Feel like you’ve exhausted your go-to list of activities to keep your little ones occupied at home? We’ve created a fresh new list of the latest websites, apps, toys and simple activities you can do with your toddler or preschooler at home.
1. Make a home zoo. Set up toy animals and have your child go around as the zookeeper and tell you about them.
2. Candy sink or float challenge. Use your leftover Halloween candy to learn about density. Drop different types of candy into a bowl of water to see if they sink to the bottom or float to the top. Candy filled with light and airy filling (such as 3 Musketeers or Kit Kat) will float, while candy filled with caramel or nuts will sink.
3. Outdoor movie night. Rent a movie projector from your local library and hang a white sheet to use as a screen. Bring out some sleeping bags, popcorn and treats for a feature under the stars.
4. Go camping in the backyard. Set up a tent in your backyard and spend the night outside (or in the living room).
5. Go through nostalgic toys. Bust out that bin of Beanie Babies and your other childhood toys and watch your child give them new life.
6. Homemade volcano. Make a classic volcano with vinegar and baking soda. Add food coloring for a rainbow of fun.
7. Car wash or animal washing station. Fill one bin with shaving cream and another with water. Add some sponges or washcloths and have your child wash their favorite toy cars or animals.
8. Puzzle hunt sensory bin. Fill a bin with sand or dried rice and hide letters or numbers. Have your child go on a mission to find the hidden items.
9. Toy car parking lot. Flatten a large cardboard box and use a marker to draw letters or numbers in parking spaces for your child’s toy car collection. Tape numbers or letters on top of the cars and have your child pull the cars into the matching parking spaces.
10. Lemonade stand. Set up a classic neighborhood lemonade stand and instill an early entrepreneurial spirit in your child.
11. Make a winter bird feeder. Use an empty toilet paper tube to make a simple bird feeder. Spread peanut butter or shortening on the cardboard tube, then roll it on a plate of bird seed until it’s fully coated. Use a piece of string to hang it on a tree branch outside.
12. Alphabet hide and seek. Write the alphabet on Post-it Notes and stick them throughout the house. Have your child peel them off and bring them to you as they find them.
13. Funnels and tubes pouring station. Turn empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes and dollar store funnels into a funnel and tube pouring station. Add measuring cups and spoons to the bin. Cheerios work great for toddlers; dried beans or rice are great pouring material for preschoolers.
14. Grow seeds. Plant a few seeds in a clear plastic cup or glass jar so your child can easily watch the transformation.
15. Make a family tree. This activity is a fun way to teach your child about extended family.
16. Make a donation. Have your child pick out a few items to bring to a local food donation site or drop off supplies at an animal shelter.
17. Build a pillow and blanket fort. See how creative you can get with your bedding fortress.
18. Make a time capsule. Write down fun facts about the year, and your child’s aspirations and predictions for the future, and seal it up in an envelope to open years from now. Include a current family photo or a drawing.
19. Have a puppet show. Make stick figures using popsicle sticks, felt, glitter, yarn, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and other crafting supplies, and then make up funny storylines for your puppet show.
20. Play store with real money. Give your preschooler a handful of quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies and set up a “shop” around the house.
21. Bake something. Keep it simple with a quick box of brownies or classic Rice Krispie Treats to teach your little one about measuring, pouring and mixing.
22. Cleaning helper. Give your toddler a spray bottle filled with water and a wash cloth and let them help “clean.”
23. Make a sensory bag. Fill a gallon size Ziploc bag with sprinkles, Cool Whip, oil and water or Jell-O and watch your toddler squish, shake, manipulate and explore the bag. Add duct tape over the seal for extra protection. Do not leave your child unattended with the bag.
24. Bowling with toilet paper rolls. Collect empty toilet paper rolls around the house and have your child decorate them with paint or stickers. Set them up in a bowling triangle and use your favorite ball to knock them down.
25. Animal line up. Put painter’s tape into various lines and zigzags on the floor. Have your child take their toy animals or characters and line them up on the tape.
26. Animal rescue with tape. Tape toy animals to a cardboard box or metal cookie sheet and have your child pick off the tape and “rescue” the animals.
27. Lock and key matching game. Buy a few padlocks and keychains at the dollar store. Use a Sharpie to write a number on each of the locks. Attach a keychain to each of the keys and write the number to the matching lock. Have your child match the numbers to unlock the lock.
28. Flashlight hide and seek. Hide some of your child’s stuffed animals or toys in cabinets, closets or under the bed and have them find them with a flashlight.
29. Dollar store flash card book. Buy a few packs of flash cards and plastic dollar store photo albums to create an on-the-go flip book of sight words, letters or numbers.
30. Root beer float science. Teach your child about solids, liquids and gases using root beer floats.
31. Make rain clouds in a cup. Fill a clear glass with water and add shaving cream to the top to serve as a cloud. In a separate container, mix a little bit of water with food coloring. Use an eyedropper to dispense a few drops of the colored water on top of the shaving cream and watch it slowly “rain” down into the glass.
32. Make an “I spy” jar. Fill an empty soda bottle or peanut butter jar with dried rice and random objects such as small figurines, dice, letters, numbers, crayons, coins, artificial flowers or anything else you can fit. Have your child shake, roll and move around the jar to find the different objects.
33. Fruit Loops necklace. Grab a box of Fruit Loops and some yarn for this fine motor skill activity. Tape one end of the string to the table to keep the cereal from spilling off the string. Wrap a little piece of tape around the other end to easily slide the cereal without fraying the edge.
34. Paint like Michelangelo. Tape a sheet of paper under a table and have your child paint upside down like Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.
35. Make leaf rubbings. Collect leaves from outside. Arrange on a table top and place a piece of paper over them. Use different color crayons to gently color over the paper. Watch the imprints of the leaves appear on the paper.
36. Paint rocks. Paint rocks to display in your flower beds.
37. Handprint animals. Dip your child’s hand in different color paints and move your handprints around in different positions to see what kind of animals you can come up with. Draw faces or use googly eyes to make them come to life.
38. Draw a self portrait. Trace the outline of your child’s body and have them fill in his or her face, hair, clothes and accessories.
39. Face painting. Pick up some nontoxic face paint and transform your little one into his or her favorite animal or super hero for a day.
40. Make cards. Make “thinking of you” cards to send to relatives or friends your child misses.
41. Make a cardboard house. Grab a large empty cardboard box (or tape a few together) and let your child decorate their house with stickers, markers or paint.
42. Salt dough ornaments. Use a classic salt dough recipe and have your child make handprints, cookie cutouts or other figures.
43. Playdough fossils. Press toy bugs, dinosaurs or animals into playdough and have your child examine the fossil prints using a magnifying glass. You can also press different toys/objects into the playdough and then have your child match the prints to the items.
44. Lid and container match. Give your toddler a few different shapes and sizes of food storage containers to match together.
Out and About
45. Nature walk. Take a stroll through your local park and bring a jar or Ziploc bag to collect buckeyes, pine cones, flowers and more.
46. Picnic in the park. Pack a lunch and spread out on a blanket in the park (or backyard) for a picnic.
47. Putt-putt. Mini golf is a fun game that all members of your family can enjoy. Check out Sweeties Golfland in Cleveland and grab a special soda or ice cream cone afterward. Or click here for a complete listing of area options.
48. Drive-in movie. Put on your PJs and pack the car for a night at the movies. Try the Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In Theatre in North Ridgeville.
49. Visit a farm. Visit cows, pigs, chickens and sheep and learn how food is grown at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark in Kirtland.
50. Pick your own produce. Your little ones will love picking their own apples right off the tree or finding the biggest pumpkin in the patch. Check out Patterson Fruit Farms in Chesterland, or click here for a complete listing of area apple orchards.
51. Drive-thru safari. See camels, zebras, giraffes and more without getting out of your car at the African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton.
Websites and Apps
52. Virtual story time. Missing story time at your local library? Many libraries are hosting virtual story times via Facebook, YouTube or Zoom.
53. Take a virtual tour. Many museums and famous places across the world are hosting online virtual tours. Visit the National Museum of Natural History, The Louvre or the Great Wall of China without leaving your house.
54. Zoo live cams. Peek into the live action at some of the country’s best zoos and aquariums. View more than a dozen different animals on the live cameras at the San Diego Zoo, or tune into live narrated feedings of penguins at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
55. Online dance class for toddlers. Get your little one moving with free, step-by-step instruction from SamCam’s Dance Studio.
56. Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube. Turn on free yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids.
57. Slime time. The glue manufacturer Elmers provides endless inspiration for slime, crafts and learning projects on its website.
58. Baking soda STEM. Discover crafts and STEM experiments using baking soda from this manufacturer’s website.
59. HOMER app. Download a learn-to-read app for children ages 2-8.
60. Sago Mini World app. Discover dozens of creative games that spark imagination and grow curiosity.
61. ABCMouse.com and app. Set up your child with this early online learning program for kids ages 2-8.
62. Highlights.com and app. Play games and do activities from the classic children’s magazine.
63. TinyTap app. Turn your child’s screen time into an independent learning experience.
64. Noggin app. Watch preschool shows and play games from the experts at Nick Jr.
65. PBS Kids app. Log on to an educational, fun-filled app that empowers your preschooler to test engineering concepts and solve problems.
66. Jumbo cardboard blocks. Add these colorful cardboard blocks from Melissa & Doug to your child’s birthday or holiday list. They’re lightweight and easy for children to stack.
67. Insect Lore Butterfly Garden. Witness butterfly metamorphosis at home as you care for live insects.
68. Personalized name puzzle. Help toddlers learn how to spell their names, learn colors and to develop motor skills with a custom wood puzzle.
69. Funphix Construction set. Kids can use this engineering set to build structures on their own.
70. Imagination Generation Set of 4 Classic Children’s Card Games with Playing Card Holders. This set includes classic card games Old Maid, Go Fish!, Crazy Eights and matching with simple rules for young players. Two kid-friendly card holders included.
71. HONBO Large Delta Kites. Teach your kids to fly kites with this classic rainbow kite.
72. Homemade popsicle kit. A silicone popsicle mold can be filled with juice, puree, yogurt, apple sauce, ice cream and more.
73. Wipe Clean Workbook Tracing and Pen Control. Children aged 3 and over can practice their shapes and line drawing skills.
74. Magna-Tiles set. Create flat or 3D shapes that engage young minds by fusing together math, science and creativity.
75. Osmo Little Genius Starter Kit. These award-winning learning games let your child interact with tangible educational toys and an iPad, bringing their actions to life.
76. Fisher-Price Think & Learn Rocktopus. Kids are in control of their musical creations and can add or subtract instruments, control the tempo and add sound effects.
77. Kids pop-up tents, tunnels and ball pits. A pop-up playhouse obstacle course playset with a ball pit will keep your children entertained for hours.
78. Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad. Hold your child’s attention with a jumbo reusable sticker activity pad with full-color scenes to fill and re-fill with reusable cling-style stickers.
79. HAN-MM Busy Board. This toy helps create the link between learning and playing, allowing kids to learn essential skills like getting dressed and in turn helping them build self-confidence.
80. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Animal Stamp Set. These wooden stamps help develop multiple skills, including hand-eye coordination and creative expression, while encouraging storytelling and imaginative play.
81. LeapFrog LeapStart 3D Interactive Learning System. This system engages kids through books, audio and 3D-like animations for an experience that reinforces learning.
82. Moon In My Room. The remote control wall decor comes to life and teaches lunar phases in your child’s room with soft light and authentic detail.
83. Kinetic Sand Beach Sand Kingdom Playset. This toy feels like wet beach sand that’s actually dry. It’s easy to shape, mold and cleans up.
84. KiwiCo. A monthly subscription box featuring fun and enriching science and art projects for kids of all ages.
85. Little Passports. Explore the world with these travel theme subscription boxes designed to enhance learning and fuel imagination.
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