Updated on April 20, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
Our article covers everything, from educational toys and fun ideas to indoor and outdoor activities! These highly rated activities are budget friendly. Plus they are easy to do so your 3-year-old can play independently while you get other stuff done.
We also go over free activities for three-year-olds towards the end of the article that will keep your preschooler active without spending a dime.
21 Engaging Activities for 3-Year-Olds
Jumpstart your little one’s literacy skills with this fantastic puzzle! Kids love putting puzzles together. This Melissa and Doug edition will teach your child how to match words up with the picture and spell the word with letter puzzle pieces. Kids will be proud of themselves for learning how to spell new words!
Kids usually start to get proficient with holding crayons and pencils at age 3. This is the perfect time to work on basic writing skills! Your 3-year-old will learn letter recognition and how to write letters with this fun tablet! They will feel like a big kid with their own device as they work on their alphabet.
Keep your three-year-old busy with counting and sorting cute teddy bears! This kit offers so many choices. Use the bears to count, sort into color groups, or make patterns. You can also work on matching the bears to the color pots or play a game with the bear dice!
Preschoolers need space to write their letters. This activity book helps them work on their letters with big lines to trace. The book also offers the option to simply use fingers to trace letters, which helps build pre-writing skills. Kids can also move on to using a pencil to make their letters.
Build hand strength and fine motor skills with this fun activity! Kids love creating different shapes with the rubber bands and pegs. They will have to use their dexterity as they stretch the rubber bands and place them on the pegs. Every shape is a new creation!
6. Peg Board
Your 3-year-old can work on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they stack their pegs. It takes full concentration to get the pegs into the little holes! Kids will be entertained seeing how many pegs they can stack along with building towers of different heights.
Kids will need to know how to cut with scissors when they reach school. 3 years old is the perfect age to start developing scissor skills. This activity book is great for young children! Your toddler will learn how to cut straight lines, shapes, and animals!
Your little person is at the right age to start understanding turn-taking and rule following with fun games. Pancake Pile Up is fun for preschoolers. They can cook-up their own creations by picking a card in the pile and following the pancake stack pattern. This versatile game can be played alone or with others. Plus kids love to pretend to play with the pancakes.
9. Play Doh
This activity doesn’t need much introduction! 3-year-olds are the right age to start appreciating all the fun Play Doh has to offer. This basic set is wonderful for getting them started. Cut-out shapes, flatten and scoop tools will entertain your child for a long time!
At this age children are observant and have a keen eye! This activity book is perfect for them to look for things that are hard to see. Every page focuses on a letter and takes kids along on a guessing game to find the hidden pictures!
Your child will feel like a big kid zipping around the neighborhood on their scooter! Some preschoolers outgrow the stroller but aren’t big enough for a bike. Scooters are a great solution for getting around! This excellent scooter lets your kids stand up or sit to get around. If your child isn’t quite ready for a scooter then a tricycle can be a perfect option too.
12. Baseball T
Kids love going on scavenger hunts! Move the game outdoors and instill a love of nature in the process. Go Find It is a fun game that comes with a variety of things to find outdoors. Play a game of I-spy or hunt for things in your yard. Your toddler will love exploring and seeing what they can find!
14. Sand Toys
Pretend you’re at the beach in your sandbox or go to the beach! This tote-along sand toy kit has everything your three-year-old needs to build sand castles! Shovels, pails, rakes, and sand molds will help your child create tons of sand sculptures.
15. Indoor Sport Set
Conduct an indoor hockey or soccer camp! This indoor sports set comes with two goal nets, a soccer ball, and hockey sticks. All are made of lightweight materials and are the perfect size for your 3-year-old. They can work on their kicking or shooting skills no matter what the weather is like outside!
Can’t get to the bowling alley? Set one up at home! This fun bowling set comes with 10 brightly colored pins and 2 soft balls. Your child will love knocking down pins and setting them up again! You can set the game up to your liking by using all 10 pins or however many your child wants.
17. Big Blocks
Toddlers are into building things. Add some large building blocks to the mix for extra fun! Your child can make forts to hide in or build walls to knock down. This set comes in a variety of sizes and is made of cardboard so it’s great for indoor play.
18. Water Beads
A newer option in sensory play, water beads are a fun choice. Your little one will enjoy feeling the squishy wet beads as they scoop and pour them. They can also work on fine motor skills with the tweezers and tools that come with the set.
Put a new spin on building things with this gear set! Your growing child can design different creations and watch the gears spin. Easy to put together and pull apart lets your child play without needing assistance.
20. Wikki Stix
This sticky yarn activity book offers hours of fun! Your toddler can mold and shape the Wikki Stixs into different shapes and lines using the templates in the book. The stix can also be used to make 3D creations too!
STEM toys are a great way to learn about science, technology, engineering and math, even at an early age. This STEM toy is fun and age appropriate for 3 year olds. Your child can build and take apart different pieces of this cute bulldozer and get a sense of how machines work.
7 Free Activities for Three-Year-Olds
1. Homemade Moon Dough
Make your own sensory stuff with moon dough! Mix together 8 cups of all purpose flour with 1 cup of oil. The fun texture will be fun to dig fingers into!
2. Build Your Own Library
Make a fun reading nook by building a fort and filling it with books and pillows. Your 3-year-old will be cozy as they snuggle in with a good book in a cool reading spot.
3. Decorate A Box
Make coloring a 3D experience by giving your child an old box and some markers. It will be amazing to see what they draw. A house, robot or car or something else! Coloring a box offers them a different perspective with art.
4. Color Sorter
Give your toddler some busy work by making your own color sorter. Simply take 3-4 containers and label with red, yellow, green, and blue paper. Then cut strips of the same colored paper. Mix them up and let your child sort the paper into the correct container.
5. Sock Puppet
Turn an old sock into a puppet! Let your preschooler draw a face with markers. Add some yarn for hair or buttons for eyes! Your child can come up with a puppet show with their new friend.
6. Pasta Art
There are so many things you can do with dried pasta! Your child can glue and paste pasta to make a picture. If you have some string on hand your child can make a pasta necklace!
7. Ice Excavation
Let your child uncover what’s hidden in the iceberg! Simply fill a bowl of water and put a small figure in the water. Pop the bowl into the freezer. After the water freezes take it out of the bowl and let your 3-year-old excavate the ice! You can use spoons to scrape or a straw to drop warm water on top to help melt everything away.
3-year-olds are at a great age where they can play independently and start to do more big kid things. This complete list of activities gives you many options to offer your child! Check out some of these great ideas and your child will never be bored!