If your other child is napping than I’m assuming your looking for activities that aren’t too loud then? So you prob don’t want him running around the house playing hide-in-seek or indoor scavenger hunts, LOL?
You’ve gotten a lot of good ideas already but here are some more activities that are on the quiet side:
I know that Play Dough has already been mentioned but it is a GREAT activity! My daughter is almost four and that is by far one of her favorites. We make the homemade play dough together which is so much better than the store bought stuff and not as messy (or smelly). I measure out the ingredients and she dumps them in. I let her pick which color she wants the play dough and we dye it with food coloring (or you can use a kool aid packet). I let her mix it all together and then I cook it over the stove top. We then play it together at the table on top of plastic place mats, and we use play dough tools, rolling pin, cookie cutters, etc.. She usually makes “cookies” for us. This keeps her busy for at least an hour.
Another thing that I want to try with her and the play dough is to do impressions. You can take a ball of play dough and the roll it out to make a little patty and then take a leaf and press it into the play dough and you’ll be able to see the “veins” of the leaf in the play dough. You can make impressions with other things as well...old keys, toy car tires, etc.
Crayon rubbings might be fun as well.
Another one is to take a large container (large bowl, Rubber Maid storage container, cardboard box, etc.) and fill it with dried rice. You can then hide things in there for him to find. Hide small dinosaurs and then giving him a pair of play tweezers to pull them out for a dinosaur dig. Take small rocks and spray paint them gold for “gold panning”. You can also blind fold him and then let him use his hands to find them. Or set a timer and see how many he can find before it goes off.
You can take masking tape and make roads on the carpet/floor for his cars. (Don’t leave the tape down for more than a day or it will get gummy.) If you have play sets like the little peoples or whatever else you can make towns, neighborhoods, etc. for him to drive his cars to visit.
One time when it was pouring down outside I took a cookie sheet and some cheap shaving cream and made a play scene for my daughter. I took her little peoples toys and place them in the “snow” (shaving cream). We made a zoo scene complete with a parking lot (to park little toy cars), a pond (use some blue food coloring to dye a corner of the shaving cream), a little bit of a grassy area (used green food coloring). Or if you don’t want to do all that you could just take the shaving cream and have him drive his cars through the snow. I’ll still have lots of fun.
I bought some easy hole punchers that come in different shapes (leaf, cat, etc.) and then gave her construction paper and a glue stick. I showed her how to punch out different shapes and then glue them to another piece of paper. She had a blast! We then turned them into cards and they came out really cute. It wasn’t messy at all and the little bits of paper that feel on the floor could be easily swept up. Just make sure the hole punchers are easy to use.
Another project that we did recently involved foam. I bought a large sheet of foam at Michael’s for less than a dollar. I then let her pick out some foam stickers to go along with it. I then took that large foam sheet and cut out a bookmark + a door hanger. I then let her have the remaining piece of foam to cut up with her child safety scissors. Foam is so easy to cut by the way! I gave her the bookmark & door hanger cut-outs and let her decorate them with her foam stickers. I then punched out a hole in the bookmark and looped ribbon through it to make a tassle. The door hanger - I had cut a slit at the top and then traced a circle so it would fit on her door knob. I have scrap booking scissors that I used to cut these out with to give them the scalloped edges although you can just use regular scissors as well. They both came out really cute.
I know someone mentioned watching movies and that is something that we like to do together as well. One thing that we do to make it even more fun is to make different flavors of popcorn for taste testing. I usually take a bag of microwave popcorn, pop it, divide it into bowls (one bowl for each flavor you decide to make, we usually do three flavors) then we season each bowl. You can find recipes on-line for taco flavored, pizza flavored, cinnamon & sugar, parmessan flavored, etc. I look for recipes that call for spices that I already have on hand. It is so easy and so much fun!
Indoor camping & microwave smores.
Indoor picnics with either real food or fake
I agree with th idea about “grocery shopping” my oldest daughter loved that activity. You can price the items as well... so for his age you can make everything once cent and then give him some pennies to spend. Or if your working on counting by fives make everything five cents and give him nickels to spend, etc. It will teach him how to count, add and subtract.
We had a play cash register and so we would also play “library” with it as well. We would each check out a stack of books using play library cards (those unwanted fake “credit cards” they send in the mail work perfect for this)
Children this age love to help. Let him help you wash the dishes, spray & wipe the glass windows/tables, help with laundry, etc.
You can also do cooking/baking projects with him during this time. How about making pretzels, homemade pizza, cookies, etc. Family Fun has a lot of great ideas.
We read a lot - books on tape/CD are great as well! We do those preschool/kindergarten workbooks a lot. Highlights hidden pictures either on-line or out of the books. Puzzles are a favorite. Preschool games including card games like “go fish”, “memory” or “old maid”.
Pick up the Toddler’s Busy Book and also the Preschooler’s Busy Book both by Trish Knuffer. They have lots of great ideas in there including a chapter on at-home rainy day fun.