, and learn to look after themselves.

  • TV and devices? The dreaded “screen-time” can be made out to be the enemy of good parenting. But, in reality, it’s up to you to decide what, when, and how much is sensible.

Things for 3 year olds to do outside

Outside, the big wide world awaits. It needn’t be a scary place. With supervision and an eye for safety, outside is where the best activities for 3 year olds happen.

  • Bug hunt. Arm your 3 year old with a magnifying glass and let them look for and study bugs. It’s a captivating learning activity for curious 3 year olds.

  • Bubbles! Now that your 3 year old is getting more coordinated with their fingers, give them a bubble wand to blow. Pure magic.

  • Kick a ball. A fun game for a 3 year old can be to just kick a ball back and forth. They won’t get it every time, but it’ll help strengthen their physical development.

  • Neighborhood tricycle tour. Accompany your little one on a tour of the neighborhood. If they’re already able to ride a trike, even better.

  • Running race. Running is a skill that 3 year olds are just starting to get the hang of. Encouraging your little one to practice can help.

  • Invite a neighbor over. Making friends can still be hard for 3 year olds. But having someone to play alongside can help build social skills.

  • Sing songs together. By the age of 3, they might know the names of their favorite nursery rhymes. Do a singalong.

  • Take inside games outside. How to make indoor activities for 3 year olds even more fun? Take them outside.

Further reading
Activities for 4 Year Olds: 22 Ideas
100+ ‘Would You Rather?’ Questions for Kids
18 Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers
24 Fun Easter Activities for Kids
How Long is Summer Break?

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