Children need to be active. It’s great for their physical health and development – our our mental sanity!
But keeping children actively occupied when forced to stay indoors can be a challenge.
We’ve researched a list of creative ways to engage a busy toddler on a rainy day. This awesome list consists of toddler-approved indoor toddler activities that kids enjoy, are extra fun, and keep kids busy until nap time. Most indoor activities use everyday items in your house, or mom can use what is available and adjust the ideas accordingly.
Fun Sensory Indoor Activities For Toddler Playtime: Sensory Bins
Sensory bins and tubs will keep your toddler engaged and are one of the best ideas for indoor activities for kids looking to explore and discover adventurous fun. Digging and finding treasures satisfies any curious toddler.
Parents love it because it is easy to set up and sensory play offers tons of educational benefits for toddlers and preschoolers. You can fill a sensory tub with almost anything a parent can imagine; it’s a fun idea for a themed birthday party.
What You Need
- Plastic bin or tub
- Small toys
- Large tweezers, a pair of tongs, or scoops to develop fine motor skills
- Filler for the sensory tub. Use almost anything in your house: dry rice, oatmeal, dry corn, dry pasta, cereal, dry beans or tapioca pearls, flour, lentils, or coffee beans. Non-food sensory bin fillers are sand, water beads, marbles, or pom-poms.
Making A Sensory Activity Tub
Fill the sensory bin with rice, corn, or oatmeal, and add small toys and objects scattered in the container. Give your toddler a pair of tongs or scoops to dig up the items or escalate the sensory experience using their hands.
Little ones can experience different textures, identify shapes and recognize colors with sensory activities. Use safe food fillers if your toddler is still sticking everything in their mouth.
- Nature Sensory Tubs. A nature-themed sensory bin introduces little ones to their environment in an exciting, new way. Use bird seed, dry leaves (or fake leaves), flowers or pebbles, soil, or acorns as fillers.
- Flower Sensory Bin. You can combine the sensory bin with a nature scavenger hunt where little ones search and pick flowers for the sensory bin. Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy the touch and smell of flowers, crushing them, and experiencing different textures. Older children can learn about flowers, their names, and nature.
- Colored Sensory Bin. Pasta and rice are easy to dye in the appropriate themed color. Use food coloring to create the right color; make rainbow-colored fillers with various food colorings for added fun.Fill the bin with a colored filler and toys, bowls, and scoops in the same color. For example, a yellow sensory bin works well with corn, dyed rice or pasta, yellow sand, or yellow cornmeal. Next, fill it with yellow animals, balls, LEGO pieces, and other small yellow toys.
- Water Bead Sensory Bin. Fill the bin with water beads and sea creatures. Make sure there are enough scoops and bowls for happy, toddler playtime fun.
More Ways To Stimulate Sensory Play
- Parents can create a sensory environment with rich sensory experiences for their babies and toddlers to help stimulate brain development.
- Indoor activities with sensory toys promote learning through senses, and sensory activity also develops gross and fine motor skills.
From Outdoors To Indoor Activities For Toddlers: Build a Fort
Every child loves building a fort or a play tent for camping, but what happens on a rainy day? With a couple of sheets and a few furniture pieces, these outdoor activities of building forts, tents, and castles quickly become one of the favorite indoor activities for toddlers.
For most kids, it doesn’t matter whether outdoors or indoor camping, as long as they can build a structure. It is lots of fun and the perfect rainy day activity for toddlers. Indoor camping is one of those cool ideas for sleepovers when older kids are stuck indoors.
What You Need
- Furniture like chairs and couch
- Sheets or blankets
- Flashlight, snacks, toys, pillow, and books for inside the fort
- Colored pencils or crayons (optional for decorations and sign)
Building The Fort
Use the furniture as the fort’s walls and drape a few sheets over the top of chairs for the roof. Furnish the inside with toys, books, snacks, a torchlight, and a pillow for your toddler as a seat.
Toddlers will soon transform the fort into a castle, spaceship, or secret hideout. They can use the flashlight to read their picture books or make funny shapes.
Make sure you build the fort out of the way; you don’t want it to become an obstacle course for adults.
Personalize The Fort
You’ll be amazed at the ingenuity of your toddler in creating a sign for the structure, especially if they think it will keep pesky siblings out. Colored pencils or crayons, glitter, and a piece of cardboard should be sufficient for some artistic display of naming the fort-castle-tent.
Decorate The Fort
If the fort is made from cardboard boxes, then your toddler can decorate the walls with unique drawings in line with the theme of the castle-spaceship-fort.
Fun Active Indoor Activities For Toddlers: Sports Games
Everyone loves sports, and indoor sports games are great ideas for eliminating excess energy or engaging a bored toddler. These fun activities help strengthen gross and fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and arm and leg muscles. Your kids won’t even realize they are stuck inside with these entertaining ideas.
Hammering Golf Tees
With a cardboard box, a play hammer, and golf tees, your toddler strengthens their motor skill development as they pound the golf tees into the box. Use toy hammers that are easy to grip for little hands.
Variations To Golf Tee Hammering
- You can make the motor activity more demanding by giving the child a smaller hammer to grip.
- Teach color recognition by telling them which colored golf tees to hammer in the box.
- Strengthen their little muscles by challenging them to pull the tees out.
Hallway Bowling For Kids
Introduce your toddler to the fun of a bowling alley in your hallway at home. Use recycled plastic water bottles or stick two paper cups filled with beans to each other. The beans help keep the cups upright but shouldn’t be too heavy so that the pins don’t topple when your preschooler hits them with a ball.
Cup Stacking Bowling Alternative
Stacking cups is a great indoor activity alternative to hallway bowling. Toddlers love stacking towers and pushing them down. So, it’s two games in one; they get to stack towers, then break it up by throwing a ball at the tower. Older kids may be too impatient to stack the cups every round, but toddlers love the stacking game.
Stacking Cups Challenge
Stacking cups are not just for bowling games; it could be a challenging project for older kids to recreate famous structures like the Coliseum or Eiffel Tower. For example, with three kids and more, the contest could be to see if they could reach the ceiling.
And there are always the toddlers to knock it down, getting rid of pent-up energy!
Athletics Kids Activities With Tape Lines
Kids jump and run all the time but can’t run and play outside when stuck inside. However, running and jumping are great active indoor activities for toddlers. It burns energy, engages kids in fun ways, and prevents frustration and boredom. Use a piece of tape to create the lines—tape on the floor five to ten lines about a foot apart. Label the first line Start and the last line Finish. Give toddlers running or jumping instructions competing with siblings, friends, or themselves.
The fun activity introduces them to the pleasure of athletics, gets rid of excess energy, teaches them to follow instructions, and challenges them to do their best.
- Stand with one foot on the start line and see how far they can reach with the other foot without losing their balance.
- Stand still and jump over as many lines as possible. Then compare the results with a running start.
- Long jump as far as they can with swinging arms and then jump with arms held behind their back.
- How far can your toddler jump backward and stay within the lines?
- Can they hop on one leg from start to finish line? How about a bunny race to see who reaches the finishing line first?
Sticky Spider Web
Your kids may not be able to play ball games outdoors but throwing objects at sticky notes or a sticky spider web is as much fun when stuck inside. They’ll practice their arm movement while aiming and hitting a target.
All you need is painter’s tape and scrunched newspaper. Next, create a spider web across the width of the top half of the door. If you make it too low, toddlers will try and run through it; if too high, your little ones won’t be able to reach it.
Let your kid loose as they throw the scrunched newspaper and see if it sticks to the spider web.
Another Sticky Variation
Write a different number or alphabet letter on each sticky note. Tape the sticky notes randomly on the closed bedroom door. Give your preschooler a ball, bean bags, or anything that won’t harm the door or walls when thrown. Challenge them to hit the sticky notes with the number or letter you call. It is a cool way to keep kids busy and teach them numbers and the alphabet.
Have A Dance Party
A dance party s one of the simplest but terrific ideas for active toddlers; it’s a great exercise for kids and adults. Make it as simple as playing music, and they must dance or have them shake balloons while dancing. Everyone will soon forget about the weather with a dance-off challenge.
Easy Indoor Activities For Toddlers: Color A Box
All you need for this kids’ activity is a cardboard box and crayons. When you flatten the box, the child has a flat surface for coloring and drawing. If you tape the sides up, the cardboard box should be big enough for your toddler to climb inside to decorate the inside too.
Adding extra art supplies means more creative fun for toddlers; it makes coloring a box more intricate and entertaining for a little guy.
What You Need
- Cardboard Box
- Colored Construction Paper
- Elmer’s Glue Sticks
- Washable Paint Markers
Variations To Coloring A Box
- Identifying Shapes. Cut the construction paper out in various shapes and sizes. Toddlers identify circles, squares, and triangles as they decorate the box. There is no limit to transforming these shapes into imaginative gears, buttons, switches, and more.
- Color Recognition. It’s a fun way to teach color recognition to a busy toddler. They can play with colors and even color theme the sides.
Fun Indoor Activities For Toddlers: All About Pipe Cleaners
There are tons of indoor activities for busy toddlers that engage them and help develop fine motor skills, concentration, and patience. Here are quick activity ideas for inspiration.
Pipe Cleaners And A Colander
Give your toddler a colander and a bunch of colorful pipe cleaners for creative play. Kids strengthen their fine motor skills by pushing the pipe cleaners through the colander holes. They also learn a sense of accomplishment and patience.
Make it easier for your kiddo and use clear packing tape to stick the colander to a flat surface. The colander won’t move around or fall off the table when the toddler concentrates on pushing the pipe cleaner through the hole and not holding the colander in place.
Cereal Threading Pipe Cleaners
Any low sugar cereal with holes in the middle, like Cheerios, and pipe cleaner, are a wonderful combination for hours of fun. Toddlers can thread the cheerios onto the pipe cleaners and bend the pipe cleaner into various shapes. Bend them like candy canes for Christmas decorations or hang them outside to see if birds like the treat.
Give your child a bowl because they won’t be able to resist pulling the cereal off the pipe cleaner for a snack.
Pipe Cleaners And A Card
Poke holes in a card and challenge your toddler to push pipe cleaners through the holes. The simple indoor activity will help your busy toddler to focus and promote hand-eye- coordination, motor skills, and muscle strengthening.
Great Ideas For Simple Indoor Activities: All Kinds Of Paper
Great indoor activities for kids are often the simple kids activities using a piece of paper, cotton balls, or other everyday items. Toddlers have tons of energy, especially when stuck inside on a rainy day. These great indoor kids’ activities ensure happy toddler playtime that will last until naptime.
Target Practice Paper Towel Rolls
If you want to keep a toddler busy, put something in their hand they can throw. Kids love to throw things, and this indoor activity permits them to throw as often and as hard as they like.
What You Need
- Targets. Paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, paper cups, water bottles, stuffed animals, or anything else kids can aim at as a target.
- Soft ball, tennis ball, or other items kids can throw at the target.
Playing Target PRactice
Set the target using paper towel rolls, empty plastic bottles, paper cups, stuffed animals, or other fun objects.
Make sure you set it up in a safe place like the hallway or any area that is safe from breakages; balls and targets will fly all over the place. A soft ball, tennis ball, or nerf gun are great ideas for knocking over the marks. Make sure the object isn’t too heavy, hard, or too small for little hands to grasp and manipulate.
Contact Paper Collage Sun Catcher
Making a collage with contact paper is one of those creative ideas that fascinate kids despite the simplicity of the activity.
What You Need
- 2 Sheets Contact Paper
- Art Supplies like tissue paper, dry rice, sequins, and glitter
Roll out a sheet of contact paper on a coffee table or flat surface. Make sure the sticky side faces upward. Remove the backing and stick the corners to the surface with pieces of tape to prevent it from rolling or toddlers moving it around.
Fold the contact paper so the kids’ arms and clothes don’t stick to the contact paper when leaning forward. Then give the kids pieces of paper, tissue paper, rice, glitter, sequins, pieces of construction paper, and anything small they can use to decorate and create a masterpiece.
When done, add a second sheet of contact paper on top to sandwich the artwork between the two pieces of paper. Hang it against the window as a sun catcher.
Paper Plates Hair Cuts Indoor Activities
Kids love to pretend play and mimic grown-up activities. Cutting the paper plate’s hair is a fun way to develop their fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination and strengthen creative, imaginative play.
What You Need
- Safety Scissors for toddlers
- Paper Plates
- Marker to draw faces and where to cut lines
Paper Plate Hair Cuts are great ideas for indoor activities where kids can practice and develop their scissors skills by cutting with a pair of scissors. Parents draw a face with hair on the paper plates, and the kids need to give the paper plate face a haircut by cutting along the lines.
Roll Up The Toilet Paper Kids Activities
Kids are fascinated by toilet paper, especially unrolling it…pets too. So with this fun activity, the mom gets the chance to unroll the toilet paper, and the kids roll it up again.
What You Need
- Toilet Paper Rolls, one for each of the kids playing
- Toy to keep the toilet paper roll steady.
Unroll the toilet paper at a decent length on a flat surface and place the toy at the end. The challenge is for your toddler to roll the toilet paper back up without tearing the toilet paper or the toy falling off the toilet paper.
The fun game will teach your kiddo some patience and focus. It’s way easier to unroll the toilet paper than to roll it back up again.
Indoor Activities For Fine Motor Skills: Play-Doh And Kinetic Sand
Toddlers are easily distracted, and keeping them busy when stuck inside on a cold, rainy day is challenging. However, toddlers and kids of all ages love the feel of play-doh and kinetic sand. It is one of the best ideas for a happy toddler playtime experience.
Play-Doh and kinetic sand promote motor skills, hand-eye coordination, tactile skills, and imaginative play. Play-Doh may be the safer option for a two-year-old toddler who likes sticking things in their mouth. Kinetic sand is generally introduced to three-year-old toddlers and up. Both are great ideas to keep a buys toddler engaged for hours of fun play.
Super-Soft Cloud Dough
Cloud dough is probably the softest play dough you’ll find. If your child wants to play with clouds, then this is the play dough to make. It requires two ingredients and is perfect for kids with sensitive skins.
What You Need
- 2/3 Cup Cornstarch
- 1/3 Cup Baby Lotion for a child with sensitive skin, or use conditioner
- Large Bowl
Making Cloud Dough Full Tutorial
Your toddler will enjoy the sensory play experience, and it’s a quick and easy recipe for a busy mom.
- The recipe is a 1:2 ratio of baby lotion to cornstarch. So, if you are planning to make it on a large scale or just a little bit, adjust the amount according to the 1:2 ratio.
- Use a larger bowl than you think you would need. When mixing the cornstarch, the power tends to go everywhere except stay inside the bowl. Hence, the larger bowl.
- First, add baby lotion to a bowl.
- To make colored cloud dough, add the food coloring to the baby lotion before adding the cornstarch.
- Add the cornstarch to the bowl and mix the ingredients well.
- Use a spoon to mix the cornstarch and baby lotion gently.
- Knead the cloud dough with your hands until it has a smooth, even texture.
- If too sticky, add more cornstarch; if too crumbly, add more baby lotion in small quantities.
- The cloud dough is ready for play. The toughest part of the recipe is for Mom to hand over the play dough to her toddler – I know it’s so soft…
If your child is going to stick the cloud dough in their mouth, you might as well add some marshmallows to make it more edible. You’ll need large marshmallows and coconut oil instead of baby oil. Microwave the two ingredients, and mix well before adding the cornstarch. The food coloring makes colorful cloud dough.
Play Dough Cutting Scissors Skills
Although scissor skills aren’t entirely developed until children are six, a child can start practicing these skills from ages three to four. With the mom supervising, toddlers can learn to use scissors for fun indoor activities. Children need this skill for preschool and school arts and crafts projects.
What You Need
Cutting Play-Doh Ideas
Using scissors is a challenging exercise for your toddler. Your toddler is so focused on holding and opening the scissors to cut that they forget they need to keep the object they want to cut steady. A piece of paper could be too flimsy for your toddler to practice their scissors skills. Play dough is sturdy and heavy enough to stay in one place but soft enough to cut.
- Roll out the play dough thin enough to cut but not too flimsy.
- If your toddler uses the scissors for the first time, mom can hold the play dough, making it easier for your little one to get the scissors in place.
- Roll the play-doh in a snake form to practice open and closing scissor skills by cutting the roll into little pieces.
- Use play dough tools and create interesting cutting ideas. For example, roll a pattern down the middle and let your toddler cut out the design.
More Play Dough And Kinetic Sand Fun Ideas When Stuck Inside
- Play-Doh activity ideas
- Creative play-doh sets toddlers love
- How to make kinetic sand
- Indoor activities for toddlers with kinetic sand kits
- Give your toddler items in the house like rubber stamps, golf tees, toothpicks, toy animals, and cooky cutters to create their unique play-doh world.
- Make edible slime
Ready-To-Go Indoor Toddler Activities: Busy Bags
Whether your toddler is stuck inside the house on a miserable day, waiting in the doctor’s office, at a restaurant, or traveling, a busy bag is a ready-to-go solution. Prepare the activity bag in advance for those sudden emergencies or when a new mama just needs some quiet time in the house.
Materials To Make The Busy Bag
- Ziploc bag or lunch box to store the items
- Glue Sticks
- Velcro Tabs
Ideas To Put Inside The Busy Bags
- Pom poms
- Cotton balls
- Ping pong balls
- Craft sticks
- Clothes pins
- Magnets and magnet letters
- LEGO bricks
- Dinosaur toys, cars, dolls, or other small toys
- Alphabet cards
- Anything else you can find at a dollar store that will keep your toddler busy
How To Make A Busy Bag
A busy bag or box can feature one activity or item, a few themed toys, or a variety of toys and activity stuff. The secret is to keep your toddler occupied for an hour, which is challenging most of the time. Instead of having a few toys thrown into your handbag and the toddler forever rummaging for a toy, have a busy box at hand.
Great Ideas For Busy Bags
Activity Box For The Car
Use a metal lunch tin to keep the toys and stuff safe and secure in the car. Make one for each vehicle that’s always readily available when needed. Make sure to fill the box with their favorite toys, but big enough that it won’t disappear when dropped.
STEM Math Skills Busy Bag
Use a Ziploc bag and add clothes pins and craft sticks. Paint a different number on each craft stick; you can also add the number of dots representing the number. The object of the busy bag is for your toddler to count the number of clothes spin corresponding to a number on the craft stick.
Busy Bag For Little Engineers
Use a Ziploc bag or plastic pouch to store the craft sticks. Add velcro tabs to the ends of the colored craft sticks. Toddlers can count the sticks or connect them to create interesting structures.
Free The Animal Busy Bag
You’ll need a few smaller plastic pouches and a large Ziploc bag to hold the smaller ones. Add one dinosaur toy or animal toy to the bag and close it. Young children will love the challenge of freeing the toy animal. Opening each individual bag teaches them to use both hands and helps with finger pinching skills. When released, the toys inspire more adventures and fun play.
More SInge Busy Bags WHen Stuck INside
You can create large busy boxes or smaller busy bags with a single indoor activity. Some ideas for single bags are threading pompons, stringing beads, or picking up pom poms with tweezers.
What is your toddler’s favorite indoor activity?