Rainy days with a 3-year-old are usually boring and frustrating. But why? Because trips to the beach, picnics and riding your bike are all canceled. So What! There are plenty of unusual, wild, fun, and creative activities that will make you and your 3-year-old laugh out loud with joy, despite the rain lashing down outside.
To make the most of rainy days you will need a little bit of help from me to spark your imagination into life. Like you, I’ve read through all the boring rainy day suggestions like go to the library, play cards and watch a movie. Yawn!
I wanted to give you something more exciting, so I’ve listed all the unusual, fun, and wild activities I could scrape together after searching through every idea I could find.
Click on each activity for more details (with a few of my experiences thrown in for free).
Rainy Day Activites For 3-Year-Olds
- Dance in the Rain
- Design a Treasure Hunt
- Make a Rain Catcher
- Balloon Tennis
- Record Your Own Song
- Bake Cookies for your Neighbors
- Have an Indoor Picnic
- Go for a Trek and Camp Indoors
- Tie-Dye Party
- Umbrella Walk in the Rain
- Indoor Olympics
- Indoor Bubbles
- Make and Fly Paper Airplanes
- Make Some Unicorn Slime
- Put on a Fashion Show
- Bake a Mug Cake
- Paint a Watercolor
- Make a Marshmallow Catapult
- Perform a Science Experiment
- Make Puppets and Put on a Show
- Assemble an Easy to Make Bird Feeder
- Play Indoor Baseball
- Paint in the Bath
- Messy Play
- Make a Sensory Bottle
Go Dance in the Rain!
It’s fun to get wet.
Who says you can’t put on some old clothes, crank up your 3-year-olds favorite tunes in the house, run out into the garden and dance in the rain. If it’s not freezing cold then get out there, do something fun and wild–have a disco in the rain!
Grab the slip’n slide, sprinkler, and the water pistols out of the garage. Head outside and make sure everyone gets a soaking. Yeah, you probably won’t be able to last as long outside in the rain as if it was a hot sunny day, but a bit of cold water is also exhilarating. It really livens you up and makes your skin tingle.
When you’ve had enough, grab the hot towels you left inside and snuggle up together, warm and dry. This is the perfect time to go for a hot and steamy bath. There’s nothing better than getting into a nice warm bath when your skin is cold–giving you tingling skin and a cozy feeling.
Make a boring rainy day into one they will never forget. Do something crazy and unexpected by jumping up right now and dancing in the rain. Go on, try it.
Just have a look at how much fun these kids are having.
Design a Treasure Hunt
This was my favorite game as a 3-year-old. We would be given a clue on a piece of paper and it would be in the form of a riddle. We would work out the riddle and then rush to find the next clue. Eagerly seeking the final treasure.
After excitedly rushing around the house for 30 minutes, we would find the glittering treasure. It would always be something amazing, like some old foreign coins or a small piece of chocolate, it never failed to make us happy and jump up and down with excitement.
To set-up the treasure hunt, all you need is some paper, a pen, and the treasure. If you have dress-up items it can make their hunt more fun. But your creativity and some imagination is all that’s really needed.
Take a look at this in-depth guide on how to create a treasure hunt for your 3-year-old for bit more inspiration.
Make a Rain Catcher
If it’s raining outside and you are after some fun, then why not put a little learning into the mix too? It’s so easy to make a rain catcher and discover how much rain is falling outside, right now. Making a rain gauge is a creative and crafty task that can also be a learning experience for your 3-year-old.
You could make the rain gauge together using the instructions from this video (Yes, I know its a little bit British but the method is still the same, plus the jelly is optional).
Once you have your rain catcher, put it outside and time 15 minutes. Then you can measure the amount of rain falling.
It’s the perfect time to show your 3-year-old this video that explains why it rains in a fun and colorful way. I love using real-world examples to teach my 3-year-old, they connect well and remember more with hands-on learning like this.
Balloon Ping Pong
It’s amazing how one balloon can provide fun and laughter for hours. I’ve played this with my 3-year-olds and it never fails to get them giggling and running around the room. All you need is one balloon.
When you have inflated the balloon just bat it up into the air and the game has started. Everyone has to keep the balloon into the air by batting it back up. If it touches the ground then the game is over.
You can spice up this game by laying on your back and trying to keep the balloon in the air. Now the game is harder and funnier as you reach, stretch, and roll around the room as you try and stop the balloon from hitting the floor.
Not convinced? Try a game, I promise you’ll soon be rolling around the floor with your 3-year-old giggling and having fun.
A note on safety–latex balloons are a serious choking hazard for young children. After you’ve finished playing balloon ping pong, clear up any burst balloons and put any packets of balloons out of reach of your 3-year-olds. Please read my article on other unusual choking hazards to avoid for your 3-year-old and keep them safe, choking is preventable if you have the knowledge.
Record Your Own Song
Check your pockets. You probably have a mini recording studio sitting in there right now.
If you have a budding 3-year-old musician on your hands then today may be time for them to record their very first song. If you don’t have any instruments then get creative. Use pots, pans, and wooden spoons for your drums. If you are stuck for ideas then here is a whole article on simple musical instruments that you can make at home.
Once you’ve found some instruments from around the house or made your own–its time to jam. You can record your musical doodlings on your phone to replay and laugh at later on.
If you and your 3-year-old have a little musical talent–then it’s worth investing in an app like GarageBand for iOS. GarageBand allows you to arrange musical recordings taken with your phone into a song.
Have a look at this YouTube video, it’ll give you an idea of how much fun you can have making music with this app.
Bake Cookies for Your Neighbors
Spread the love–and the cookie dough–to your local area. Random acts of kindness can cheer up the gloomiest rainy day. Teach your 3-year-old that sharing and giving can be fun and make you feel great.
Cookies are easy to make and most of us have the ingredients in our homes already. But the smile that you could put on your neighbor’s faces when you arrive with warm, soft, delicious cookies straight from the oven makes cookies almost magical.
Teaching your 3-year-old to be caring and thoughtful is important. In my home city, it feels like people are busier and more occupied with their own lives now more than ever. I want to show my 3-year-olds that compassion is a skill we can learn and practice every day of our lives.
But I’m not a great cook? Well, here’s a great video for simple but tasty cookies that you can watch with your 3-year-old–if the cookie monster can manage it then so can you.
Have an Indoor Picnic
Grab the blankets, cushions, and sandwiches–we are going for a picnic.
On the kitchen floor, in the guest bedroom, or the living room. Gather up your teddies and teapots. We’re having an indoor picnic today.
Make your usual picnic food, arrange the blankets and comfy cushions and relax. Bring a few books but don’t forget a treat or two. An indoor picnic can bring some excitement to an otherwise boring meal on a damp and rainy day.
It’s amazing how just switching around the little things–like where you eat lunch–can make such a difference to a 3-year-old’s day. I’ve learned they love unusual and fun experiences like this.
Go for a Trek and Camp Indoors
Everyone has heard of building a play fort on a rainy day, but what about hiking and camping indoors when the weather is bad outside? Pack your bags with the essentials–sleeping bags, pillows, snacks, and torch. Put on your beanies and wrap up warm for your hiking adventure around the house.
Before arriving at your campsite, be sure to trek up the stairs. Visit the high peaks of the bathroom and the dark dense jungles of each bedroom. What animals might you find in each room? I’ve been hearing about rare and dangerous types of smelly sock snakes from some families.
After a long trek, it’s time to settle down in the perfect campsite. Your Living room. Roll out your sleeping bags, plump up your pillows and tell each other stories around the campfire. Make s’mores using the grill in the kitchen for your 3-year-old, that will really complete their camping experience.
Gather up your old clothes and teach your 3-year-old how to tie-dye. The whole tie-dye process is magical for a 3-year-old and it will delight the crafty kids. Also, when they finish tie-dying they will have a wearable souvenir to remind them of the fun they had on this normally boring rainy day.
Tie-dye is so much fun–once you start it’s hard to stop. Just be careful you don’t tie-dye everything! Tie-dyeing is easy for a 3-year-old to do with supervision. Imagine the confidence and joy that your 3-year-old will get out of wearing a beautiful and colorful t-shirt that they designed and made themselves.
No clothes to tie-dye? Why not try tie-dyeing paper towels? Here’s a handy guide that tells you all about having fun using tie-dye and paper towels. When you dry the paper towels off after, they look lovely as art on your wall or stuck on a window so the sun shines through them like stained glass.
Umbrella Walk in the Rain
Rather than feeling down when it rains, you should embrace it. Wrap up warm, change into your raincoat, rubber boots, grab an umbrella and head outside. There are puddles to splash in, rivers appear on the roads, and there’s nothing like the soft pitter-patter of rain on your umbrella when you are warm and dry.
The whole world changes when it rains, it becomes quieter, colors look different. Try walking around your local park in the rain, the smell of the plants and earth is so strong. I find it a wonderful time to take a walk with my 3-year-olds, and they love it too.
Always have a change of clothes and some nice warm towels ready for when you get back.
And who would blame you if you broke into song?
Sports don’t have to be played outdoors, why not bring them into your home. An indoor Olympics is the best remedy for a pent up 3-year-old needing to burn off some excess energy.
So, what you’ll do is decide on at least five different games to play around the house (I’ll give you some ideas in a second). Then play those games one after the other–awarding points for first, second, and third. At the end of all the games, you can award medals at a ceremony for the person who has the most points.
Indoor sport ideas:
- Roll up socks and throw them into a laundry basket
- Relay race around the house
- Balloon Soccer
- Hula Hoop
- Long Jump
- Balloon Volleyball
- Ping pong ball caught in a cup
- Hopping race
- Bowling using plastic cups as pins
- Egg and spoon race
- Potato sack race with pillowcases
- Three-legged race (Wheelbarrow)
Find those bubbles–or grab your bubble machine–and have a bubble blowing session. There’s something magical about bubbles, they entertain 3-year-olds to no end. Blowing them, chasing them around the room, popping as many as you can. Bubbles are beautiful to watch and fun to play with.
Why don’t you try to blow the biggest bubble without it popping? Or use your hand to “fan” a bubble away from danger and see how long you can keep it in the air. You could blow a cloud of bubbles and try to pop them all.
Have a go at making this simple bubble blower that makes enormous bubble snakes!
Make and Fly Paper Airplanes
I bet you know how to make at least one paper airplane design. The problem is, like you, I tend to always make the same design, so I get bored. But paper airplanes can be exciting–you just need to know how to fold the fun designs.
So, let me introduce you to Fold ’N Fly. It’s a website dedicated to helping you make the best and most unusual paper airplanes you have ever seen. The instructions to fold each plane are clear and easy to follow–each design has a printable template to make folding even easier.
Once you have your paper airplanes, find the biggest room in your house and let them soar. There are designs for distance, time aloft, acrobatics, and decoration. Try them all.
The distance designs will astound you and the acrobatic designs will make you laugh with their twists and turns. The decorative designs are so intricate it feels like you are doing origami. (P.s. They have an Origami plane too!).
Make Some Unicorn Slime
Slime is popular with kids right now. There are plenty of recipes you can find on google, but one of my favorites is this fluffy slime recipe complete with unicorn colors.
Making slime is one part science experiment, one part baking, and one part sensory experience. It’s something you can do together with your 3-year-old that they will really enjoy getting messy with and their hands stuck into.
When you’ve made your slime you can knead it, shape it, even add scents to it like vanilla to make it smell amazing. You can store it for another day by sealing it in an air proof container.
Put on a Fashion Show
Open up your wardrobes and cupboards to your 3-year-old and let them go wild. Encourage them to put on whatever they want, don’t interfere with their dress sense and style, it’s unique. So let them experiment.
Most 3-year-olds will jump at the chance to put on all your clothes and accessories. Combine winter coats with summer hats, jewelry and shorts. Who cares? Nobody can question your fashion expertise.
When your 3-year-old is fully dressed to impress, then the fashion show starts. Create a catwalk and have them learn how to walk it with grace and style. Don’t forget the pose and turn at the end. Capture the whole experience in pictures or video, because it’s sure to become an embarrassing family favorite to watch when they are older. Cringeworthy in the future maybe, but definitely adorable and a memory to cherish forever.
Bake a Mug Cake
This is baking but on a tiny scale. Have you ever heard of baking mug cakes? I hadn’t until recently and now they are one of my favorite treats. A mug cake is a mini cake that you make in a coffee mug using regular cake ingredients and cook in the microwave.
Yes, real cake, in a mug, in 1 minute. I know, steady yourself. It’s groundbreaking. The only downside to mug cakes is that once you get good at making them you’ll want to eat them all the time.
I found myself turning my favorite cake recipes into mug cake versions. The best part is that if your mug cake is a complete disaster, you can have another one baking in the microwave in less than five minutes.
Do you have some simple cake ingredients in your house? Go try making a mug cake right now. I promise you won’t regret it.
Click here to see hundreds of different mug cake recipes on google.
Paint a Watercolor
You want to be artistic, but your missing the paints. Don’t worry, I can solve that problem for you.
How about painting watercolors with safe non-toxic paints that you can make with ingredients from around your house?
Yes, that’s right, you can paint watercolors with your 3-year-old using homemade food dye watercolor paints. This article has all the details on how to make the paints (It’s incredibly easy).
Once you’ve made the paints, make an area easy to clean by covering everything with plastic sheets and let your 3-year-old release their inner artist. You might also want to buy a painting smock like this one from Amazon. It saves another wardrobe change at the end of their painting fun.
Make a Marshmallow Catapult
Yes, you heard me right. Someone has designed a way to make a marshmallow catapult. Now, I don’t have a problem with that–as long as their aim is good enough to land the marshmallows in my mouth!
Follow this video guide and make your very own marshmallow catapult from items around your house:
Once you’ve made your catapult, you can use it however you please. I suggest getting someone to stand where the marshmallows land and try to catch them in their mouth. You could set up some targets and try and knock them all down with your deadly fluffy pink marshmallows.
I prefer the first option of catching marshmallows in my mouth.
Perform a Science Experiment
I’ve always loved science. When I was a little kid. My grandpa used to show me neat little science experiments and teach me about science at the same time. I used to love our time together and I learned so much from those experiments. It gave me a love for science I could never shake.
I guess the main reason I enjoyed those times was the close loving bond that I felt for my grandpa. Doing the experiments was secondary compared to us working together and spending time with each other. A few explosions never go a miss to keeping a 3-year-old’s attention though.
Some people today while away their evenings using their phone or watching TV. Their 3-year-old happily playing with a tablet or other distraction. But 3-year-olds crave interaction–with their family–not technology.
A 3-year-old has a natural sense of excitement and wonder about the world around them. Show them how to make bubbles and their jaw hits the floor, teach them how to make a volcano with baking soda and vinegar and they will really hit the roof.
Experiments can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. There are hundreds of ideas on YouTube and google. Here’s a link to a video showing you some simple experiments to give you some ideas and get you started.
Build a Theatre and Put on a Puppet Show
If you want to put on a performance, then use your creativity and imagination and first construct a theatre. What kind of theatre you need depends on the type of puppets your using.
If it’s sock puppets in your play then you can make your theatre from chairs, sheets, and pillows. If it’s a shadow puppet theatre you want, then you’ll need an empty cardboard box and a few craft items. Here’s a thorough guide to building your own shadow puppet theatre.
Once you have your theatre and your puppets, it’s time to act out a story for your show. You could retell a classic nursery rhyme or children’s story or make one up yourself–if you have the imagination.
Assemble an Easy to Make Bird Feeder
Take an interest in nature with your 3-year-old. Hundreds of birds visit your house every day, so give them a reason to stick around. If you place your bird feeder close to a window, you can watch and record the birds that visit without disturbing them.
The variety of birds in our garden surprised me when I tried this with my 3-year-olds. There were some species that even I had never seen before, so I would definitely recommend you giving it a try. It’s so easy to do, you probably have all the materials needed in your home right now.
Play Indoor Baseball
The nations favorite pastime is just as fun indoors. We scale the whole game down a bit though. We use cushions as bases, which allow for some comfortable slides. For the bat we use our hands and the ball was some screwed up A4 paper. Simple I know but aren’t the best games always uncomplicated.
Just remember to put away anything breakable because this game can get rowdy.
Paint in the Bath
If you have washable kids paints at home but your always scared of the cleaning up after, try standing your kids in the bath, sticking up sheets of paper on the tiles, and letting them go crazy with the brushes and paints.
It’s a good idea to take most of their clothes off for this. But that shouldn’t be a problem if your bathroom is warm.
Your 3-year-old will enjoy the freedom of being able to create without you nervously hanging over them. They can spill the paint everywhere and clean up is a cinch. Just turn on the showerhead and wash the paint away.
If you want another messy play idea for the bath why not try sensory spaghetti. Here’s a video to show you how to make safe rainbow spaghetti that your 3-year-old would love running their fingers through.
You can do the same with rice too. It looks spectacular with all the different colors mixed together. I might serve one of these up at my next dinner party just to see the shock on peoples faces. Maybe I’ll start a trend.
Sensory Glitter Bottle
The first time I saw one of these swirling glitter bottles I knew I had to make one with my 3-year-olds. They loved the process of making the glitter bottles. Tipping all the glitter into the bottle at the end was a favorite part.
They still play with those glitter bottles we made a few months ago. It’s fun to make toys with your 3-year-old and they treasure it even more because they made it.
And Finally …
If you need more inspiration and ideas to keep your 3-year-old happy and you’re bored of websites recommending the same old BORING games and activities then check out my article on Games that Your 3-Year-Old Will Actually Enjoy. I guarantee you’ll find something in there that will keep your 3-year-old entertained for hours.
Hi, my name is Gavin and together with my wife we are the proud parents of twins. We believe that learning more about your children will help you be a better parent and love your 3 year old even more. That’s why we created At3yearsold.com, just for you!