Looking for fun kid activities at home with your toddler and preschooler?
I’ve been there. I too can use a quick list of kid activities at home to keep in my back pocket.
Years ago, I felt the need to get my children playing more and wasn’t exactly sure how to get there.
My kids were saturated by media, toys that light up, and items that blink/make noise at the touch of a button. It seemed as if every gift given to them had a pre-intended purpose, and the novelty lasted a few short minutes.
I felt overwhelmed by the task to minimize the stimulation and encourage my kids to be more creative at home.
Morning television was zapping the day. Blinking toys were growing old. Our day wasn’t working.
I needed to find solutions.
And I did.
These 50+ kid activities at home are just a sampling of all the ways we invite play into our every day, and it has been life-changing.
RELATED: These activity cards help make finding ideas so simple!
RELATED: Our activities at home also allow some downtime for me!
Learn more here with our Startup Guide.
What activities do children enjoy?
I did some research, dug into my teacher’s brain, and looked for the best toys for kids that encourage open-ended play.
We use these open-ended toys, plus our activities for kids to keep our days afloat.
RELATED: Curious about the best toy storage solutions for kid activities at home? You can find all of your storage solutions here.
As parents, we know that play is important and we want activities to promote that at home.
We have also learned that play is the foundation of all learning.
Yet, here’s the thing about kids at home:
It is up to us to allow more time to play.
But HOW do we entertain our children at home?
What are some fun activities to do at home?
Sometimes, toddlers and preschoolers need a small seed planted to get them going.
These seeds will not be planted from a worksheet. The seeds I am talking about are play ideas that encourage children to touch, move, and manipulate objects in order to create.
The more we encourage play at home, the more children will become exceptional at self-guided play, problem-solving, and forming conclusions on how things work.
The following at home ideas will allow your preschooler to hit the ground running.
These activities for kids as good as that savory cheese dip – Tried and true, toddler and preschooler approved!
RELATED: Want free activities for kids? You’ll love this list!
But wait! Why is play at home important?
Before we dive into the best kid activities at home, allow me to set the stage and allow you to better understand the importance of play.
- During the infant/toddler stage, the child needs physical experiences using senses, experiencing substances, and discovering how things fit together.
- Then at preschool, the child will begin to add social play into the learning they have had the chance to dive into. Now they are making connections with their peers.
- During the middle years, the child is more analytical with textbook concepts because they had a chance to touch move and explore what they are now reading about. The middle schooler is now ready to take learning to the next level with greater ease pulling it all together.
- Finally, during the teenage years, the child can show how things come together. The child has touched, worked with peers, read more about key concepts, and is now ready to become the producer.
It all goes back to the early years.
The early years are the foundation of learning through play.
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RELATED: Have a toddler? Be sure to check out 40+ Top Play Ideas for Toddlers.
When we first began sensory play at home, I quickly realized that beans were sprouting from our deck cracks, and rice was under the fridge for months. It wasn’t working.
And we certainly don’t want that for you!
Instead, I am happy to be your guinea pig and guide you along for success.
With that being said, I put together this Introduction to Sensory Play page to help you get set up like a boss. I want you to have a list of what to put inside a toddler sensory bin.
Inside this post, you will learn how to set up your buffer zone, how to prompt your toddler back to the sensory bin when they walk off with oats in hand, and better understand when it is time to put the sensory bin away. – This is a sure way to begin kid sensory activities at home.
Okay! Now that the training is over, let’s keep the momentum going with our preschoolers at home.
Ready to try sensory play in your house?
You’ll adore these easy to put together sensory play ideas.
Kinetic Sand – Pups Play
Cloud Dough – Construction Style
Scissor Sensory Cut -Sensory fine motor play
Color Mix – A Play on Ketchup and Mustard
Fill the Lines – Sensory play with pom poms
Ice Rescue Game -indoor sensory play
Sand Sensory Play – Multi-age learning
Water Beads – See our favorite brand of water beads here
Color Squirt – The fun way to repurpose shredded bills
Dry Noodle Sensory Play – Simple way to color noodles
Water activities are one of my very first WHOA. I just got 40 minutes of parenting from the sidelines realizations. I made sure the water level was low and watched them closely as they poured and scooped. Water games are a genius way to catch a break at home.
But before you dive in, I want you to know my best tip.
My boys are allowed ONE refill. They know this from practice. Need more water? Sure. One time. Once it is gone, it is gone.
These quick tips will avoid numerous trips to the sink along with having your child better understand how to assess play so it doesn’t all go to waste.
Now you are ready! Dive into water games that can be played indoors or in the backyard for endless fun
Having a one-year-old can be tricky! I get it. They are too old to sleep all day, yet too young to emerge in self-guided play for long amounts of time.
We may notice our one-year-old exploring a color matching game, and then quickly becoming distracted with wanting a snack. again
With all of this said, I am a firm believer that babies, toddlers, and preschoolers should explore the environment and different textures. This means that you do not have to buy out Amazon at 12 months. So how can we use our environment to encourage baby play, as we catch our breath?
I searched the internet, so you don’t have to. Here is a list of 40+ Ways to Play that will help entertain your baby!
Let’s give it up for the independent play school ideas that allow us to drink our morning coffee, as we get our preschoolers thinking about important concepts they will explore throughout their lifetime.
Since we all understand that playing is learning, let’s plant some seeds and watch our children dive in.
I like to call these play school ideas, Breakfast Invitations.
Simply put, these play invitations are:
- quick and easy setup (think under 5 minutes)
- engage play to create a powerful morning routine
- use supplies you probably already own (items like markers, painter’s tape, etc.)
- align with life long learning skills
Eek! I see you looking at this image and shrieking in fear, so I am here to give you a quick messy play tip.
Right now, go fill up your washing machine with water and detergent. Get it ready to toss the clothes in once your preschooler is done exploring. I assure you, it’s as simple as that. – Get messy, strip them down, and toss the messy play clothes in the wash.
Why is messy play important at home?
Messy play encourages children to explore substances. These are the same substances that will be what they will revisit in grade school.
If you encourage children to touch and feel now, they will make dynamic discoveries as they connect the dots later.
You will help spark connections such as:
I know this! I remember when I poured the liquid into the tall, narrow squirt bottle that it overflowed faster than the large pitcher
Try these messy play activities at home:
- Shaving Cream Car Tracks
- Shaving Cream Foam Block Sensory Play
- Eyeball Soup
- Eyeball Shaving Cream Play
- Squirt the Ice
- Neon Squirt
- Color Mixing Shredded Paper Bin
- Color Mixing; A Play on Ketchup & Mustard
- Sweet and Tasty Edible Bin
RELATED: Read what healthykids.org shares about how play helps kids thrive HERE.
As adults, we know when we need a restart, it is helpful to walk outside, breathe in the fresh air and get some sunshine. Being outside stimulates the senses and wakes up the brain. Let’s begin to encourage more outside play activities for our children as well!
Ways to play outside at home:
51+ Things to Do for Spring – sensory, crafts, and field trip ideas
Stick Painting – Gather and create
Dash and Sort – Simple backyard running race
How Balance Can Improve Reading – No supplies other than the outdoors!
Practice Prewriting with Movement – Outdoor chalk game
DIY Movement Dice – Make in a flash
RELATED: Read what the NAEYC says about the outside play is important for the whole child HERE.
Additional resources for kids activities at home
RELATED: How are cognitive development and sensory play helping our babies, toddlers, and preschoolers? Be sure to read this from Michigan State University.