Have an under-5 at home? Need some ideas for entertaining your preschooler? Here are 50 fun things to do with your toddler:
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#1. Dressing Up
We have a box with costumes and clothes, scarves, hats, face paints, jewellery, wigs. You can pick great stuff in the charity shops. Always great fun, why should dressing up be limited to Halloween?
#2. Read Together
Toddlers and preschoolers love books, they love being read to and it’s a great way of encouraging learning and bonding with your child. Many parents think books are only for bedtime, why not pick a time every day where you sit down together and read a story?
Here’s one of our favourite authors Michael Rosen performing a classic book for smallies, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt:
#3. Splash and Swim
Get into the pool and splash about with other parents & toddlers. Swimming is a great activity to do with your preschooler
#4. Go for a Toddle
A walk around your neighbourhood or nearby park can be fun, even in the rain! Be prepared for your walk to be a bit slow with your toddler or preschooler but you can have fun anyway.
#5. Play I Spy
The colours version is ideal for preschoolers who haven’t yet learned their letters but know their colours e.g. I Spy With My Little Eye something red
You might also enjoy reading 10 Fun Ideas for Entertaining Preschoolers at home
Using some masking tape, create a racing track for cars to race around the living room by using the tape twice to make a parallel track.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Tuksal’s Fun For Kids Pinterest Board.
#7. Join a Local Parent & Toddler group
This is a great way for your toddler to meet and mix with children of their own age and it is a good way for parents to meet other local parents.
There are loads of foods that preschoolers can safely help with making, and if they make it themselves you can be guaranteed they will eat it.
You might also enjoy reading 12 Useful Cooking Skills Easily Mastered by Preschoolers
#9. Have a Colour Day
Choose a colour then ask your preschooler to find and wear clothes that colour, eat food that colour, find a toy that colour, etc. This is a great way for younger kids to learn their colours and also to get children to try and eat new foods!
#10. Make Gloop
Make gloop or oobleck! Mix cornflour and water and some food colouring (optional) until it forms a thick paste. It will run through your fingers when you try to lift it but if you pat it it is hard. Lots of fun for mums and kids.
“The very weird texture will make even big kids laugh. It also washes out of clothes easily and it doesn’t matter if it gets eaten because it’s natural so even small toddlers or babies in their high-chair can join in the fun!”, Sarah D
An arts and crafts box is an essential for any preschooler parent! The Euro / Poundsaver shops are a great place for picking up supplies.
A tube of glitter, some pipe cleaners and child friendly glue can easily fill a couple of hours.
#12. Build a Fort with Blankets and Pillows
Build a den out of the sofa cushions, chairs, clothes rack with a blanket draped over or create a fort out of a big cardboard box with packing tape to hold the sides together.
#13. Have Fun With Music
A child is never too young to be introduced to different types of music, and we have some playlists with favourite tunes that we created on Spotify that are great to put on and play.
#14. Play Bedtime Races
“This was introduced to our house when our daughter was a baby and we would try and tire her out before bedtime in an attempt to get her to sleep through the night! It has developed over the years but most nights before pyjamas, the kids have races, running, crawling, hopping, backwards etc. It’s always fun and it does burn off any excess energy before bedtime!”
#15. “Paint” the Wall or Fence
Give your toddler or preschooler a big paint brush, abucket of water and a wall or fence out in the back garden or yard and let them loose!
Spread out the picnic blanket/kids table and set out little plates with snacks and drinks and napkins and enjoy an indoor picnic! Cuddly toys also make useful guests!
Photo [foilman via photopin cc]
#17. Watery Fun
My daughter, when she was 3, loved nothing more than a jug of water, various plastic bowls, spoons and the freedom to pour and splash and mix. I would set her up on the kitchen floor so I could just mop it all up afterwards.
#18. Create a Town in a Cardboard Box
If you have a giant cardboard box, why not draw a town on the bottom of the box, with roads, tracks, bridges, parks, car-parks, etc. Add some wooden building blocks, cars,trains and some wooden/plastic animals. And let your kid’s imagination run wild. Older kids could help with decorating/creating the scene.
#19. Sensory Fun
Sensory Boxes are good for toddlers because they offer hands on learning that is both visually and texturally attractive. Here are 7 Simple Sensory Box Ideas from creative blogger Amy Louise.
#20. Play Imaginary Games
Play shop, bank, post office, pilots, bus driver, hairdressers (a good one to distract, particularly if you have a curly haired child and you need to remove tangles!) …. The kitchen chairs are lined up to make whatever scene we are playing.
Another favourite toddler activity! Put their wet gear on including wellies and head out for a splashathon. You can always stick them in the bath as soon as you get home if they get wet and muddy! Here’s 10 Things to do Outside in the Rain.
#22. Make Play Dough
To make playdough, mix together 1 cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, then add a cup of water and mix until smooth. Add a dash of food colouring followed by 2 tablespoons of oil and cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly until the dough forms a ball.
Children will adore making play dough and they will have fun exploring different food colourings to give the dough that lovely vibrant colour. Non-toxic, cheap and easy.
#23. Play Shop
Set up a little grocery/mini supermarket with tins and packets. If you have a play till set up a checkout table and they can take it in turns to be the checkout person or the shopper. The ironing board makes a fun checkout counter and you can have some cloth shopping bags ready to put the purchases in.
#24. Visit the Zoo
Preschoolers love animals especially active ones like monkeys. Head to the zoo and enjoy some animal antics
#25. Rotate Their Toys
It’s a good idea to periodically put toys away and then take them out a few weeks later and it’s like they’re brand new to your toddler.
#26. Story Hour at the Library or a Bookstore
Many libraries offer weekly story hours for preschoolers too. Our local library has big jigsaws and blocks for small kids to play with as well as colouring sheets too. Likewise many book stores hold story hours and you can usually browse the children’s section before and after story hour too.
#27. Visit a Museum
Museums can be great places to take preschoolers as long as you supervise where they are toddling. Some museums also offer great preschooler programmes and interactive displays and dressing up for young ones.
#28. Blowing Bubbles
Preschoolers love bubbles! Pick up small bubble packs to hand out now and again, or make your own bubble mixture.
#29. Visit a Market
Stop by an outdoor farmer’s market or farm shop. They are good for showing your toddler different fruit and vegetables and helping them learn the names and maybe even trying out some when they get home.
#30. Paint Faces
Most kids love getting their faces painted, so worth having some good face-paint in the house, at all times. Also good practice for when you are hosting your birthday parties at home.
#31. Relax with a DVD or movie
It’s important to have some quiet time too. Here’s our list of 50 great family movies.
#32. Play in the Garden
#33. Get Them Involved in Chores
Pick some simple things that they can “help” you with. Maybe they could empty the tumble drier or put away their plastic cups and plates. You might enjoy our Chores by Age list.
#34. Make a Simple Obstacle Course
Use hula hoop, blanket, maybe a big cardboard box, easy things that your preschooler can climb on or inside or do.
You might also enjoy reading Get Active with these Fun Obstacle Course Ideas for Kids
Colouring with crayons or for older preschoolers chunky pens is a fun activity.
You might also enjoy reading Best Sites for Free Colouring Pages for Preschoolers
#36. Play Online
There are lots of educational and fun apps for preschoolers and interactive story apps too. Or visit toddler friendly websites like Cbeebies or Sesame Street.
#37. Chalk Fun
Take out some big chalk sticks and have fun drawing pictures on the patio or sidewalk.
#38. Make Edible Jewellery
Thread Cheerios on yarn or string to make chunky fun and edible necklaces and bracelets.
#39. Visit the Pet Store
Take a visit to a pet store and enjoy looking at the bunnies, hamsters, turtles and fish.
#40. Create an Explore Drawer
Empty one drawer and fill it with new things for your toddler to explore. E.g. ball, bowl, plastic toy, anything that won’t hurt them.
#41. Do Some Gardening
Give your toddler a small watering can as they love to water plants & flowers. Have them help you plant some seeds too in little pots.
You might also enjoy reading Making Gardening Fun for Kids
#42. Water Fun
Turn on the sprinkler or hose and let your toddler jump through it or small buckets, pots and pans make perfect containers for playing with water.
#43. Go to the Playground
Going to the playground is a favourite with most preschoolers. Most towns have a local playground, but for a change, why not try a different playground in a nearby town? Pack a picnic and make a day out of it.
#44. Have a Teddy Bear Picnic
If the weather is good, have a teddy bear’s picnic out in the garden with little snacks and sippy cups for all the guests.
#45. Sand Play
Toddlers love to mess around in the sand, particularly if in your back garden. Even if you don’t have a sand table, it’s easy to make your own, with a large shallow plastic container, and some play sand. Just remember to cover when finished, to keep the cats away!
You might also enjoy reading 23 Sensational Sand Play Ideas Your Kids Will Love
#46. Visit the Ducks
Take a trip to your local park, river or lake, and see if you can spot some ducks. (NB it used to be a thing to feed the ducks with stale bread but apparently this isn’t very good for the ducks!)
#47. Make a Sandcastle at the Beach
A great beach activity, enjoyed by young kids, time after time. Pack a bucket and spade and then hunt for pretty shells to decorate the masterpiece once it’s built.
You might also enjoy reading 50 Interesting Things to Do at the Beach with Kids
#48. Go to New Places
New places that you don’t normally visit together (e.g. post office, hardware store) can be a great way for toddlers and preschoolers to see new things and learn new words.
#49. Make Soap Muffins
Set out a muffin tin on the floor on a big beach towel (so you can mop up later), then give them a plastic spoon, cup and a big bowl of bubbles made from washing up liquid and let your preschooler make soap muffins!
#50. Have a Puppet Show
Make sock puppets or use cuddly toys to create a puppet show and let your preschooler act out some fun scenes from behind a blanket draped across 2 chairs.
Over to you now. Did you enjoy these 50 suggestions for things to do with toddlers? What’s your favourite thing to do with your toddler? Share your ideas in the comments below.