Looking for the best indoor activities from Busy Toddler? This list is filled with Busy Toddler’s activities to help keep kids busy, active, and playing when stuck indoors. Included with the 40+ indoor activities is a supply list of what materials to keep on hand.
What are the best indoor activities for kids?
Indoor activities were the lifeblood of my early parenting.
While you might look at a kid’s activity and think, “oh gee, another blogger trying to be Pinterest parent of the year?” – it’s completely the other direction (for me).
I do indoor activities with my kids as a lifeline. They’re a tool. They’re a way for me to help break up the day, keep the kids from asking 47 “but why…?” questions, buy me a chance to unload the dishwasher or hit the reset button if things aren’t going so well.
When I’m dysregulated, activities help.
When the kids are dysregulated, activities help.
When everything is going belly up and it’s not clear if we actually will survive the day, activities help.
Activities aren’t a must to make life work at home – but they are a great tool when you need them.
Looking for more structure each day?
Check out Playing Preschool: Busy Toddler’s 190-day at-home activities program
What makes a great indoor activity?
I’ve been blogging since 2015 and have a couple (wink wink) indoor activities for kids at my disposal. But I wanted to dig a little deeper so combed my site top to bottom to find activities that fit these criteria:
- Easy set up
- Minimal supplies needed
- Hold little attention spans
I went searching for activities that can help. They aren’t going to make more work.
If your child is having a hard time finding play…. an activity can jump start that.
If your child is fighting with a sibling…. an activity can reset them.
If you need a minute to make dinner… an activity can help.
If the TV has been on longer than you’d like… an activity can bring play back to life.
What supplies do these activities need?
The activities featured in this post do not have complicated supply lists. In fact, most of them use the same basic supplies (which are fairly common and probably stuff you already own).
For these activities, the most used supplies are:
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What age are these easy activities for?
That’s up to you – you are the best judge of your child’s ability level and interests. Think of “skills needed” rather than age when considering an activity because all kids develop differently.
How are the activities organized?
I divided this group into three categories: sensory activities, art activities, and indoor activity ideas.
These are my personal three favorite types of activities for kids to do inside and since they’re my activities, I get to set this up how I like (just kidding – I did this organization to make things easier on you).
Enjoy my favorite activities.
Sensory Bin Indoor Activities
The GOAT of all indoor activities. There are so many ways to use this classic activity – I listed it first for a reason.
Indoor Pouring Station
It’s way more than “just” pouring water. Kids will not only be learning about capacity but also the life skill of pouring.
A fun and easy “yes” activity. Let your kids wash their toys. It’s perfection.
Bubble Foam Trucks
Have you made bubble foam yet? Do it immediately. Whip up a batch and throw in some trucks in for lots of fun. Bonus: The toys are cleaner after this.
Ice Bin Transfer
All you need is ice, water, and a ladle. And once the ice melts, you can turn in it into a pouring station.
Puzzle Sorting Station
As my kids aged, they outgrew their chunky puzzles. This is a great way to get your kid excited about these puzzles all over again.
Toy Washing Station
Set out some water and tear free soap and let your kids do the all the work. Kids will be busy scrubbing away and you will have a whole lot of clean toys in the end. Maybe even a finished cup of coffee, one can dream.
Need a reset on your day? Time ticking backwards? Enter your new favorite activity. Dump in some Duplo blocks into a bath and let your kids build until the water goes cold (then add in some more).
Funnels and Rainbow Rice
This one you have to prep a little beforehand but it’s worth it, trust me! Dyeing rice is super easy (much easier and more fun than you expect).
Yes, this is a messy activity which is usually a no go around here, but it’s a total winner. Combine water and corn starch to create this one-of-a-kind substance that is both liquid and solid. Trust the lady on the internet.
Paw Patrol Search and Rescue
The pups need help! Save them from the water and your kid will be a hero.
Pom Pom Soup
Did you know pom poms can get wet? They can and it’s magical. After they’re done, throw them into a pillow case and into the dryer. They’re good as new and ready for another activity.
Have your child go on a color hunt to make their own special bath time activity. A few drops of matching food coloring or bath tabs will elevate this simple bath to a whole new level.
Is there anything kids love more than making magical potions? If so, I can’t think of one. This is the favorite activity for kids playing at my house.
Oatmeal Baking Station
Another great sensory bin idea: Switch out the rice for oatmeal and a new activity is born.
Art Activities for Kids
Body Painting Process Art
I don’t know what it is but the bigger the canvas the more kids love to paint it and this is no exception.
I wish you could’ve seen the look my oldest gave me when I told him he could paint his toys. At the end, we gave the dinosaurs a “bath” and they were good to go for the next play time.
Extreme Box Decorating
Our extreme boxes lived in our garage and lasted “in process” for 2 years. It’s more than “just” decorating boxes.
Paint the Trash
This non-standard way of painting will have you digging through your recycling bin immediately.
Grab your recyclables, some art supplies and let your kid’s imagination run wild. It’s always fun to see what they come up.
Painting Ice Cubes
When the ice maker acts up, this is our go to activity. As the ice melts, the paint colors will mix and you can see a new creation.
Draw some simple overlapping shapes on a big piece of paper and as kids are painting, they’ll be practicing geometry skills as well as art skills like color mixing/matching.
Rainbow Dot Sticker Line-Up
A perfect fine motor activity! Dot stickers are magic in early childhood. Don’t sleep on this idea.
This methodic way of painting is quite relaxing for kids. Draw a few simple pictures and hand over some cotton swabs and paint, then step away and let your painter work.
Easy Indoor Activities
Post-It Name Match
This active yet simple activity is great for practicing letter/name recognition. It’s got a lot of movement built in with an extra “hide and seek” layer.
Do you have a little one with an obsession for all things small? Combine that love with some painter’s tape and you’ve got a toy parade.
Another great use of all those cardboard boxes lying around. Pair your road with other toys for a new way to play.
Number Line Math Activity
Number lines are an important visualization tool for kids and this sticky note version is perfection. Hide numbers around the house and have your child line them up in order.
This is a perfect example that activities don’t have to be complicated. Draw some lines, hand over dot stickers and enjoy a hot cup of coffee.
Hidden Colors Science Activity
Mixing baking soda and vinegar is what kids dreams are made of, but this activity has quite a twist that you don’t want to miss.
Pom Pom Tube Ramp
Start saving your tubes immediately and you’ll be amazed how quick you can accumulate a large stash for this. It’s a great STEM activity.
ABC Post-It Match
One of the easiest alphabet activities you can do! This is a great way to move from memorizing the alphabet to being able to identify and place in order physically.
Have your kids go on a shape hunt around the house to see how many of each can they find. It’s great for toddlers and preschoolers.
Card Slot Drop
You might not think this will be a hit, but I kid you not this is a winner for every Taby I know.
Animal Tape Rescue
Saving their precious animal friends will motivate your toddler to practice their fine motor skills without even knowing it
Need your kid to run off some extra energy from being inside? Hide letters all around and ask them to go find them one at a time.
Find the Shape
Sit back with some hot coffee and watch the magic. Ask your child to color in various shapes either in multiples or one at a time, depending on how much time you need to finish your cup.
Match and Glue
Did you know that using liquid glue is a skill you have to teach? By matching pom poms and colors is a great way to practice using just the right amount and pressure needed.
Erase the ABC’s
This search and find game is so simple yet so fun for kids. Something about drawing on the window is magical.
DIY Ball Ramp
This was so much fun! Using a cardboard box as a ramp is a great STEM activity that kids will keep coming back to.
Frequently Asked Questions
We often get hung up on ages with kids when success with an activity has so much more to do with the child’s interest level than their age. Activities are like food: not all foods will work for all kids and not all activities will work for all kids. We make decisions on what to cook for dinner based on what we know about each child and their tastes. Do the same with activities. Remember that all activities require parent supervision.
The ones you have the supplies for and want to try. What’s easy for me and my family may be hard for your family so only make decisions on what you feel interested in trying.
No! Activities are used as a tool that is used when you many need help, when kids are grumpy, when the mood is off, or when you just need a reset of the day. These are all a bonus, not a requirement of parenting.