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36 Educational And Learning Activities For 3-Year-Old

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By the time children reach three years of age, they become more active and independent. A three-year-old child’s concentration span increases, but their constant search to explore new things and games makes them restless.

No matter how many new toys and games you get them, they lose interest in them quickly. And keeping them engaged for more than a few minutes at a time becomes challenging unless you engage them in meaningful activities that cater to their interests and preferences.

This post features some exciting and musing activities for three-year-olds, designed to keep them busy indoors and outdoors while teaching them a thing or two about art and crafts.

35+ Activities For Three-Year-Olds

Arts And Crafts To Improve Creativity

Art and craft activities are said to improve children’s cognitive abilities as they enable them to use multiple areas of the brain. Using both their hands and fingers also encourages the development of muscles in those areas and could improve their fine motor skills.

Here are a few art and craft activities for three-year-old kids.

1. Fabric painting

For a three-year-old child, fabric painting could be something basic to teach them a few painting techniques, shapes, and colors.

You will need

Old fabric or T-shirts, fabric colors, stencils or chart papers, small sponges

How to do

  • Get ready-made stencils or take a thick chart paper and make some shapes like stars, hearts, drops, etc., in it to make your stencil.
  • Tape the stencil on the fabric and ask your kids to fill it with color using the sponge.
  • Once they are done, remove the tape and stencil to find surprisingly perfect shapes.
  • Repeat the process in different parts of the fabric to get a beautifully painted fabric.

Image: iStock

2. Drawing or Painting

You cannot ask a three-year to draw a masterpiece. Instead, you can help them paint or draw something with easily available tools.

You will need

A paper or a drawing book, water colors or acrylic paints or crayons, pencil, fork, brushes, or sponges.

How to do

  • Get them an appealing coloring book and ask them to fill the images in it with colors as in the reference image.
  • You can also draw some simple geometric figures like squares, circles, or triangles and ask them to color them.

Image: iStock

3. Pot Painting

Get a plain terracotta or a clay pot from your garden and let your kids add color to it.Be open-ended so that your kids use their creativity to make it beautiful in their way, even if it is not perfect.

You will need

A small empty clay pot, bright colored acrylic paints, a wax paper, and a newspaper.

How to do

  • Spread the newspaper on the floor, followed by the wax paper. Keep the clay pot upside down on the wax paper.
  • Squeeze acrylic paints around the pot’s edge so that it drips down and colors the sides of the pot. Take one color at a time and do it one after the other.
  • Don’t let the paints dry in between. Once the pot is completely covered, let it dry for at least a day.
  • You can also keep the canvas clear with a base coat of white or black and ask your kids to paint whatever they wish.

Image: iStock

4. Stamp Painting

This is one of the easiest ways to make your kid paint different patterns without much effort. You can use a variety of objects to create beautiful patterns with this art form.

You will need

Potatoes, lady’s finger, onion, natural flowers, leaves, cookie-cutter, knife, paints, drawing paper, and brushes.

How to do

  • This depends on the kind of object you choose. Let’s take a big potato, cut it into half, and with the help of a cookie cutter or a knife, make some shapes out of it. Remove the excess portion, and your stamp is ready.
  • Hand it over to your little one along with some paints.
  • Simply dip the stamp or paint the stamp with color and press it over a drawing paper or a fabric.
  • Once they stamp at different places, you can simply join them with branches, add leaves and pot to make a flower pot or bouquet.

You can also use other objects like onions, ladyfingers, flowers, and leaves to make natural patterns.

Image: iStock

5. Cup Painting

You can paint the cups and also make different creatures using painted paper cups and everyday items.

You will need

White paper cups, paints, brushes or sponges, chart papers.

How to do

  • Give a base coat to the cups with the color of the creature. Let’s say you’re making a chicken. Paint the cup yellow.
  • Draw its eyes with black and white, and nose red.
  • Cut the red chart paper to make its crown and feet and paste them on the top and bottom of the cup, respectively.

Similarly, your kids can create different characters like Peppa pig, angry bird, frog, etc.

6. Paper Plate Crafts

Just like paper cup crafts, the paper plate painting is quite interesting to do. You can make paper plate fans, paper plate turtles, and paper plate sunshine.

You will need

Disposable paper plates, paints, brushes, color charts, ice cream sticks, etc.

How to do

  • Take a paper plate, flip it towards its bottom, and color it with your favorite color or multiple colors.
  • Take the colored paper and cut it into six shapes: four feet, one head, and a tail.
  • On the head, draw the turtle’s eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stick all six shapes to the turtle, and that’s it, your paper plate turtle is ready.

You can also make a ladybug in the same way.

Image: iStock

7. Bird Feeders

A nature craft idea for three-year-olds is bird feeders of different varieties, shapes, and sizes. A well-made one is sure to attract birds to your garden.

You will need

Empty tissue paper rolls, birdseed, twine thread, vegetable shortening, popsicle sticks, and a plate.

How to do

  • Using the popsicle stick, ask your kid to spread the vegetable shortening on the empty tissue roll. This makes the paper roll water-resistant and helps it to hold the feed in place.
  • Take the bird feed on a plate and roll the tissue roll over the feed. Make sure the feed gets stuck to the roll completely.
  • Pass the twine through the tissue roll and tie it at one end, and your handmade bird feeder is ready.
  • Hang the feeder to any tree in your garden.

You can also use pine cones or cardboard to make different feeders.

Image: iStock

Sensory Developmental Activities

Sensory activities for kids stimulate their senses like touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing, balance, and movement. The benefits of sensory activities could include language development, development of fine motor skills, and problem-solving. Listed below are a variety of sensory development activities that would stimulate your child’s senses differently.

8. Playdough Crafts

Playdough is a popular activity that encourages creativity in children. But if your three-year-old has the habit of putting everything in the mouth, you need to exercise some caution. In such cases, you can opt for homemade edible playdough.

You will need

Colorful play dough, cookie cutters, play scissors, popsicle sticks, etc.

How to do

Ask your kids to use the play dough to make a simple ball, roll into a snake shape, flatten it with hands or a rolling pin.

Once they master doing these simple things, they know how to use their hands to shape the dough. Then you can ask them to make shapes using a cookie cutter or play scissors and slowly progress into making some small animals and objects.

Image: iStock

9. Pasta Bin Activity

This activity can develop the senses of touch and sound in your preschoolers. With a few items available at home, you can try this activity.

You will need

Pasta noodles, a big basket, bottles with caps, measuring jars or cups, a blanket.

How to do

  • Take a big basket and fill it with pasta or macaroni.
  • Give the empty bottles to your kids.
  • Ask them to fill the bottles with pasta using the measuring jars.
  • Once they fill all the bottles, they need to empty them and refill them.

For the sense of sound, ask them to fill each bottle to the half, secure the lid and shake it. Ask them to observe how each bottle is sounding differently, quieter, or louder. Change the quantity of pasta and ask them to check the sound again. Albeit a bit noisy, this activity can be fun.

Image: iStock

10. Frozen Treasure

This sensory activity for three-year-olds requires pre-planning and execution by the parent. It is quite apt during the summer to beat the heat.

You will need

Fresh fruits or small toy figures, freezer-safe containers, a kid-friendly tool kit with a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers, and a big tub.

How to do

  • A day before the activity, fill the freezer-safe containers with small fruits like berries, grapes, and cherries, add water, and freeze them. Fill four to five containers with different colored fruits and freeze them overnight.
  • On the day of the activity, remove all the ice blocks from the containers and put them in a big tub.
  • Hand over the tool kit to your toddlers and ask them to dig and find what’s hidden.

Image: iStock

11. Animal Sound Game

This activity of guessing the sound helps your child develop the hearing ability and also the ability to memorize things. It’s simple and does not require any crafting supplies.

You will need

A phone or a laptop.

How to do

Download some animal sounds, vehicle noises, bird chirpings. Play them for your children and ask them to guess the sound.

If they’re not familiar at first, tell them what the sound is. When they can imitate the sounds and recognize them, you can play the guessing game.

12. Smell It and Tell It

This is similar to the Guess the Sound game; only here, kids have to smell different objects and identify them. They could be edible or non-edible items but must have a unique that makes it easier for them to guess.

You will need

Fresh fruits, flowers, soaps, perfumes, a cloth to blind old, etc.

How to do

  • Blindfold your children with a soft cloth and keep various objects before them.
  • Ask them to pick one at a time, smell it, and guess what it is.
  • Score them for every correct guess and keep aside the incorrectly guessed objects.
  • Once they remove the blindfold, show them what they missed.

13. Treasure Hunt in a Sandbox

Kids love playing in the sand. So why not create a sensory game out of it?

You will need

A sensory bin or a big container, sand, coins, jewelry, etc.

How to do

Hide the coins, jewelry, and other toys in the sand. Ask your little one to explore and find all the hidden treasure. To make it more exciting, ask them to find it within a time frame.

Image: iStock

14. Pasta Sorting

This is both a sensory and learning activity. If your kids are aware of colors, this activity helps improve their knowledge of different shades of colors.

You will need

Pasta, food color, color bowls, a big container.

How to do

A day before the activity, take four portions of pasta, add different food colors to it and dry it.

On the day of the activity, mix the pasta in a big bowl, and keep the colored bowls beside it. Ask your kids to sort the pasta based on color.

15. Transferring or Shifting Activity

Shifting objects from one container to another, or from one place to another, might be easy for adults. But for toddlers, it’s a challenging activity.

You will need

Two containers, small objects like toys, cushions, etc.

How to do

Keep two containers at different places and fill one with toys. Ask your child to transfer them from one container to the other.

Learning Activities

There is some learning in activities designed for children. However, certain activities are specifically targeted at teaching specific things like colors, letters, numbers, or names. Listed below are such learning activities that keep your three-year-old engaged and entertained.

16. Color and Shape Sorters

This is a fun activity to teach colors and shapes. Your toddlers would enjoy and also learn something new.

You will need

Objects in primary and secondary colors, readily available shape sorter set.

How to do

Place primary and secondary colored objects differently and teach your kids. Once they understand the differences, mix everything, and ask them to sort.

For teaching shapes, you can buy any shape sorter game readily available. Once they learn the shapes, you can take it to the next level by asking them to sort them.

Image: iStock

17. Learn Letters and Numbers

Teaching your preschooler letters and numbers at home is a good way to engage them.

You will need

Butter beans, marker, white chart.

How to do

Mark the butter beans with letters and numbers. On the chart, draw vertical and horizontal lines to form a checkered design. Write the letters and numbers randomly in the blocks. Place the beans in a basket with the letters and numbers facing upward.

Now ask your kid to match the letters and numbers on the beans to that on the chart.

Image: iStock

18. Play with Puzzles

Puzzles are readily available and solving them can improve your child’s motor skills and cognitive and reasoning skills. In older kids, it can also help improve their concentration ability.

You will need

A readability available puzzle set.

How to do

Start with a small puzzle that has fewer pieces. Once your toddler masters it, slowly increase the difficulty level. Changing the puzzles often makes them think differently and aids in improving problem-solving skills.

Image: iStock

19. Cook Together

Cooking does not necessarily involve using the stove or fire. Teach your kids something that doesn’t involve serious cooking and let them take the joy of real cooking.

You will need

Utensils, cutlery, and cooking items.

How to do

Pick a dish and get the required items. Some ideas include sandwiches, baking cookies or cakes, and makinga salad.

Give them a small task like mixing the dough – show them how to first and let them try it independently. You can also do it together. One added benefit of this cooking class is getting the kids to make something healthy and eat the food they prepared.

Image: iStock

Outdoor Activities

Playing outdoors is what makes the activity even more interesting and exciting for the kids. However, make sure you’re taking necessary safety precautions before planning any outdoor activities for your three-year-olds. Here are a few ideas for outdoor games and activities for three-year-olds.

20. Gardening

Gardening is a simple and interesting outdoor activity for a three-year-old. Teach them some basic gardening tasks like watering plants, pruning, planting, harvesting, etc.

You will need

A small watering can or a small bucket and a mug, kid-friendly scissors, etc.

How to do

Take your kids around your garden and tell them a little about the plants you have in there. If they’re already familiar with the plants, go straight to the activity by handing them the water can.

Show them how to do so that they won’t over water it. If the water can is empty, ask them to refill it and repeat watering to the rest of the plants.

You can also teach them pruning if they understand what it is. Ask them to use their play scissors to do it along with you.

Image: iStock

21. Backyard Obstacle Course

If you have three-year-old boys who are always on the go, this backyard obstacle set-up would excite them. As it involves physical activity, it helps develop muscles, improves endurance, and aids in developing gross motor skills.

You will need

Anything available from your kids’ toys like boxes, flags, frisbees, hula hoops, balls, cones, etc.

How to do

Design your obstacle course using the items you have. Ensure the path gets the kids to jump, crawl, run, walk, balance, skip, and slide.

Image: iStock

22. Building Sandcastles

You can plan this in your backyard or on a nearby beach. Just take the kids to sand, and they will know what to do. If they don’t, you can always show them.

You will need

Sandcastle set.

How to do

If you’re planning the activity in your backyard, gather some sand at one place, give the sandcastle kit to your kids, show them some sample pictures, and leave the rest to their imagination.

Image: iStock

Indoor Physical Activities

We cannot always plan physical activities outdoors. You must have some indoor physical activity that allows your kids to move around. Listed below are a few ideas that you can try.

23. Walk Like an Animal

You don’t need any items for this activity. Just show it to them and ask your kids to imitate you.

How to do

If your three-year-olds are familiar with animal sounds and behaviors, this would be an easy and interesting activity for them. Just say the name of an animal and ask your kids to imitate. If they don’t know, you can show them how and they can imitate you.

24. Scavenger Hunt

The regular scavenger hunt is a clue-based activity. But for the tiny tots, we modify the game a little to make it simple yet fun.

You will need

White papers, pens, baskets, etc.

How to do

Before starting the activity, prepare a list of items that your kids are familiar with in the house.

Once the kids are ready, read out one item from the list and get them to bring it and place it in a box. Once they find one, call out the next item, and the next until they find all the treasure.

25. Dance Party

If you’re running short of time and ideas, one instant thing you can plan is a dance party.

You will need

Music system, some snacks, drinks, flashy lights, etc.

How to do

Set up the dance floor with lights, music, snacks, and drinks, and let the party begin. Get them to move as they want to the music or teach them easy dance steps to try with you.

Image: iStock

26. Indoor Obstacle Course

You can also plan an obstacle course indoors with some household items and some toys from your kid’s collection.

You will need

Chairs, tables, hula hoop, balance board, basket, skipping rope, play mat, and cushions.

How to do

Just design a simple obstacle course with 5-6 activities. You can incorporate some of these ideas in the activity – crawling under the chairs, passing through the tunnel made using a playmat, skipping, balancing, throwing a ball into the target, somersault, etc.

You can place cushions on the floor to prevent injuries if the child misses a step and falls.

Image: iStock

27. Yoga Practice

Teaching good habits in childhood helps the kids become better adults. Yoga is one such activity that promotes overall well-being for all age groups.

You will need

A yoga mat, some reference yoga videos.

How to do

If you’re not aware of safe yoga for kids, search some asanas that can be done by the kids. Play them on the TV and ask your kids to follow them.

Try to do along with them so that they find the activity interesting. You can make it part of their daily routine so that they become habituated to it.

Montessori Activities

Montessori activities are designed to encourage children to learn through play. These activities are designed to promote independent thinking, fine motor skills, critical analysis right from childhood. As they’re tailored around a child’s areas of interest, they help the kids to learn quickly and easily. Listed below are some fun activities inspired by Montessori techniques.

28. Toy Cleaning

Simple but an interesting activity for kids as it involves water. It also teaches them some day to day activities that we do at home.

You will need

All the washable toys of your kids (preferably plastic and silicone toys), two water tubs, dish soap, a towel.

How to do

  • Ask your toddlers to collect toys from all the rooms, sort them, and separate all the washable toys.
  • Fill both the containers with water, maybe two-inches deep.
  • Add dish wash soap to one container and make some water bubbles.
  • Ask your kids to wash each toy at a time in the soap-filled container and then rinse it in plain water.
  • Then keep them on a towel spread on the floor. Once all the toys are washed, they can wipe them with the towel.

29. Float and Sink Experiment

Let’s add some science to the fun. Teach the kids about sinking and floating with this simple water experiment.

You will need

A water tub, some natural items like leaves, twigs, flowers, stones, shells, etc., some water toys.

How to do

  • Before starting the water play, get some items like leaves, flowers, stones, sticks, shells, buds, etc., from your garden.
  • Place them next to the water tub along with the water toys.
  • Now ask your kid to sit there and drop each item at a time. Tell him to observe which item is floating and which is sinking.
  • Explain to them why some objects are floating and some and sinking.
  • Now remove everything from the water, ask questions, and then check their answers by dropping the objects.

30. Fruit Cutting

Fruits and vegetable cutting is one of the Montessori food prep activities. This enables them to use both their hands and also teaches them some practical life skills.

You will need

An apron, water, kid-friendly peeler, knife, chopping board, etc.

How to do

Ask the toddlers to clean all the veggies with water first. Each fruit needs to be cut in a certain way. Show them how to do it and ask them to do it as is.

For their safety, choose soft veggies and fruits and a blunt or kid-friendly knife that they can use for cutting.

Image: iStock

31. Hammering

Your three-year-old might be more interested in real tools than his regular toys. Well, why not let them explore the same with a kid-friendly tool set and activity.

You will need

You can purchase a readily available Nail game set that comes with all the necessary tools, including a corkboard, a wooden hammer, tack nails, some color cards, etc.

How to do

You can simply ask your kids to hammer the nails into the board by placing a plain paper in between. Once they master it, you can ask them to form shapes using some colored cards, pictures cut into pieces, etc.

A variety of activities can be created using the hammering tool kit.

Image: iStock

32. Writing on a Chalkboard

Every preschooler needs to get a good grip on pencils, chalks, or markers to develop writing skills. To avoid wasting paper, you can set up a chalkboard and offer them a clean canvas.

You will need

A blackboard, chalk pieces, board eraser, etc.

How to do

Set up the blackboard in your kid’s playing corner and give them chalk to scribble on it however they wish. If they are not comfortable standing and writing, you can place the board on the floor for a few days and let them practice.

Image: iStock

33. Moving Puzzle Game

This activity gives a new twist to puzzles, making it even more helpful for further skill development.

You will need

Any puzzle game (preferably the one your kid is familiar with)

How to do

Unlike in a regular puzzle game, keep the pieces of the puzzle in a different room. Ask your kid to solve the puzzle in the play area by bringing one puzzle piece at a time. This not only keeps them moving but also encourages them to remember which puzzle piece is required.

Image: iStock

34. Window Cleaning

Another popular Montessori activity is window cleaning. While spraying water on the windows is a thrilling sensory activity for kids, cleaning the windows improves their gross motor skills.

You will need

An empty spray bottle, white vinegar, water, a piece of cloth, or a sponge.

How to do

Just mix vinegar and water in the required proportion and fill the mixture in the spray bottle. Hand over the bottle and the cleaning material to the child, show them how to do it, and let them imitate you.

Image: iStock

35. Touch and Tell

This is a sensory Montessori activity that encourages your kids to use their sense of touch to guess the things.

You will need

Small toys that your kids are familiar with, a big bag with a drawstring or a zip closure.

How to do

Gather all the small toys your kids usually play with and keep them in the bag. Blindfold your kids and ask them to pick one toy from the bag and name it just by touching it.

36. Match the Socks

Matching colorful things is one of the best Montessori activities to improve visual coordination in your kids.

You will need

Multiple pairs of socks.

How to do

Mix all the socks pairs and ask your kid to pick each one and find its pair.

The list of activities for three-year-old children can seem exhaustive, but these are just a few of the many they can try. Pick the right activity based on your child’s interest, and you can be sure of engaging them for hours while helping them develop targeted skills. We hope these activities are of use to you and help you develop new ones to suit your child’s interests.