This post contains Amazon affiliate links which means, I might earn a tiny percentage if you click on one of the links and later end up purchasing something from Amazon. Trust, me it’s pennies, and you don’t pay a cent more to use my links. See my full disclosures here.
Lately, I’ve been making a mental list of things that keep my 3 year old entertained while I work. Since I work from home, I could easily plop him in front of the TV the whole time, but that makes me cringe a little every time I do it. So, when something DOES work to keep him entertained for 30 minutes straight or longer, I have been making a mental note. Now, I have a nice little list of toddler activities for you!
Of course, every kid is different, but my youngest is not always the best at independent play. But, these ideas have worked for me (and my readers). I hope at least one of them works for you.
If you want even more ideas on how to entertain a little one during what should be nap-time, check out my post, Quiet Time Boxes for the Child that Doesn’t Want to Nap.
Kinetic Sand. This stuff is a lifesaver. Seriously. This is the one thing that keeps him entertained the longest. Is it messy? Yes. Is it easier to clean up than play-doh? Absolutely. That’s why I love it. I can just sweep it up after and don’t have to get on my hands and knees picking up play-doh stuck to the floor.
If they get bored with the toys that come with it, give them something weird. My son LOVES using his tiny construction vehicles to scoop up the sand, and one thing he really loves? Is a screwdriver. He will divide that sand up with that thing all. day. long. (Ok, not really, but for a long time)
Matchbox Carwash. One day, he filled the bathroom sink up with water, unbeknownst to me and started a car wash. Best. Idea. Ever. He played there for 30 minutes. Sure, he splashed a little, but totally worth it. If you don’t want water all over the bathroom, make your own car wash in a large tupperware container.
Turkey Baster in the sink. Weird. I know. But, something about filling it up and squirting it out made his day.
Watering flowers outside with a bucket. Most kids love doing this. Even my 8 year old. But, little ones especially love it. You can also let them paint rocks with water, or spray stuff with a water bottle.
Snack time with dump trucks. This was my husband’s idea. Cookie sheet, goldfish and pretzels, and his dump trucks. He was content scooping up his food, and then eating it for a really long time.
Build a fort and give him a pile of books. Kids love forts. Mine are no exception. I set up a fort for him since he is on the bottom bunk of his bunk bed, and he stayed in there for a solid half hour.
Measuring cups with water. Outside, of course. Add a big tupperware container and toy cars again, and you’ll have him entertained for a long time. Add a squirt of dishwashing liquid so he has bubbles, and he’ll be in heaven.
Lego Duplos. Hands down, as far as toys go, these toys get played with the most. I have a big bucket, and he can build for long periods of time and be totally entertained! The Construction set is his favorite.
Circle toys in a toy catalog. This one surprised me. We got a toy catalog, and he was enthralled. Give them a pen, and they’ll be entertained for a long time!
And, when you run out of ideas, it’s always great to ask your friends! So I asked my Facebook readers about activities and random things found around the house that keep their little ones entertained. Here are some of my favorite answers they gave:
Shannon said the favorite toy in her house was a Paw Patrol Umbrella
Muffin Pan for sorting a big tin of buttons from Lisa at What Lisa Cooks
“Kitchen sink, step stool, dish soap, a cup & some silverware!! *used sparingly.” by Leigh
“My kids like to put a bucket in the center of the room and try to toss pennies in it” by Diana
Kassi said, “Pincer spoon tea infuser. The 2 year old was fascinated by it and tried to grab everything she could find with it!”
Grabber from the Dollar Store by Carly (Favorite toy in our house too). Find one like it here.
Lara said, “I created a “toy drawer” in the kitchen when the kids were little and it included every melamine plate, spatula, plastic cup, measuring cup, wooden spoon etc. When I was cooking three kids would inevitably end up on my kitchen floor with their “toys”.
Full Toilet Paper Rolls acting as bays of hay for farm play by Heather.
Raw Spaghetti for building and counting by Wendi.
Mandy said, “Feathers. Alphabet magnets. Calculator.”
Heather said, “We bought plastic connectable bendable tubes and marbles when my son was 4. He would sit forever and make new marble chutes.”
Untangling Paperclips by Kristin.
Kitchen Whisk by Unremarkable Files.
Nesting Dolls by Anu.
Sondra said, “Empty boxes, of course. Sometimes I throw her in one with some crayons. Also, poker chips. Poker chips and anything else (pots, bowls, spoons, pitchers, etc.)”
Heather said, “For the messy projects, tape a dollar store vinyl tablecloth to the table. Easy cleanup. When my kids were little, I would stock up on them after holidays when they were on clearance.”
Lea said, “ I mixed dried beans, rice and sometimes small pasta shapes together. Throw a shower curtain or a cheap plastic tablecloth from the dollar store on the floor.
Add mix to large bin- If it’s big enough, don’t be surprised if they sit right in the middle. wink emoticon. Supply with different utensils, funnels, measuring cups and bowls.“
Carly said, “Dot to dot for tiny tots! It uses dry erase markers (wipes clean), is portable and spiral bound so it lays flat, includes mazes and drawings, and it’s ridiculously engaging for my 3 1/2 year old son.”
Meridith said, “Dish soap, hose, sliding glass door. Finger “painting” fun in the suds (outside!) & easy clean up! smile emoticon”
Jilly said, “A bucket of water, a paintbrush and a paved area or brick wall to “paint” on. Dries very quickly for endless play.”
Other ideas mentioned by several people were calculators, playdoh, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, and boxes…all great ideas!
What has worked for YOUR little ones? Let us know in the comments!
Perfection Pending is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com
You might want to head on over to my FB page and give me a like so you don’t miss out on great mom discussions like this one!