Indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers are generally easy to do. But sometimes they get super boring.
Especially after doing them over and over again when you’re stuck indoors for several days (not to mention months!) when its so stinkin’ cold out!
I wanted to create a go-to list of indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers – no matter what I’m looking for on one of those days.
Some of these are obviously going to be indoor activities (because who really crafts with buttons outside?).
However, many of these activities I’ll be glad to have handy on rainy days, snow days, and just plain freezing cold days that toddlers and preschoolers can’t go outside.
What Are Some Good Indoor Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers?
These are the main categories we will touch on for our giant list of activities for toddlers and preschoolers to do indoors.
- Gross Motor Indoor Activities
- Fine Motor Indoor Activities
- Sensory Indoor Activities
- Thinking & Building Indoor Activities
- Science Experiments to do Indoors
- Crafts & Art Projects for Indoors
This list is very extensive covering all areas of indoor play from gross motor to fine motor to sensory and crafts.
If you’d like a simple list to get you started, try this list of my 10 favorite indoor activities for toddlers.
Indoor Gross Motor Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
As you may know, I think it’s incredibly important to get kids moving every day, no matter what.
In some shape or form, they need to be running, jumping, tumbling, bending, lifting, or something that gets them moving in a big way.
This type of activity is especially important for toddlers and preschoolers on rainy days.
Not only does it help build their muscles and all that good stuff, but it also wears them out so they get a good night’s sleep.
We need to create opportunities to get them moving every day. When we’re stuck indoors for many, many days, and sometimes months here in Iowa, it starts to get tough.
I put together this list of ways to get kids moving. It’s divided by type of activity.
This includes scavenger hunts, obstacle courses for kids, throw things (safely), jumping games, and lots more activities for toddlers and preschoolers to do indoors!
How Do I Keep My Kids Active Indoors?
Go on an Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Yes, first on this list of gross motor indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers is, of course, scavenger hunts for kids to do.
They are my favorite way to get kids moving, and indoor scavenger hunts are no different!
Here are some indoor scavenger hunt activities to entertain the kids while you’re stuck inside on rainy days.
There is one that is shown outdoors, but it can be done inside too!
- Spy Game Scavenger Hunt
- Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Spider Web Scavenger Hunt
- String Scavenger Hunt
- Heart Scavenger Hunt
- Map Treasure Hunt
- 32 Scavenger Hunt Ideas
Indoor Obstacle Courses for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Obstacle courses don’t need to be super elaborate (though they definitely can be if you want).
Sometimes simpler is better when you’re entertaining little kids.
We’ve had some super fun with these simple indoor obstacle course activities for toddlers and preschoolers!
Some have learning elements added that you can change up for your child, or just take it out altogether!
- String Obstacle Course
- Learning obstacle course
- Walking on Pillows
- Activity Course with Balloons
- Get Moving Color Sort
- Crawler’s Obstacle Course
Throw Things Indoors – Safely!
Yes, throwing can be done indoors if you pick the right things to throw and set activity ground rules for your toddlers.
Maybe set aside a place and time where kids can go wild!
And, of course, use soft (or light) object to throw inside so there’s less chance of damage.
- Sticky Spider Web
- Indoor Basketball
- Pom Poms on the Stairs
- Bowling with Bottles
- Make a Ring Toss
- Indoor Straw Javelin from Toddler Approved
- Make a Velcro Ball from Creative Connections for Kids
Indoor Jumping Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Kids love to jump, and I would debate that they need to jump around every day!
But if you don’t have one, try some of these jumping activities with the kids:
- Jump & Grab Game
- Jumping Game with Tape
- Hot Lava (Pretend Islands) Activity
- The Frog Jump from Coffee Cups and Crayons
- Color & Shape Jump from Messy Motherhood
- Lots of jumping activities found at The Realistic Mama
- The Floor is Lava! Don’t Step in the Lava!
More Toddler Gross Motor Activities – Indoors!
Of course, I have many more gross motor activities that toddlers and preschoolers can do indoors that don’t fall under those categories.
Some of these are just plain fun and get the kids moving!
This Diggin’ Wobble Board (affiliate link) is an awesome toy to have when you’re stuck inside!
Indoor Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Going along with gross motor activities, fine motor activities are just as important.
Kids need to gain fine motor control in order to do things such as write.
But fine motor skills go way beyond just writing.
Kids can gain fine motor control by pinching, cutting, inserting objects and threading. Hand-eye coordination is every bit as important as strengthening their fingers.
Here’s a list of fine motor activities toddlers and preschoolers can do indoors on a rainy day.
It’s split into categories such as pinching, cutting, writing, threading and so on.
A great bonus of fine motor activities is that these usually can keep kids occupied for quite a while so you can finally go potty in peace.
Indoor Fine Motor Activities that Focus on Pinching
Pinching activities are always obvious fine motor activities to me. It helps kids gain control and strength in their fingers.
- Bucket & Clothesline
- Claw Grabbing Machine
- Baking Soda & Colored Vinegar Experiment
- Squirt Chalkboard Letters
- Pom Poms
Indoor Fine Motor Activities to Strengthen Hands
Fingers can be strengthened many ways more than just pinching! Rubber bands are a great tool for this, but don’t limit it to just them either!
Here are a bunch of indoor toddler and preschooler activities that focus on just that.
- Rubber Band Busy Activity
- Rubber Band Passing Game
- Tongs Pick Up
- Push Pin Geo Board
- Play Dough with Tees & Straws
- 32 objects (and activities to do with them) that help strengthen little fingers
Hand-Eye Coordination for Fine Motor Control
Hand-eye coordination is one of the least obvious ways to gain fine motor control to me.
It doesn’t necessarily have to do with their fingers, but more of control and knowing what they’re doing.
These indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers help strengthen that hand-eye coordination.
- Paper Clip Chain
- Building Structures
- Nuts & Bolts
- Balance marbles on golf tees from Therapy Fun Zone
- Scooping and Pouring from Busy Toddler.
Indoor Threading Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Threading is a wonderful fine motor activity and it can be done in many ways, some not even using string!
- Weaving Ribbons
- Play Dough Threading
- Make a Beaded Bracelet
- Pool Noodle Stringing from Money Saving Mom
- Button Snake from Happy Hooligans
Inserting Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers Done Indoors
Inserting is a rather odd word, but I can’t come up with a better word to describe it. I know some UK friends call is posting.
It is a basic action of sticking an object into another, much like mailing a letter in a mail slot.
Try one of these inserting fine motor activities for toddlers to do indoors on a rainy or snowy day.
- Pom Pom Drop
- Crafts Sticks & Bottle
- Pipe Cleaners and Sprinkles Bottle
- Egg Carton Train
- Ribbons in a Bottle
- Pipe Cleaners & a Colander
Indoor Cutting Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Cutting can be done much earlier than most parents think to do it.
I know I was one of them!
Thought scissors were a danger to young children and wanted to keep them far away.
I learned with my second child that they can use them under supervision at a rather early age (think 18 months-2 years).
They will gain control before you know it!
Go ahead and give your toddler a try with the scissors with one of these indoor cutting activities.
- Cutting Straws
- Make Confetti Paper
- Cut Snowflakes
- Cut Catalogs & Magazines to Make a Book
- Scissor Skills with Play Dough from The O T Toolbox
- 5 Activities for Scissors Practice from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
Indoor Writing Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Writing… the ultimate goal of fine motor control, right?
But don’t rush it and don’t expect it to be in letter formation necessarily.
Writing can come in many shapes and forms.
- Make a Big Connect the Dots
- Water Painting
- Connect the Dots for Beginners
- Tracing Big Numbers on Tape
- Tracing Chalkboard letters
- Name Tracing Times Three
Indoor Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Often when you think of sensory activities, you think of a great big mess and it should be done outside.
That doesn’t have to always be the case (and if it is, try these tips to keep sensory play clean).
And often when we think of sensory play, we think of the kids using their hands and touching things. Which it is and it’s a great way for them to explore new materials.
But I just want to point out that there are five senses, so don’t limit it to just the touch sense.
I put together a list of sensory activities to do indoors with toddlers or preschoolers on a rainy day.
Including edible ones for those that still stick everything in their mouth.
And a list of sensory activities that go beyond the touch sense.
Indoor Edible Sensory Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
For the child that still puts everything in his mouth, these sensory activities don’t have anything to worry about.
They’re all edible and won’t harm them if they’re eaten (a little bit at least… don’t feed it to them!).
- Fruit Paint
- Edible Sandbox
- Frozen Veggies
- Baby Food Painting
- Flour Play
- Macaroni Sensory Play
- Corn Meal Play
- 34 Edible Sensory Activities
Indoor Touch Sensory Activities for Kids
Like I said, we often think of touch as the main sense for sensory activities.
This is a list of indoor sensory activities that toddlers can explore their sense of touch.
- Writing in Shaving Cream
- Soapy Foam
- I Spy Sensory Bag
- Slimy Eyes Sensory Bag
- Textured Sensory Wall
- Washing Toys
- Wet Newspaper
- Cloud Dough
- Shaving Cream Puffy Paint
Activities that Go Beyond the Touch Sense:
And beyond the sense of touch is their sense of taste, sight, sound, and smell.
Try these indoor sensory activities for toddlers and preschoolers to explore those senses!
- Fruit Smoothie Taste Test
- Make a Wave Bottle
- Soapy Sensory Jars
- Sensory Rattle
- Do You Hear That? Activity from Simple Play Ideas
- 48 Five Senses Activities
Thinking & Building Indoor Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
What do I mean by thinking and building activities? These are ones where kids are learning in a cognitive way.
They’re learning how to make towers, how to do puzzles, figure out the maze and problem solve.
They’re amazing activities that kids really, really love (at least mine do)!
- Fill a Shape full of Blocks
- Stack Canned Food
- Make a Listening Game to Build a Tower
- Build a Block City
- Tape Maze to Find Their Way Through
- 10 Minute Challenges
- Homemade Cardboard Construction Set from Happy Hooligans
- Magnetic Building Blocks from What Do We Do All Day?
- Magnetic Puzzles
- Play Dough Monsters: Roll, Count & Decorate
Indoor Science Experiments for Kids
Science experiments amaze kids. Period.
They don’t care that they’re learning anything.
And kids probably don’t understand that they even are, but man, they have a lot of fun with these!
Here are a few of my favorite indoor science activities to do with toddlers and preschoolers.
- Color Changing Milk
- What Dissolves
- DIY Lava Lamp
- Baking Soda & Vinegar Testing
- Float or Sink
- Gravity Tube Experiment
- Magic Finger Pepper Experiment
- Build a Balance Scale
- Cloud Experiment in a Jar
- Sort Living and Nonliving Things Activity Collage
Indoor Crafts & Art Projects
Yes, most crafts and art projects are done indoors, so why did I include this in this list of indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers?
Because I wanted a go-to place for things to do when we’re stuck inside and crafts and art projects are a major thing for kids to do indoors!
What makes this list any different than any other list of art projects or crafts the kids can do?
This one is a list of them that can be done at any time, regardless of time of year, season or holiday.
They’re just fun for kids to make and do anytime!
Ways to Paint Indoors with Toddlers and Preschoolers
Most the time when kids ask to paint, we whip out the paper, paintbrush and paint.
This is great, but kids can explore and have fun with so many other ways to paint.
Try a different way!
Some of these may be holiday related, but I want to share the technique that was used… you can switch it up however you’d like!
- Paint with Trucks
- Rainbow Sponge Painting
- Toothbrush splatter painting
- Bubble wrap painting
- Roll, Scratch and Tape Resist
- Roll a Ball painting
- Sponge painting
- Cookie Cutter Painting
- Big Paper Credit Card Art
- Simple Garden Fork Painting
- Rubber Band Splatter Painting
- Toilet Tube Stamping
- Shaken Art
- Icy Paint
- Pulled String Painting
- Oil Pastels & Watercolors
- Spin Art Streamers
- 13 tape resist ways
Other Art Projects
More fun art projects for kids to get creative with any time of year!
Go on, get creative with them today with these artsy indoor activities for toddlers and preschoolers.
- Sticky Sensory Art
- Craft Stick Art
- Cover a Table to Draw on
- Make Self Portraits
- Tape resist letter art
- Sand sensory art
- Melted crayon art
- Bleeding Tissue Paper Art
- Rainbow Window Art
- Paint and Make Streamers
- Draw on the Floor
Other Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Crafting can be done anytime, for any reason.
It doesn’t have to be limited to the season or holiday (though those are incredibly cute!) – these are crafts for anytime.
- Upcycled Crayons
- Tin Can Drums
- Ribbon Flowers
- Photo Montage
- Paper Bag Mask
- Tinted Mason Jars
- DIY Telescope
- Paper Mache
- Heart Button Craft
- Train of Cardboard boxes
- Straw Threaded Necklace
- Yarn Wrapped Vase
- Watercolor Coffee Filter Flowers
- Tissue Paper Flowers
- Shamrock Window Craft
- Stunning Suncatcher Craft
- Fruit Loops Rainbow Craft
- Sparkly Spring Tree Craft
- Pine Cone Monsters Tinker Tray Craft
I think I’ll keep adding to this list as we do more and more indoor activities with toddlers and preschoolers.
Pick one. Do an activity today!
These are all good activities for kids under 5, especially for indoor activities, but they can be done outdoors too!