Screen-free ideas for at home activities with a 3 year old

I haven’t written a post in a really long time because I got a new part-time job and have been really busy. We are also expecting a new baby in a few weeks and I’ve been so tired and had a complicated pregnancy. I’ve been making a list of things to keep our son occupied while I’m breastfeeding the new baby, and here are some of my ideas (I’m sure they will each occupy him for about 10 minutes and then I’ll be back to square one in half a day!)

Hape lacing vehicles toy

Screen-free ideas for at home activities with a 3 year old:

  • Make a necklace with the lacing vehicles toy (this is great for fine motor skills too, and has been a surprising hit for my son starting at age 2.5)
  • Build a house with pillows on the bed
  • Play with a sticker book (we got this train one since Jack is obsessed with trains)
  • Use a coloring book
  • Throw a birthday party for a stuffed animal (wrap presents in scrap paper, make a cake with wooden food)
  • Paint with watercolors
  • Cut scrap paper
  • Play with playdough
  • Sensory play with beans, ice cubes, nuts etc
  • Write our own “book”
  • Color with water (these water wow books have been a big hit for us)
  • Play with stamps
  • Do a montessori-inspired activity like transferring pom poms with tongs or play this cute apple game
  • Play a cooperative board game like this one about chickens which Jack doesn’t really understand but likes to play with
  • Play with a flashlight (shadow animals, or trying to catch the light)
  • Set up an easy obstacle course and count how many times he can do it

I hope I have an easy recovery from childbirth because I’m worried about how I will get through the post-partum period with 2 kids. My husband will be home for about 2 weeks, but my son almost always would rather be with me, so I think it’s going to be a challenge.

Getting my 2 year old involved in household tasks

montessori learning tower

Jack helping at his learning tower

Parenting a toddler has been fairly challenging lately, and Jack is definitely getting more assertive with his choices and communicating it more. Our days have been involving a lot of mini tantrums where he gets upset that he has to put on a new shirt because his current one is wet, or we need to get in the car to drive somewhere but he wants to take a walk,

One thing that seems to help us a lot is following the Montessori idea of giving Jack as much freedom as possible and letting him help with our daily activities so he has a sense of control over more things. One of his favorite ways to help has always been in the kitchen. Getting a learning tower has been one of the best things we have bought. Jack loves to wash produce, transfer it from one bowl to another, or put things in the food processor and help turn it on. He is also more likely to get excited to try foods that he helps prepare.

Jack also helps with the laundry by putting the quarters in the slots (even though he likes to play with them so it takes way longer). He will also help move things into the dryer or carry some items back down the hallway for me. When I unload the dishwasher he will help with the non-pointy silverware, and he loves helping to clean up messes with a rag. Jack has also been enjoying turning lights off and on by himself and opening and closing doors. He likes to somewhat accurately water the plants too.

There are some activities he loves to help with so much that I have a hard time completing them; if I ever get out the swiffer while he’s around I have to wait quite a while until I can get a turn with it!

DIY baby discovery toy

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I’m always looking for creative ways to keep Jack busy, and this little project worked pretty well. He’s 14 months old and loves putting things inside things, so I got an orange juice carton (you could use a milk carton or anything cardboard probably) and cut two “windows” in it with scissors. I washed it out, and he had fun putting some cylindrical blocks through the top hole and getting them out from the sides.  You could find things around the house that happen to fit as well. I used the blocks from this plan toys set which was pretty inexpensive ($20 for 50 blocks) and very non-toxic. We use them for all sorts of other things too like putting them in and out of a bag, or I build towers and Jack knocks them down.

Jack’s attention span is only a few minutes, so it’s great to be able to make activities for him for free since he gets bored so quickly!

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