Need Creative Ideas for Indoor/rainy Day Activities for My 4 Year Old Boy

Updated on October 22, 2010
J.A. asks from Carlsbad, CA
10 answers

Now that my younger son naps from 1-4 everyday, we need to be home during his nap. My 4 year old no longer naps and doesn't need much quiet time/down time (just like his dad!). I've been struggling with keeping my 4 y/o engaged so that he doesn't get into trouble during his brother's nap time. The rain this week has made me crazy (I can usually send him outside for part of the time). I'm horrible at being creative on the spot (I'm really just not very creative in general), so I'm looking to gather a repertiore of ideas to rotate to keep my son mentally and/or physically engaged. He's very social, loves to learn, high physical energy, even higher mental energy! He goes to preschool and he loves it, and we have other activities/groups we're involved in. I'm just trying to gather ideas for at home activities! Thanks in advance for all of your creative ideas!

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answers from Austin on

We used to play hide and seek with a toy or object.

Put together puzzles. then mix 2 puzzles and do them at the same time.. Turn a puzzle over so it is blank and put the puzzle together without the picture.

Prep dinner together. Give him some kids kitchen tools and have him help you cut the fruit for a salad.

Make pizza dough so it can rise.

Make the TV room completely dark and set up a theater, eat popcorn will watching a video..

Play grocery store, with your real cans, food boxes and produce with shopping bags. Have him ring up your sales and bag your groceries.. then turn it around hand have him purchase from you.

Purchase some play money and teach him about currency.

I agree about letting him go outside in the rain.. We tend to open our doors and windows when it rains here. Our daughter (now 20) just this summer, mentioned that she loved that I allowed her to play in the rain.. She said no one else she knows has ever said their parents let them do this and they always tell her "they are jealous, because now they are too old to do this.". Ha! I told her to tell them, no one is too old to play in the rain..
Of course it does not rain very often here, but up at her college it rains a lot.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, at 4 I think he would still benefit from a little rest (you would too!) so I like the suggestion about a movie time for part of the naptime.

I had a small plastic play table that I kept either outside on the deck or in the basement/garage that I used to cover with that big paper on a roll, get out the paints (finger or brushes, spoons, forks, plastic knives all make great patterns to) and let him go! The table also worked well for plah doh.

Board games, puzzles, bean bag toss, Hullaballoo is a great game for 4, sticker books, activity books with connect the dots, coloring, cutting and pasting pictures, hot wheels on a little racetrack

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answers from Dallas on

We do the "typical" paint, read, playdoh, cooking and craft stuff a lot. But my son is an active kid and needs to move and stay busy.

I love giving my son scrap pvc pipe to play with. He uses it with old boxes and makes car ramps to shoot out his cars. We don't have carpet, so it can get especially fun.

Big boxes are hours of fun..forts, tunnels, houses, slides.

I move my car out of the garage occasionally so he can practice hitting his ball off the tee, or using a mini trampoline or sometimes I set up "targets" for him to practice hitting with the nerf gun.

Take-apart - if you are comfortable with it.. I buy some random something at goodwill and give him goggles, gloves and tools and let him take it apart. Beware... DO NOT do this with old tvs or monitors, the tubes can explode. We also leave the item unplugged for over a week just in case there are any transformers inside, so they loose any charge they may have. I also cut off cords and toss them so he doesn't get tempted to plug them in. I usually stick with toasters...they are cheap and easy to take apart with no "explosive"stuff inside. I let the hubby who knows more about this stuff pick other items.

Fort building...sheets and chairs. After he has put together his fort, I often find him in it with a flash light reading.

Sometimes I just set out random stuff...shoe boxes, string, velcro, etc, to see what he can come up with.

Beach's hard to hurt anything inside using those.

I have been known to use painters tape and make a hopscotch board in our kitchen.

And when we have rainy periods...I don't mind giving him some time to play in the rain...he wears his rain coat, gets his umbrella and wears his boots. It is usually him standing in the rain splashing and yelling, while I watch in the doorway or garage, but he loves it. I think he loves it even more that he is not "supposed" to be out there. :)


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answers from Philadelphia on

1. read some good books from the library
2. a craft with paint
3. making a fort together in family room
4. having a catch with a nerf ball
5. stamping my kids love using my stamps. michael's craft store usually has a $1 bin in front recently they had a $1 inks good deal.
6. make cards and send to grandparents
7. bake cookies...teach about math and following directions
8. make a treasure map together of your house
9. play legos
10. make ice pops

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answers from Phoenix on

I would say you have to be organized to keep you on task for my idea :0).

Like you find a theme of the week. Take Dinasors. You get some pictures
out, educate on the dinasor, make a snack about dinasors. Mold clay or play dough to make a dinasor, then watch a movie on dinasors. Read a story on dinasors ect....

Maybe next week it will be on sports. You take a little time each day to talk about it and do crafts and games with that theme. Make a list of all the different themes and try it for a month. So that is only 4 themes to come up with.

Organize your crafts that you can get ideas online. One day is the cooking, one day a craft and story, one day a movie on them, one day on playtime with the animal or that.

It is only during the nap time right ? So maybe an hour or two a day to do this ? Hope it helps.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Board games! Younger sibling nap time is the perfect time to teach your 4yr old to play board games like candy land etc, Hi Ho Cherry-O etc. If younger sibling takes a 2hr nap, then 1st hour your son can watch tv or play computer/video games while you do some house chores. Then if he has been good during that time and let you get some stuff done, you play board games for the next hour and/or practice reading. This is a great time to give him some undivided attention that sometimes the older sibling misses out on!

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answers from San Francisco on has lots of ideas when you can't think of anything - it sure helps me.

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answers from Sacramento on

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.

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answers from San Antonio on

I'm bookmarking this question for me to refer to later on down the road. Great suggestions. I read most of them. I agree a lot with Amanda - let him have quiet time while you do emails or dinner prep or laundry. Then y'all sit down and have learning time (games, reading, etc).

The only other thing I might add is to let him help you cook. My 2.5 yr old loves to cook. He wants to crack eggs. He likes to stir anything. We just recently started making doggie treats for our dog (and the neighbor's dog). Cheap and easy. He helps pour in the 4 ingredients. Then I roll out the dough and he uses cookie cutters to make fun cookie designs. (fun like play-doh but he gets to feed the dog treats later so it's more fun). PM me if you want the recipe. There are a LOT on the internet - the one I found only has water, peanutbutter, oatmeal, and flour. Smells good (not yucky!)

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