Toddlers and preschoolers are notorious for their unlimited energy. I know from experience because I’ve seen how my two boys seemed to have a bottomless well as an energy source. I’m glad I had them both in my twenties and I feel fit enough to try to keep up with them.
However, every parent, no matter how healthy, has those off days where you just can’t do it. I personally felt this when we brought home our second baby from the hospital for the first time. Recovering from birth while caring for a newborn 24/7 does not leave you with enough energy to do anything else basically.
That being said, I was desperate to find ways to entertain my preschooler without having to run around all the time. Here are a few good ideas you might want to try as well:
Who says board games are only for big kids? While the typical three-year-old still does not know how to read (unless you got a prodigy on your hands), they do have enough capacity to learn and identify shapes and colors.
Choose a board game that is colorful and fun but also simple enough to let a preschooler enjoy. Here are some of our top picks from Amazon:
Candyland is a sweet classic. You might recall playing it yourself as a child. It’s a great idea to let your three-year-old experience the fun you had with this game.
It is a color-matching board game with no reading required, so your little one can have fun learning colors with no pressure. You and your toddler can have an exciting race to the castle through the colorful board with your little gingerbread figures.
Fruit-picking is always fun for all kids. They can easily get occupied for long periods just plucking away at fruits. However, not everyone has the time (and energy) to go to an actual farm to go fruit-picking with their kids.
The good news is that you can do a similar activity right in your own home; and you don’t even have to put a lot of effort into it! Just grab this board game and enjoy with your toddler as you both pick away.
It’s a spin board game that tells you how many fruits you can pick and place in your basket. The first person to fill up their basket wins. Your little one might not feel it, but they’re actually learning math by counting the fruits they pick and patience by waiting for their turn to spin.
Not all three-year-olds are fine with snakes, but I’m sure they won’t mind chutes. Chutes and ladders is yet another twist out of a classic that you might have loved as a child. It’s fun, simple, and it’s now made to be even more kid-friendly.
Instead of the dice that the classic snakes and ladders came with, chutes and ladders comes with a spinner to let a player know how many moves they get. This also teaches kids about numbers as they count their way up.
It is a fun and exciting game as you and your kids race to the very top while avoiding the chutes that can slide you all the way down.
Another option besides board games are table top toys that you can comfortably play with your preschooler at the coffee table while you lounge on the couch and get a bit of rest from running errands and doing chores all day.
These toys are fun and stimulating. They teach your child different concepts such as colors, words, and counting in a fun and interactive way. They also help develop fine and gross motor skills with actual practice. Here are some of my favorites:
Help Philip the Penguin choose some ice blocks so that he can make an igloo. Tap the ice blocks to knock them out one by one. But you have to be careful not to tap out the ice block that Philip is standing on or else he falls too!
You have a total of 32 little ice blocks you can knock out with your three-year-old, so you can expect your child to be occupied for quite some time with this toy. The single large ice block is where Philip the Penguin stands and is the block you and your kid would want to avoid.
This is a great game that fosters cooperation between kids and parents. It also teaches them the different effects of strong and light impact through the taps they make with their mini mallets. Above all, it teaches them the value of having a goal or objective and doing everything you can to achieve or overcome it.
Who says you need to move around or be on your feet to have fun and excitement? With the Pop Up Pirate, you and your kids can experience the thrill and excitement as you take turns inserting the swords and waiting to see which sword makes the pirate pop out.
It is a simple, brilliant, and exciting game that is perfect for the entire family. You can watch as your kids eagerly wait for the pirate to pop, and squeal out in excitement and surprise when he does.
However, the swords are quite small so make sure your preschooler knows not to swallow them.
This memory and matching game is perfect for beginner players as it makes use of easy-to-grasp duck figures instead of cards. Cards can be quite challenging and frustrating for your children with developing motor skills.
Each player gets an assigned shape. The game set comes with up to four shapes and can accommodate up to four players. Kids (and adults) can take turns picking a duck and seeing underneath it if it matches their assigned shape.
Players get to keep the duck if they get one that matches their assigned shape. If not, they have to put it back in the pond and remember which ducks they already picked before. The first player to get three ducks wins.
It’s never too early to teach your three-year-old how to shop for groceries. The Shopping List from Orchard Toys is a brilliant way to let them practice. At the same time, the game can teach them about different food types while developing their memory.
The set comes with a shopping list and several cards that contain the items on the shopping list. It also comes with a shopping cart for them to put their items on. It’s a fun and interactive memory game that teaches fundamental life skills at an early age.
This tabletop toy gets more action than the rest, but it still allows you and your little ones to play it while seated. It is made with fun colors and a size that is perfect for little hands. Up to four players can play in one game.
It’s simple to play. Just release the balls in the center and race to let your hippo chomp on as many marbles as you can. The player with the most marbles wins.
It is so simple and exciting that the whole family can play it. It is also a great way to have some fun and excitement while you are indoors. The marbles are quite small, though, so make sure to keep an eye on them and store them properly.
Who says puzzles are only for big kids? Puzzles are mainly made for educational purposes, and some are made simple enough to be both enjoyable and stimulate learning for young children. There are ton available online, but here are our my top picks:
You can sort them, stack them, or combine them to build animals and interesting figures. Stimulate your preschooler’s imagination and analytical skills with this simple and colorful set that is safe even for toddlers. You can lounge around with your tot while you both get creative with shapes and patterns.
This well-trusted brand for STEM toys and Montessori-style learning also has its own wooden puzzle set. They have been a well-trusted brand for over 30 years, and they know lots about making age-appropriate educational toys.
The set includes 120 wooden pieces of different shapes and colors, enough to keep your little one entertained for up to hours while seated.
If your preschool loves floor play, you’re going to love getting them a giant floor puzzle. Small puzzle pieces are sometimes too challenging for tiny developing hands to put together. Have them feel a sense of accomplishment while learning with easy-to-hold gigantic puzzle pieces.
This floor puzzle is three feet wide and two feet tall so it covers a good amount of space. The sheer size also creates a fascinating visual impact for kids who are playing it and the elements make a good teaching point about jungle animals.
No matter how exhausted we parents feel with the responsibilities we have to tend to, we still need to prioritize some fun time with our kids. Luckily, we can do that while getting a bit of a rest with these fun sit-down games for three-year-olds.