I have four children and have cared for lots of preschoolers and toddlers in my time as a childminder. I have always had a keen interest in finding new easy indoor activities for preschoolers at home and rediscovering and adapting existing easy indoor activities for preschoolers at home. So in this post I’m going to share with you at least 5 of our favourite indoor activities we’re loving at the moment. These have all been tested on my preschooler as well as her older brother, who at 6 still really enjoys joining in.
In the cooler and wetter months it’s really handy to have a few of these basic activities on hand, so I have compiled this list with that in mind. They don’t require lots of resources or time to set up and you will most probably find some of these things in your home or adapt the activity to suit your resources. If not, the resources are really frugal to purchase and so most importantly won’t break the bank. I will add that my little ones often show more interest in these activities than most of the shop bought toys we have in the house!
Some of these activities can be really good for open ended play. My youngest doesn’t always have a long attention span so when I find activities that help encourage her to play a little independently, for longer and with more imagination, I really run with it. All of these activities come with some early years development information and also some ideas for extending play. So without further ado I will get stuck into our ideas of easy indoor activities
This is a really fun and simple open ended play activity. You can use pom poms or even other objects such as nature items (pine cones), duplo, coloured pasta etc. In this particular activity we used coloured pom poms and stacking cups. I provided her with different tweezers for her to use, thus working on her pincer grip and fine motor skills.
Florence in this photo chose to sort them by colour, placing the purple pom poms into the purple stacking cup etc. You could sort them by size encouraging an understanding of maths, size and capacity. Or you could put numbers onto pots and ask them to place the right amount of pom poms into each pot. She also enjoyed practicing picking them and other objects up with the tweezers.
EYFS – Physical Development, Maths and Communication & Language development.
This is a good activity to do in Winter when they’re learning about ice and snow. Thanks to fridge freezers you can do this anytime! I previously froze some ice cubes and then emptied them out into a plastic tub and let her loose with some paints and brushes. She enjoyed painting each ice cube and making swirly patterns in the tub with the brushes. It’s a really great way of doing painting without much mess. You can always do snow painting if you’re lucky enough to live where you get some snow. You can also encourage mark making with the watery paint.
Another one we have enjoyed is freezing objects into ice and then breaking them out. You can use play tools to chip away and excavate the ice, turkey basters and warm water to encourage them to melt. Or for an extended supervised activity for STEM, pour salt over the ice and watch it melt.
EYFS – Maths, Expressive Arts and Design and Physical Development for ice excavation.
This is probably the most popular activity in our house right now. We are currently using dried kidney beans and lentils and have red, white and green ones, so no need to dye them to make them more eye catching. I recommend rinsing the beans under cold water and drying them on a tea towel before little ones play with them (just in case they ingest them).
We have a variety of spoons, tweezers, scoopers, jars and pots and place the beans and resources in a wooden tray or tuff tray and let them play away. Mine love to fill old plastic spice jars and make shakers with them. You could also use coffee beans, pasta, rice etc. For extended play you could use cardboard toilet rolls and pour the beans down them, scales for weighing and measuring, play shops etc. Lots of ways to extend one easy activity. When you have finished with the beans simply keep them in a jar for later play.
EYFS – Physical Development and Maths
Homemade Play Dough
This is a classic easy indoor activity for preschoolers and toddlers and can be adapted in various different ways. This one we chose to make play dough Birthday cakes. I use my own play dough recipe.
As you can see we just used some silicone cupcake cases and then a variety of toppings can be used such as dried pasta, dried beans, buttons, nature and Birthday candles.
I also have a play dough recipe with natural dyes which is fun to make with kids and is great for STEM activities.
EYFS – Physical Development, Expressive Arts and design and Communication &Language.
We are really enjoying decorating our tree outside with homemade bird feeders. Their favourite feeder at the moment is the cheerio feeder. This feeder is great as it involves little ones practicing their threading skills and thus using their fine motor skills.
All you need is a pipe cleaner and some cheerios. Simply put a kink/knot in the end of a pipe cleaner and let your little one thread the cheerios on to the pipe cleaner. We made heart shaped feeders to show some love to our birds as it’s nearly Valentine’s Day!
Here are some other easy bird feeders that you can make at home. To extend this activity have a bird watching hour. Read some books about birds and make some binoculars with toilet rolls and string and finally get them spotting different types of garden birds on your tree or local park.
EYFS- Physical Handling, Literacy, Understanding the world and Communication and Language.
Here is a video of us enjoying these activities
I hope that these 5 activities give you some inspiration for you and your little one. I also have a recent post on 5 outdoor activities that you can do with kids and also another rainy day activities post. I would love to hear from you if you try these activities or if you would like to share your easy indoor activities with preschoolers for me to try with Florence.