Energetic. Enthusiastic. And oh-so full of questions. If you guessed, “What are preschoolers, Alex?” there’s a good chance you’ve got (at least) one under your roof. To help channel those endearing qualities that give three- and four-year-olds their own special charm, we’ve mapped out helpful activities to keep them engaged. From outings to art projects to imaginative play ideas, it’s all in here.


photo: Walter via Flickr

1. With spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to take your mini me on a walk through a local botanic garden or forest preserve for some fresh air.

2. Sit your sidekick down for some sensory play in front of a towering pile of shaving cream. Let her paint, smear and generally get herself messy before plopping her in the tub for quick clean up. Yep, it’s that easy.


photo: Allison Sutcliffe

3. Put your aspiring artist to work painting your fence, house or deck. It’s simple when you use a bowl of water (as paint) and some spare brushes for the job. No drop cloth needed for this surprisingly entertaining, no-mess activity!

4. It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday for your sidekick to wrap presents. Send him out to collect trinkets and treasures he wants to give to as gifts (even it it’s just temporarily). Then set him up with plenty of wrapping paper, safety scissors and tape to get the job done. Passing out the special surprises is the icing on the cake!


photo: USAG Humphreys via Flickr

5Set up some tea for two or three or more! Host a tea party for your sidekick and her favorite friends, furry or otherwise.

6. Put your leftover Wikki Stix to good use by having your preschooler use them to “trace” large letters you’ve written down on paper.

boy-and-panda-at-zoo-woodleywonderworks-flickrphoto: woodleywonderworks via Flickr 

7. Take your wild one on an outing to the zoo because animals are every preschooler’s jam.

8. Set up a simple car wash station for your mini me’s hot wheels. To make one, just add some soapy water (bubble bath works really well) to a plastic storage box or bin, throw in a sponge or brush, then open up shop. It’s squeaky-clean fun!


photo: Allison Sutcliffe

9. Set out on an adventure to a local park or the neighborhood elementary school playground for some serious swinging, sliding and climbing playtime.

10. Who needs to kick the can when you can kit, bat and jump around a makeshift balloon pit in your own living room. Simply blow up a bag of balloons and then corral them using stacked pillows and other soft barriers to make the pit. Then let your preschooler at ‘em!


photo: giftofcuriosity.com

11. Katie at Gift of Curiosity has the deets on an easy color mixing activity using repurposed water bottles. Our favorite part? It’s no mess. Honest!

12. Count on your preschooler to love jumping. On her bed, on your bed, anywhere she can. Keep her hopping over a jump-to-it obstacle course that uses low set pool noodles or jump ropes propped up on coffee cans or paint cans as hurdles to clear.


photo: buggyandbuddy.com

13. Let your Little exercise his fine motor skills on a DIY weaving loom made from popsicle sticks. Buggy and Buddy has all you need to know about this one.

14. Sit down with your sidekick for a few exciting rounds of Go Fish. This easy game is just the right speed for the preschool bunch.


photo: Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr

15. Transform a cardboard box into a sweet corner shop or a space-worthy craft with markers, stickers and a little kid-fueled imagination!

16. Blow some bubbles indoors! Mix a dollop of dish soap and some water on a paper plate until it starts to suds up. Then, have your mini me gently blow into the mixture through a straw to create slippery, soapy bubbles.


photo: Abigail Batchelder via Flickr

17. Baking drop cookies (think: chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin) with your preschooler is a cinch. They can handle all the mixing, plus they can easily plop them onto the baking sheet too. And count the fact they won’t have to wait too long for your fresh baked batch to come out of the oven as a plus. Yum!

18. Fashion DIY binoculars for your little explorer by stapling together two used toilet paper rolls, and attaching a string as a neckstrap. They’re the perfect companion for your kidlet to use when he’s searching for birds, butterflies and creepy crawly insects in the wilds of your backyard, city balcony or nearby park.


photo: courtesy Charlene via myfrugaladventures.com 

19. Go on a camping adventure… in your living room! Complete with a tent, microwaveable s’mores and songs around the coffee table.

20. Easily turn an old shoebox into a mailbox for hours of creative play. Let your kidlet write and mail letters, drawings and general parcels of happiness to loved ones using his very own DIY postal system.


photo: Kars4Kids Car Donations and Educational Programs via Flickr

21. Plan an outing to your local fire station. Remember to call ahead or check out open visiting hours online before you head over. And if you’ve got something fresh baked to bring along, we’re sure the firefighters won’t turn you away (hint, hint!).

22. Get the band back together, or start a new one with these easy to make spoon maracas designed by Make Every Day. Ha-cha-cha!


photo: Dwight Sipler via Flickr

23. Bust out your hardhat and take your little mover and shaker to watch the exciting excavators, cranes and trucks working hard on a local construction site. Just be sure to stay outside the fence, at a safe viewing distance. Build on!

24. Cut out eyes, ears, noses and mouths from fashion and parenting mags you’ve got piling up around the house, and let your petite Picasso piece together silly face colleges using a glue stick and his imagination.


photo: happinessishomemade.com

25. Mix up some microwavable DIY puffy paint and get designing. Heidi at Happiness is Homemade has the step-by-step.

What’s your favorite activity for three- or four-year olds? Tell us about it in a comment. 

— Allison Sutcliffe