How to Entertain a 3 Year Old for an Hour

By Kathryn Hatter
Quiet time on the couch could quickly fill an hour.
Quiet time on the couch could quickly fill an hour.

If you have a 3-year-old at your side, life can be exciting and busy. Little people this age enjoy exploring and learning in a variety of ways, and they have gained enough motor skills to make exploration possible. Spending an hour entertaining a 3 year old will probably speed by as you attempt to keep up with the youngster. Your little one may surprise you with his verbal skills, too.

Play "Follow the Leader" with your child -- children this age often enjoy watching movements and actions and trying to mimic them, advises the National Network for Child Care website. Try jumping like a frog, scurrying like a squirrel and pretending to fly like a bird. Take turns being the leader so your little one has a chance to think of animals and movements.

Pull the little one onto your lap for a quiet game of silly questions. The object of this game is to encourage your youngster to use his imagination as he answers or asks questions. Possible questions include, “Where would you fly if you were a bird?” and “When dogs bark, what are they saying?”

Look at a photo album full of his baby pictures and talk about what he was doing in the pictures and how much he’s grown. Mention specific skills he has now that he didn't have when he was a baby, such as running, jumping, climbing, talking and feeding himself.

Grab a basket or bucket and take a walk around the block. Instead of simply walking, though, help your little one find treasures to put in his basket or bucket. Items such as an acorn, fallen leaves and pretty rocks might be readily available along the sidewalk where your 3 year old could find them.

Serve a healthy snack that will fuel and reenergize your child. A sliced apple and cheese curds, crackers with peanut butter or guacamole on fresh vegetables will keep your youngster happily busy for a few minutes.

Play “I Spy” either indoors or outdoors. Take turns finding an item nearby while the other person tries to guess what it is. Clues can help the guesser zero in on the spied object more quickly, if necessary.

Make a simple tent in the living room by throwing a large blanket or quilt over a table. Grab a flashlight and play in the tent with your little one, telling stories or singing songs.


Regardless of the situation and venue of your hour of entertainment, many of these activities will fit the bill. For example, if you’re in the car, try silly questions, “I Spy” and perusing photo albums. On a rainy day inside, build a tent, play "Follow the Leader" and have a snack. On a day that’s perfect for being outside, take a walk and have your snack outdoors.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.